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should i move to new york?

Post #218 • February 19, 2004, 8:53 AM • 19 Comments

During Art Basel Miami Beach an artist showing at the Scope fair told me that despite Miami's increasing prominence in the art world, if I really wanted to pursue my art and art criticism career, New York City was the place to do it. This morning, for reasons I can't determine, I received a press release from The Paris Review inviting me to see Yiyun Li receive the Plimpton Prize for best piece of writing by a newcomer to appear in the magazine; ceremonies will take place at Paula Cooper Gallery in Manhattan. The wheels in my head began to spin - I saw pictures of a star-studded capital-A-C Art Career like kids used to talk about at RISD, I saw my writing in print on glossy paper, I saw my work on the walls at Gagosian, I saw my sun-drenched studio in Williamsburg complete with an easel butch enough to hoist a car, I saw myself hanging out at teany with a 12-inch iBook and a wireless internet connection, sipping jasmine oolong and gracing the world with my latest pontifications on the art scene of art scenes.

What do you think? Should I move to New York?

Comment

1.

Jack

February 19, 2004, 7:02 PM

I'm sure Andy Warhol would have said yes, but one should always consider the source.

2.

davee

February 19, 2004, 7:38 PM

of that daydream, for me the favorite part would just be sitting at such a fun little cafe with internet in hand. that alone would be worth the trip. clearly it's time for some more fresh air.

3.

Hovig

February 19, 2004, 9:02 PM

Here's an aphorism from the March 2004 issue of Architectural Digest, seen on the desk of interior designer Geoffrey Bradfield.

New York is the city of ambition. You don't come here for the quality of the life. The air is bad and the crime is nearly unbearable. Given that, there is no reason to be here other than to give your ambitions a run for their money.

Are those wisps of smoke in your dreams the atmospheric mists of a fantasy, or are they the emanations of a fire burning your soul?

4.

michael betancourt

February 20, 2004, 10:06 AM

Simple answer: yes.

Complex Answer: yes, since if you don't you will always wonder what would have happened if you had gone, and eventually your fantasies of what might have happened will turn toxic. remember what happens to a dream deferred. the only way to find out is to go.

5.

Troy Swain

February 20, 2004, 11:37 AM

F**k that. Heres the reality: Williamsburg is overpriced and, unless youve been here forever, only yuppies and trust-funders can afford to move here, so youll move to the South Bronx and live in rat-infested s**t hole. Youll hear periodic gun fire and get mugged once or twice. Your studio will have great light, but it will have no heat, and youll spend WAY too much time and money fixing it up.

You will go to Teany once, realize it sucks, and hang out at a grungy cafe in the South Bronx with the 30 other artists who are your neighbors. In fact, youll go to the LES only once or twice and realize that its for models and Eurotrash and not for poor-folk. Youll visit your new model and Eurotrash friends at Cafe Gitane, Brown or Cafe Havana, not Teany, and youll only order the cheap regular coffee or tea.

In two to three years youll have a show with a gallery, opened by your new friends, in the South Bronx. A few years later, after a couple of well reviewed group shows, youll move to a mid-level Chelsea or Williamsburg gallery. Five years after that youll switch to a power gallery, but it wont be the pathetically blue chip Gagosian.

You'll start writing for a shitty little rag immediately, because you can write. Eventually, you'll start writing reviews for TONY or the NYPress or the Observer or some large (but not too large) paper.

Youll go to Chelsea and Williamsburg all the time, because that is where the art is. Youll party in East Williamsburg because that is where all the artists who moved here before you live.

And youll enjoy every second.

The weather sucks, everything is too expensive, everyone is pretentious, and the city is cruel, but there IS a good art scene here. And thats all we care about.

6.

Franklin

February 20, 2004, 8:33 PM

Yeah, I realized after I posted that Williamsburg was the site of the current Hipster-Hasid tensions. It looks like Queens is a possibility. Comments on another blog indicate that Bedford-Stuyvesant is doable. (Theu call it Bed Stuy. Sounds cute that way. Unless you think of it as something you get in your eye while sleeping.) Someone also mentioned Leonia, NJ, but at that point I think I might as well stay in Miami. (For that matter, I wonder if the same could be said for Queens.)

