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Real Estate: A Tale of Two Art Scenes

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Every burgeoning art scene has one thing in common: low-cost real estate. Today, we’ll speak with Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, about the economic past, present, and future of New York’s art-driven neighborhoods. And, we’ll speak with Rebecca Mazzei, former arts editor of the Detroit Metro Times, about how the Motor City’s housing blight has created an art-friendly environment over the past several years. Plus: We want to hear from you: how has real estate impacted your art?


Jonathan Bowles and Rebecca Mazzei

Comments [25]


I thought this article was about the band Real Estate :-(

Oct. 04 2011 11:01 PM
Michael Durek from Jersey City, NJ

We live in Journal Square, Jersey City. It's affordable and from the path train here it's 11 minutes to the world trade center. My girlfriend and I can afford a 2 bedroom: she uses the living room as a studio (she's an artist) and I use the smaller bedroom for my music studio. It's perfect for us, and near Journal Square it isn't as yuppi-fied as grove street or newport areas, and there isn't much retail yet. There is some cool stuff happening under the radar. :)

Oct. 04 2011 10:55 PM
ashish raval from manhattan

as an indian american male i have been stared out of so many venues in brooklyn as if my presence there will prevent new cool or hip customers from coming in . many places in the city im politely ignored like everyone else , so i know im not over thinking this . with a burgeoning art scene williamsburg was supposed to be more & better than this
this williamsburg is white & has been
since the 90s & thats how they like it & now people being thrown out are getting a taste of their own medicine .

Oct. 04 2011 03:32 PM
ashish raval from manhattan

as an indian american male i have been stared out of so many venues in brooklyn as if my presence there will prevent new cool or hip customers from coming in . many places in the city im politely ignored like everyone else , so i know im not over thinking this . with a burgeoning art scene williamsburg was supposed to be more & better than this
this williamsburg is white & has been
since the 90s & thats how they like it & now people being thrown out are getting a taste of their own medicine .

Oct. 04 2011 03:32 PM
RJ from Detroit

I lived for 30 years in the city of Detroit. I've made my living playing the drums & scene much of world while on tour. I love coming home to Detroit. We have a wonderful family of musicians, artists, theater folk, etc. We're bonded by our shared experiences here - it's not for everyone! That gives us a certain soul. I am glad to see so many young people making their mark here these days. As for real estate going up, maybe if Detroit climbs out of it's current financial situation, that might be an issue, but not now. Also, the suburbs & the city are more connected than in years past. We're all in it together.

Oct. 04 2011 02:52 PM
Jonathan from Brooklyn

I recently had a 6 month artist residency in PA, with a wonderful (and free) performing arts magnet program in a low income, public high school. The local and state education budgets are starved, and the program was cut last month after decades of fine work. I've heard similar stories in other states. The kids I worked with were immensely talented, but NYC is too expensive for them. We risk an influx of upper income bracket creative types, thereby losing the opportunity to train and then receive the brightest and most creative young minds on the lower income end.

Oct. 04 2011 02:51 PM

A few things to remember:
1)a hipster is not necessarily an artist and billyburg seems to me to be overrun with hipsters who are more like what a prior comment called Fauxhemians.
2) New York will continue to be a mecca to artists and the "arts belt" will continue to expand throughout the boroughs because NY has one major advantage: an extensive, relatively inexpensive, 24 hour mass transit system which is an economic necessity for true income lacking artists.
3) the "gorgeous mosaic" that is NY has more stimuli, more influences and greater possibilities for synthesis and syncretism than any other area of the USA

Oct. 04 2011 02:51 PM
Emily from Brooklyn, NY

New York City is a vast place and if Bedford Avenue bores you or prices you out, why not get back on the train and travel further out? There is plenty to be inspired by if you look a little further. Any argument that art is shrinking in NYC is oversimplified.

Oct. 04 2011 02:34 PM
Bobby from Brooklyn

It took me 10 years to find a suitable space to build my recording studio in, factoring in price, neighborhood, space, and noise level acceptance. It is not easy being a musician in nyc, we lack suburban luxurious like basements and garages. And now my band members are so spread out, it takes everyone 2 hours to get to practice.

Oct. 04 2011 02:25 PM
Jonella from Boondox of Sullivan County

Come to Port Jervis, NY! 70 miles from the City - lots of old buildings - cheap! - perfect locale for a new arts community!!! Walk everywhere - including to the Train - 2 hours to NYC - AND you're also close to a great many beautiful natural scenic areas - including the beautiful Delaware River. There are a few smart, forward-thinking artists here now - come and make an "Arts Scene" here! There are many of us who would LOVE to welcome YOU! Don't be a follower - be in the Vanguard!! CREATE the Vanguard! Go to www.PortJervisNY.Org. Check it out!

