Should It Stay Or Should It Go?

It is almost four weeks to the day when Andrew and I will be flying on a one-way ticket to New York and I have just started the sorting and packing of the studio.

On emptying the first bin an overwhelming feeling of melancholy immediately descended upon me. I have been experiencing a growing sadness at leaving my sweet friends, but I didn’t expect to have a similar reaction to an environment.

Logically, it’s no surprise that I’m feeling nostalgic.

Although these nasty blues caught me off guard, logically it’s no surprise that I’m feeling nostalgic as I remove work and research from my studio walls and seal it in bins, either for storage or for accompanying me to NYC.  I’ve lived and worked in this loft unit for over 12 years and I have an incredibly strong emotional attachment to this particular space.  It has been here that I have matured and found my voice as an artist, developed a consistent practice and administration, and experienced the highs and lows of the life of a creative entrepreneur.

Studio Noire

In a maelstrom of recent endings, releasing my studio is another milestone that needs to be observed.

As I pack I must keep in mind that the size of my studio is most likely going to be sliced in half; I’m used to puttering about in a comfortable 400sf, and my studio rental budget is going to allow me no more than 200sf in the less-expensive Williamsburg or Long Island City areas.  Trying to decide whether I should take something or leave it here is almost paralyzing.

Part of my packing paralysis comes from the loose parameters surrounding our Mid-life Manhattan Adventure; will we be in New York for two or ten years?  I feel like if I had a definitive timeline it might make the decision-making flow a bit easier (although it could just be my need to be in control through über-planning that makes me feel this way).

A good friend – fellow artist Sharon Kallis – had some sage advice to offer on the matter.  She suggested I think of the situation as an extended residency.

I understand the logic behind her words, but I’m also afraid of limiting myself if I take only what I think I will need to complete a few projects.  What if I suddenly feel the urge to transform some of my draft drawings into the large, relief wall pieces I have planned?  I’ll need all those working drawings and power tools at my disposal!

In all seriousness – regardless of how I feel – it comes down to a hard fact; I simply won’t have the same amount of work space.

I will be unable to take it all with me, so culling is mandatory.

So far I have resigned myself to the fact that I won’t be taking my awesome custom-made studio tables with built-in storage.  Instead of trying to move my tables (made out of 3/4″ plywood and fitted with IKEA sliding bins full of materials they are cumbersome, heavy, and would be awkward as hell to move), I have decided on a compromise – I will condense materials and remove some of the bins and the hanging/slider hardware that comes with them, wrap them up and take them with me.  Once I procure a studio I’ll simply recreate another couple of tables from a few sheets of ply and some wheels.

In addition, other items and equipment that demand a lot of space will also be left behind:

  • Twenty 20″x30″ frames (not really worth the risk of having all the glass break in transit)
  • The custom-made sewing table that houses all my sewing bits and bobs and hundreds of spools of thread
  • A heavy-duty, all metal vintage filing cabinet (do NOT want to move)
  • Older artwork series that are not being shown or actively worked on at this time

All things considered, it’s no wonder I feel so down in the mouth…I’m having to leave behind half of what makes my studio, my studio.

One more thing that I’ll be leaving behind?  My solitude.

For far too long I’ve been working in isolation in my live/work studio.  It can be difficult to suss out and be part of a community when you live and work in the same space.  The new studio situations I’ve been looking into are professionally run artist studio buildings with several stories of studios inhabited by an eclectic mix of emerging and established designers, painters, sculptors, photographers, video artists, etc., with good amenities, shared resources, and secure private spaces.

I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to interact with other creative types on a day-to-day basis.  Even though I’m experiencing some wicked ennui in leaving behind my studio space, working in solitude is one thing I will gladly and thankfully leave behind.

What’s one thing you have you been happy to leave behind when you’ve closed one door to open another?  Please share in the comments below.

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