For the past several years, I’ve kept a small studio in an old industrial building on the Hudson River. The building is home to a mash up of artists, photographers, dancers, musicians, and potters — all of whom mostly ignore the run-down conditions of the building because we love the river views and, let’s be honest, the cheap space and 20-mile proximity to New York City.
I liken this studio experience to being in a dorm … we all work away at our passions behind closed doors but gossip travels up and down the long hallways in the time it takes to jump on a Razor scooter and get from one end of the building to the other. It’s in this way that I heard from my photographer friend, John Maggiotto, that a long-time tenant and talented artist, Chinyee, was moving and the studio where she had worked for the past 15 years was suddenly available.
Within seconds, I called the manager to look at the space which I had only seen once on the Rivertown Artists Studio Tour. When I walked in this time though, my heart leapt. I had not planned to move to a larger space. I did not necessarily even need more space … but the creative energy in that room was palpable. The light streaming in from the north-facing wall of windows was incredible. The views of the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge that spans it were breathtaking. I agreed to take over the lease on the spot.
That’s when Miss Impulsivity had to face Ms. Practicality. I had deadlines to meet. I had presentations to make. I had new product design sketches due. How exactly was I to move into a new studio?!? But I knew in my heart that this space was worth a few late nights and early mornings.
Within a couple of days, we ripped out the few walls, leaving nothing but light and openness. For a quick fix, the walls, the ceilings, and the fixtures were all painted white. I enlisted anyone with a pair of arms to haul boxes from one studio to the other … and it was done.
In the rubble of things left behind, I found a tattered book that had been dog-eared and clipped many times — a retrospective of Chinyee’s work from 1965-1995. Sitting on the dirty floor, I thumbed through the beautiful images of her abstract paintings, each one more graceful than the next. Despite the chilly winter air that blows through the rickety windows off the Hudson River, her warm artistic energy fills this space and her name remains on the door.