We recently had a comment thread here about envy and wealth, with a couple commenters who enjoy luxury lifestyles saying, "I work hard and I like to pamper myself. Get over it and stop being jealous." Wealth often breeds envy, but we don't all aspire to live in glass condos and sip Armand de Brignac. Not all affluence is the same. The kind of wealth I envy is the kind that gives you the time and the space to create.
So I envy the Brooklyn trustafarians. And this envy, along with other, more complicated thoughts, gives me mixed feelings about hipsters. Which brings me to my visit to Bushwick Open Studios.
I don't know how many of the artists I saw there qualify as "trustafarians." I met some who certainly do not--they're spending hard-earned money to rent studio space and give it a go. Maybe it doesn't matter. Is wealth detrimental to good art? Either way, there is something exciting about an industrial wasteland being filled up with artists. There is a thrill in being a young artist, gathering together with other young artists, and making stuff.
Some of that stuff is good. Some of it is bad--what Gertrude Stein called "inaccrochable," meaning, "a picture that a painter paints and then he cannot hang it when he has a show and nobody will buy it because they cannot hang it either."
"Inaccrochable," I kept thinking as I walked from studio to studio. But good or bad, I'm thankful it exists. Good or bad, it's better than the alternative, better than what's coming. Because what's coming, inevitably, eventually, are luxury condos. How could they not? These studios boast wall-sized windows and high pressed-tin ceilings, plank-wood floors and sweeping views.
And now, the trustafarians' financially supportive parents have started holding back the checks, as the Times just reported. Said one Williamsburg writer, "It takes the wind out of you if you’re not the independent, self-reliant artist you claim to be...if you’re just daddy’s little girl."
When all those hipsters are gone, when their apartments and art studios are filled with yuppies, when their artistic attempts (inaccrochable or otherwise) vanish from the city, I have the weird and slightly uneasy feeling that (dare I say it?) we're going to miss them.
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