The Rent Project

money and envelope

1/100 of the way toward his goal

By Jessica Pasko

A local artist who recently lost his job is turning to some pretty creative means to pay rent on his Troy apartment.

Warren MacMillan, a sculptor with an MFA from SUNY Albany, has launched The Rent Project as a way to come up with $350. And make some art in the process.

Here's the deal...

Warren is looking for 100 people to contribute $3.50 in the form of three bills and two quarters. In exchange, he's offering 20 minutes of labor -- such as mowing part of a lawn, fixing a doorknob or something like that. It could also be something like 20 miniature drawings.

He then plans to create an installation based on the rent project, displaying the envelopes from the contributions, documentation of the work exchanged and anything else related to it. After that, he'll showcase the piece and invite his landlady to the showing -- before presenting her with the money, of course.

He plans to stop at 100 people and any money beyond that will be sent back, so it's not like he's trying to make a profit.

Warren, a San Francisco transplant, has taught college classes locally, but was most recently working at Lowe's until he was fired a few weeks ago. If you're wondering -- he was fired for drawing on the bathroom walls. (Yeah, I don't really get it, either.) He was making $10.50 an hour there, so he figures about a third of that would be $3.50/20 minutes, hence his labor agreement for the project.

Currently he pays $450 for rent, but his landlady allows him to do about $100 of that in work around the apartment.

So far, the requests he's received include: three requests for drawings, one request for him to pick up dog poo, one request for advice on how to paint an outdoor table and one request for help designing a business card.

Warren insists this is not a scam. He says he's hoping The Rent Project will also serve as something of an artistic and community engagement -- as well as helping him get out of his own artistic funk.

If nothing else, it's definitely one of the most creative ways I've seen to come up with rent money. Hmm... I could use someone to scrub my oven....

(Thanks, Renée!)


> if nothing else, it's definitely one of the most creative ways
> I've seen to come up with rent money.

then you haven't read the now classic "Infamous $pider Drawing"

...which was followed by the equally hilarious "No Pets Clause":

(exchanging money for service isn't new, right? I think I recall large service-based communities which (try to) function without money, can't put my finger on it)

-S - I have seen both of those, but neither of those were exactly the same as this...and I don't believe the spider drawing was used to pay rent. I think it was some sort of other bill.

> and I don't believe the spider drawing was used to pay rent.

I'm sending my $3.50 right away and asking for a spider drawing. Crossing my fingers.

I'm a big fan of creative art, especially all kinds of performance art which this seems to sort of fall under (Improv Everywhere are some of my heroes), so I hope the end result of this is a happy one. But at the same time I have a hard time feeling sympathetic for someone who got fired for graffitiing up his workplace and can't get another retail job.

I guess creativity is borne of neccessity. I guess a project that brings people together can't be a bad thing. I guess any willing exchange made between two people is legitimate. But there's just this little nagging something in the back of my head. And I don't even have a mother in law. In any case, I do wish Warren the best of luck and hopefully once he gets the bills paid he can parlay this into a really cool artistic endeavor, for its own sake.

An artist? Living in the capital region? Struggling to pay their rent? Surely you jest!

I sent him my $3.50 - who knows, maybe somewhere down the road, with the economy the way it is, I may need to hold one of these rent parties / art projects of my own! :)

I could use a new front porch. I wonder how many minutes that would take?

I wonder if i could send him $10.50 and have him help with something for an entire hour...

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine