New York Artist Life 1970s vs 2000s

Bullet Shih Mar, 2012 0
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The Wall Street Journal has a wonderful piece on the general state of living as an artist in New York City with a discussion between two different generations of artists.

Deborah Kass, 60, moved to the city in 1974. Her bright, oversize paintings, which often feature ironic aphorisms or reference art-world superstars, hang in collections at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney and the Guggenheim. Represented by the Paul Kasmin Gallery in Chelsea, she has a retrospective this fall at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

Amy Lincoln, 30, lives in Bushwick, where she produces small, acrylic still lifes, portraits and landscapes with a deliberately formal, primitive feel. She’s currently showing at the New York Center for Art and Media Studies.

The article highlights one of the reasons that I left the NYC art scene in 2000.  It is simply much harder for the newer generation of arriving artists to merely exist.

Ms. Kass: I worked a waitress job at this really butch SoHo hamburger joint, Broome Street Bar. I have great memories. I think I was making $15,000 to $19,000 a year, but I could live like a queen on what I made at the bar three nights a week. I had a car, summers in the Hamptons. I had my loft, I walked to work, I had pals, it was fantastic.

Ms. Lincoln: My impression is you didn’t have to work as much then.

Ms. Kass: Right! And you didn’t move to Brooklyn, you lived in TriBeCa, which wasn’t TriBeCa yet. It was this sleepy little town, totally quiet. If there was anyone on the street, you knew them. It was so quiet on Duane Street they’d put out a volleyball net. It was totally dreamy.

I got my place [on lower Broadway] in 1976. It was $200 a month and then it went up to $260. It was about 1,150 square feet. It was a great space, and I had a Murphy bed. No one locked their door. We would come and go all the time. I remember staring out the window thinking, “I can’t believe this is my life. This is exactly what I wanted.”

ahhhh. The good old days.  If anyone is looking for a city verging on bankruptcy á la 1970s NYC with a plentitude of artists, cheap rent, and cheap swill I heartily recommend Budapest.

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