We were planning to do a driving trip to visit Thunder Bay this past summer, since we love Lake Superior, and haven't been all the way around in our past two visits.
In early July, Ray mused one afternoon as we were having tea, "I wonder what house prices are like up in Thunder Bay?. I googled and said they're the same as down here.
"What about land prices?"
I googled again... "Oh, wow, there's this property, 18 acres, on a river, with a cabin, for only $49,900.00!"
Waterfront property in our area is in the millions these days, even for a small building lot.
"I've got a meeting!" Ray jumped up, "I can't look now."
We had been thinking about getting a summer investment property so we could have a holiday location when the summer got too busy around here.
I couldn't wait for him. I decided to call the agent.
"Well, yes, it is still for sale, but for ten more minutes, and we already have two offers on the table!"
"Oh!" I was thrown into a state of indecision. Ray was still on his meeting. I peeked in his office. Not available. Ten minutes?
"I'd like to put in an offer," I replied, figuring that that would give me ten minutes to think, once I'd got the papers.
"And what would you like your offer to be?"
I've always been against the whole bidding war thing, and I was really just jumping in on a whim, so I said "49,9"
That's the asking price, you realize, and there are two other offers on the table." her voice dropped with displeasure.
"Yes, that's fine", I replied, not really sure if I was serious. "Let fate decide."
"Ok, and how will you be paying?"
"Oh cash, of course." I knew a piece of land with a rustic cabin would never get a mortgage, anyway and I had the investment money set aside.
"Oh, cash!" the agent replied, her voice rising this time. "So, no conditions?"
"No, no conditions." I replied, without a flinch of doubt.
The docu-sign was sent over by email, and I called my mother quickly, in a flurry of emotion. She was supportive and lighthearted about it.
The document came through, I signed it back, and in just 5 minutes I had an offer on the table, on a property I'd never seen, -never even been to Thunder Bay.
A few minutes later, while I waited to hear from the agent, Ray came back downstairs, his meeting over.
"Hey, I was looking at that land with the cabin. It looks pretty interesting!"
"Too late, I replied, I've already put in an offer!"
"What? We haven't even seen it!"
"It's my purchase, you don't need to worry. I bought it alone."
I explained about the ten minute closing, and how I had low-balled the price, to just let 'fate' decide. "If it's meant to be it will be!"
Ray was like a kid at Christmas. More excited than I was, even. We both poured over Google Earth to try to find any clues as to what kind of property it was, and he kept exclaiming about different things.
"18 acres waterfront! It's just north of Kakabeka Falls, above the dam. And the cabin newly built!"
"Yes, it's my art cabin, off the grid, nothing but 4 walls and a few windows. One kilometre of waterfront, with no one else on that stretch of river. Perfect."
I felt calm.
The phone rang. I put it on speaker phone. "Well, you were the lowest bidders" the agent started with, her voice lowering.
"Oh yes, I'm not surprised..." I began, lightly, but she interrupted,
"But you won the property! The owners loved that you're an artist and you'll be painting the lovely views. They also like the fact that you had cash, no conditions."
"I won?" Ray whooped for joy in the background.
And then the adventure began. We had two weeks to get ourselves Solar Power savvy, with an electric trawling motor for our canoe, to carry us and our belongings over the river, and then all the off-the-grid equipment we could muster. Each evening, exhausted from shopping and researching, we'd pour over Maps and Google Earth to try to find any new clues about the land I had purchased. Ray was envious and wanted to share it, but it was to be my art cabin, not a family purchase.
Those two weeks we didn't sleep well. My imagination was carried away with what I had done, what the location was like, and whether it was a 'swamp land in Florida' situation, but it was meant to be, I knew, I could trust my instincts, so we packed and prepared for the adventure ahead.
To Be Continued...
Stendhal's syndrome, Florence syndrome, or Paris Syndrome, is a psychosomatic condition involving rapid heartbeat, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations, allegedly occurring when individuals become exposed to emotionally charged artworks, or phenomena of great beauty and antiquity.
When I was in my 20’s, I travelled to Paris, France, to visit friends. I was excited to be back in Europe, on my own, as an adult. I had begun my career as an artist, and was thrilled to be staying where much of the world’s great art was housed.
We went to visit the “Musee d’Orsay” one rainy afternoon, and I wandered around the Impressionist Gallery.
I had recently discovered Monet’s paintings at that time, so I wandered over to see them. There was a huge crowd around his “Les Coquelicots” painting, of a poppy field with figures up on the hill. Even though I’d loved it in the books I’d studied, I decided to bypass it since I hate crowds.
Suddenly as I walked past, the crowd around the painting melted away. Then the whole gallery froze, silent, nothing moved.
An older bearded man with a dusty floppy hat moved to stand behind me, and he began to explain the painting, -describing the composition, triangulation, complementary colours, raised horizon-all the successful elements of what made it a great painting.
I watched his gnarled hand as he pointed, and I listened, entranced.
Suddenly I turned to look behind me to see his full face. There was no one there! The spell was broken, and the gallery noise returned, crowds resumed their normal flow. I was more than a little confused by what had just happened, and rushed to find my friends to tell them. They laughed, unable to explain it either, asking if I was drunk.
I researched books on Monet in more detail afterwards.. and one day found a photograph of Monet in his famous garden, with his bushy beard and floppy hat. It was the same man who had stood behind me in the gallery. I thought I was going crazy or at least seeing ghosts.
Intrigued, I started researching if anyone else had ever had an experience like mine. In my research I found an interesting article about ‘Art Swooning’! I remember reading the following details back then:
12% of the population experiences Art Swooning, when in the presence of original works of art, particularly common with famous paintings. The energy that the artist expressed in the painting is still encapsulated in the paint itself, it seems. Those who are sensitive to this are liable to experience ‘swooning’- with responses from hysteria to hallucinations, fainting to tears. Since this most often occurs in art galleries, it has been recorded quite often, particularly in Florence, Italy.
That information was years ago, so I tried searching it again to write this blog post. I found there's actually a term for it, and many articles on ‘Stendhal Syndrome’ have been written - it's most intriguing!
I have always shared with my art buyers that original art contains the energy and emotion of the artist while they were painting it. That emotion is shared with the viewer, in much the same way that we feel the emotions of a singer/writer when we listen to music or read a novel.
With art, this experience only happens with *original* paintings, and seems to only happen when the painting speaks to the viewer with some depth of emotional connection.
Have you ever had any 'art swooning' experience? Share it here if you like! I'm interested to hear more!
I have included a few in-depth articles -scientific and journalistic-, since I’m sure there will be much intrigue amongst artists and art lovers as a new subject for you to delve into!
Being psychologically overcome by the artistic beauty and cultural significance of Florence was first personally reported in 1817 by the French author Stendhal.1 More recently, a Florentine psychiatrist reported a series of 106 visitors admitted to hospital between 1977 and 1986 after experiencing acute transient psychiatric symptoms in response to viewing the art of Florence.”
Hilary Slater: I write in the morning before I get out of bed. I write in the evening when the world is quiet. I write at Starbucks, where I can escape the household interruptions. But most of all I write in November, when NaNoWriMo inspires me!