An Artist's Census

Monday, April 07, 2014

Inspired by a piece in The New York Times this weekend, "Last Bohemian Turns Out the Lights", we're starting the show today with an artist's census. What's your neighborhood like for you? What do you do to support your art, and what do you need to get more support? 

Comments [42]

With the internet it is possible for an artist anywhere to be part of a community - albeit a virtual one. I am on the North Shore of Staten Island so I can be in an actual community; but I keep up with communities in Detroit MI,Greenville SC and Melbourne Fl via internet. Art sales, like art criticism already has, are migrating to the internet also.

Apr. 10 2014 08:21 AM
Caitly from Asbury Park

I am a painter, the city is very expensive and at this point affordable for me. I currently live in Asbury Park NJ and we have a great art scene that is growing quickly. This place is alive with amazing food, music and culture, there are currently about 10 galleries around our main area of town and just a train ride away from NYC.

Apr. 08 2014 03:36 PM
Szlasmatazz from Queens

"Art" is physical, so in order for a thriving community to take hold I feel the participants should be in close proximity to one another. We used to be able to do studio visits with each other without taking a 50 minute train ride, or driving from Bushwick to Newark, or from the Bronx to Gowanus. (May as well go to L.A.) Downtown Manhattan was the greatest because it was all in walking distance, and the Brooklyn neighborhoods and industrial zones that followed were only a very short subway ride away for one another. The reason NYC works best is because its a walking town, and its close to the galleries and museums. Even when there was a crack epidemic and violence and theft were the norm, the museums and galleries were in close proximity and opportunity was close by.

What Brian keeps asking about is the scene. A lot of artists these days are too young to have ever even experienced any real scene like Clayton Patterson is describing. It left long ago. There was one in Bushwick that is pretty much over. There was one taking off in Sunset Park and it was extinguished by developers who are jumping ahead of the regular process.It's very cold and harsh toward the people who want to stay put in there neighborhood.

These areas and life in general become commodified or sold out so quickly. NYC is almost totally mainstream and square, it's for the JCrew and the bad guys in "Revenge of the Nerds". Now it's totally about luxury, amenities and superficial consumption. It used to be about openness and potential. And extremely lively interaction, first hand, and in person.

Apr. 08 2014 01:26 AM
Aviva from Mt Vernon

Mt Vernon has got a lot of young artists. It cheap and less than 30 minutes to Manhattan on the Metro North.

Apr. 07 2014 09:10 PM
George from Yonkers

Take it from an old filmmaker who "communed" Downtown Brooklyn in the '70s. Downtown Brooklyn had declined over the years to a pretty dangerous place. Artists (and gay folk) moved in because the rents were cheap and landlords were tolerant. Once a "critical mass" of young, middle class renters moved in, prices started to rise - because the neighborhood became safer. The smarter, more frugal ones bought in - still at very low prices, fixed up the buildings and rented apartments out to the next generation of young beginners. The pejorative term, "Gentrifiers," was erroneously used to describe the owners - but they were restoring value and deserved financial encouragement.

This process continues with the "wave" of artists pushing the borders continually outward. Now the border is out in Bushwick to the east, Secaucus to the west and Staten Island to the South. It seems to stop at the end of the MTA lines.

To the north, there remains one enclave where low cost and roomy spaces may be had - just past the end of the A-train - - in Yonkers - - just 30 minutes commute to midtown.

The closest section is Park Hill, a neighborhood of established, populated by age 40+ artists (record and show producers, sculptors, painters, writers and filmmakers). Their homes are virtual mansions, left behind by the moguls of the 1900s, replete with old world workmanship and charm. Prices top out well under $1M. The younger artists; assistants, employees and interns, enjoy rents of $1,600 for large 3-bedroom apartments with gardens.

Imagine three generations of artists socializing and working together, somewhat relieved from the financial rat-wheel, enjoying a vibrant riverside market, several parks with interconnecting bike trails, a kayak ramp, and no dog poop underfoot. Summer BBQs and pool parties were ideas and deals cross pollinate.

