Thursday, June 3, 2021

You're invited for a studio visit

I'd love  to show you where I work.

My studio was once our daughter, Jessie's bedroom, before that a nursery for Jessie and baby Sam. 

In 1981 Arthur and I bought a loft--an empty room with a kitchen and a bathroom in a former warehouse on the edges of the meat-packing district; not the new chic meat-packing district but the original where meat was actually packed.  We had a little girl and the baby we were expecting was gender unknown, so we made that big room into a two bedroom apartment. When the baby turned out to be a boy and got too big to share a room with his sister we built another room for him.  

When our children grew up and moved out our apartment grew as well.  Suddenly Arthur and I each had a room of our own.

For thirty years I worked in a studio on Broadway at 81st Street.  It was upstairs from Shakespeare and Company, on the same block as Zabar's, walking distance from the kids's school. So in the beginning I'd escort them, then they'd make me leave them on the corner, then at the subway, then one day they didn't want to wait for me and they took off on their own. 

I loved my studio--it was full of light, facing east and north with big windows.  I'm sorry I never took pictures, but here's a view of the view from my drawing table by my studio mate, Susan Cohen.



 Working there, with few distractions, I was a real nine-to-fiver and I churned out a lot of drawings. Over the years a series of lovely people, I was joined by beautiful artists to share the rent and work together.  But the landlord or the city kept hitting me with a real estate tax bill that eventually became too much and I said to myself, "Hey, I live in Greenwich Village!"  And I had a room of my own.  So I moved downtown.

This is what it looks like.


Here's my drawing table with a work in progress. The windows look east at my neighborhood.  

Here's a detail of the table and my pens and inks. I like having everything right at hand but this all takes up a lot of space, so I just ordered a wheeled cart from the Container Store. It'll be good to have the whole table for working.


 Here's the North facing wall.


Looks kind of busy, doesn't it? The wallpaper is William Morris' "Willow." He said, "Have nothing in your home that you do not believe to be either beautiful or useful."  I really love this pattern.

The big painting is a view of factories on Tom's River, NJ. It came from my aunt and uncle's attic.  

On the left, 



from top to bottom, my diptych etchings titled "Iowa Wheat Fields," portraits of my dad and my Aunt Jan; my grandfather commissioned portraits of all five of their children as a gift for my grandmother, and at the bottom. another diptych, two Adirondack chairs.

On the right;




A poster Arthur gave me--a woman at her easel, dressed to the nines, just like me. Below that, a mono-print from my League classmate, Martha Bloom.  On the left, from the top, a page from a book about ladybugs, another diptych by me,"A Bald Eagle and a Red-Tailed Hawk," and a gold leafed image of men in a boat, that my mother bought for me in the market place in Istanbul. 

My studio assistant. I don't know what I would do without her.



Here's the west facing wall, a workspace within what was the closet. Above it I hung  my Joseph Cornell inspired boxes displaying my children's shoes.

 It's all blue and green with orange accents-those are the fabric remnant mementos of the Gates project. 

On the wall at the right is a framed Winsor Newton calendar with their charming ink bottle labels. 

 It's for July 1976-our wedding anniversary.  Unfortunately, the ink runs, so I don't use it in my work.

On the bulletin board I've posted  several meaningful sayings like,

"Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final"   Rilke

And, "I decided that the only thing I could do that was nobody else's business was to paint.  I could do as I chose because no one would care." Georgia O'Keeffe

And, "The serious problems in life are never fully solved. If ever they should appear to be so it is a sure sign that something has been lost.  The meaning and purpose of a problem seem to lie not in its solution but in our working at it incessantly.  This alone preserves us from stultification and petrification." Jung

And, from Haydn's "Creation,"   “Now Chaos ends and Order Fair Prevails”

  I'm still waiting for that to happen.

Here's the south wal; scraps of what was once the wallpaper on our kitchen ceiling which I chose because it looks like Alma Thomas's painting Big Red.  On the top shelf is my collection of little black collage books.  I've just completed number 23, and that will be the last because the company has stopped making that particular little book.  I thought it might be a crisis but I found another book that might be better.


And finally, behind the door, my rack for over-sized books.


I miss my studio uptown and the concentrated, focussed way I worked there.   I even miss my ride on the 1 train but often I'd just be getting a drawing going and I'd have to close down and go home to start dinner and I didn't like that. Now I have the distractions of the kitchen, the refrigerator, the husband--but I can put a pot on the stove and go back to work while it heats up. I can greet a drawing first thing in the morning and check on it after dinner, and before I go to bed, and in the middle of the night if I can't sleep.

When I told Barry Kostrinsky, the founder of Artists Talk on Art about this he said, "It sounds like a bed time story, like, "good night painting, good night brushes, good night lamp." Maybe I should write that?

Some artists keep their surroundings pristine and uncluttered.  I say less is a bore, although I reject the term clutter--I stick with William Morris-everything here is either beautiful, useful or dear to me.

Thanks for dropping by.

 

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