Big News: Goodbye to Studio 307 on My Tenth Anniversary!

I have not posted in here recently until tonight when I added some photos to the last post on Altered Books. Anyway, the reason is that on Wed., Feb. 7, about a week and a few days ago, with just three weeks left of February which is of course, a very short month, I got stunned with the news that my landlord of 20 years was not going to renew my lease on Studio 307, where I make my art and work as an art therapist/psychotherapist, Reiki practitioner. Since I started in that studio on March 1, 2003, I have renewed my lease annually in February. As usual, I was not thinking about the lease renewal, as I am used to getting a notice under the door telling me to go to the management office across the st. and renew my lease. So I am not being “evicted”; I am simply not given the opportunity to renew my lease after 20 years of renting studios in that building. I started in 1993 with my first NYC art studio (not my first studio, which was actually in Paris, France, a tiny studio at the top floor of a building), on the fifth floor in Room 503. In 1998, I moved to the fourth floor to a slightly bigger studio in 408. I don’t recall if there was a window in there. So I stayed in 408 until I moved down to 307, my current studio, which is the biggest studio I have ever had. It’s about 346 square feet, but feels larger as the ceilings are so high. I have to take photos of the ceilings in there as I have been taking my “last” photos of the studio in the past few weeks and I will post some at the end of this post.

This was shocking and awful news for me, to be quite honest. Over these twenty years I have seen many people come and go. I have had several different kinds of neighbors next door in 308. I have been friendly with about 5 other people on the floor. The current people I know on the third floor and in the building were also shocked by the news, as I have been a great tenant. This is a commercial building but I have seen all kinds of people rent from there, not just visual artists. I knew one musician and have had quite loud neighbors. I have always been known as quiet,except for when there are several loud children in the studio, usually on the weekends. And I know an artist on the floor who regularly brings his two young daughters to the studio. There are lots of children who come to the building. There are no pets allowed but I have seen people bring their dogs there, and on 2 occasions in my ten years in 307, I had patients bring very tiny dogs during their sessions…

Anyway, I was certainly in no way ready to move out. My practice is in fact in process of growing by the month, and I am getting ready to start my art therapy group that I have discussed in this blog, but I am postponing beginning the group until I am in my new studio.

By the end of the day after hearing this news, I had spoken to quite a few people and looked online right away for studios in the neighborhood and elsewhere. I quickly found that most of the studios are listed on Craigslist, although I looked all over the place and also contacted my connections in the neighborhood. I also got a real estate lawyer to look at my current lease and advise me. As I thought, I found out that week from her that the landlord can do whatever he wants and is not required to renew my lease at any time or give the reason why the lease will not be renewed. So I have to get all my paintings and other stuff out of my studio by 4:45 on Feb. 28, 2013. At present I have exactly 12 days left of having the studio. While looking at other spaces, I worked on figuring out how to make sure I get my large two months deposit back. All these practical matters have to be attended to as I at the same time inform my family, friends and patients and supervisees that I am leaving the studio, and most of all, get used to the idea myself.

This is a big loss for me. I have become extremely attached to this studio which is far more than just a “work space”. In another post, perhaps I will look back upon all that has happened over the ten years of being in this studio. Suffice it to say that I have shed many a tear over this big “termination”. There is nothing like being forced to move out of your space that has been your heart and soul for so many years and that has seen so much creativity of myself and countless others, adults and children, family members, many friends, colleagues, patients and supervisees. Since June of 2008 I have facilitated supervision groups in the studio that are based on art making as a major form of processing clinical work. I could go on and on about what this studio means to me, but I will continue reminiscing in another post.

The good news is that I have a new studio around the corner on Franklin St. I have not yet signed the lease, but I expect to give my deposit tomorrow and sign the lease next week. I will have to paint the walls in the new studio, as they are a dark red and blue, but it’s an opportunity to “make it my own”. I’m thinking of painting one of the walls gold, as I love gold walls, and the new studio is significantly smaller by about maybe 90 square feet or so but even more so because the ceiling is very low, so it will seem far smaller than my current one. So I must embrace the intimacy of the new space while still figuring out how to continue to have groups of 3-6 members in there, which I am determined to do.

I was going to wait to sign a lease to give the news to the people who come to my studio, especially my patients and supervisees, but I realized there is not much time left, so by mid Tuesday, I started telling people and continued through my last patient on Friday at 7pm.

More to say about the wonderful support of everyone who has walked into the studio this week as well as the many friends and family members who have been talking to me all week about this big transition.

