A: I am on my third, and probably last, studio. I say ‘probably’ because I love my space and have no desire to move. Plus, it would be a tremendous amount of work to relocate, considering that I have been in my West 29th Street studio since 1997.
My very first studio, in the late 1980s, was the spare bedroom of my house in Alexandria, Virginia. I set up a studio there while I was on active duty in the Navy. When I resigned my commission, I was required to give the President an entire year’s advance notice. Towards the end of that year I remember calling in sick so I could stay home and make art.
In the early 1990s I rented a studio on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria. For a while I enjoyed working there, but the constant interruptions – in an art center that is open to the public – became tiresome.
In 1997 I had the opportunity to move to New York. I desperately craved solitary hours to work in peace, without interruption, so at first I didn’t have a telephone. I still don’t have WiFi there because my studio is reserved strictly for creative work.
Moving from Virginia to New York in 1997 was relatively easy. My aunt, who planned to be in California to continue her Buddhist studies, offered me her rent-controlled sixth-floor walkup on West 13th Street. I looked at just one other studio before signing a sublease for my space at 208 West 29th Street. I had heard about the vacancy through a college friend of my husband, Bryan. Karen, the lease-holder, was relocating to northern California to work on “Star Wars” with George Lucas. After several years, she decided not to return to New York and I have been the lease-holder ever since.
Comments are welcome!
Q: You recently spent several weeks in Sri Lanka. After experiencing so many new sights and sounds, is it difficult to get back to work in your studio?
A: It definitely requires some readjustment and a period – maybe a day or two – during which I feel removed from the painting on my easel and need time to become reacquainted with it. It’s a time to refocus, stay put, and reflect. For weeks I’ve led an action-packed life, exploring a fascinating country on the other side of the world. Over time, all of the experiences I’ve had will stay with me, or not, and in some ways begin to influence my work.
It’s funny. I often think of my studio as a cave. It’s a rather dark place and sometimes I have to force myself to go. In Sri Lanka I saw many ancient Buddhist cave temples, wild and vibrant, with colorful paintings on the walls and ceilings, chock full of statues of Buddha and other deities. My travels have given me a new appreciation of the riches to be found in caves of all sorts, including (especially) my own studio!
Comments are welcome!