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.