Life As Artist IN NYC

With apologies, I am re -posting the first part of a long crazed rant, I did about the lives of creative people in a city that is so short of livable affordable housing and creative workspace. I aint claiming it as a work of art, but I hope it is worth reading. It’s one of the first posts I did on my Digging Pitt Blog after I moved to Pittsburgh and started a gallery. I now spend ime in both places.

I used the bird metaphor after reading this statement on the website of Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn.

The canaries in New York City’s real estate gold mine – the emerging arts – are no longer talking about the next show they hope to land, they’re talking about the next city they think they can land in once their current lease runs out.

But for many that lease on life has already run out. Affordable habitat in the cultural ecosystem is becoming hard to find. For everyone.”

Are the artists really just the tip of the iceberg or not. The city has historically treated them as an expendable group and never had much trouble finding new bird brains to come into the city. But, this may be changing.

I know all of you Yinzers are eager to hear about my little trip to NY. I met a few of the little birds there and this is sort of how I remember things. The setting is Kellogg’s Diner.

Me: Hi There little birds.

Birds: Hi.

Me: My, there are a lot of you in here and look at all the flocks on Bedford, but it seems a little thinner this year.

Birds: Are you buying? We need food.

Me: OK, I will try to help, but you have to talk to me. Bird number 3 a little male passes out on the counter– a little tuckered out from his three jobs.

Me: So why are you all here? Tell me little about yourselves.

Yellow dreadlock bird: I use chewing gum to confront gender is–

Me: It’s OK. Relax.

Pink and green Bird: I want to act. Isn’t this where I have to go?

Yellow d: I always wanted to be an artist. This is the place isn’t it?

Other Birds: No one has ever asked us this question. We Just have to because…

Me: It’s the lights isn’t it?

Greeny bird: Yes, I saw them on TV in Iowa.
Other Birds: And all the sound and some birds would dance and some would sing..

Pink Bird: Also, I feel more at home here. There are so many different colored birds.

Other Birds: And it’s going to work out– I know someone who served Andrea Ro ( other birds break in.. one says that’s a lie )

Me: So, Where are all of you from?

Other Birds: –India, Germany, Boston, Idaho, Mexico, Alabama, Long Island ( can’t remember them all)

Me: So, most of you aren’t from around here?

Old Bird: I ain’t but I’ve been here forever, seen it all.

Other Birds: No. most of us are not from around here.

Teeny bird: I came in on the bus a week ago and I am looki–

Other Birds: We ain’t got no room– Find your own nest.

Me: There is a slight shortage of nests? Huh,

Old Bird: Not like when I was young. I had a huge nest on 11th St. ( He meant more than one bedroom. ) and I did my art and the went to The Bottom Line and

Me: Didn’t they close?

Old Bird: Well, then the rent went up and I moved into The East Village.

Other Birds– Cool, tell us about CBGB’s ( closing )

Old Bird: Well it was rough. Birds wer shootin and wailin and things were dirty and all the garbage.

Middle aged Bird: Yes, I was scared to go there. I got a place in Soho. I wasn’t supposed to live there and it was empty there were no stores.

Me: And, what was your place like?

Middle Aged Bird: It was so raw, there was big hole in the floor and there was no kitchen and not much heat. But the space was big and I was handy. Me and my friends put in new wiring and plumbing. We fixed it up over a bunch of years and of course we lived there.

Old Bird: You guys did shows– They were so great, the place was so sincere and…

Middle Aged Bird: Well, we did a lot of great stuff. But then rich people started coming to watch us and we thought it was great untill, I had to move to Brooklyn.

Old Bird: They kick you out?

Black Bird: They kicked me out of Dumbo. I fixed my place up almost from scratch.

Other Birds: They Kicked me out of ( everyone chirping at once, so I can’t remember all ) Soho, Noho, Tribecca , Long island City, Hoboken, Harlem , Chelsea. Something has broken and a few birds start to cry. A few walk out they have to be seen at some opening or they want to try to do some art. Many have to leave, they live in places like Red Hook or Jackson Heights and they have to work the next day.

Me: So, can we get back to why you are here?

Dreadlock Bird: I need to be near the galleries that might want to show my work.:

Me: Do you get much art done?

Dreadlock Bird: No, partly because I can’t sleep with my four roomates working all hours and then after I get back from work ( an hour on the subway ) I have to be seen at a friends opening.
and I get into the studio around 10pm and–

Greeny Bird: He is just lazy and won’t stay up past three. If he was a commited artist-

Pink Bird: Yes. Ed told us that he is looking for serious artists who are willing to ( All the birds look down, they know they should work harder and then they would get a break. )

Me: So, If I get you guys right you are all here because you like the other birds and all the cultural exitement. You are here because the other birds are here. The filmaker birds and the dancer birds and the artist birds. Why don’t you all move?

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