I'll look into South Bronx. My father came out of the Bronx and never looked back. He'd have a litter of kittens if I moved there.

You'll start writing for a shitty little rag immediately, because you can write. Yeah, or start one. That has been the pattern. I would probably open the gallery too, knowing me.

The thing is, though, it sounds a lot like what I've been doing in Miami for the last ten years - busting my tail to get things going. Painting, getting my art and writing in front of as many people as will look at it, getting involved in the scene (however dispicable), and outside of my job, barely making enough money to keep a mouse in bread crumbs. Over the last year, things have been starting to happen. Sounds like New York would be the same deal, but with worse weather. I guess it's my nature to attack windmills like this.

It's funny, because my gf's hairdresser just came back from Boston and told her, "The culture isn't worth it! It's too cold! Human beings shouldn't live like that." And I'm thinking, "What? I'll get a parka. Don't people live in Canada and places like that?" I'm delusional, I tell you.

7.

Hovig

February 20, 2004, 8:36 PM

Is Los Angeles out of the question?

8.

Franklin

February 20, 2004, 8:56 PM

I can't seem to get the hang of LA. I already have a gallery in San Diego, so I feel like NY is the final frontier. I guess the clever thing to do would be to try to get a NY gallery while Miami is having its darling moment, and then consider a move.

9.

Troy Swain

February 21, 2004, 6:47 AM

Remember this: As an artist you should be close to Manhattan because that's where the majority of the action is. Also, all of the collectors, critics and a large chunk of the gallerists live there. So you need to live close to Manhattan.

Bed-stuy isn't bad - there is still cheap rent to be found and there is a lot of artists moving there. If you move within the next year or two, you'll have little problem finding cheap rent.

Long Island City is the only place in Queens where you can find live/work space AND that is close to Manhattan (and Williamsburg). However, it's also almost completely gentrified.

You can probably avoid the South Bronx. It'll be years before it approaches Bed-Stuy, let alone E. Williamsburg. It's still incredibly rough, but there are beautiful spaces to be had. You'll be a pioneer, and there are always problems with being one of the first.

One last thing... Start a gallery! There can never be enough! Most of my friends who started their own galleries worked at one of the shi-shi Chelsea galleries for six months to a year; got to know a bunch of collectors, critics, and young artists who the gallery passed up; and started their own.

10.

barry

February 21, 2004, 10:48 PM

I think all artists should live in NYC at some point, if not always. Yes, it's too expensive, and not a very comfortable place to live even with fabulous wealth, but there is no competition for cultural density anywhere in the USA, and maybe anywhere in Europe -- except possibly Berlin.

I think the cross-fertilization of being here, when it's not just the visual arts but also theatre, dance, and other forms, is invaluable. I can't imagine being a creative person and not needing the kind of community that exists here. I'm not even an artist, I'm just a "consumer", but I can't imagine living anywhere else in the USA.

11.

Witold Riedel

February 22, 2004, 6:51 AM

new york is as large/complex/beautiful/dirty as you make it.
(a questions to the experts:
east billyburg sounds like one of those broker terms...
where is that? around flushing avenue?...)

12.

Jack

February 22, 2004, 7:17 AM

No doubt setting or environment can contribute to an artist's development, just as it can impede it. The key issue, however, is not the place per se, but the particular artist involved, and what is best for that person. I am certain New York is not best for every artist, no matter how good it looks on paper, so to speak. So don't look so hard at NY, Franklin; look at yourself.

13.

Witold Riedel

February 24, 2004, 4:15 AM

hmm, have you ever considered a studio/apartment swap... for a little while? I am certain that someone would love to swap your studio with you... for a month, or two, maybe?... this would allow you to take a good look at new york without immigrating here... hmm... : )

14.

Cedric Caspesyan

February 24, 2004, 7:16 AM


New York,

No. You don`t need to live there if you get close enough and try get the means to go there often. I`m in Montreal and I go to New York a few times a year, and I don`t feel like I`m missing a lot when I`m gone.

