In the course of writing The Rise and Fall of Artists’ SoHo (Routledge), I read several earlier books about lofts and artists in lower Manhattan. The most embarrassing by far, in spite of some research worth crediting, was Sharon Zukin’s Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change.
For the second time in New York’s history, tenants living illegally in commercial lofts will be able to apply for the full rights and protections afforded to all residential renters … but this time there’s a deadline.
When I read David Byrne’s recent Creative Time piece on how the 1% dominates the world, or strictly speaking, the art world, and more specifically, New York — the city we live in — it made me collect my experiences, thoughts, hopes, and projections and put them into a script.
First it was a faraway hum. Ad Hoc Art returned to Welling Court, Queens, this year. Then it became like drums, still far away, but coming closer, rhythmic. Artists covered 100 walls this year alone. Then hundreds of feet joining drums and percussion and marching in rhythm were nearly upon me in time for the chorus: Support Welling Court Mural Project! Support artists! Don’t let this be the last year!
“I’m getting tired of watching my friends leave because they can’t afford to be here. I’m getting tired of contemplating moving because I can’t afford to be here.” Thus spoke Paddy Johnson, editor-in-chief of Art F City, in her opening remarks at a meeting in Bushwick on Thursday night. The event was held at Starr Space, the studio and occasional event space owned by artist Jules de Balincourt, and hosted by him, Johnson, and artists William Powhida and Lynn Sullivan. Mobilizing Bushwick, as it was called, or #stayinbushwick, as it’s been hashtagged, was an open, town-hall-style meeting to brainstorm ideas for, well, staying in Bushwick.
This morning on my way to work, I walked a few blocks through Downtown Brooklyn. On the surface, it looked the same as it always had — bustling and gritty — but I saw it differently. I noticed the vacant storefronts, the newly arrived chain stores, the towering, high-rise condos a few blocks away, and the fancy supermarket just across from the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station. These are things I had never given much thought to until today, and the reason my vision shifted is a film I saw last night: Kelly Anderson’s fantastic documentary My Brooklyn.
Those headed to Northside Art this weekend should make sure to visit the handful of open studios at 338 Berry Street, because those spaces won’t be studios for much longer. About six weeks ago, the 10 tenants still residing in live-and-work studios in the building lost their court battle with their landlord, Mona Gora-Friedman. The tenants are being evicted at the end of October, at which time Gora-Friedman will renovate the building and turn it into — sigh, what else? — luxury condos.
The impetus for the Bushwick Open Studios weekend is the concept of the “open studio.” It’s an opportunity for artists, curators and dealers to visit and talk to artists about their work in their spaces. But this past weekend, 56 Bogart Street served as a microcosm of the new Bushwick, where dealers with commercial galleries and artists with studios were presenting work to the public together, creating a larger event in which artists and dealers were functioning both in concert and at cross purposes at the same time.
One real estate frontier at a time, the narrative of artist-led gentrification has become naturalized as something close to an economic law. Williamsburg will surely replace Soho as the textbook example in the next edition, and everyone knows that Bushwick is next.
The BMW Guggenheim Lab came and went from Manhattan’s Lower East Side without much incident but now the Berlin leg of the Atelier Bow-Wow-designed structure’s world tour is being cancelled because of what organizers are claiming are threats of violence from left-wing anarchist groups.