18 August 2009

Become an Artist; Buy a Barn; Live Well

The way to stay in New York if you're an artist, apparently, is to buy a huge old abandoned building in a depressed neighborhood, something once used for a purpose other than a dwelling, and then just keeping living and living there, telling real estate agents to get lost.

Hey, it worked for Jay Maisel. And all those artists who bought up the pocket synagogues on the Lower East Side. And it work for the guy who lives here.

This building, on Pioneer Street in Red Hook, used to be the original Norwegian Seamen's Mission. In 1878 The Seamen's Mission in Bergen, Norway, send Ole Bugge Asperheim to establish a Seamen's church in New York. This was the first such house of worship. It moved to Clinton Street after 50 years.

I can't tell you who lives there now, but, judging from the paint buckets and timber and general bohemian disarray inside, I'm guessing an artist. Whomever he is, he has a lot of room. If you circle the block, you can get glimpses of the various arms and wings of the old building. It takes up a great deal of land beyond the plot it occupies on Pioneer Street.

UPDATE: The owner of the former church is one Chico MacMurtrie, "the Artistic Director of Amorphic Robot Works (ARW), a collective he founded in 1991...a collaborative group of artists, technicians, and programmers who create multi-faceted machine-sculptures that interact in their uniquely designed environments. The work involves a kinesthetic inquiry into the human condition, which has resulted in the creation of more than 250 mechanical sculptures that assume anthropomorphic and abstract forms."

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