Hey, why am I telling you all this? So you can all move up here and drive up the prices? Am I nuts? Just forget you ever heard the name, Park Hill.

Thank you very much.

Apr. 07 2014 06:12 PM
New New New "NYC" from NNN NYC

In the past 1.5 years I have to come to understand something I have been in denial about for so long ...
NYC is over.

America is undergoing dangerous social changes [Pres.Voting = Supreme Court rulings] and we need to accept and stop denying ourselves about the NYC [and America] of yesteryear.
It's Over.

The middle class is now making over 250K a year - Really?
Artists can't afford to live in this city's traditional art neighborhood -
that scene is Over.

This is city will become a metropolis for millionaires and billionaires - from every corner of the world - and super poor people who serve the Top!
NYC is over and I know I won't be around in 2 years time. Leave that for the new generation of suckers who come to "The Greatest City in the World."
Where would that be?

I have moved to Staten Island - which is DEAD by the way - and it's still a lot of money for me. I with other roommates and the rent is still too high.

Apr. 07 2014 05:35 PM
marichant from harlem USA

i am a working artist full time. 10 plus years NYC, I have lived in brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, now Harlem NYC, which for those artists not in the know, there is now a huuuuuuuuge basement art supply store on 125th and Adam Clayton Powell, Plenty of clubs for musicians and still some affordable housing and real community spaces if you are willing to give them a chance.

I lived in bedstuy before all the artists started moving over there and I can't imagine the neighborhood is happy about the arts influx.
everyone talking about berlin still but no one is really talking abt how angry german based artists have been over the years about the NYC influx. If i personally decided to do the ex pat thing id go to Lisbon, or Montreal.

Apr. 07 2014 04:36 PM

I am also from Staten Island, though I currently live in Brooklyn. 50 years ago artist would live in area's that are far more dangerous than anywhere in NYC today. That was part of the tradeoff. They could afford sizable working spaces, often in ramshackle condition. Many later on ended up with enough resources to buy in the hamptons and up the hudson river valley, thousands mimicked them, that was the model.
Now as at least one person has said, the art world is glutted with those interested in the capital or the fashionability of art. The market wants nothing to do with art that may take 10 years to develop, you can't predict that. We see the results all over the city and in Grad Programs.
I teach ungrads, I work several jobs and I am one incident away from having to give everything up for a while. You can't get your work time back.

All the pressures on a young artist in NYC are financially generated. I suspect most convince themselves they can broker the difference and it won't matter. A kind of dismissive stance towards authenticity has sprung up in this environment. As if caring deeply about something was passe'. Commitment and investment used to be the final redeemable quality for an artist. That is why working until you die was held as a proof.
That kind of art isn't possible in NYC.
It used to be artist chose between painting or kids.
Food or painting is the new working class compromise.
It's painful.

Apr. 07 2014 04:29 PM

I observe DC to be great for artists, visual and music.

Lots of wealth to buy art, mostly smart, laid back people sucking off the govt. teat since 9/11, yet a very amateurish (in a good way) art scene!

Apr. 07 2014 03:24 PM

I'm late to this one, but want to point out what I've personally witnessed in my NYC time as one who both participates in independent artist activities and the corporate world. I've seen many general concepts and specific ideas originate in their pure form in underground environments. The raw material is then borrowed, expanded upon, and/or distilled by professional creatives in corporate settings. Eventually the end product results in economic benefits enjoyed by everyone from the shareholders to small-town retailers. The ripple effect positively affects surrounding populations as a contributor to a healthy economy.

This isn't at all a complaint, and just an inevitable evolution of one person's inspiration to an experience enjoyed by many. However, it's also a reminder not to dismiss artists as "unnecessary," and that arts funding should be viewed an an investment to a country's infrastructure.

