Logs:In Which an Artist Is Introduced to Wonderland (Minus Any Kind of Rabbit Holes)
|In Which an Artist Is Introduced to Wonderland (Minus Any Kind of Rabbit Holes)|
"Someone said it was, um, a bunch of hippies doing art together?"
<NYC> Chimaera Arts - Dumbo
This is just one of the many abandoned warehouses in DUMBO, and like many of them it has recently changed hands. /Unlike/ most of those, however, it does not have some corporate developer's sign out front promising a transformation into luxury condominiums or a boutique shopping center or the latest concept restaurant. Instead it's marked by a piece of weathered but wildly colorful plywood propped up on a stack of broken pallets, which reads "Chimaera Art Space!" above "chimaera.org" in smaller letters.
The warehouse is moderately large and decorated with graffiti art in various styles--some of it recognizable as the work of renowned local street artists. A pair of monstrous scrap metal sculptures, perhaps still works in progress, flank the entrance. The building itself has undergone significant renovation recently, complete with wiring, plumbing, and a modular partitioning system. The grounds, too, have been cleaned up, ramshackle fences torn down and rusting detritus removed in favor of reclaimed (and brilliantly repainted) outdoor furniture ringing an impressively engineered firepit.
Near the entrance, a tall slender Japanese youth impeccably dressed in an intricately embroidered white and blue mandarin-collared button-down and pale trousers, both elegantly tailored, is leaning up against the edge of a table sipping from a chipped coffee mug. His expression is solemn, his eyes tipped up towards an even taller muscular man with obsidian-black skin and a wealth of tentacles coiled around and curling out from his body. Taylor is in grey shorts, a black tee shirt that reads 'WHITE LIVES MATTER TOO MUCH' in bold white text across the chest. He leans against the wall just by the entryway, one of his slender boneless limbs lifting a glass of lemonade, another gesticulating as he talks. "-- look, all we need is 28 to 48 friends and there's a Halloween costume right there. I'm sure you'd have no trouble recruiting that many."
Daiki's smile is very small, half-hidden behind the cup. "Just because I can, does it really mean I should?"
The door at the entrance opens just enough to allow Sarah in, clutching a well-used sketchbook and beat up pencil bag to her chest. One of her hands is bandaged around the palm, leaving her fingers free, but it doesn't seem to bother her. She's awash in bright colors with her pink hair, sunshine yellow Converse, and a baby blue romper covered in flowers, but to her, that seems like nothing compared to the building in front of her. She takes a few steps to get out of the way of anyone coming or going, but otherwise she just--looks. A whole place just for artists. Wow.
"If we all crashed Evolve it would definitely liven up my shift. And you know you want to try being feral for once." Taylor takes a sip of his lemonade, his eyes tracking away towards the door. "Yo." His chin lifts in a greeting.
Daiki lowers his coffee mug, looking towards Sarah as well. "Good evening," he offers, with a small downward tilt of head in counterpoint to Taylor's upward jerk. His greeting comes with a very mild warmth, a faint magnetic tug that leaves him difficult to ignore despite his softspoken demeanor. The slight widening of his smile only augments the pleasant warm pull. "Can we help you? You look just a bit overwhelmed."
"Oh!" Sarah's head jerks over in surprise, an apology on the tip of her tongue in case she ended up in someone's way after all. She swallows it once she realizes it's just a greeting. "Hi," she offers to both of them, but her eyes are on Daiki. She can't explain why--they don't look a thing alike--but she's reminded so much of Angie that it's hard to not immediately feel at home. Her shoulders lower, fingers relaxing where they had been gripping her sketchbook tightly. "I've never been here before," she answers. Huh. When did she start smiling? "Am I allowed to just look around, or are some places off limits?"
Taylor coils one serpentine arm closer to himself, hiding his own smile behind his next sip of lemonade. "Booths that have their curtain pulled closed are off limits, usually means someone's working in there. But otherwise --" He flicks one slender limb out in a wave toward the warehouse at large.
"You're allowed to look," Daiki confirms. "Do you know much about Chimaera?"
