City Paper is not for tourists.
There’s much subcultural significance in the closing of Gold Leaf, the rough-and-tumble warehouse of artist studios that will soon make way for pricey Mount Vernon Square apartments. The space opened in 1998; it’s been home to bands like Trans Am and U.S. Royalty, and visual artists like Kristina Bilonick and Nick Pimentel. More importantly, for certain art-damaged scenesters, Gold Leaf was simply where the party was at. Take the wider view, however, and its demise is no big deal. Several dozen artists worked there, a minuscule number in a city where high rents make life difficult for every creative type. There are a handful of privately owned studio-space buildings in D.C., and a few operated by non-profits; several new housing developments include spacious, subsidized units for artists. Plenty of other artists work in the suburbs, tolerate less-acceptable local conditions, or move to easier cities. Meanwhile, developers snag positive press by temporarily giving vacant properties—like the one at New York Avenue and 7th Street NW, a few blocks from Gold Leaf—over to art parties and city-funded pop-up shops. Finding more places for artists to display work is great, but it’d be nice to see those raw spaces given over to artists to, you know, make stuff, too.