Follow the Drips of Paint
By CONSTANCE ROSENBLUM for the New York Times
THE race to anoint the latest neighborhood for New Yorkers eager to pursue careers in the arts is never-ending. Greenwich Village, for much of the 20th century the heart of American Bohemia, was shoved aside by one after another newcomer, first the East Village, then SoHo and the Lower East Side, and most recently the Brooklyn quartet of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick. These days, a new destination seems to be proclaimed every few weeks, as artists rush about pell-mell in search of fresh terrain to colonize.
The first sign that the artists are arriving can be seen at the entrance to the local subway station. Seemingly overnight, the crowd is swelled by lanky 20-somethings in the uniform of skinny jeans, cowboy boots and black-rimmed eyeglasses. In short order, an old-school bar starts serving lattes along with the Buds. Wildly colored paintings sprout on the grubby walls of a onetime factory, and in abandoned storefronts, bands with wonderfully arcane names can be heard blasting away far into the night.
For young people laboring in notoriously low-paying fields, the grail is cheap rent, followed by proximity to like-minded souls and especially to mass transit. It’s no accident that Brooklyn’s outposts for artists are strung like beads along the necklace of the L train and more recently the G. If these young people are lucky, their homes also offer space in which to create art and music.
Still, the next wave of artists’ neighborhoods might not have the grit and authenticity of those that came before, said Robert Anasi, the author of a forthcoming book on Williamsburg, where he lived from 1994 to 2008.