Oct. 04 2011 02:23 PM
peter pryor from Bronx, NY

I moved into Williamsburg in 1980 at that point we had maybe 4 or 5 lofts in the entire south side , I paid $500 for 5000 sq ft we integrated into the community I was priced out with the influx of artist that started moving in around 1988 . the artist needs people who also support the arts not just other artist , I moved to the bronx and pay low rent and can afford to do my art , when williamsburg became built up I hated it

Oct. 04 2011 02:22 PM
steve cym from Queens

a good friend of mine, the late NC based artist Claude Flynn Howell, once told me "when the artsy people move in, the artists move out."

Reminds me of a statement another friend of mine made about a cafe we used to hang out in: "this place is not full of artists. These are wanna-be's. The artists are all at home working on their art." So true and within a few years there was not an artist left in that downtown area and the cafe is now packed with business types.

Oct. 04 2011 02:22 PM
Rick from Manhattan

A conversation about real estate and art should mention the Pittsburgh area and particularly Braddock, PA and its Mayor, John Fetterman, who has worked tirelessly to rejuvinate Braddock as home for the arts. Pittsburgh has become a young town as the employment base revolves more and more around the universities. Shout out to Mayor John.

Oct. 04 2011 02:21 PM
Benjy from Crown Heights, Brooklyn

As a musician in increasingly higher priced NY and with the closing of many venues that were the center of a scene: knitting factory (as it was), Tonic etc, I find myself performing less in NY and primarily touring to make a living.
Additionally, has the city done anything to protect/ promote the music, musicians and venues that bring in so much tourism?

Oct. 04 2011 02:21 PM

Anyone who can afford to be in Wburg or even Bed Sty or bushwick as an "emerging artist" has a trust fund or some kind of patron. end of story. Williamsburg seems to me to be a pastiche of itself right now--no artists, just fancy people who want to be around artists.

Oct. 04 2011 02:21 PM
Otto Cosmopolis from cold spring, NY

1996 I moved to DUMBO, moved to Redhook in 2005, now I live in the Hudson Valley. Happy to own home and not be feathering the nest for folks with money.

Oct. 04 2011 02:20 PM
rick parker

I am a musician and have lived in Williamsburg for 10 years. It is definitely on the way out. It is too expensive to live there and music venues are disappearing and being replaced by higher end generic bars that cater to manhattanites who are moving the neighborhood.

Oct. 04 2011 02:20 PM
Tom Crisp from UWS

The TV show Selling New York touts The Bowery as a hot new neighborhood, so anything is possible.

But while we lament the developers who follow artists and then squeeze them out, let's remember that the artists can also be the perpetrators of gentrification, forcing out the working class who must keep moving further out of the city.

Oct. 04 2011 02:20 PM

I had a great studio at 195 Chrystie St, but as soon as whole foods opened up the rents skyrocketed. i moved to westchester. much cheaper. (195 happens to be where the talking heads lived when they moved to ny in the 70's)

Oct. 04 2011 02:20 PM
Dave from Prospect Heights

Aside from artistic communities, we are losing the gritty urban neighborhoods which help to inspire artists. Wiiliamsburg did not really compare to the E. Village. More and more the art communities seem to become more like summer camps and I wonder if they are as relevant.

Oct. 04 2011 02:19 PM
Oscar from Ny

Easy, the lazy young yuppies came to ny and rented an apt with 5or more each one pays 750 a month and so the vampires got hip to these udiots and so they raised the price even more leaving us nyorkers with this soensive burden.
Ps: the worst part ia when these si call artist are done with their party in ny they go back to the suburbs were theyre from and ny is left like a great whore.

Oct. 04 2011 02:19 PM
Frank Grimaldi from East Village

I live in the EV and go to Billyburg quite often. The kids may be artists but not many of them look like they are struggling. They actually look like they come from money. The New Yorker did had an article about artists in williamsburg and called them Fauxhemians. I'm with them.....

Oct. 04 2011 02:17 PM

ADDENDUM: After 15 months I ran back to NYC.

Oct. 04 2011 02:17 PM

North Shore Staten Island, 20 minutes across the water. Grungy as needed, but greener, more space, views, even yards. More creatives could mean more coffee choice, hangouts, maybe even a supermarket.

Oct. 04 2011 02:16 PM
Gio from Brooklyn

Philadelphia has plenty of options that are low priced for artists. If you can tolerate it, Philly is your town.

Oct. 04 2011 02:10 PM

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