Writing 201 Assignment: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?
A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.
– Joan Didion
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. – Virginia Woolf
Substitute studio and art: A woman must have money and a studio of her own if she is to make art.
Susan Rothenberg: I believe very strongly that if you’re not in your studio physically most every day, you’ve denied the possibility of anything happening. So, even if you’re reading a detective novel, you should be there. I don’t go to the studio at night anymore, unless I’m on a deadline or fussed at Bruce; then I go back. It’s my sanctuary. It’s a great studio. It’s a great place to have a studio.
I am lucky enough to have a studio of my own, it’s even two rooms. I got my first such room years ago right after college; It was in Paris in 1991, a tiny room in the top floor with a sloping roof; a little bigger than the size of a regular bathroom. It’s the only one I’ve had with light pouring in from the ceiling.
My second one was also back then in Paris. I moved to the Monmartre area and had a two bedroom place with a tiny kitchen. The second bedroom was my studio and it was large with windows.
Back in NYC in 1993, I got my third studio, my first NY art studio, in Tribeca, around the corner from my current one. 368 Broadway, number 510 on the fifth floor. It actually had windows. Back then the Tribeca Open Stuido Tour (TOAST), which has become a big event with lots of ads and marketing was called “Franklinfest”. My studio was between Franklin and White streets. I participated in this first small open studio tour back then. When I moved to a bigger place at the end of 1997, I thought I could have a studio in my apt., but realized it wouldn’t work with the setup, so I went back to 368 Broadway and got a smaller studio with no windows on the 4th floor. I shared it with another artists for a while. It was the studio I had during art therapy grad school. I kept this studio until 2003, when I moved to a bigger studio on the 3rd floor of the same building, Suite 307. It had a window stuck next to a brick building so air, but no light. I stayed in that studio the longest, for 10 years. I made my biggest art piece in there, a 7 foot diameter mandala. I was convinced I would stay there ten more years, but in 2013, I had to move out as the landlord would not renew my lease after 20 years in that building.
I was very happy and lucky to find this last studio, my sixth in my lifetime, around the corner from my old building, 59 Franklin st. on the second floor. This studio has no windows but it is two rooms and has a column in the second room. When I first moved in, the column was painted whiite; I made it a community art project to paint the column, inviting all visitors to paint it, all ages, patients, supervisees, colleagues, other artists, friends, family.
I just renewed my lease for two more years. However, a while back, I found out that my building was going to be demolished so the owner could build one of those big residential high rises, like the other ones in my neigborhood that caused all kinds of places to close. The big art store, Pearl Paint closed about a year ago, which was devastating. I had been in the neighborhood over twenty years. The deli on the corner of Broadway and Leonard street where I used to get bagels and lunches closed about 6 months ago after years of being a presence there. The great P & S Fabrics store has moved three times but is still within a block of my studio.
This is the trajectory of my own “rooms” for creating. But a room is not just an art studio; it is something you carry with you. I have many series of drawings and other work made outside the studio, in transit, wherever. Right after 9/11/01, I did not go back to my studio for quite a while and started making very tiny art work. It was a “moveable studio”.
I was shocked that this new studio I managed to score right when getting kicked out of the old one, that I have grown attached to, my best studio so far, is again a fragile reality; here today, gone as soon as the owner kicks us all out.
Which brings me to the main part of the assignment: I’m interpreting this not as where I would go to right now in this moment, but an opportunity to score my ideal studio, my future room of my own:
Ever since I heard of Pollock and saw his “barn” studio in East Hampton, I have had a “barn studio fantasy”. I saw photos of one of my favorite artists, Susan Rothenberg’s barn studio in New Mexico,
Here is a great interview with her, including her daily habit and the importance of the studio:
So I want my studio to be not just in a barn, but the whole barn. A big red barn with windows that has been winterized to have heat. Gigantic ceilings, even some old partitions that animals used to occupy. Plenty of room for old big paintings to be stored. A lot of space even if I end of in a corner sitting on the floor making tiny art. room for all kinds of materials. Ideally this barn would be in New Mexico, like where Susan Rothenberg lives, with beautiful light and a beautiful view, for my New York starved for light artist.
That’s really it. A big beautiful barn art studio. That is my own and that I actually finally own! The only thing that can kick me out of it is my own demise. I would like to be working there when I am an old lady artist.