Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Last Stand

This may not be the appropriate place for this, but as my outlet for rants and opinions and general discourse on the nature of a gardener's life, I feel the need to place this here. NYTimes, I'm baiting you*. Write this story without real estate dreams dancing in your heads.

In the last thirty years, I've often wondered, if the creativity, the actual product, of the artist in NYC, is the aestheticization of neighborhoods formerly unseen. In terms of pure dollars generated, it appears to me that artists have been responsible for generating more real estate money, retail money, restaurant money, etc. etc. than any amount of dollars of actual artistic production. We make neighborhoods.

We see the aesthetic value in place first, driven to it possibly by lack of income, lack of an ability to pay for the already aestheticized spaces. As always, like with the paintings and sculptures, and videos, the followers come to it afterwards, after a critical mass has proven it's value. Artists preform taste-makers.

NYC does not care for its artists. Not at all. It exploits them. Artists are weak because we are expectant and unfunded. When NYC talks about artists, it talks about lofts and auction returns. I want to remind you, you who may have not given much thought to the visual arts and for that I do not blame you, that an art culture will not survive on the dead and dying arts of the blue chip. It requires youth and outsiders, left-fielders and mischieviants (my coinage). And those folks need a place to live and a place to work without moonlighting as a media executive.

Yet, us artists, we are all to blame for following in the footsteps of our predecessors. We imagine, still, a post-industrial wasteland, with copious money flowing from some unseen font like it had in the 50s, 60s, and even still in the 80s. All those spaces haunted by the history of labor are now ironically displayed on glossy magazine pages, new architecture aiming to elevate it to haute.

If people complain, 'why is art made of cardboard,' or 'why is art on the computer,' I challenge them to think about their floor plate, designed to support thousands of pounds of machinery now supporting the weight of their lifestyle. Artists need a place to work that costs little because we spend year after year expectant that one day our work will be elevated beyond the shelf. Ten years later, an artist in this NYC, might give some thought to the 6000, 8000, 10,000, 12,000 dollars we spend, year in and year out, on our work space that has never given us any financial returns.

My work space rent is about to go up, at the end of this month, 33%. All of 2009 I spent looking for a studio that wasn't 80 square feet for 375 dollars a month (I'm.Not.Kidding), after being forced out of another studio in Dumbo by an 80% rent increase. Before that it was a 20% increase in a dusty old warehouse with no windows and absolutely no heat in Red Hook.

Fifty artists on two floors of a building which has copious unoccupied floor plates of thousands upon thousands of square feet are being asked to accept rent increases up to 45% with only one or two months notice. Entire practices are being upended, shows delayed, storage considered, and the nameless, faceless landlord could give a fuck. Dust will settle and you, artists of NYC, are mere dust.

It's the old story, one which the media thinks of as a hero story, the artist myth, the struggle. Should someone ever ask an artist, they would tell you the dull truth -Art gets made under settled circumstances.

*NYTimes -the artists at Industry City -look us up or contact me: nycgarden@gmail.com.


  1. Sorry to hear about the workspace rent increase, yes, that does suck. I grew up in NYC and was an 80s child...I still remember the few friends whose parents were struggling painters who lived in SoHo, but not for long. And now it looks like the same thing is happening in parts of Brooklyn. I hope you find a reasonable alternative.

  2. I just tire of it. Same story every two years.
    Thanks for reading.

  3. The cycle from artists to college students to affluence is getting quicker and quicker.

  4. To think I used to live and work in my Williamsburg apartment in 1994 for 450 and lived alone.

    My work space landlord has so much empty space in a hardly gentrified area. And with so little notice.


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