On Friday August 6 La Petite Mort Gallery hosted a vernissage featuring artists from Monastiraki – Le petite Monastère, a gallery in Montreal. The opening celebrated the gallery’s eclectic collection of art but the success was marred by a theft that occurred at the Montreal gallery on the same night.
When Billy Mavraes, the owner and curator of Monastiraki returned to Montreal the following day he found the gallery had been broken into and all the money – artists commissions, receipts and records – stolen.
Guy Berube, owner of La Petite Mort posted a facebook message and press release of the robbery.
“They broke in and seemed to know exactly where the money was,” says Berube. “It is was all their money and trust me, being a gallery owner I know what that feeling is like – it’s a bit overwhelming.”
Berube had been working with Mavraes on the gallery swap for the past year. Works from Monastiraki will hang at La Petite Mort Gallery for one month and in October La Petite Mort will be showing works in Montreal. The deal is that the host gallery takes the commission with a percentage going to the guest gallery and the artists.
According to Berube a gallery swap is time consuming – Mavraes had to pack and transport the art, spend part of a week hanging the art then return for the opening – and not a lucrative venture for the guest gallery.
“When you are already doing a venture like this you know you are not going to make a lot of money, so for them to go through this much trouble to bring all these works here and hang it and for us to do this together I figured there is nowhere in hell I can accept to take my commission,” says Berube.
Berube is donating 100 percent of his commission and is encouraging people to come to the gallery and see the collection of works from the guest artists.
In Montreal, the art community has come together to show support for Monastiraki with artists donating work for a fundraiser at the end of August.
“I think that shows the power of the artistic community, pulling together and saying ‘fuck you’ to the thieves,” says Berube.
La Petite Mort Gallery, 306 Cumberland Street, Ottawa, ON K1N 7H9,(613) 860-1555. Open 11am to 6pm from Wednesday to Sunday. The Monastiraki exhibition runs until August 29. www. lapetitemortgallery.com.