If there is one thing I know, I know that living life as a full time artist is unpredictable and not anything as set in stone as how most people live. My recent trip to MA was eye opening and I'm left with many questions, and few answers. Take the top 2 photos (hey look tod slipped into one!), these are old mill buildings that are in the south end of Boston, the bottom two photos are the mill building in Lowell MA. They house many artists studios and galleries. Tod and I met a guy in there that doesn't even live in Boston but said he makes enough selling his work here that he commutes. He doesn't even use it as a work studio, he does that in his home an hour away. That had a few light bulbs going on off in Tod's head which then translated into a dimmer bulb going off in my own head....maybe you don't have to live where you work?
We tucked that info away. I had been toying with mill building artists studios for a few months now, making a half hearted effort awhile back to maybe visit one that was being subleased in Northampton MA but backed off when I found out how much they were.
Our last day in MA we stopped in Lowell, I had seen in an art magazine that they had lots of artists studios in an old mill building and wanted to see art, not even thinking I would be looking into renting a studio for myself. We ended up not looking at art as much as being shown available studios for rent. Our drive home ended up in me deciding I would rent a studio space there and somehow make it work.
Two days later the ideas and decisions continue to change. I hesitate to post anything because it is highly possible nothing will happen. The ball is rolling somewhat, I could sign the paper and be in next week and be ready in time for the first sat of the month open studio tours.....the choices are endless. Practicality rears its ugly head though. There are pluses and minuses. Lowell is affordable, I could get a 430sq ft studio for $295 + I would pay for building insurance plus a few other things. Basically for $360 I would have a space to work in and possibly get exposure. If I were a painter it would be a no brainer. If I didn't have to worry about all the stuff I have and figure out what to bring, which is impossible to know what I will need....if if if. I'm wondering if I might be better served to spend more time there this summer when the house owners are here, I can go there and investigate more. Bring little projects and work on them at Tod's mom's house and pay HER studio rent. Get to know galleries, artists....get a feel for things. I know nothing is going to be perfect but there are issues with storage, not having a handy sink, noise and privacy issues to seriously consider.
There are artists studios in Maynard and the work they produce is incredible. The place I would be renting, the work I've seen so far seems to be a little less 'intense' but the support from within the artists and coordinator seems great. Is Lowell close enough to whats happening? Would I just disappear in that space and go crazy having all my life spread out in 3 places? (stowe, sudbury, lowell)
No one can answer that. I know I would have to find work or sell art as well as I did in 2007 to be able to afford this, I can't count on the economy though to be as it was and my sales momentum to come back instantly. The daily commute alone would eat up the bucks not including then driving up to VT every now and then. That I could stay somewhere basically rent free and just pay studio rent is a gift not to be overlooked but there still isn't room to bring it all. Tod would stay up in Vermont and we would have to figure out when/where/what about our lives. The lease is for a year and at that point I would have to move on as Tod's mom needs to finish refurbishing her house and rent/sell it. At some point Tod and I will have to decide if we want to try to live in Lowell or Boston or New Hampshire or all those other places I've talked about in the past.
Bottom line I need to get something moving and going. Just seriously entertaining the thought of this, regardless of if it is going to happen now vs. later, has already done something to me and woken me up. It makes me look at what I have differently too. I am left alone here, true I can't make alot of noise when people are here but when I think about making lots of noise in a studio that isn't completely sealed (the studio walls separate each studio but they stop short of the ceiling by 3 feet or so) and driving other artists crazy I get unsettled. I need to be able to be ME and not feel pinned down. Not watched. Not bothered. I'm a little concerned they said people all work with doors open and every one is family. That's GREAT but I am still needing lots of time for my butterfly to cocoon. I need privacy and the 'safety' if you will of knowing I can go deep into something and not feel exposed. I think a few of you know what I'm talking about. It's a delicate little tissue growing, making art....I'm not one who can sit and have people standing over my shoulder watching what I do next. I'm not like those painters who can sit on a public sidewalk and make a masterpiece.
So as you can imagine, I have a million things to decide and do. Or not.