It has long been my favorite place to model. Unique, authentic, true to the spirit of life drawing, Spring Studio is a little hidden gem in a blustering giant of a city. I use the word “hidden” not to suggest that it’s unknown. It’s very well-known in the New York art community. It is hidden in that it resides underground, literally in a basement space. Just feet from the Spring Street stop on the Lexington line subway, artists and models descend a staircase to enter the studio. Except in the very cold weather, the street door is always left open to allow air circulation. It also, for better or worse, allows for the myriad sounds of the city to travel down into our special space. For an operation that demands absolute quiet when model sessions are in progress – cell phones must be turned off, iPod volumes kept low, no talking, no disruptions – this is a very funny paradox.
I can’t emphasize enough how close the studio is to the street, its existence in a basement notwithstanding. The streets of SoHo are small, too small really to handle the traffic and activity. The area is crammed, almost claustrophobic at times. During the day, at our busy corner of Spring and Lafayette, the open street door means blaring taxi horns, chattering shoppers, revving motorcyclists, delivery trucks unloading, banging, clanging, and deafening jackhammers from the endless – and I do mean endless – construction taking place throughout the city. And then there’s the subway itself, which rumbles basically right alongside us. The model on the platform can feel the vibrations mid-pose. And at night, especially on Thursdays through Saturdays, the open door sends down the voices of revelers, tourists, and loitering smokers, often after enjoying a libation or two at the many so-called “hotspots” of the trendy nabe. Sometimes it’s laughter, sometimes it’s snippets of a conversation, sometimes it’s even a lovers’ quarrel.
Remember folks, this is New York City. This town bellows out more noises – some recognizable, some not – than you can imagine. Yet still, amid all the urban cacophony, life drawing persists in Spring Studio, the artists’ eyes and hands remain focused, blissfully impervious. They are undisturbed, unruffled. Noise? What noise? There is “silence” under Spring Street
Created at Spring Studio on Thursday morning, these are my quick poses, my movements and gestures captured in pastel and conte by the delicate, effortless hand of Bob Palevitz: