The Russians

In 2009, I moved from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Greenwich Village and faced the impossible task of finding an affordable art studio in one of New Yorkโ€™s most expensive neighborhoods ๐Ÿ˜๏ธ ๐Ÿ’ฐ . The New York Times had plenty of fabulous listings with price tags to match. I needed to find something under the table ๐ŸŒƒ. I hit Craigslist and that is how I found… The Russians ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ .

Art Space NYC ๐ŸŽจ ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽจ ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐ŸŽจ ๐Ÿ–Œ๏ธ was a studio co-op run by a talented group of artists that all happened to be from Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ . It was located on a quirky block of 14th Street btw 6th and 7th Avenues next to the Salvation Army ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ HDQ and across from the YMCA ๐Ÿ’ช ๐Ÿ‘ท ๐Ÿ‘ฎ ๐Ÿ—๏ธ (the one the Village People sing about). 14th Street has a gift for maintaining its edge and odor ๐Ÿ‘ƒ no matter how bourgeois the surrounding areas become. You can always count on 14th Street to remind you what the โ€œPโ€ in public stands for ๐Ÿšฝ. Its gritty charm kept the rents somewhat affordable on the block until now ๐Ÿ  .

I knew I was going to rent the space the minute I met Michael โ€ (the head artist and COO). He was the spitting image of Salvador Dali in his prime ใ€ฐ๏ธ. He had the hair, the mustache and the clothes๐Ÿ‘”. Michael arrived riding a vintage bicycle ๐Ÿšฒ that was almost just too muchโ€ฆin a good way. We entered the 1920s building and took the self-operated elevator to the 5th floor ๐Ÿฐ . The studio had a very large open shared space with three private studios around the edges. There were floor to ceiling windows with a view of Greenwich Village rooftops ๐ŸŒ† and the Empire State Building rising behind them ๐ŸŒž . โ€œThis is where I want to work.โ€ I said. I wrote a check on the spot. โœ๏ธ

The building was full of creative entrepreneurs of all flavors including : @karmakidsyoga , @bakedbymelissa , a menโ€™s spa ๐Ÿ˜‰, a film production company, my favorite marketing agency @guillaumeguevara, an avant garde theater company and donโ€™t forget me.. aka the world famous Manhattan Magnolia Paintress of E. 9th Streetโ€ฆand the Russians ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ @artspacenyc .

Michael and his team were all incredibly gifted ๐ŸŽ . They were renowned for their decorative wall coverings: wallpapers ๐Ÿฅ, mirrors ๐Ÿชž, murals and sculptural relief โšœ๏ธ. Everything was bespoke with the air of โ€œold world expensiveโ€. Their work is in just about every high-end hotel and retail space you can think of all around in the world ๐ŸŒŽ including the Waldorf Astoria and the Saint Regis in New York. The Russians also worked with famous interior designers, private citizens with incredible taste and the occasional mafioso.

I learned so many things about silk-screening, creating patterns, mirrors and using metallics while working there ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐ŸŽจ. I had never even thought of incorporating such things into my work before ๐Ÿค” . While I think Michael was a fan of me personally, I canโ€™t say that he was a huge fan of my work. Color ๐ŸŒˆ was not his thing and he was always trying to convert me to neutrals. He just couldn’t wait for me to try something called amber tint varnish on my paintings which basically turns everything yellow ๐Ÿ’›ย ย to give it the patina of a bygone era. ๐Ÿ™ƒย ย I loved him anyway. ๐Ÿ’Ÿย ย 

What did I teach The Russians ? Well… I was the C.T.O. of the co-op aka the Chief Translating Office. I edited their business correspondence and reviewed their contracts with clients when asked. I explained nuances of the English language on a daily basis ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง .

I left Art Space with a heavy heart ๐Ÿ’” when I started splitting my time between Hudson, Manhattan and motherhood ๐Ÿ‘ฉ ๐Ÿ‘ง . I didnโ€™t leave empty handed โœ‹ . I took with me some incredible friendships, a working partnership with Latvian superstar artistย @justiniteย , a portfolio full of evolved styles and incredible memories. Update – 104 W. 14th Street was demolished Fall of 2023. R.I.P. Art Space


New York artist most known for her Lady Liberty art prints and original paintings. Discover Laura's complete I Love New York series in the shop.