Apr. 07 2014 11:54 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Kate from Brooklyn,
again you are interested in officialdom. A window to every day lives of people in the arts also gives one a view that you will not find in data. Public arts money has rarely reached individual artists. The money goes to various institution much of which is called “arts education.” Yet Americas have little interest in the arts. So one can extrapolate that Western Arts is still in Europe and never reached America's mass public. The institutions then made jobs for a few arts bureaucrats
Bloomberg may have spent a lot of money on “the arts” yet New York in no longer an arts creating center. It’s a high priced museum town with little interest in a live arts community. Berlin on the other hand doesn’t have a arts “market” but it is alive with living people from all over world engaged in the arts.

Apr. 07 2014 11:39 AM
art525 from Park Slope

Phoenix from Buskwick says-"Today's artists rarely toil alone in the studio".
Sorry Phoenix that's what artists do- toil alone in the studio.
She says they "engage with local communities as social practicers, art writers, curators, small business owners, and gallery owners". That's called neetworking. And that is at the heart of the mediocrity of today's "art". It's about networking and hustling. It's about getting a good rap down. Art students learn the talk rather than the skills of making art. They can make a great speech but when it comes to the canvas they have nothing to say.

Apr. 07 2014 11:34 AM
Kate from Brooklyn

@Taher from Croton-on-Hudson, I didn't say that I wanted the culture commissioner himself interviewed. Brian could talk to arts reporters, arts organizations, or non-profits that track spending in the arts to discuss de Blasio's appointment and what it means for NYC. This is a big question, since Bloomberg spent so much on the arts and Tom Finklepearl is going to have to work with a smaller budget.

And I'm an art journalist so I am in fact very interested in the arts. But this conversation reminds me of a lot of other recent BL call-ins about artists and their neighborhoods that aren't very enlightening.

Apr. 07 2014 11:07 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

What about bohemian/artists who are mid-career? What about those of us who do have day jobs (many that are related to our chosen art), but who still also make art? There are still plenty of us in this category, living all over the city, and it seems like a pipe dream to me for anyone over the age of 30 to expect to have no major life expenses, and to not need to make a certain income.

It's been clear for a long time that major cities on the East Coast are too expensive to serve as places where young people can live and find their footing as creative people. But the thing is, this nostalgia for NYC and other cities and it's cheapness and bohemianism forgets what older artists had to deal with in order to enjoy a sense of artistic community. With cheap rent came crack heads breaking into your apartment, murders in your building or on your block, apartments that were often in terrible condition, you lived off of canned soup and bagels; general life conditions were generally much harsher, and I'm not so sure the younger generation today would be prepared to live this way in exchange for having cheap rent. If the younger generation wants cheap rent, do what those of us who are older did - go move someplace really cheap, and deal with the fact that you often had to live in or near slummy, depressing conditions. There won't be organic coffee shops, the produce at supermarkets will be rotting, and there won't be boutiques or artisinal flea markets or any of these things that exist today that seem to be must-haves by the young.

If you haven't managed to make a living off of your art by a certain age (and many, many of us have not), you're going to have to make compromises and split your time between paid, production work and your fine art. As an artist in my mid-40's, I have no problem doing this, because like most human beings, I crave security and comfort and not having this gets old after a while. It honestly seems absurd to me at this point that people want ready-made artist neighborhoods. You follow your own nose, you find your own community, and you work hard to make your life the way you hope it can be. If you can't find what you were hoping for in NYC, you leave. There are lots of smaller cities and towns out there where artists have moved and have started to do interesting things.

Apr. 07 2014 10:57 AM

Who are 'today's artists?' Artists pursue their practice in many ways, including isolation, despite what three Bushwick gallerists say the trend is. Regarding Kate's complaint about the show format ... while I agree that there could be more reporting/analysis about art world news, giving artists an opportunity to speak, even if it's only venting, is valuable as well. The general population benefits from knowing that artists aren't just living amongst them, but that they are very much affected by the economics of the city.

Apr. 07 2014 10:48 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Kate from Brooklyn: the cultural commissioner is not going to be talking about the people who create the stuff that is in NYC museums, theaters and music spaces.
Rather the commissioner will be talking about institutional and bureaucratic issues and top it off with all is well on the culture front in NYC. With theater tickets more then a 100 bucks. So, I disagree with you. The personal is always a window to the community. You obviously have little interest in the arts. And that’s OK too. Brian brings in plenty of bureaucrats, politicians and hosts of institutional professionals talking their party line. Thanks Brian for this segment. A window as to where the city is.

