I'm up in my beloved Studio right now. It's so cold that my fingers hurt, but typing is helping to warm them up. I don't want to turn on the salamander because I only have one tank of propane and I need it for auditions tonight. (If you don't know what a salamander is--and I didn't before the Arts Council bought it for us--it is a propane fueled open flame blower, used to heat warehouses and construction areas--and our rehearsal space. When it's going, it heats this room pretty well.)
My Studio is on the third, heretofore unused, floor of the Creative Arts and Event Center at the corner of state road 9 and US 40 (State and Main) in Greenfield. It is a huge beautiful room-1500 square feet, with windows on three sides and wood floors. I LOVE it...probably more than I love my own house. It's like the loft where the Flashdance chick lived, but without the firepole. It's spacious, well-lit, and wonderful.
We lucked into the room because no one was using it. The man who owns our building first renovated the first floor into a soda shop and an art Gallery, and a common space for groups to use. Then he began working on the second floor, dividing it up into artist studios. For almost a year and a half, this room has been ours--for cheap! It was the space at the top of the building, the last space to be noticed and to receive renovation attention. Perfect for us in every way...except for the fact that there is no air-conditioning in the summer--and no heat in the winter.
Last winter, we froze up here. You could see your breath. Everyone invested in flannel lined jeans and wore hats and gloves during rehearsal. Even the kerosene heaters couldn't make a dent in the cold. Then we got the salamander. It helped a LOT. This winter, it's not quite that bad because some heat from the now-inhabited second floor seeps up. You can't see your breath anymore, even when it was 20 below a couple weeks ago. The salamander keeps us warm, but it's loud--and scary--an open flame in the room. Last summer, we bought some air conditioners, because the third floor of a brick building gets VERY hot. The sun shines in the windows and no amount of curtains seemed to keep the temperatures from rising to 80...85 degrees. It was really hot. Hot, I don't mind. It's the cold that's the worst.
Today, I'm up here cleaning. The third floor is finally getting noticed. They're working on the front room of the third floor now, but they're carting all the construction waste through our room to throw it out the window into the dumpster below. It is a dusty, unholy mess. There is a thick coating of white plaster dust on EVERYTHING, making me wonder how kids with allergies and asthma, colds and bronchitis, are going to manage. As if the cold, the three flights of stairs, the inadequate restroom facilities weren't enough to contend with. Now we have construction dust. There's dust on the candy, on the cups, on the chairs and the upholstery. What will the parents think? And we don't always have electricity. Yesterday, it came on for awhile in the bathroom and I quickly scrubbed the toilets and swept the floor. Today, it appears that after all my work--one of the construction guys threw UP in one of the toilets. Good grief. And it has to be cleaned again. And the floor. I mopped some areas of the floor, but all it did really was move the dust around... It's really bad.
It's cold, it's dusty, but I LOVE this room. This temporary space we're in....where we go from here, I don't know.