I implore the town to consider the East End artist and NOT make the proposed amendments to Chapter 255 of the EH town code, which will greatly hinder the work of many people who help to make East Hampton what it has been for a long time and hopefully can remain to be. These amendments, which greatly limit what an artist's studio can have, will inevitably change the nature of the artist's environment here, and how we can work and live. Instead of preserving the artistic enclave that, in part, defines the Hamptons, I can see that it will, instead, contribute to the destruction of the artists' habitat.
As a developing, exhibiting, and selling artist, I have looked forward to the day when I could have my own artist's studio. This would be a place where I could work for long periods of time, undisturbed by the constant household phone calls, chores, and general demands of family coming and going from the house. Even the call of nature, which theoretically should require just a brief trip to the bathroom, inevitably creates a sidetrack into the laundry room, where clothing awaits washing, drying, or folding at any given time.
I will invariably remember at that time to decide on dinner and what to defrost and what to add to the shopping list, and perhaps decide to go shopping then, before it gets too late. Then, of course, the phone rings, and even though I screen it, I am compelled to answer it and deal with whatever it is right then and there. As I take my notes on my day planner, I am reminded of several other things I have to do and try to decide which of it can wait.
Being an artist requires lots of self-discipline. It is often not looked upon as a regular job. Not full-time, because most artists do their artwork around everything else, since often they only have to answer to themselves. And herein lies much of the difficulty. When other people go to their workplaces, there are no other outside distractions. They are completely and physically removed from their home base, their families, etc. In effect, they are forced to focus on their work, producing and answering to the demands of their superiors.
An artist has not only the challenges of their creative work, but also the challenge of staying on task when everything else is screaming for her attention. In addition, a lot of the time at least, creating artwork requires close self-examination, self-expression and decision-making that is exhausting. Like any other activity that requires lots of decision-making, making art makes even the most self-motivated artist seek diversion. Just as an office worker needs a desk, an artist needs a studio.
For me, having a studio without a bathroom and appliances is almost as bad as having no studio at all. A tea totaller, I will no doubt go into the house to use the bathroom, make use of the time to make a cup of tea; while the water is boiling, I will move the laundry from the washer to the dryer; as I pour the tea, the phone will ring, and it will be someone who has been trying to reach me for some time, etc, etc. Of course, not long after returning to the studio and finishing my tea, I will need to use the toilet again. You get the picture.
I know we have big problems with illegal housing, but punishing artists is not the answer in resolving them. It seems an easy target, when there are much bigger housing offenses at play. I'm sure it is more difficult to monitor and enforce those larger illegal uses, and certainly they involve code that is more readily abused. Perhaps the town feels good about beginning their "housekeeping" by starting with the small easy rooms that, in many cases don't even need cleaning. But really, it is the big dirty rooms with the major issues that need to be confronted instead. Like art in progress, it is a process that must be faced, no matter how much laundry we can do in the meantime.
If you have the time, please let your voice be heard at the public hearing at Town Hall Friday, September 1, 2006, at 10:30.
August 29, 2006