Two months of artist hell

On December 1st I received notice from the manager of the recently purchased building where my studio had been for sixteen and a half years that on January 1st my rent would increase 70%. This after having been assured that no such rate hike was imminent. Is there a worse month than December for this sort of news? My studio partner and I spent the next two weeks considering our options and looking for affordable alternatives. The owner would not negotiate. We suggested a gradual increase. We proposed bringing another artist in and scaling down our personal space allotments. We got no response and our phone calls went unreturned.

By mid December we located a new space that was geographically convenient, and close in price to what we were paying now. We planned to sublease a portion of the new space to another artist to cut costs. As we searched for an appropriate tenant, we began packing our studio. In the end we loaded three moving vans. We moved our art ourselves, but hired movers to transport everything else. I put on hold the de-installation of my Divine Beauty exhibition, which I could do since it’s located in an alternative venue, not an established gallery.

The physical labor involved in packing and moving was enormous; it took every free moment of every day of December to get out of our old space by New Year’s Eve. Then it took an entire month to prepare the new space, which involved planning, building a massive art storage rack and walls to divide studios, and unpacking and setting up. During this same time my parents, who are in failing health, required added attention. My father went into the hospital, then physical therapy, and my mother began using the services of hospice. I was also preparing for another semester as an adjunct instructor at Buffalo State College and I continued to write articles for publication.

Just today I put the final touches on my new space, setting up a printer I had bought days before I got the rent increase news. My studio is ready, but my partner and our new sub-leaser will not be fully done until spring. Meanwhile I can concentrate on bringing the remaining Divine Beauty work back and tearing down the temporary walls of that installation. Between this move and the preceding Divine Beauty installation, I have not made significant new art in four months.