The Situation

Our neighborhood was in the dumps years ago and the city made it a special area to allow artists to live and work in former factory loft buildings. The plan succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the planners involved. Now on our block we have world famous architects building condos whose prices are astronomical. We were left out of the historical district long enough to allow developers to build these fancy new buildings and then close the door on further development so as to protect rich peoples investments. Don’t get me wrong, landmarking can be useful to preserve important historical areas, but now the block contains buildings from 1850 to 2009!

Anyway, we’ve been landmarked and that means no changes to the exteriors without approval.  For many years now (starting years before the Landmarking)  I have been working on a sculpture on the outside of our building here in New York. The plan was to go from the second floor all the way to the roof. As I continued with the piece, the Landmarks Commission issued a violation! I believed the work was grandfathered but it seems that this was not the case. Another owner of the building filed to have the work approved retroactively and the first hearing was with the community board Landmarks Committee.  Despite our earnest attempts, their recommendation to the LPC was to have my work removed! One member expressed total dismay that I may have anchored the piece with bolts into the “Classic Roman” brick. Their concerns had nothing to do with any contribution to the neighborhood, aesthetics or anything I would think important. The decision as far as I could see was a blind interpretation of the law.

I had thought that the Landmarks regulations were there to prevent changes that would harm the historical value of the area. My work admittedly is not in the style that was popular in the late 1800’s, but time passes and things change. The city saw fit to bring in artists to revive the neighborhood, and many did. There are still a number of artists, from Abstract Expressionists to Pop and beyond. Why not celebrate those who brought the change and allow the display of art?sculpture_1web

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~ by scultore on August 14, 2009.

2 Responses to “The Situation”

  1. To purchase a loft at this location which is in the Noho zoning, one of us had to submit an application to be a certified artist to the city. Consequently the sculptor Bruce Williams is the city certified artist. The application mentioned the reasoning of a need for a bigger space than our former downtown apartment to accommodate his studio.

    If the zoning idea is to keep the neighborhood in a certain category, why is he not allowed to execute his art on our own building? Or is it the sign of city bending to the money, since we see so many residents in this Noho zone are not artists any more?

    If we neglected the new designation of land marking our block last year, it could be our fault. We were just too busy and preoccupied with two of our family members’ passing. We hope the LPC would accept our request application now. The sculptures can be hung without harming those “classic Roman” bricks if the LPC requires. If that is the only concern of LPC, I don’t think that is a big problem to solve. If there are more regulations by LPC that we have to follow, we would comply with them in order to keep the sculptures.

    Those sculptures were highly popular among tourists and some of locals alike. There were so many people taking pictures all the time. According to my unscientific statistics, most use cell phone cameras to take pictures of 40 Bond and most use real cameras for our sculptures.

    Meg Williams, resident of 24 Bond

  2. It is hard to imagine residents or visitors finding fault with an artist of this caliber raising the aesthetic bar in a region daunted by lackluster commercial archetecture.

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