Welcome to the 204th episode of A View From the Easel, a series in which artists reflect on their workplace. In this issue, we take a look inside studios in Harlem, Tennessee, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn—where artists witness their neighborhoods transform, utilize tight spaces, collect essential tools, and collaborate with family members.
Want to participate? Check out our submission guidelines and tell us about your studio!
Ann Jackson, Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee
I’m a mixed media artist with a background in graphic design. My studio in my basement is used for my design shop in one corner and my art table in another corner. In another corner, my 24-year-old non-binary child works on his photography and video art. The rest of the space includes my finished paintings, fine art prints and photographs from artists who inspire me, bookshelves full of art books bought from resale stores, and a sofa for contemplating and relaxing.
We are very fortunate to have a beautiful lake view with lots of wildlife roaming around. I photograph nature with my phone and base my abstract paintings on these nature scenes. I’m grateful to live 30 minutes from Chattanooga, a city that simultaneously offers ample opportunities to be in nature and makes significant investments in the arts.
Peter Cole, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
My studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn is small but a short walk from my apartment, which means I visit often and easily. It is less than 200 square meters but has both a sink and a window.
I make sculptures with mostly found and looted material and often form collections of 108 objects. Pictured is a stack of 108 found hats, 108 tiered round stones and a steel Moebius band with 108 toy ambulances that go on forever. I keep my materials in numerous vintage LL beanbags, which are easily accessible and visually interesting as a collection. There’s a lot of preparing and modifying objects, so I have a band saw, drill press, and stone cutting saw on hand, as well as a riveter, eyelet tools, and a welder. My current project below right is a prayer beads with the required 108 beads made from toy heads.
What you see in this photo is an attempt to live and work harmoniously in a small apartment in New York City, trying to use every square inch possible.
My latest painting sits on my easel, which I found at a vintage consignment store. Hanging on the wall is my first attempt at painting on an unstretched canvas, both of which are part of a new series I’m working on.
You may be able to tell from the image that I have an affinity for Mid-Century Modern, which I appreciate very much and which is reflected in my artistic style, if you take a look at the Danish modern table, the minimalist streamlined sofa and the bubble cigar notice followers.
As a perpetual tidy fanatic, creating order and space for art supplies, boxes, bags, etc. and everyday life has been a challenge, but it’s a challenge I take on every morning when I wake up to paint.
My studio is located in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. I’ve been here since I graduated from PAFA in 1978. It’s the best studio I can imagine and that’s how I stayed. As the neighborhood has changed over 40 years, not always for the better, it has become my subject. I’ve documented the transition from a neighborhood of small factories and townhouses that went through a convulsive era of fire, demolition and emptiness to another that stands for rampant building and development. As my 360-degree views of the city and the Delaware River were blocked by taller and taller buildings, I found the only way to ease my sadness about it was to document the process. My paintings have evolved from demolition, decay and fires to construction sites and walls eating up my visible world. In the photo, there is a large sculpture in front of the arched window and another in the foreground. I started out as a sculptor, began painting my sculptures and eventually progressed to making paintings and monoprints. The large (18ft) painting on the wall is my current project, a family portrait born out of my pandemic experience of losing family members and the family home.