Today marked my first day starting the big job of packing and going through the big painting racks which need to be taken apart and have so much on them as they go up to the very high ceiling. I found much old discarded art work of various people to throw out as well as other random things. Starting the process makes me realize what a big job this is going to be, even though I have good help on it. I am going to have a goodbye party and sale of art work next Saturday, so I hope to get rid of a lot of old art. Unfortunately I have a lot of very large paintings from the 1990’s to get rid of.

In addition there is the gigantic mandala, 7 feet in diameter, on the wall that my patients face, which I have to figure out how to dismantle and get out of the studio. It was that art piece, probably the biggest thing I have ever made, that symbolized for me how “married” I was to the studio. It was as though unconsciously as I created it many years ago, maybe around 2004 and 2005, that I was saying with it, I am staying here forever, as this mandala cannot fit out the door!

Never had I imagined that my leaving this studio would be not of my own free will. I am still shocked, stunned…

While many people have said how sad this is, others have commented on it being an opportunity to start anew. Alas, both are true. As Nietzsche said, “What does not kill you makes you stronger.”…

Goodbye 368 Broadway and goodbye Studio 307. Apparently I will be able to continue on without you, but I will always miss you…

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Interview About My Art Therapy Career!

Interview About My Art Therapy Career!

I am very excited to announce that the first of a two part interview that took place in my studio/office with art therapist Victoria Scarborough is now online at the above link! The interview is about how I started out in the field, my past experience, my present experience and current projects I am working on, as well as how I balance being an artist with being an art therapist. As on this blog, there is some personal information in it, in case you don’t want to know too much about me. (ie. patients out there and former patients and others, only read it if you don’t mind knowing a bit about how my personal life impacts my professional life…)

I will announce on this blog when she posts Part 2 of the interview.

Artist Identity Topic Continued…

I have been posting here a lot about issues pertaining to art therapy and psychological topics, and I have also more recently posted about my personal art work, its connection to art therapy and being an art therapist, and the issues involved with the dual identity some of us have of professional artist and professional art therapist.

The Art Therapy Alliance is currently conducting an online kind of gallery called “Spaces & Places: Where We Create: an art therapy community photo documentary project”. For more information about this project and to participate in it, check out their website link:

http://www.arttherapyalliance.org/WhereWeCreate.html

In their guidelines for submissions, they divide their creative spaces into several categories that I will quote here. (I promise this will all tie together and in fact be more personal by the end of this post…)

1. Images of your professional creative space: At work, your internship, and on the go

2. Commonly used art supplies and media: In your art therapy work or internship with clients

3. Favorite technique: An art intervention or technique approach with individuals or in groups

4. If your creative space has changed: Before and after photos

5. Images of your personal art-making space: Where do you create your art?

Here is the link to view the photos and videos in this great project: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arttherapy

So I got intrigued by this project,as I think it is a great idea, and I took some of my own photos and found others and submitted a bunch of themi to their website. In doing so, I noticed something interesting that may be applicable for others who have submitted to this fun and interesting project; for me, some of the categories merged. Number 1, professional creative space, ie. my private practice where I work with individuals and groups providing art therapy, psychotherapy and supervision, and number 5. my personal art-making space, where I create most of the art work that I sell and exhibit, as you probably know by now from reading my blog, are one and the same space. The studio has also become a place for “play dates” with my child and other children her age and their younger siblings, so one of my favorite “techniques” involving “commonly used art supplies and media” was a picture of a mural made by my daughter and me and two other kids and their dad. The mural had all kinds of materials I commonly use with everybody who comes to my studio to make something: collage, paint, drawing materials, images from magazines, as well as some odd stuff like cotton balls and stickers that aren’t as common. I also posted a picture of one of my own scribble drawing collages as an example of a favorite technique with some of my favorite art materials of the moment, as I change the media a lot in my own work, which ranges from oil paintings to drawings, collages, mixed media, and doll sculptures.

