El Barrio’s Artspace PS109, a project we’ve had in the works since 2004, is receiving a lot of attention these days. Located in the Manhattan neighborhood of East Harlem – “El Barrio” to its denizens – PS109 is finally filling with artists. Not only are the artists moving into PS109, but New York will soon see more artist housing in the works. In his February 3 State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined his plans for more affordable housing for artists in New York.
In a preview of the Mayor’s speech, WNYC Radio spoke to Tom Finkelpearl, the City’s Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, about the importance of keeping artists in New York. “We just can’t allow artists to be priced out of New York City,” said Finkelpearl. “They’re important for the soul of the city, they’re important for neighborhoods, they’re really important for the economy.” Read the full article here.
De Blasio’s plans are great news for New York artists, thousands of whom applied for the 89 available live/work units at PS109. El Barrio painter Rene Maynez, whose work has been featured in exhibits throughout New York and Mexico, knows how hard it is to find affordable living and studio space. “I used to have an art studio in Astoria, the rent went up and [I] couldn't afford it any more,” Rene said. “The area was gentrified and the art studios were turned into offices.”
The artists who have moved in to PS109 include actors, painters, writers, dancers, and more; and their excitement about being a part of this community is clear.
Musician Edward Castrillon, born and raised in El Barrio, mixes Latin and American influences with post-hardcore rock to create a unique style for his band Atabey and other musical projects. Edward spoke for many of the new tenants when he said, “I am honored and excited to be part of the Artspace family. I couldn't be any more grateful.”
For stand-up comic Jason Kanter, living in his own space for the first time will take some getting used to, but so far he’s adjusting well. “There are so many unbelievable things about living in PS109 that it's hard to identify one thing that's my favorite,” Jason said. “I think all these new experiences are really inspiring me creatively. And living in a real-life version of Batman's Manor – that has a huge hawk living on the roof – right in the middle of New York City! How great is that?”
As artists continue to move in, we’ll add their profiles to our website, where you’ll also find artist profiles from Artspace projects around the country. You can learn more about some of the resident artists of PS109 here.