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Why this gallery owner has a pharmacist’s cabinet in his favourite room

Manny Neubacher’s favourite room in his Minden Hills, Ont. home is his open-concept living/dining room.

Peter Redman/The Globe and Mail

Raised by artist parents in the countryside outside Guelph, Ont., Manny Neubacher felt a strong connection to nature even after he moved to Toronto around 20 years ago to open his first art gallery. Seven years ago, the 42-year-old co-owner of Neubacher Shor Contemporary discovered a way to maintain his business in the city and also enjoy country life when he purchased, with his life and business partner, Russian-born Anya Shor, a 100-acre farm. The property, in Ontario's Haliburton Highlands, came with a dilapidated 1910 house, which Neubacher helped renovate into the residence he now shares four days out of every seven with Shor and their two young children. Neubacher regularly commutes to Toronto to oversee installations and participate in events such as last month's Artist Project, where he lectured on how to buy art for the home. His knowledge of that subject is experience-based, as he has surrounded himself at his country house with sculptures and paintings, several of which are in his open-concept living/dining room, his favourite, he says, for being "a showcase of our vision, what we dreamed of when rebuilding this house."

The dining set

"The table is an old stainless-steel hospital table, used to change babies' diapers, which we converted into a dining table by adding a five-by-eightfoot piece of reclaimed glass. The chairs come from different places, from Spain to Toronto."

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The wall colour

"We painted the entire room – including the exposed ceiling beams, some of which are original – white, to allow the colours in the art and the textiles to pop."

The artworks

"The large image of a red flame is by me, an etching. The piece to the left of it is an image of a woman in a mechanical dress; it's by Ray Caesar, who called the work Blackbird . The smaller piece next to it is by Brad Phillips; it's a portrait of Julie Ann Stanton, the Canadian teen who was abducted and then murdered [in 1990]. She had been a childhood friend of his."

The bookcase

"This is actually a pharmacist's cabinet. A friend of ours found it but couldn't use it. He gave it to us and we stripped and refinished it. It fits the space perfectly, almost to the millimetre; it looks custom-built. We use it to store books and dishes."

The sculpture

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"This is a soapstone carving by Floyd Kuptana, a Surrealist Inuit artist. I love the collision of traditional material and contemporary imagery."

The blanket

"The four-stripe Hudson's Bay point blanket belonged to my parents, who gave it to me when they sold their house. I was glad to get it, because I grew up with this blanket and it has strong memories for me."

The ottoman

"Anya bought this in Istanbul on one of her world trips. It's a Turkish kilim pulled over an ottoman. I love it because it represents her love of travel."

The carpet

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"This is another travel purchase; it's from Morocco."

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About the Author

Deirdre Kelly is a features writer for The Globe and Mail. She is the author of the best-selling Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection (Greystone Books). More


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