First Years, 1969-72

In the late 1960s New York was the place to be if you were interested in the arts. I came from California to pursue a graduate degree in art history at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. The art world's striking extremes were quickly revealed. The Institute's elegant quarters in the Doris Duke Mansion on Fifth Avenue and 77th Street provided a glimpse of a rarefied world of masterpieces, scholarship, and Friday afternoon teas, while my tiny $65 a month, cockroach- infested, studio apartment in Greenwich Village reflected the grittier realities of downtown's art scene. During those first months in New York, my one companion was John Wilmer, another Californian who had just moved east to study at the School of Visual Arts. It was John who first rented the top floor loft at 98 Bowery, but before he moved in, the grind of life in the city got to him, and he retreated back west. By this time I was living with artist Carla Dee Ellis in a small $110 a month village apartment. Seeing an opportunity, we eagerly grabbed the spacious loft for $175 a month.

Life On The Top Floor
Life On The Top Floor