New Studio


I have a new studio, at school.

It’s kind of magical and haunted looking. I love it. Its on the top of a gothic building with curved green tiled hallways. I have a studio mate who I haven’t met yet. But otherwise it’s just 2 of us in a big divided room. I have my own skylight.

It has kind of a funny story. We had a lottery, drawing numbers from an envelope, to chose studios. Before this we went around to 10 different studios to see them before we had to decide. Most of them are in the main art area, pretty much in the middle of stuff. They’re in a big room with lots of studios off a central chill area. They have windows and are modern looking. The other studios are in a different building. Up several flights of steps (unless you take the elevator). They are down a narrow curved hallway. There were only a few available up there. One of them was locked and the person with the key wasn’t there. But it was touted to be pretty much the same as the other ones in that area – but with one studio mate instead of two like the other ones, which also had either no skylight and no windows. Well one of them had a skylight.

So we went and drew numbers. I got #1! And I weighed my options. For years I’ve worked in big communal type studios. I love it, but I felt like trying something different for a bit. And sometimes being friendly and in an area with cool people who are making interesting things is distracting. Even though I couldn’t see the studio with a skylight and only one studiomate – I really liked the area it was in. So I chose it! It took me too long. I wasn’t ready to decide, and I drew #1 somehow. But I think I made a good choice.

Then when I finally got the key it turned out that people had been using the room for storage for almost a year. There was so much stuff in there! Lots of stuff! And it was very dusty. And there was so much mouse poop, since someone a long time ago had used the space to make art out of food, and left the art when they left.

So I cleaned a little, then there was a hurricane. So the school was closed, as was the public transportation, and it was a weekend. Then this morning I got there right before someone who had been charged with cleaning the space out. I began to organize the piles and he got there. Actually 2 people, who the bulk of the stuff belonged to. The guy who came to help knew who’s stuff was who’s and saved some in case people wanted to use it. And left some of it for me, because I wanted it. I thought I’d be able to use more of it – but lots of it belonged to people. He took it outside and dealt with it while I swept and “mopped” using plain water and a papertowels (with my foot). Anyhow, it’s all cleaned out now – I was there most of the day working on it. I’m glad to have had so much time to do that today, since classes were canceled because of hurricane aftermath stuff. Tomorrow I will have my first class.

The studio feels like a castle turret. It’s pretty private, although there are people from my program working nearby. One of them, who helped remove the storage situation, helped me get a chair in a crazy room full of stuff. Like Hogwarts “Room of Requirement”, but with half broken furniture, big rat footprints and mold.

Here are some pictures.

personal skylight

shadow of skylight

pile of mouse poop during cleanup

looking out my studio door

the stairway to the tower

the other skylight, the flying buttress


cleaning 100 year old dust off my new throne


obviously i didn’t make that word combo up.

but here i am, in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, bracketed by natural disasters. ahhhh.

lucky me i didn’t feel that quake in virginia (although much of the city swayed) i was in central park – somehow i missed it. there is lots of action and noise and motion here, i blame it on that.

now, mostly it’s been raining for like 5 hours maybe? maybe… but off and on earlier too, so it’s confusing. when did it start. 9 pm, in this solid unrelenting way. maybe before that though. whenever that one arm of the storm swept over us. i try to look at that weather map as often as i can these days.

my part of west harlem is ok. we didn’t have to evacuate or anything. i’m just hoping the electricity holds. and the internet. and the gas lines (yeah, we have a gas stove).

my husband went to sleep hours ago. i watched the internet for a while – tried to get the cat to pay attention to me – and jumped at the noises. so many noises. all masked and mushed together. oh irene. dang.

mostly the noise of rain. sometimes bumps or shouts or whatever. but mostly the sound of rain hitting everything. hitting the air conditioners. hitting the buildings and windows and street.

when we moved in we inherited windchimes made from shells, they hang on the fire escape, tangled. that’s another sound around here… but luckily the wind isn’t super strong right now. the rain sound overpowers that clanky business.

i took a picture of the bags stuck on the razor wire outside – they weren’t blowing around. but the picture wasn’t actually exciting, since they were not doing anything. i will photograph anything interesting that i can though – and post it.

people around the country are curious about how nyc is faring in this irene thing. i know, i’m new, so i can’t speak for the population, but i think we’re pretty ok. as far as i can tell, mostly hunkered down in our or someone else’s apartments. earlier i saw lots of people outside. but that was before the rain started. i’ve been hearing a bit of the hurricane party action around the block, but things seem pretty calm today. yesterday was more hectic.

