Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bushwick Open Studios

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.

See all my Bushwick pics here

More on Bushwick:
Bushwick Thrift
Myrtle Avenue
Industrial Art


Anonymous said...

I will miss them. The earnest dedication to do what drives them is infectious. I went, I want a studio, I want to prove that I can do better. I would love to participate in this moment, before all of the studio spaces are pushed completely off the grid. - BN

Jordan said...

We just can't do anything right, can we.

Anonymous said...

They are all pretenders and I won't miss them. Bad art is one thing, bad acting is another, and all of these trustafarians are playing a part. A part that was not naturally given to them. Yuppies on the other hand aren't actors. In fact they couldn't act their way out of a wet paper bag. They have no well-spring to draw from, plus they are simply put, too stupid. Yuppies are the 'them' as in 'us and them'. There is only action when worlds collide. Art as well as good rock music is made for and by the outsiders and misfits of this world. Others need not apply.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me- these hipster epitomize what is wrong with this town.. Self indulged ego-manics who were picked on in high school so they decided to colonize in a "cool" place so they could be unique and edgy with their parents money. These people (in general) are all from outside the New York area and they have no connection or no desire to fit into a neighborhood and live there productively among the locals- they just want take it over with their misguided ironic values. And many of these "young" people are like 28 and still living on handouts

Anonymous said...

Ah, aren't sweeping generalisations fun. And isn't it so nice to divide the world into us and them rather than understand those not like ourselves. Saves so much mental effort.

Anonymous said...

As a longtime reader I have often restrained from commenting since by many of you, I would be considered a soulless vapid leech hell bent on turning New York into a city of glass and steel filled with banks and pharmacies…. because I am form Jersey and have a white collar job. Despite the fact that growing up, even before I could drive, I would bum rides to the train station to head into NYC on the sly because I was enamored with the energy and feel and dreamed one day of living here.

I can’t believe that “hipsters” and “trustafarians” are being defended because a small percentage might be able to put together some art that is halfway not shitty. These non contributing, self entitled wanna-be’s are the panzer divisions that march in ahead of the blitzkrieg of destruction in this city. They are in large part the “standard bearers” in how not to act and treat the very places you live. Despite all the shit that Jersey and LI take, most hipsters do not hail from these areas, instead flocking to New York from parts unknown with their readymade notions of what is cool and hip… nothing is organic, they never assimilate with this city, they treat it like another accessory to be discarded when its usefulness (or irony) has come and gone.

This blog and the many others like it should think about how there is probably a large percentage of “yuppies” just like me that fell in love with the NYC of our youth and share the sentiments about what it has become. We are not all millionaire assholes. In the Bloomberg NYC many of us have likely become “working poor” despite what we might be if we lived anywhere else in the world. We might actually agree on many things and many could be courted in trying to turn the tide of irresponsible development that now plagues us all. We are people that want to remain here, want to contribute, want to live in a diverse, edgy, energy filled city that does not become a facsimile of the suburbs many of us came from. Hipsters are just passing through.

Now please return to your use of pejorative terms to describe folks like me.

Jeremiah Moss said...

for the record, i've got nothing against white-collar workers who originated outside NYC. i qualify myself--and so do many of the bloggers and commenters around here.

i don't equate "young urban professional" with the derogatory "yuppie," though that's the original definition, nor do i equate it with the personality type of the yunnie.

some hipsters are yunnies, some yunnies are hipsters, but not all hipsters are yunnies.

this is all a long way of saying, anon 2:41, there's no need to feel beat up on here. if you love new york for being new york, everything's probably alright. and thanks for overcoming your restraint and writing in.

Ed said...

I have to agree with anonymous 2:41.

The message I'm getting is that most of the real artists have been driven from the city due to the high rents, so we should be grateful that at least we have the pretend artists of Bushwick. Otherwise we would have no art being created here at all.

I'm not so sure. There is actually some excellent art in the center of Manhattan -in museums. There are plenty of cities in the world that have died culturally in terms of anything new being created there, but still maintain the legacy of of their more creative pasts, are are pretty pleasant places to live. At this point, I'm willing to take that.

What I'm seeing is alot of hyperactivity designed to give the impression that New York is a vital place but which is pretty much producing crap. The worst is the financial sector which is producing crap that is gumming up the economy. Alot of the hipster artists are producing really bad art (and yes, some of it is good). Lots of new buildings that are crap architecture (again not all of it).

The crap has to stop first, and then New York might again be a good place to do anything creative. If it doesn't, I'll take a dead but more relaxed legacy city over what we have now.

Ed said...

I'll also admit that I'm tired of some artists' colony springing up in some industrial area, only for the cute shops to move in, then the condos, then all the B & T bars and restaurants, only for the artists to move to some industrial district even further out.

Soho to LES to Williamsburg to Bushwick. And with each iteration the cool phase is weaker and briefer. Enough of this.

Anonymous said...

oh, this makes me very sad. I'm an artist with a day job. I work about 60 hours a week in order to afford my studio space in Bushwick. I hope that someday I will be able to support myself on my artwork. its a very scary prospect that I wont make it, and will fail. I came from a poor family, and worked my way through art school. My parents are divorced and I had to take care of my younger brother as a teenager, since my mom was working hard to support us. Artists work just as hard as anyone else to do what we do. In fact, often we work harder because the reality is that we have two jobs. The job for money and the job of being an artist, which is the real dream. I opened my studio for BOS, and searched the web to see if my studio appeared in any reviews, and now I see this total trashing of all artists in Bushwick as fake, and untalented, and spoiled. Please consider someone else's feelings before you say these things

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for close to a year and half now and this story and the way you wrote it really touched me. I was beginning to think you were just an angry person who felt slighted by life somehow.

I am one of those artists (although I work in long island city) you speak of who works a full time job, pays my own rent for home and studio doesn't get big shows and I sell my work for an affordable rate. I've lived in this city, in various locales, for going on 20 years. I must qualify myself by saying I despise the hipster lifestyle but I just can't bring myself to hate a whole group of people without knowing them. Everyone has their faults and their blessings. What I liked about this post is that I felt you really expressed that. Please do more of that and reduce the hate. There's a story to everything, one you may agree with, one you may not but let's face it. We're all in this together and no one gets put alive.

Willow said...

"I was beginning to think you were just an angry person who felt slighted by life somehow."

I find this comment really insulting. Even if Jeremiah doesn't.

Writing people off as angry instead of looking to the root causes of the anger is really lazy. And so many people do it.

Anonymous said...

Willow, I'm very much aware of the root cause of the anger because I share someof it. So to say I was writing him off is baseless. I resent your comment and I think you were too lazy to think about what I was really saying by just jumping to conclusions.

Willow said...

No, I understood your comments fully...

Jeremiah Moss said...

(staying out of this one...)