Artist’s Studio: How About the Living Room?


“It’s hard to have a studio space at home for a lot of reasons,” said Andre Trenier, a 42-year-old Bronx muralist and painter who used to work out of his University Heights apartment before he started volunteering at the Andrew Freeman Home, a community and cultural center on the Grand Concourse, in exchange for studio space there about eight years ago.

“It’s nice to mentally be able to compartmentalize,” said Mr. Trenier. “Before, I had a room in the apartment to use as my studio, but inevitably I’d end up in the living room, on the couch, spilling something. My wife would be like, ‘I thought we agreed?’ ”

When faced with a challenge, artists are, of course, good at finding creative solutions. Laura Perez-Harris, a 31-year-old sculptor, for example, realized that she could get discounted studio space by re-enrolling, year after year, as an undergraduate at Hunter College, even though she already has a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Taking a ceramics studio class there works out to about $230 a month, about half the cheapest studio space she could find. And unlike at a studio, clay and firing are included, along with guidance and critical feedback. Still, Ms. Perez-Harris would love a real studio space, one where she could show her work. “I’m happy, but I can’t do this forever,” she said.

Adapting practices, moving further and further out, it’s all doable until it isn’t. Ms. Robinson, the ArtBuilt director, said that some artists eventually give up and move to places like Philadelphia, Providence and New Haven. At the moment, many artists are still finding workarounds. And once in a while, a young artist still manages to score an affordable loft.



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