Kids on Acid Teetz nightlife addiction Montreal art

Montreal artist Teetz on finding beauty and hope after addiction

“Afterhours was my life, and the lifestyle sucks you in without you even realizing it. Young kids in that scene don’t realize how lost they are, and I want to help them as much as I can.”

At the height of his drug addiction and his clubbing days, waking up at 7 a.m. every morning is something mixed media artist Anthony Pecoraro could have never imagined doing. But now the 30-year-old Montrealer happily and very gratefully does it every day. 

“My life is now amazing,” he tells me over the phone. “I feel so blessed.”

Pecoraro, who’s better known to those around him as Teetz, started living the fast life very young. He began working in restaurants at the age of 14, which in turn led to managing bars in Old Montreal and working in clubs between the ages of 19 and 25.

“I was 19 and in Ibiza working parties,” he says. “You work in these industries where everything happens fast and a lot is coming at you, you’re finishing work at 4 a.m. and then the afterparties start… so drugs were a big part of that scene. I was doing a lot of partying and a lot of drugs at the time,” he says.

Expressing himself creatively was something the self-taught artist has always been drawn to. At 19, he started working for a fashion photographer and thought he wanted to be one, too. He spent eight years working with that goal in mind. “I loved the studio, the bright lights, but there was something that was always missing.”

Kids on Acid: a show about nightlife and addiction 

Then the pandemic shut everything down and, like so many others, he was forced to reassess his life and his goals. “I was stuck at home, desperately needing to do something,” he says. “I started doing FaceTime portraits during COVID because I needed to stay creative.” 

Pecoraro eventually rented a studio with a friend and locked himself in there for an entire month, just making art. “I stayed off social media completely and just created,” he says. 

Kids on Acid by Teetz is at l’Orignal until Nov. 4.

The result of that creative spurt and the culmination of three years of work can be seen during Teetz: Kids on Acid, his solo show at l’Orignal Art Gallery, on until Nov. 4. Kids on Acid is a depiction of drug exploration and substance addiction, often inherent in nightlife culture. His art combines collage, photography, paintings and pastels to create portraits while incorporating humour, satire and abstract urbanism. Recurring themes of beauty, destruction and addiction can be seen throughout his pieces. 

“My art is my way of communicating and this show is my way of talking about addiction,” he says. “You’ll see that the images first start off super colourful, bright and beautiful and then they begin to look a little destroyed — you see collages that are falling apart. In a way the show mimics the experience and process of addiction and how it slowly destroys you.” 

Sharing his journey to help others 

Now clean and happy, Pecoraro doesn’t shy away from talking about that destructive period of his life. He’s not ashamed of it. On the contrary, he wants to share his past issues with addiction, hoping it helps others who are struggling. 

“I remember what it was like to be in that dark place,” he says. “That afterhours scene was my life. I loved techno music, I still do, and the fast, afterhours life was often part of it. That scene sucks you in without you even realizing it; you’re spending all week partying and staying up late and then on Sundays I would turn off my phone and isolate at home, not seeing anyone, continuing the party by consuming drugs on my own.” 

Pecoraro says he regrets nothing from that time, but he’s grateful for friends and family stepping in to help him get the help he didn’t even realize he needed at the time. “I used to joke that I’ll just keep partying until I can’t anymore, and then at 30 I’ll go to rehab.” But a good friend who was worried about me just looked at me one day and said, “Do you have to wait until you’re 30?” 

Intervention and rehab 

Pecoraro had been confronted by friends before about his addiction, but this time what they had to say somehow seemed to resonate with him. “My friend called my parents, there was an intervention that included family, friends, my then girlfriend and now wife… Something clicked this time, and I knew I had their support to do this.” 

He went to Portage, a non-profit drug addiction and rehabilitation centre that helps people suffering from substance abuse-related problems to overcome their dependencies and live healthy, happy and productive lives. 

“I was in rehab for six months,” he says. “I won’t lie: It was tough, but my life is so much better for it now.” 

