Monday, November 5, 2007

Sister Organizations

I've been trying to contact and meet with other organizations that are similar to our goals to get some advice about their start up and development. I've been getting great advice which should come in handy with balancing the manic big plans with necessary details.

I had an installation at Heaven Gallery February 2005. It is both a non profit exhibition space and a residence. They show emerging artists and provide opportunities for young curators as well as hosting film screenings, performances, and space for other fundraising events.

Commerce Street Artist's Warehouse (CSAW) is Houston based, artist run cooperative. I did a short residency there in Spring 2006, invited by Theresa O'Connor (super Art Babe!). It is a complex of studios and live/work spaces whose programming includes an artist residency program, gallery space for visiting curators, and large performance space.

Theresa O'Connor, Installation View, i need your carcass..., 2005

Spaces Gallery is a well established Cleveland institution that promotes both local artists and guest curators. They have a reputation for exhibiting high quality contemporary art, often with a emphasis on installation and new media work. The are able to provide a stipend to artists in their exhibitons in lieu of being a comercial space.

I met Eric from Forward Motion Theatre at a fashion show in the West Village. He gave me some great advice on initial legal and finance stuff, including a referral to the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and the New York Foundation Center.

Hope Hilton is a classmate that is a part of a collective called Dos Pestaneos, orginally of Atlanta, now in New York. Great advice on collective management, etc.

Hope Hilton, Lament, 2004

We love Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban is a fantastic Japanese architect that the New york times called an Accidental Environmentalist for his use of recycled materials. He recieved a lot of attention for his emergency shelters built from paper tubes in Japan, Turkey, India and Rwanda.

Justin's Mom ("Hi mom!") sent him some info on Shigeru's Naked House with moveable pods. He also found a great book with detailed contruction docs which will hopefully help us with some of the physics, etc.

Material resources

We've been talking a lot about our green strategies. It seems like there are three strategies that we have available to us.
-Classic warehouse living practice of building it with what we find/inherit
-Purchase used or surplus materials from a retailer
-Purchase new green products to support companies that are creating new solutions.

I think we're all familiar with the 1st, being broke, DIYers. We all agree, too, that aside from being creative with what is immediately available (i.e. using the cardboard tubes from fabric bolts and soundproofing), we'd love to be a testing ground for new products.

I had a great visit to Green Depot in Bushwick. The have zero off gas materials for just about any chemical (paint, stripper, floor coating, cleaners). Can't wait to fill up a truck. They also act as the middle man/consultant working with their partner for materials they don't supply themselves, i.e. windows.

NY Stuff Exchange is a great "rolodex" of wher to buy, sell, and donate recycled stuff.

Build It Green NYC is a non for profit retail outlet, with salvage and surplus building stuff. Through their site we also found Green Home Buildingt that has a great "Ask the experts" feature.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

If I had a hammer...I'd blow out glassblock!

Justin went to town on the existing broken glass blocks. Wish I had a pic of his beaming face.

New Toy: Seafoam Vespa

I got a great new prop for the space/dream come true.

I've wanted this exact bike since I saw a woman in Florence in 1998 riding one with matching riding gloves. I have fantasies of riding the backroads out to Montauk, but they may have to wait til the spring (as will the necessary repairs, insurance, and lessons!). I got it from a neighbor who brought it over from Vietnam. It is in great exterior condition but unknown mechanical condition.

Dirty Softbox!

We got down to grime removal today. Brooke mopped the floor 3 (or 4?) times and we did some serious excavations on the windows.

Brooke found a birdnest in an old vent box, now with wires cut and sealed up. The birds were going crazy right outside as we were cleaning around it. A great pad, for sure, with a cartoon-like birdnest inside protected by old vent flaps. It reminded me of a show being organized right now about displacement. Damn those newcomers driving out existing tenants.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


We used to say that the guys who used to pick up scrap metal in the alleys of Chicago were "Chicago's Metropolitan Recycling Program." Dan Peterman and Chicago Resource Center took that to heart when they helped organize these guys and get them more reliable vehicles.

Scavenging is the orginal form of reuse/recycle that happens when you are thrifty (read: broke). I got these SWEET casters from my neighbor to help with the first moveable wall and some other leftover building materials as well: glassblock for repairs, leftover drywall and studs. These will definitely give us a jump start on the first couple of weeks...we may not be tent city for as long as I thought.

Roof Top Views

Sunset with a beer after a day of loading a container. Who could ask for more.

Clean out

The pallette jack is my new best friend. We cleaned out the space today, by equal parts scavenging and dumpster loading. The products left by the previous tenant (baby photo albums, foot print plaster kits, etc.) were a HUGE hit with the folks that work in the building.

Andrea and Marion rocked the house. I kinda love shutting up and working

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I told you it was pretty. Sunset side to Skyline meet blue dusk.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The site

The building is on the borderline of Long Island City and Sunnyside, Queens. It is mostly occupied by textiles shops, each floor holding 2 shops. Our unit was leased by a tableware designer as the full 1/2 floor, subsequently divided up. Softbox was previously rented by a gift ware company for the past 6 years. There are several other smaller units leased out by artists with varying degrees of "live" in "live/work." The complex does not feel like the Soho warehouses of the 1960s which allowed a "marginal" existence, according to my sculpture prof Robert Morris. Rather, it has a feeling of entrepreneurial creative enterprise; potentially a necessary condition at this point to sustain space in New York.

Softbox rocks

Welcome to Softbox. Softbox is a 1600 square foot warehouse space in Queens, New York which came to me rough but will hopefully in phases come together as a live work/studio space as well as a testing ground for future projects.

The building is classic box warehouse with glass block window walls. I have been subletting a smaller unit on the same floor for the last couple of months. The glass block distorts and clarifies the color of light, making the room feel like a softbox.

It should be a slow moving and flexible project. I see it as progressing in phases, from the immediate clean up and temporary (tent city) phase to providing studio space for several friends, and eventually additions of plumbing and more permanent structures. Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Click here for google maps.

Take 7 train to 40th st/Lowery stop.
Walk north on 40th st. (city on your left) to 43rd ave.
Take a left on 43rd ave., past 39th place to 39th St. Miller bldg is on NW corner of 39th St. and 43rd ave. Enter in door to the left of Loading dock and come to 3rd floor in elevator or stairs.