Resident at Westbeth since 1997
When I finally signed a lease for an affordable alcove studio in Westbeth Artists Housing, I called my parents in New Jersey to shout the miraculous news. After ten years on the waiting list of the legendary Westbeth, I landed a sunny space a block from the Hudson River. For a low rent, I moved into a 400-square-foot loft with three large windows and high ceilings, located in a beautiful historic neighborhood.
That summer day in 1997, I sat in the courtyard and started scrawling in my journal. As I gazed up into the I-building, I saw a woman standing at her easel, painting. I felt a creative flow, an energy that went back to the days when the buildings used to house Bell Labs and the inventors who dreamed up the transistor, television transmission, high-fidelity recording, the digital computer.
That small studio was my home for fourteen years, until I finally moved up to a sunny 600-square-foot one bedroom on a higher floor. Excited, I threw a housewarming party. My friends joked, “It only took a quarter of a century for you to get a small one bedroom at Westbeth.” Getting a coveted space in Westbeth allowed me the freedom to develop my craft as an essayist, memoirist, and teacher. I spent my time writing creative nonfiction, eventually selling a memoir that took years to write.
Westbeth gave me what I needed: an affordable place where I could develop an artistic life in a sprawling complex, where my neighbors buzzed about editors, auditions, openings, galleries, and readings. The hallways are packed with talent who inspire me daily and share their skills. I’m thrilled to reside in the last outpost of Greenwich Village bohemia, a brilliant, contentious place. I’m forever grateful to photojournalist and Westbeth resident Bettye Lane, who urged me, back in the ’80s, to get on the waiting list. And that decision changed my life.