"I heard about it a few weeks ago," she answers, looking around the warehouse again... before focusing back on Daiki. "Someone said it was, um, a bunch of hippies doing art together?" Maybe she shouldn't have said that. Though she doesn't know that she has seen anything to refute it. "And my coworker told me he had some paintings here, but I thought he meant they were just--here. I guess he must have worked on them here, too. Are the booths just for painting?"
"Has anyone ever called you a hippie before?" Daiki looks over at Taylor, his brows lifting in amusement.
"S'a first time for everything." Taylor shrugs one broad shoulder. "The booths are for whatever. People draw here, paint here, sew clothes, make sculptures, s'a bike shop out back, a shed for glasswork, a wood shop where people --" Just for the briefest moment his words stumble, his arm tightening its grip on his glass. He continues on smoothly enough, though, "-- make furniture. But you can do whatever in the cubicles, it's just for having some privacy while you work."
"It's harder to move the specialized equipment, of course. Not many people blowing glass or developing photos in the booths. But," Daiki tilts his hand out toward Sarah's sketchbook, "so long as a project can feasibly be done out there, you can do it in one of the rooms. Or," he demurs apologetically, "our members can. There is a small fee to reserve a booth or workshop space, for non-members."
Sarah's eyes widen more and more as Taylor continues to list things. Holy crap. She didn't even know places like this existed. "That's--Wow. I mean, I don't know how to do most of that stuff, I just like to draw, but that's all so cool," she says earnestly. The mention of a fee doesn't even make her blink; nothing is ever free, and a building this size must have a decent utility bill. It's the 'small' part of the fee that makes her wary. That can mean so many different things to different people. "How much is the fee? Is it more cost effective to become a member, in the long run?"
"Membership is free," Taylor answers brightly, "so yeah that's probably more cost effective. If you have time."
"We're a collectively owned artist cooperative," Daiki explains. "Membership doesn't cost anything monetarily, but members are required to come to meetings and put in work each month to keep our doors open."
"Though what that work is can be all kinds of different things. Some people donate their art for sale, some people work on the actual maintenance of the space, some people volunteer to teach classes or run events, it really depends where your interest and skills are." Taylor drains his glass, setting it aside on the table that Daiki leans against, one arm stretching out to easily cover the several feet of distance between them. "So what's more cost effective I guess depends on if you have free time or free cash. I'm broke as fuck, so there's no question for me really."
It takes Sarah a moment to comprehend all of that. First the 'free' thing--actually no-catch free--then the phrase 'collectively owned artist cooperative' takes her for an entirely different ride. By the time Taylor is done explaining, she's starting to wonder if she opened to door to, well, Wonderland. "I don't know about fixing or teaching anything..." she muses, looking down at her sketchbook. "I draw people in the park sometimes for money. Do you think I could donate anything?" Sarah holds out her sketchbook with her bandaged hand as she asks.
"I'm afraid I'm a terrible gauge of whether or not art will be lucrative. But there are all kinds of ways to contribute," Daiki assures Sarah, lifting his coffee for a small sip rather than taking the sketchbook, "and I'm sure you'll find a niche. People do everything from cleaning the warehouse to tending the yard to providing childcare or food at events."
"If you're interested we can hook you up with a schedule. Maybe you can come check out a meeting. They're usually incredibly tedious," Taylor says, frank but cheerful, "work out shit about our budget and what kind of classes we have capacity to run. But it'll give you an idea what you're in for if you join."
Sarah nods, grinning at Taylor as she folds her arms around her sketchbook again. "That would be nice, thank you! I can put up with tedious if it means saving money." The appeal of being a member of an artist anything doesn't hurt either. Far from it. "Also, um." Her grin drops some, grows nervous. "I'm sorry if this is a weird question, but do you mind if I draw you?" she hesitantly asks Taylor.
Taylor's eyes meet Daiki's for a second. Daiki just sips his coffee again. Taylor rubs at the side of his jaw with the delicate slender end of his smallest arm. "I don't know you like that," he says finally, his smile quirking a little crooked. "You want the tour?" One of his thick rubbery arms curls around Daiki's shoulders. "Daiki's great at being the welcome wagon."
Sarah nods. That's exactly why she asked. "Fair enough. Thanks for thinking about it," she says, sheepish. "A tour would be great. If it isn't too much trouble."