we did go to the grocery store to see the lines today, and to the drug store for batteries (with a long line). at the grocery nearby there was a line outside, because they were only letting in a few people at a time. us neighbors (well, whoever was there) were like “what the hell” in our various languages. yes, what the hell.

anyhow, the bodegas were open and had less lines, and liquids and whatever stuff for stocking up. i couldn’t find a watermelon, but i didn’t look very hard. and i think they might be open tomorrow too. what the heck are we all going to do anyhow, now that the whole mta system is shut down? such a feat. i’m glad they shut it down though, better safe than sorry. what if the power went out and a tunnel flooded and some people were stuck under the east river in the train? what if the power went out and people had to wade through the dark wet tunnels to the next station? suck! so it’s better to just stay and spend our time and money in our own neighborhoods for one weekend. i hope it’s all back up on monday though. i want my school to be open!

it’s weird to be in this apartment without the train rattling the teapot on the stove, and the cups in the cabinets. that makes me nervous. a weird quiet in the middle of all of this white noise. we went to look at the closed subway stop earlier, but there was just a florescent pink ribbon across the handrails. not very exciting. i wanted to go down in there and the the “no trains” sign. if there is one. hmmm, i’ll work on that if i can rile myself up enough tomorrow.

i got my new art studio (for grad school) on friday. and i’d anticipated setting it up and taking pictures this weekend. but the school is closed. we’ll have to wait. there is an interesting story that goes along with that too – stay tuned, i will update soon.

anyhow, i’m going to try to go to sleep again. please wish me luck. this weather makes me more awake all the time. i can hear wind now. and trees hitting buildings. and more rain.

and it’s 2, so part of me is bound to be tired, right? right?


look, i'm growing a lychee

bags on the razor wire, and the ailanthus

free stuff!


new york is such a busy and amazing place. there is always something to do. much of it is free, or the price is low. i guess that makes up for how expensive it is to live here.

i’ve been to 2 free concerts so far, but they happen all of the time in the summer. i’ve missed some that sounded really good, but there will be more. i saw ra ra riot at prospect park (with buke and gass & delicate steve), last weekend. and yesterday i saw march fourth marching band (from portland) at lincoln center. free and fun and fantastic. i’m not sure how many free concerts remain this summer, not many. but most days there are musicians in the subway cars (last weekend an electric guitar player played the super mario theme song on my train – starting at my stop, which is rare because it is so high up manhattan usually the musicians concentrate on downtown). they just work for tips, of course, so it’s free for those of us who don’t have change to spare. some day i will give someone down there money. i love the mariachi bands in the traincars, and the guys who do flips, and sometimes there are super talented folks doing all sorts of stuff. there are kids dancing at the stops, classical musicians, people singing all sorts of songs, definitely worth change once i have anything to spare.

also there is so much art to see! i’ve been to at least 20 galleries, and seen some wonderful new art! newer than the museums, of course. and different. chelsea makes me so happy, but somehow i always go there when it is pouring down rain. this is not the plan, to go when it’s raining – i plan the art viewing part in advance, go there and then it starts to rain. i go with my friend jessica usually. and after we’ve been there for like 1/2 an hour it rains all crazy. hmm. but the galleries are free, yes! and some of them are super fancy, and some of them are really well curated, and some of them are low key, and some of them are ‘low brow’ or ‘high brow’, and some of them are sparkly, and the best part is that there is always a huge variety, and all you really have to do is walk down a few streets. one of the most awesome things i’ve ever seen.

and the metropolitan museum of art is ‘suggested donation’ which i usually interpret as anywhere from 2 to 5 dollars. although i have paid less than a quarter to go in there. my problem is i end up going so much that i’d spend all of my food there. so, i will give them more money when i am rich. and right now i will pay the ‘suggested donation of $20’ in installments. i paid $2.50 to see the alexander mcqueen retrospective the other day. it was really good. so good! i went with one of my oldest friends, zoe. we had to wait in line for 2.5 hours. but it was worth it. i’ve never waited in line for that long before, or thought it would be worth it to do so. but it was. we got to catch up (it’d been a year since we hung out), read about the amazing fashion designer and artist who’s work we were about to see. it was great, and about the price of coffee at most places.

anyhow – this may be the most expensive city in the usa, but it’s got a little bit of a balance, there are some amazing creative cultural experiences to be had for less money than most people think.

i’ll post more later about this.

oh! i forgot about this but somewhere in my old website i have a section called “the new york reports” in which i described many experiences like this from my many many visits to this city. they are out of date by a couple of years, but might be fun to read – if you are interested in such things. i just tried to find them, but my link says that the server doesn’t have them. so, i will look for them and try to figure it out. i’ll let you know. but if you poke around you might find them?

anyhow, happy weekend to you!