Susan L. Berger, Visual Artist

Resident at Westbeth since 1970

There was the West Side Highway. And later it collapsed—for the better. I was basically very productive. I started using fiber/yarns and making rug-hooked tapestries, from time to time displaying them at the Westbeth Gallery and also other places, mostly out of the city. We had the wonderful industrial structure called Superior Ink printing company. The loading dock was on the Bethune Street side. It was designed by one of the important industrial architects. It had these wonderful chimneys, and I loved that yellow brick building and its low-lying structure of three stories. The building had an impact on me. I found that watching the workers going there every day made for my reference for the building, and I later did my rug-hooked construction pieces so titled: Superior Ink series. It was about the industrial past of the building, which was destroyed because it fell out of the landmark district and was forever lost.

The city and state wanted to build Westway, a superior highway through a short distance. I was involved with an environmental group, which along with their alliances, prevented such folly and disrespect to the great Hudson River.

I got married, and we moved to a different apartment—wider and still facing Washington Street. I could see the World Trade Center. We rode our bicycles to the WTC and enjoyed the stores that were there. My husband and I were even extras in the King Kong movie.

I forgot to mention that when Westbeth had its opening in May 1970, then Mayor John Lindsay came to the event along with other dignitaries. I made hashish brownies from Alice B. Toklas’ recipe, and Mayor Lindsay knew it and gave a big smile as he tasted the homemade brownie. We both laughed.

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