Elisabeth Condon, Painter

Resident at Westbeth since 2015

In 1997, Karl and I lived illegally on West Fourteenth Street, in the building that is now Patagonia. How I loved the West Village, with its local post office, cobblestone streets, and especially the restaurant Florent. Meat hooks under tin roofs, streets washed with the blood of cows, and artists up and down the block spoke of a rich urban history that has since disappeared. I wanted to spend the rest of my life there. When the time came to move and we were loading the last of our belongings, the visual I take away is the drag queen adjusting makeup in the U-Haul truck side-view mirror. Undeterred, vowing to return, I applied to Westbeth.

Seventeen years later, when I was living in Shanghai as artist in residence at Swatch Art Peace Hotel, Karl asked what to bring on his visit. “Do not forget the Westbeth paperwork!” I urged. On a hot city day, we set forth to the American Embassy. Two hours and fifty dollars later, we were ready to update our file. Was the lengthy process worth it? I mused. But one day the following year, Westbeth called, asking if we wanted to view an apartment. At long last, it was time to return to the Village.

Five years in, our apartment provides a beloved home. We often lie on the parquet floor, marveling at the undulate ceiling and full, moonlike light, an architectural echo of the riverscape down the block. We’ve come to know our neighbors and secret protocols of the floor, such as where to leave extra copies of Artforum. Facing the elevators, plants bask in the view of Julian Schnabel’s hotel and Wall Street. The hallway floors shine. Westbeth is both a respite from and passport to the greatest city still.

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