Ode to St. Henri Studio

The most beautiful studio ever
(In the not-rat-infested-Fattal-building)

view of the railroad tracks outside my building

The Fattal lofts between the Turcot interchange and the railroad tracks on rue St. Remi, in St. Henri was one of the most beautiful spots I've ever gotten to live in. That's saying a lot considering I lived in a historical building in Banff, Alberta for four years, and grew up by the Pacific Ocean.

Me and Pete knew we couldn't stay. The brick building was going to be demolished. The rest of the tenants had already gotten their eviction notices. But having our own warehouse loft, even for a year, was super heavenly.

Not to say the St. Henri studio wasn't kind of sketchy towards the end. Pete moved back to Calgary and, as the building emptied, squatters started moving in. There were super loud parties, and not a fun crush of chaos; but that intense, dangerous loudness of five am. when very large men waving small metal objects started accusing each other of disrespect while teen girls wept under my window with needles stuck in their arms. A stray kitten that wandered in with a bloody paw and stayed was the only company I ever had.

That last July, one of the tenants on the third floor died; no one noticed till fluids started leaking under the door into the hall. A special team in protective gear rolled a dumpster up to the window and spent a week cleaning. It wasn't just that the smell was unbearable. It was a physical guilt: an invisible clinging syrup that drove the animals crazy and made my hackles rise along with the sadness that went with thinking of a man dying alone a few walls away from me.

But it was beautiful in St. Henri: super quiet in the evenings, sometimes we could climb up onto the roof and right up onto the billboard to watch the highway traffic. Love train whistles. The edges of the tracks weren't fenced off and filled up with wildflowers.

I found this note, which was written just before I moved out in 2012:

Odd hallucination, sleep paralysis hit hard, rolled over and stared at my un-built robots. They seemed very much metal flesh. Surprised this is me, curled up on a couch in a warehouse in St. Henri, unit 60, next to the loading dock at 780 St. Remi; in Montreal with metal bastards, not quite robots. A bit ashamed, the way I get when I think about how I live! My work is proceeding at a snail's pace, though family and stuff took time away. I don't know if I'm a loser working too slowly, or if the nature of what I'm doing simply requires this kind of time investment?

Oh my god, someone must've killed a skunk outside, my eyes are watering! That's odd, the police are back in my parking lot. But I don't know why? Super quiet tonight, no screaming, arguing or dozens of cars rolling in. Ah well, Hank is purring and I'm sleeping with the baseball bat that Pete left me... Hank

The cranes from the Super-hospital construction site up in Westmount.


Beatriz Alejandra Herrera is a Montreal-based visual artist who loves robotics, electronic arts, and contemporary drawing practices.

Tagged with: , ,
4 comments on “Ode to St. Henri Studio
  1. Laurena says:

    Will love to read more from you in the future, keep the good stuff coming.

  2. Victorina says:

    This information was a great find, thanks for your imput.

  3. Shantae says:

    Always my pleasure to find a blog worth reading.

  4. Lashell says:

    Hopefully I can come back and use more of your information, thanks for posting.