Meanwhile, as I usually do annually in the month of April, I have been preparing for the Tribeca Open Artists Studio Tour. (http://toastartwalk.com). The preparation involves picking up flyers to give out, and inviting people by email, Facebook, through my artist blog, my artist Facebook page, etc., and now of course, in this blog post. It also involves figuring out how I want to present my work during this public event for three days at the end of April. Usually I am in the midst of making new work and feeling inpatient to finish it so as to see what kinds of reactions I get to my new work, as some of my old work is usually up already. I also try to make magnets with images of my work to sell for low prices and get my business cards together. My studio will be open to the public on Friday, April 27, from 6-8:30, on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29 from 1-6 pm. The studio tour continues on Monday, April 30, but I do not usually participate on that day, due to work…

Obviously as my art making work place is merged with my therapeutic space, my patients and supervisees sometimes notice that I am participating in this event. Sometimes they are curious and ask about it. In all the years of doing this event, I only had one patient talk about coming to the event. I must confess that I was not sure what to say to her, and did not really say much to reveal whether I really wanted her to come or not. I figured the whole thing was much more “complicated” for me than for my patient, who was very aware of my artist identity, as she was working on her own artist identity in therapy among other issues. I also confess that I had a “fantasy” of her coming to my studio with her friends during the studio tour when some family member or friend of mine was there, and noticed that it made me incredibly uncomfortable. Definitely a “boundary” issue for me. I have encountered this type of thing before. Once, a patient really wanted to buy one of my paintings. I explained very clearly why this was not ok, due to the dual nature of the relationship if I were to sell art to a patient. It ended up being an interesting topic to explore and learn more about what the painting meant to this person and why he wanted to purchase it. The blue colors in it had a lot to do with this person’s interest in the painting. In fact, this person had strong opinions about a bunch of my work, including one big piece that has drawn all kinds of reactions from my patients, which this person did not like at all. This art piece that one has to face if sitting in the “other” chair across from me has generated all kinds of interesting reactions, a topic for another post that would focus on the merging of personal art making space with professional therapeutic space…

To get back to my point, which, I think, is about how I continue to nurture my “artist self” and continue to identify as an artist who is also a therapist, I am sharing information about my art work in different ways on this blog, as well as trying to connect my art work to my work as a therapist. So far, I have mostly done this by posting pictures of my art work as examples of different art therapy directives and examples of my personal journey as an artist. Now I am announcing an event that pertains to my personal art work and art making space. Even though I have been participating in this public event for years, (I started way back when it was a little event called “Franklinfest” as most of the studios were near Franklin Street), and each year the event is more publicized and the flyers/maps become more fancy (this year instead of one map and list of participating artists, art galleries, cafes, it is an actual “zine” or booklet), anyway although I am a veteran and know what to expect more or less, I still notice that I am not fully comfortable with lots of strangers wandering into my studio. It can be extremely overwhelming to have tons of strangers come into your studio and have to be “on” for hours at a time, saying hello, being friendly, answering questions, trying to give out business cards and sell the magnets and also the art work. A while ago I decided to write small statements about my work and print them out and put them on the wall next to each series of my work as I always show a few different series at once. It’s also a way to avoid getting the schizophrenic question, “Who are the artists?” and having to explain that it’s all my work! Also I have to be prepared for the odd person who peeks in and walks in the door, looks around quickly then leaves. One has to have thick skin for that! The worst question is when people ask me how much I pay for my studio rent which makes me think the person has no interest in my work and is just checking out the real estate downtown. Most people are polite and interested and friendly, so it’s not so bad. However, when there are about 20 strangers in your studio looking around at everything (they peer at the paintings hidden in the racks, they look at my table of mostly very used brushes and often remark on the bunches of tea bags hanging by the entrance to the studio), it’s usually nice if one of my friends has come by and is sitting with me. Once in a while people ask for prices, and I’m never quite sure if my prices are too high or too low. Sometimes I put up a bunch of small drawings and put a low price next to them to entice people to buy my small work. I haven’t decided what to do this year. I also get comments and questions about art therapy as my license and ATR-BC are up framed on the wall by the door.

I forgot to mention the thing that got me inspired to do this post, interesting slip! I just published it with the photos and remembered. I picked up an edition of the April Tribeca Tribune, a free neighborhood newspaper, and on page 38, there is an article about the upcoming studio tour with a bunch of images of different art of some of the featured artists. An image of one of my dolls is featured there! I was very excited to see it, especially as it is quite prominent with white space around it. I am including a photo of this doll at the end of this post. I started making these dolls I can’t remember when, maybe around 2004 or 2005, not sure, but I started making new ones recently when I was building my website and took photos of the old ones, so this doll is a recent work. There is a link to the Tribeca Tribune’s website, where you can view the newspaper version as opposed to their online version which doesn’t include this page. When you go to the link you have to turn the pages to get to the article and photos on page 38:

http://www.issuu.com/tribecatrib/docs/tribeca_trib_april

I’ll end this post with another photo of one of my recent pieces that I am planning to show at the studio tour and some photos I took of my studio space…

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