Independent artists have always been the earthworms of urban renewal, finding cheap housing and studios, aka live-in studios, in any town’s neglected areas. They confront old plumbing, drafty windows, security issues, while improvising habitable and productive spaces, a long tradition of living and working for cheap. This is not gentrification in itself, but soon slick bars and boutiques invade as artsy folks come around. Shopping carts and abandoned washing machines start to disappear, perrenial vagrants just aren’t there. Before long landlords decide to upgrade, and the poor people, including the artists, move out. 'Over-the-Rhine' in Cincinnati is a classic example with the greatest income disparity of seventy-six thousand areas in the US surveyed, transitioning from urban blight to destination for the young professional, porsches in litters, like a renovating tide, due in large part to artists moving in twenty five years ago, now all but gone themselves.
Here, might be happening everywhere, progressives with grant dollars want to seed low profit real estate with enclave artist communities, hoping to shortcut straight through to urban chic just in time to make a killing for someone. Maybe it works, but sure seems unnatural somehow. I suspect they're really just setting up a tourist stroll with bead work and plywood roosters, as artificial as its roots, and populated with the entrepreneurial bottom-line sort of artist. Seen it other places is all.
Here’s something they possibly just don’t know. Finding your own way is part of it. It’s an interesting assignment, to survive as an artist here in our sports loving, media-addicted land. To an aspiring artist driving an old car isn’t romance. It requires mechanical skill or at least understanding, and thoughtful and efficient maintenance squeezing out every mile, just like every tube of paint is squeezed. Goes for everything. A person learns to cook, to repair, to negotiate with not the nicest landlords. This is all a part of making art that connects to that larger pool of human experience, and it works. Did they not tell you this in art history class? The city, the state, the united nations making it easier actually defeats the process.