Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dungeon in the sky

Artists will sometimes go to extremes for a cheap studio. I was one of them, and now that I look back at my first studio, I think of it as the Dungeon in the Sky.

One would think that I would have been taken aback by the appearance of the building. I think that it would be hard to find a more foreboding building. I once saw signs on the lamppost outside reserving the parking spaces for the crew of CSI. Yes, this is where they hide the bodies.

To add to my discomfort with the atmosphere in the building, it was, at the time, only occupied on part of the eighth floor, a fraction of the fifth floor, and there was a moving company in part of the first floor. The front door was also unlocked at all times.

With my studio on the eighth floor, I had to walk up through the empty building, since all of the freight elevators were broken, walk across an empty wing of the building, with just a lightbulb hanging on a string in the middle. Once in, I would lock the door behind me as fast as possible with my heart pounding. Then I would proceed to my unheated space in the back of the wing.

Why was I foolish enough to put up with all of this? Well, before I had this studio, I worked in my small apartment, and I felt that having a studio would make me feel more serious about my work, which is true. The other big factor....price. I rented the space, along with another space that my husband used for painting for $200/ month. Unheard of in the NY area now. Another perk was the view of Manhattan from Columbus Circle to the West Village.

As the photo above demonstrates, I didn't stay long enough to get the studio organized properly. I had found some shelves and a table in the bottom of the building and had plans for setting up the rest of the studio. However, some complications came up about us renting there, and the situation managed to save me from my bad decision. I don't know how much good work I could have made, as the heavy atmosphere in the building and the exhaustion of being cold all day sucked a lot out of me.

Now, I am happily settled in a studio in Brooklyn that features heat, ample locks and a nice atmosphere. I came away from the old studio with a good dose of wisdom and a great story.


Lana said...

haha...your story reminds me of my old studio..although the section where the artists were had some life to it.

now I am in my basement and prefer to be in the comforts of my own home, plus renting houses in detroit is so cheap..

another thing, your work is beautiful...where do you sell it?

Lana said... got cut off in last comment

Mad said...

Ha! Yes, that is the story of several of my early studios... Sounds like you wised up a lot quicker than I did. My last studio rental was in a neighborhood that gentrefied around me during my ten years there - 9th Ave and 14th St. in Manhattan. A fond memory today. When I first moved in there I had to leave by 4PM or risk being shot by the drug dealers selling on the corners, etc. Wonderful story. Thank you, Natasha!