Since then, Pecoraro has been able to pass it forward and help two other friends dealing with addiction issues. “I want to help others who are going through this as much as I can,” he says. “Young kids in that scene don’t realize how lost they are.”

A bright future, a new life 

Now clean and sober, the artist known as Teetz is excited about his solo studio show, as well as a bunch of other projects he’s got lined up. “In a way I’ve been working towards this show my entire life, but I also have a clothing line coming out in November and I’ve also collaborated with NEON, and I’m working with some folks out of LA. I have lots of exciting projects lining up.” 

When I ask him how he got the name Teetz, Pecoraro laughs loudly. “I’ve had that nickname since I was eight years old,” he says. “My sister fell and kicked me in the face with her rollerblades, breaking one of my front teeth. Everyone started calling me Teeth and then it somehow morphed into Teetz and it stuck.” 

Teetz: Kids on Acid is at l’Orignal Art Gallery (4455 St-Denis) until Nov. 4 at noon. Admission is free and Pecoraro encourages everyone to drop by and check out the work. 

“People are sometimes intimidated by art galleries,” he says. “They’re afraid to go in, worried that they’re expected to buy something in order to browse. But you can still come take a look and experience the art, get inspired. That’s what art is for, after all.”  

Other Montreal art shows worth checking out 

Since we’re on the topic of art, I also wanted to take the time to point out two other shows that might be of interest and that I’m looking forward to seeing in person. There’s a lot of interesting and easily accessible art available these days in Montreal, so the next time you take a walk, make it an Art Walk. 

From Ji zoongde’eyaang by Lara Kramer and Ida Baptiste

A mother-daughter show about Indigenous resilience: Until Nov. 19, MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels, 3680 Jeanne-Mance) presents Ji zoongde’eyaang, a collaborative mother-daughter exhibition between Anishinaabe Oji-Cree artists Lara Kramer and Ida Baptiste. Kramer is the first generation in her family to not attend residential school. 

In this very personal exhibition, artists Lara Kramer and Ida Baptiste bring forward their relational practices through generations to express and represent embodied experiences like memory, loss and reclamation. The title of the exhibition, Ji zoongde’eyaang, means “to have a strong heart” in Anishinaabemowin.

The exhibit features older, never shown works by Ida Baptiste from the early 1990s that draw on her memories of attending Brandon Indian Residential School. It also features a series of contemporary pieces by both artists in various media, including photography, video, text and sound. Admission is free, Tuesday to Saturday from 12–6 p.m.

Montreal artist
Poline Harbali

Immigration and tattoos: They wrote the countries borders on my skin is an interdisciplinary exhibition on immigration and tattooing by Montreal-based French-Syrian artist Poline Harbali, which will take place at the Fais-moi l’art Gallery (900 Cherrier) from Nov. 5 to Dec. 30. 

Following her own migratory experience, Harbali, who’s been living in Montreal for the past six years, launched a call for participants in order to meet newly arrived women and non-binary people who wanted to share and exchange migratory experiences and to get a tattoo symbolizing their immigration process to Canada. Through sculpture, installations, photography, video and tattooing, They wrote the countries borders on my skin is intended to be an immersive experience in a tattoo session with immigrants in Canada today that questions issues related to border closures and assimilation. From a series of interviews conducted with these participants, Harbali collected and archived material to build the narrative of the project. Once again, admission is free. 

Endless conversations about Quebec culture and its appreciation seem to always take place in this province, but while some people get hyper-focused on defining Quebec art and culture as something very specific, very traditional, very French, very mainstream, very TV-oriented, the truth is we’re living in a multicultural city that is producing exciting, vibrant, modern Quebec art every single day. 

Quebec culture is alive and well, it simply sometimes doesn’t take the shape of what some people think it needs to be or expect it to be. But art never does. Yet, this art is nourished and inspired and created by artists living here and giving a part of themselves back to us. Go out there and explore it. ■

For more Montreal arts coverage, please visit the Arts & Life section.