My art studio is located deep in the bowels of south St. Louis. It’s a dodgy part of town and, from the outside, the building where my studio is located looks like a place where serial killers would come to cut up their victims. But inside, the space is very nice.
I have 1,500 square feet of bright white work area, 12′ high ceilings, and lots of amenities like enough power outlets for a small city, a big electrical box so we never lose juice, and a peg board that can hold all the tools in a Home Depot.
Tim is the guy who owns the building. He’s an engineer. I like having an engineer own the building rather than an artist, accountant, lawyer or insurance agent. When things go wrong in a building, you want a guy who knows how to do stuff, not a guy who makes his living running income statements. Engineers know how to do stuff and because they’re engineers, they usually over-engineer a solution so the problem is fixed for the next millenium. This is Tim’s first foray into building ownership and management. I’m his first tenant.
My former studio was located on a third-floor walkup in an old brewery. Every time I stepped into the building I’d get a flashback to when I lived in New York City in the mid-70s. My studio then was close to Bedford-Stuyvesant, which at that time was the 2nd worst neighborhood in America. You’d practically need combat pay just to get in and out of the place.
My brewery studio had wonderful light, but the windows were loose in their frames and the building was drafty. The owners seldom turned on the heat in the winter and there was no air conditioning in the summer, so for half or more of each year, I’d either be shaking or sweating. But the street had large, mature trees. There was a friendly bar just outside, a shop that sold pies a few doors down, several antique stores, and the local coffee house two blocks away was grand. They had a small reading library so, if you wanted to, you could buy a cheap lunch, find a warm spot and read Elmore Leonard all afternoon.
I stuck it out for about 15 months at the old studio, but when winter came the second time around, I just couldn’t take the cold any more. So I flew south about 8 blocks to greener pastures and central heating.
If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in and have a cool drink from the community water fountain. I’ll play some jazzy tunes from the ipod and we can snap our fingers and call each other ‘man,’ just like artists are supposed to do. And depending on how I feel that day, I may even put on a beret.