Robert Beck is an artist who has lived and painted on the Upper West Side for nearly twenty years. He is losing his studio in the West 70s near Zabars and is hoping Rag readers might know of another space. What he’s looking for is simple, if a little unusual.
By Robert Beck
It was one of those things you just knew couldn’t last.
There are few particulars as necessary to an artist as the environment they work in, and this was perfect. The shabby vibe of my third-floor studio applied to the building in general. Once you entered the front door from the street, all sense of era was lost. The random mix of doors and transoms, those gouges in the wall and flaking paint, that “New York Through The Ages” aroma—you could be any place in time after the advent of electricity. It is a great place to paint. For me, that includes the ghosts.
The building has a history, and that history started with art. One of my neighbors in this well-worn and under-updated building was the extraordinary Christopher Gray, architectural historian. He explained to me that it was built with art instruction and studios in mind. Some big names in the art world from the late 1800s and early 1900s were associated with schools and classes held here. But that’s all in black & white. We know there is no return on investment with that. You need green.
I haven’t been in the building as long as my studiomate, who moved here thirty years ago. It’s difficult to find affordable and appropriate space in the city without taking two buses and a bicycle to some outer borough, so the future is a little murky.
My studiomate landed in a friend’s extra room for now, but I’m looking. I’m a 72-year-old established professional artist, and the Upper West Side is my place. I need about 300 sq/ft, a sink, windows, heat, and access to a bathroom. A rough space is fine. If it comes with its own ghosts, all the better. You can contact me at robertbeck.net.
Even worse, or at least with longer-lasting effects, we are going to get another soulless high rise, with all the sun-blocking community stresses that entails. The ghosts of our dear old building . . . I don’t know where they will go. They are welcome to come with me if I can find a place where we all fit.
So sad that it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to find not only affordable places but places that retain the history and feel of what this city has been. I hope you find what you need locally, Robert, your paintings are lovely.
Thank you Kathleen.
I remain determined, Artists are a part of The Upper Westside Community. Natural History Museum has vast, non-utilized spaces. And a history of providing studio space (though not so recently). If we got Gail Brewer on-board and approached AMNH as group of cohorts?
Also, Very much appreciate your post.
Thanks Mark. That’s an ambitious but interesting idea
Good luck, I hope you find a decent space. Of course the ghosts will come along, I think they like to watch the process. Your paintings are really fine! (I’m a fellow painter).
Thank you Ricki. Yeah. Tough to shake them some times.
Love your paintings — a certain Parisian feel to them, though definitely New York. Wish I knew of a place but all that is around is another high rise expensive (and remarkably ugly) building. Wishing you success in your search.
Thank you Elisabeth.
😬 … it seems as if the only ‘art’ that is thriving these days are those that influence thru social media where we all advertise to one another–projecting holographic illusions as an escape from our own upset at current reality…
I think the current version of “social media” will one day be the equivalent of the 8-track tape.
Lovely paintings. Wish I had that space you need…world needs more paintings and more affordable living spaces. What would NY be without you?
Left suggestion of art studio person that might know of others at your website contact section
Manhattan is no longer affordable for artists of any kind. I lived there in the 70’s. The Hotel Bretton Hall is at 86 and Broadway. It sounds like what you are describing. They cost a few hundred in the 70’s.
Good luck, Robert. Landlords across the country have pushed out people in the arts, ranging from true art galleries to art/music venues. There is nothing about the pandemic that can be used as an excuse so as usual, greed is the thing. It seems we’re going back to the 1980s “greed is good” mantra. Or maybe we never left it. Best wishes to you, Robert.
I also can’t help but note the irony of a real estate company advertising an apartment for what seems to me, a ridiculous (high) price on this site. I live in a city in the South and we don’t see prices like that so maybe that’s why I think it’s really high. Maybe that’s what Manhattan has become. And that is sad because when I visit, I always think “this would be a wonderful place to live”.
Robert Beck, I like your paintings. I don’t know how much you can afford, and was not quite sure if you plan on living in this space or not, but there are rentals available at the Master at 103rd and RSD ( I’m told that there are also non residential studios for rent on the 2nd or 3rd floor). Also, there is a website called Listings project which is geared towards artists. Good luck in your quest,
Hey, there — Luv your art and I’m praying you find a decent place to land ~
Is Columbus Rain available?