Apr. 07 2014 10:42 AM
Brendan from Upper West Side

Read *Apes of God* by Wyndham Lewis. At least read a synopsis... it's long and long-winded but it's an amazing satire/analysis of the whole process of artists surviving and being co-opted by gentrification, in both real estate and aesthetics.

What happens is "actual" starving artists move to a lower rent neighborhood; wealthy people see that attractive "bohemian" lifestyle, and want to emulate it, so they spend more money and buy the artists' garrets out from them. The new, wealthy faux-bohemians then decide to create art, and whether it's good or not it gets taken seriously.

It's set in London in 1926. So I guess you could say it was ever thus.

Apr. 07 2014 10:39 AM
Phoenix from Buskwick

I am an artist that lives in Bushwick and works in the arts community. This past weekend, I moderated a panel discussion with Bushwick gallerists from Momenta Arts, Honey Ramka and Harbor Arts. From this panel, I would push back on the old myth of "starving artist" and the phrase "new bohemian." Emerging artists, in Bushwick and everywhere, are smart, educated, serious, and agile. Today's artists rarely toil alone in the studio, but engage with local communities as social practicers, art writers, curators, small business owners, and gallery owners.

Apr. 07 2014 10:37 AM

New York City used to be the place to come to to make it. Now, it's where you can only come to AFTER you've made it.

What kind of culture do you have when a city has been sold to the highest bidder???

Apr. 07 2014 10:35 AM
Bobby G from East Village

After listening to these callers it's clear that if there any bohemians left they're not calling the Brian Lehrer Show.

Apr. 07 2014 10:27 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Artistic activity has always happened in urban settings. Old New York- ’40-90’s. Berlin today.
New York is a great museum town. The Hudson Valley has Beacon, known as “Brooklyn North.”

Apr. 07 2014 10:26 AM
Robert from NYC

Because Berlin is a really great city culturally, socially and it's plain ol'fabulous to live there. I think it's more cosmopolitan that NYC. NYC lives in its past. Even broadway is crappy! NYC is hollow now. Thanks Mike.

Apr. 07 2014 10:25 AM
art525 from Park Slope

The "artists" in W'burg and Bed Sty are more interested in their mustaches than their art.

Apr. 07 2014 10:25 AM

The new gentrified "artist" is called a hipster.

The difference being they only look "Bohemian" and play Kickball (duuuude!) in McCarren Park instead of actually making art.

Apr. 07 2014 10:24 AM
Peter Lewy from Washington Heights

I am a musician who lived in Greenwich Village and the East Village back in the stone age when they were bohemian. Now I work there as a street musician which I could never have found lucrative then. People give me money living in the fantasy of it being a bohemian neighborhood while it would be impossible for me to afford to live there now.

Apr. 07 2014 10:24 AM
Michael Heller from Staten Island

The City for me has become way to expensive, crowded, and noisy for working as an artist. I moved last year out to Staten Island where I have a quiet, inexpensive place. I was able to sell my 1 br on the LES for a 2 br 2 bath condo/townhouse with a garage. I made the garage into a woodworking shop and one bedroom into a photo studio.

There is an art scene out here, but right now I am trying to get my projects together. I do think SI may turn out to be the next big thing. It is only a ferry ride away from Manhattan.

Apr. 07 2014 10:21 AM

I don't know why people don't move across the river to New Jersey, it's so cheap and you can get to manhattan in 20 minutes. It's just the stigma of living in jersey.

Apr. 07 2014 10:21 AM
Melanie from Bronx

I rarely turn away from the Brian Lehrer show but I did this morning. I am 58 and a new artist. As a woman and of a certain age I know that I probably won't ever exist in any way in the NY art scene. I'm disappointed that BL would focus on stereotypes -- young, starving, bohemian -- when "inviting" people to share their experiences as artists.

