In 1970s New York City, a search for emerging artists might have begun in the once-derelict SoHo neighborhood, where artists like Donald Judd, Gordon Matta Clark, and Trisha Brown colonized industrial cast-iron lofts. In the ’80s, artists seeking cheap rent and large workspaces found refuge in squats in the East Village (think Keith Haring’s studio at PS 122); and in the ’90s, artists blew a kiss to Manhattan as they skipped the borough for lower rents in Brooklyn—though they slowly moved from now-gentrified Williamsburg to Bushwick. But with the cost of rent in Bushwick becoming threateningly high, lower prices and bigger spaces in Queens have made it the next desirable location—including 1717 Troutman Street, a converted warehouse on the border of Brooklyn and Queens: a haven for artists and a hotbed for emerging talent.
Named for the industrial block that it occupies the length of, 1717 Troutman is praised for low rents, giant workspaces, and stunning views, including the second-floor deck with a full view of the Manhattan skyline. There are some 80+ buzzers on the front door, each to a space that easily houses three separate studios—among them, artists like Jason Gringler, Hayal Pozanti, and Anton Zolotov, and artist-run galleries, like Underdonk, Regina Rex, and Harbor.
Connected by infinite dark corridors, rumored to be long enough for bike riding, the studios form a quiet community of artists who help each other in different ways. “There are a lot of really great artists in the building. On occasion artists go to each other’s studios for feedback and dialogue, which can introduce you to new aspects of your work that you hadn’t considered before,” Gringler said, who joked that his camaraderie was among fellow Canadians, not unlike Pozanti and her fellow Yale MFA grads down the hall, or Zolotov and his compatriots from Hunter College’s MFA program.
“The building itself is kind of run-down, but I like that there are a lot of wood shops,” Pozanti said of just one of the on-site amenities, which also include a welder and a frame shop. “It’s nice to know that if I need to get something made, then there are people immediately available here.” For Zolotov, the bounty lies on the loading docks, where one artist’s trash becomes another’s treasure; and for Gringler, no rummage is needed. In a testament to the community, he confessed that artists often leave sheets of Plexi, his key material, waiting outside his studio door.
Though there’s no telling when the next exodus will bring artists to a new locale—the Bronx? New Jersey?—the building is home to the studios of artists whose careers promise to outlast the art scene’s ephemeral zip code.
Photographs by Alex John Beck