Silence Under Spring Street

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 πŸ™‚

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:

14 thoughts on “Silence Under Spring Street

  1. dougrogers says:

    Those are gorgeous drawings, and Your story reminds me of an old movie I saw about three young women who move to New York for jobs and rent a basement apartment in Greenwich Village. A standing joke was the subway ran just on the other side of the wall.

    • artmodel says:


      Oh yes, the subway-behind-the-wall situation, or basement apartments abutting subway stations, can be found in this city. Years ago, we had the el trains which ran above ground and thundered right outside peoples’ windows!

      Thanks for your comments and glad you liked Bob’s drawings.


  2. derek says:

    you look lovely my dear, I wish I could have been there to sketch you but my health won’t permit me as you probably know. All the best

  3. Nice post and excellent sketches! If you wanna come pose for us at the North Pole Grange, Claudia, I can guarantee no street noises! πŸ™‚

    • artmodel says:


      Haha. The North Pole Grange sounds good, but there must be some noises, no? Like hooting owls or howling coyotes? πŸ™‚

      Great to hear from you!


  4. bob palevitz says:

    there is just something about claudia…………………..!
    bob with the delicate hands.

  5. Jennifer says:

    How strange – I have no recollection of any street noise from my one session sketching at Spring Studio – obviously I was concentrating!
    It was indeed a great place πŸ™‚

    • artmodel says:


      That’s exactly it! The artists are oblivious to the sounds. I think we models are most aware of them, as we are not concentrating nearly as much as you folks.

      Thanks for commenting!


  6. You evoke well the sound environment of Spring Studio. It’s a basement beneath a restaurant, so besides sounds, there are often smells, and sometimes liquid dripping through the ceiling!

    To those who complain, I ask them to consider that only because it is a leaky basement is it possible for such a place to exist in the chichi neighborhood SoHo has become. Thirty years ago, the area was the grungy creative center of the city. Spring Studio is the still-thriving remnant you’re amazed to find among the designer boutiques and tourist traps!

    • artmodel says:


      And those damn designer boutiques are too expensive for me purchase anything! That’s the real tragedy πŸ˜†

      But seriously, it’s so true what you said about Spring Studio. Its characteristics are inherent to its continued existence. Personally I wouldn’t want it any other way. Spring Studio is perfect just the way it is.

      Thanks for your comments!


  7. I love Spring Street, and I’ve never seen nor heard tell of anything like it in any other city. Your description of it is beautiful and matches my own experience of it, right down to the vague awareness of all the noise, and how it fades once you start drawing. Will look forward to going on happily seeing you there!

    • artmodel says:


      Yes, Spring Studio is absolutely a unique and singular place, beloved by artists and models alike. So happy you liked this post, and yes I’ll be seeing you very soon friend!


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