AS220 at 25

By GREG COOK  |  August 13, 2010


HELENA THOMPSON, early AS220 resident artist: The second floor was live-work spaces, some studios, the performance space, a kitchen that was a little snack counter kind of thing. We had our showers and stuff, toilets. People were living upstairs [on the third floor] and some of them at times had been affiliated with AS220. It was pretty barren because you couldn't live down there. It was all just daytime down there that anything operated. There just wasn't much of a nightlife. There was the Rocket downstairs, and the Bushwhacker. There were just a couple of clubs around. After 5 o'clock everything shut down. And it was, I wouldn't say dangerous, but our cars were always getting broken into. I finally stopped locking my doors because people were breaking my windows. I left my door unlocked and a pen was stolen.

CLAUSEN: [Bert Crenca and I] got married there [Richmond Street] in 1992. We just put it on the AS220 calendar and invited everyone. We borrowed a margarita machine. Bert's brother and a bunch of us made food. And the Neo-'90s Dance Band played. There were people who wrote songs for us. It was amazing. It was crazy. It kind of followed the open, unjuried thing. Plus who needs to count chicken dinners and stuff when you're getting married. It really relieved a lot of stress. We just said everyone can come. It was a great party. But we didn't plan well for the cleanup. So we were kind of sitting in this heap of mess the next day, saying, "Oh my god, what have we done."

TALBOT: Whatever money AS220 would take in in donations would go to pay for AS220's floor space, the common area. We paid rent based on the same square footage, a dollar per square foot. But every month there would be a deficit that AS220 couldn't pay. We would take the deficit, divide it by four and pay it off.

THOMPSON: I would come home and I would walk down the hallway. Bert would be in his room playing his flute or his bongos. I would walk a little further down the hallway and somebody would be playing a saxophone. Then I'd walk a little further down, there would be Susan with her torch putting all these little found objects together. It was just vibrating with creative energy.

CRENCA: When we first moved into that building, there was hardly any heat in there and all the copper pipes had broken from freezing; we ran our water feed to the second floor with PVC pipe. We used plastic pipe because we figured it would be less likely to break. So James [McGrath, owner of the nightclub Rocket] comes upstairs and says, "The plumbing inspector's coming. He's going to go all through the basement to look at my plumbing. You've got 40 feet of PVC pipe running under there," which is illegal to use plastic as water feed pipe. Me and Susan said, "Don't worry about it, James." We went upstairs, we mixed some paint, we went down there and painted it to look like copper. Susan added dust all over it. And the plumbing inspector never saw the pipe.

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