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Artist loft demands Wall Street salary in Soho – DIRT

In the mid-19th century, New York’s Soho district was a thriving theater and shopping district with high-end hotels and luxury department stores. But by the turn of the 20th century, it had become a brownfield of warehouses and sweatshops. The area was so dismal that it became known as Hell’s Hundred Acres.

From the 1960s, the area became an artists’ paradise. Bursting with creative energy but thin on the wallet, painters, sculptors and other creative types were drawn to the huge open lofts, high ceilings and huge windows that the warehouse and buildings of the factory, as well as the derisory rents that the owners were then relieved of. to be obtained for buildings which might otherwise have remained vacant.

Restaurants and shops eventually opened to serve urban farmers; the usual gentrification followed – for better and for worse, money usually follows art – and fast forward to today, the area is full of high-priced boutiques, posh hotels and big retailers fashion like Gucci, Chanel and Dior.

There are still artists living and working in Soho, although these days it takes a financier or software engineer’s salary to rent or buy in the neighborhood. According to Zumper, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $11,750, and according to Redfin and Realtor.com, the median sale price for the neighborhood is over $3 million.

One of the first artists to settle in Soho was Charles Ross, a multimedia artist best known as a light sculptor and earthwork artist. Now in his mid-80s and named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2011, Ross doesn’t have the same international brand recognition as some of his peers, nor do his paintings sell for the stratospheric sums made by a few lucky artists in his life. generation. Nevertheless, the prescient and cerebral artist, who studied mathematics at UC Berkeley, has long since been able to buy a large loft on Wooster Street.

When Ross set up his home and studio all those decades ago, the cobbled street was undoubtedly littered with trash and dangerously desolate after dark. Today, the cast-iron building in which his residence and art studio are located is sandwiched between Moschino and Celine, across from the trendy eyewear store Gentle Monster.

Ross and his wife, minimalist artist Jill O’Bryan, spend part of each year in New Mexico, where for forty-one years he has built “Star Axis”, an 11-story naked-eye observatory built in sandstone, bronze, granite and stainless steel. Scheduled to be completed this year and described on its website as “an architectonic earth/star sculpture constructed with the geometry of stars”, the monumental sculpture “offers an intimate experience of how the earth’s environment extends into the star space”. Heady stuff, indeed!

This year, while working in New Mexico on “Star Axis,” Ross and O’Bryan want to rent their airy and bright two-story loft residence on Wooster Street, fully furnished for five months, for $12,500. per month.

For that sum, one gets two bedrooms and a few bathrooms, a 41-foot living and dining room with gleaming Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, 16-foot ceilings, and gigantic east-facing windows with views. on Soho. There is also an open kitchen, a mezzanine home office, central air conditioning and a washer/dryer.

The living room features a suite of Le Corbusier furniture, a 40-inch flat screen TV and, most importantly, several original works of art by Ross. The listing explicitly states that cats will not be allowed, and the “mandatory weekly housekeeping” will run the deep-pocketed short-term renter, who certainly won’t be a starving performer, an extra $175 a week.

Listing agent Bill Kowalczuk of Coldwell Banker Warburg declined to comment.