Apr. 07 2014 10:18 AM

I looked at a retail space on A & 10 the other day…

400 sq ft - $8400/mth!!!

Apr. 07 2014 10:18 AM
art525 from Park Slope

I hate the "new bohemia" in NYC. The so called artists are much more concerned with being artists than making real art. Art is a mission not a lifestyle. And I don't thin a true artist would worry about being a "bohemian". You just do what means something to you. I have lived in the city for 30 years making my lving off my art and I find that there is nothing around me to sustain me as far as a culture of art now. It is all very uninspired, uncreative and very self conscious. I am moving to Maine.

Apr. 07 2014 10:17 AM
Kate from Brooklyn

These free-form call-in segments are getting more and more frequent, and I find myself listening to your show less and less because of it. I turned on the BL show this morning hoping to hear more about the new culture commissioner, but instead you are asking bohemians to call in and talk about where they live. Isn't this just another a predictable conversation about rents and gentrification? Where's the news here? Meanwhile, the new culture commissioner, whose appointment will have a real effect on the arts in NYC, gets only a tweet.

In general there seems to be less and less news on the BL Show and more and more "feel-good" call-ins ("family meeting," etc.). The show is aiming more and more for the sentimental and the provocative (like the upcoming skin-lightening segment, which seems designed to spark outrage, controversy, and defensiveness).

Please, report more news again! Interview more people! Have people call in to question a guest instead of to vent about their personal issues!

Do any other WNYC members out there feel the same?

Apr. 07 2014 10:17 AM

NYC has been "done" for a very long time.

How many Best Buys, Olive Gardens, Bed Bath & Beyonds, Home Depots and Starbucks do you need for proof of that??

Apr. 07 2014 10:16 AM

Few of these artists seem young enough to know of the loss this piece is supposed to be discussing.

It's a shame that the idea of an artistic community in the city(rather than simply a neighborhood that is affordable) has been gone long enough where much of the current generation of artists have never known such a thing.

Apr. 07 2014 10:15 AM
Amy Adams from Ditmas Park

I think the point is is that you cannot be a starving artist in New York. You HAVE to be successful and seek stability. We form our own communities where we need to but really we do just need space - even if it isn't a vibrant, fun community.

Apr. 07 2014 10:15 AM

also, forgot to add how amazing our music scene is...absolutely incredible...large music festival yearly, plenty of shows, great venues, and plenty of people coming to play here from all over the country

Apr. 07 2014 10:13 AM
Robert from NYC

You can than Brian's mayor Bloomberg for the over-gentrification of Manhattan. Even the Bronx (South Bronx at that) has felt the Bloomberg thump on the head.

Apr. 07 2014 10:13 AM

New London, CT.
Great artist community, studios, galleries, very affordable rent, on the water... accessible to NYC via amtrak, shoreline east/metro north, and the L.I. Ferry.
definitely right outside NYC, but many people travel there frequently, easily.

Apr. 07 2014 10:11 AM
Aaron from Staten Island

I moved to St George Staten island about a year and a half ago. Bought a cheap Victorian house and am in the process of creating a home studio (music). There are a LOT of musicians here - LOTS of visual artists and LOTS of characters... Reminds me of red hook 15 years ago

Apr. 07 2014 10:10 AM
Robert from NYC

Well, gentrification has most assuredly ruined the E Vill / LES! Bohemian? NOT!!! anymore at least. Patterson may have moved here in '79, i was here in '74 and it has become a feast for NYU undergrads who think it's still "cool" here and it ain't, there are some remainders like the Ukrainian community but otherwise it has become the model of gentrification, I think. I say I think because I hear Brooklyn has really gentrified and I have a feeling it is much more representative of why one doesn't want gentrification to happen. But neither is bohemian anymore.

Apr. 07 2014 10:10 AM
Jay F.


Apr. 07 2014 10:09 AM
christina Finamore

St. George, Staten Island!

Apr. 07 2014 10:06 AM


Apr. 07 2014 10:02 AM

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