ARTFLOOR This acrylic on exotic veneer panel entitled 'Earth,' from Ottawa-based artist Wojtek Kulikowski, is embedded in the living room at Jesse Lance's rural Ottawa home. On a three-year lease as part of the RICH art-lease program, Lance will replace the artwork annually with another of the customer's choice for a $150 service fee.
Seven years ago, at age 53, former sales and communications consultant Jesse Lance left the pencil-pushing world behind him and launched himself into a business that was more satisfying to his soul.
Lance spun his passion for wood into a business called A. Marreed & D. Prestman Distressed Pine Flooring Inc. (the "a married and depressed man" names are a whimsical reference to the woes of domestic life). His one-man operation (pineflooring.ca) specializes in installing handcrafted wide red-pine planks, which can withstand the scuffs and scratches from kids and dogs better than typical hardwood.
Now, the 60-year-old resident of rural Ottawa has taken the idea up a creative notch with a new initiative that combines art with decor, and takes it down to the floor.
Trademarked as Canadiana ArtFloor (artfloor.ca), Lance's proprietary process isn't about taking existing artwork off walls. Currently working with six Ontario artists, he has created what function as "art rugs" but show as visually stunning modern works set onto a 1.5-metre-by-3-metre standard-sized solid board.
Lance's system goes something like this. He gives a visual artist the solid wood panel covered with 16-ounce duck canvas used on canoes and two coats of gesso, a hard and fast-drying primer, which creates a sturdy surface for the brush strokes of paint. Once the finished painting is returned to him, Lance adds his craftsman's signature to it. He applies seven coats of aluminium-oxide resin to it, which is "four times harder" than what's used on hardwood floors - and happens to be waterproof too. The "transformation" can also include sanding, to remove any blemishes, and glazing and tinting to tone down any loud colours, give the piece an "antique" feel and make it look "more like a da Vinci painting," says Lance. When attached to a solid-wood backer-board and frame, the ArtFloor is "virtually indestructible."
Sure you can walk on it. But it's more something to gaze upon and serve as a conversation piece wherever it's situated.
"When people come into a room and see this on the floor, they can't help but say something about it," says Lance.
ArtFloor can be inlaid within an existing or new floor. However, its intended purpose is to be placed onto an existing floor, ideally under a glass-top coffee table. Since it's portable and at 135 pounds (61 kilograms) relatively easy to move, the ArtFloor can follow you wherever you go - whether it's to the cottage in the summer or, for a change in scenery, between two client chairs in front of a desk at the office.
"You also don't have to worry about whether it will fit on a wall," explains Lance.
To date, he has created a collection of 15 unique ArtFloors, which include colour-burst abstracts and outdoor scenes.
He's also designed three Canadiana ArtTables for ceremonial, meeting or dining purposes which follow the same technique and essentially gives the ArtFloor legs in the form of a table.
He offers a RICH (Residential, Institutional, Corporate, Hospitality) Lease Program, starting at $ 29.00 a month, which is tax deductible if you run a business, home-based or otherwise. If you lease-to-purchase, you can deduct the capital cost and depreciation as office furnishings as well.
* Pricing updated as of today's date.
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