The art stars are there but the system in New York is enclosed in itself: all galleries are about selling, bent toward "product", what result in very different art from other environments (Europa or else), for example my city, in which "art centers" are the rule (Yoko Ono, an emblem of New York, I find is really remote from the idea of what making art in New York means now, and surprisingly if she ever influenced anyone it`s the "art center" artists of Canada)

I`m not sure that who and what we think are important in art nowaday means that this is where the action is happening. What happened in 60`s New York couldn`t happen now. Maybe in remote Queens but not in fashion Soho or between the institutionalized look of glass-walled Chelsea. They are two things in New York: its own art scene, and the International Showcase, which can be intimidating and spectacular, but also very remote and unadressed. I am not certain art is necessarely obliged to such a showcase. There`s always a point when someone more snotty than others move its head and interest elsewhere, and then people all start nodding in that direction. Newly discovered artists still end up being brought in New York, true, but I`m tempted to believe, really idealistically, that at some point this won`t be feasible anymore.
Gagosian can expose all the Beuys artefacts they want, but I don`t see Beuys acting anything into that space. They are equations that sufficient reasoning just won`t satisfy.

Hey I do want to start an artblog too. I travel and I`d like to babbles about what I see. Any places
where they welcome art bloggers on prompt?


cheers. Cedric

15.

Cedric Caspesyan

February 24, 2004, 7:18 AM


New York,

No. You don`t need to live there if you get close enough and try get the means to go there often. I`m in Montreal and I go to New York a few times a year, and I don`t feel like I`m missing a lot when I`m gone.

The art stars are there but the system in New York is enclosed in itself: all galleries are about selling, bent toward "product", what result in very different art from other environments (Europa or else), for example my city, in which "art centers" are the rule (Yoko Ono, an emblem of New York, I find is really remote from the idea of what making art in New York means now, and surprisingly if she ever influenced anyone it`s the "art center" artists of Canada)

I`m not sure that who and what we think are important in art nowaday means that this is where the action is happening. What happened in 60`s New York couldn`t happen now. Maybe in remote Queens but not in fashion Soho or between the institutionalized look of glass-walled Chelsea. They are two things in New York: its own art scene, and the International Showcase, which can be intimidating and spectacular, but also very remote and unadressed. I am not certain art is necessarely obliged to such a showcase. There`s always a point when someone more snotty than others move its head and interest elsewhere, and then people all start nodding in that direction. Newly discovered artists still end up being brought in New York, true, but I`m tempted to believe, really idealistically, that at some point this won`t be feasible anymore.
Gagosian can expose all the Beuys artefacts they want, but I don`t see Beuys acting anything into that space. They are equations that sufficient reasoning just won`t satisfy.

Hey I do want to start an artblog too. I travel and I`d like to babbles about what I see. Any places
where they welcome art bloggers on prompt?


cheers. Cedric

16.

Cedric Caspesyan

February 24, 2004, 7:36 AM


In response to Barry:

dunno..London is really one of the worlwide huge spot (if we keep things to contemporary).

They are a couple places in Europe that equals New York (international showcase basis) simply because governments over there are really induced in encouraging the arts when in USA it`s a lot more avout privates and who gots big pockets. But because of New York, you don`t need that much to know about them. But there is always tons of great shows in London that I wish would travel, I`m sure New York is a little second to that.

Cheers,

Cedric

17.

Boots

March 5, 2004, 9:39 PM

I'm in LA/Ventura now, and though I like it here, I miss New York. You should consider New Jersey, there's going to be a lot going on there soon, and its just as close by train as any of the far flung outer bouroughs, actually Newark is up and coming and only 15 min by train, I'll bet Bed Sty (emphasis on Sty) isnt closer than that. Sure weather sucks, but then doesnt it everywhere? Everyone complains about the weather, no matter what it is, LA people bitch when its 60.

18.

Boots

March 5, 2004, 9:39 PM

I'm in LA/Ventura now, and though I like it here, I miss New York. You should consider New Jersey, there's going to be a lot going on there soon, and its just as close by train as any of the far flung outer bouroughs, actually Newark is up and coming and only 15 min by train, I'll bet Bed Sty (emphasis on Sty) isnt closer than that. Sure weather sucks, but then doesnt it everywhere? Everyone complains about the weather, no matter what it is, LA people bitch when its 60.

19.

eva

March 9, 2004, 6:04 AM

You should go just so you can find the answer to that question. I went, was there for 11 years. Later on Irealized I didn't need all those 11 years... but to have never gone would have been ...not me.

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