Artist Tenants Association records, 1959-1978

A Finding Aid to the Artist Tenants Association Records, 1959-1978 , in the Archives of American Art, by Judy Ng

Download PDF Version of this page [Download PDF Version]

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by Terra Foundation for American Art

Table of Contents:



Historical Information

The Artist Tenants Association was loosely formed in the early 1960s to petition the office of Robert Wagner, then mayor of New York, for permission to live in manufacturing districts not officially zoned for residence. The city eventually agreed to an Artist in Residence (A.I.R.) program, which led to a more formal movement to legalize artists' occupation of studio spaces in the neighborhood "South of Houston," shorted to SoHo.

On March 31, 1965, the Association acquired a formal certificate of unincorporation, although they had been operating in an unofficial capacity since the fall of 1961. In addition to negotiating with the city, the Artist Tenants Association served as a centralized information resource by disseminating information to artists, proposing boycotts and other actions early in the negotiation process, and raising funds to support artists and building projects. Between 1964 and 1968, the Association was central to the negotiation of the A.I.R. Agreement, which received approval in 1964 and officially passed as an amendment concerning Artists' Centers and Studios in March 1968.

Influential artists who supported the Association's first artist boycott in protest of the city's 1961 studio-loft evictions include Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt, and Richard Stankiewicz.

Return to top


Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The records of the Artist Tenants Association measure 1.0 linear feet and date from 1959 to 1978. They document the Association's efforts to alter New York City building codes to permit artists to live in lofts, initiating the development of SoHo as an art center. Records include business correspondence, founding documents, memoranda and press releases, member lists, financial records, clippings, and a scrapbook of clippings pertaining to the organization.

The correspondence in the collection includes a handful of letters from artists regarding the availability of lofts, letters from the New York City Housing and Development Administration, and information from other co-housing projects in the city. In addition, there is a report, "Arts Administrator Need and Potential in New York State," drafted by George Alan Smith for the New York State Council on the Arts.

Administrative records include a legal resolution of unincorporation, meeting announcements, press releases and memoranda, member lists, and phone messages. Finanical records include checking and savings account books, canceled checks and check memos, bank statements, and receipts related to Association activities. The clippings in the collection relate to coverage of Association activities and topics relevant to their objectives.

The scrapbook of clippings chronicle housing needs of New York City artists, press coverage related to the Association, and supplementary articles tracing the development of the SoHo neighborhood as an integrated artists' live and work community.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 5 series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms:

Subjects-Topical:

  • Artists -- Housing -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Artists' studios -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Art -- Societies, etc. -- New York (State) -- New York

Types of Materials:

  • Scrapbooks

Provenance

The records were donated to the Archives of American Art by Ruth Fortel, the financial secretary of the Association, in 1978 and 1979.

Separated and Related Materials

Also found in the Archives of American Art are the SoHo Artists Association Records, 1968-1978.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Judy Ng and digitized in 2012 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Artist Tenants Association records are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Available Formats

This collection was digitized in its entirety in 2012 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website. Blank pages and duplicates have not been scanned. In most cases, the cover, title page, and individual relevant pages have been scanned from published materials.

How to Cite this Collection

Artist Tenants Association records, 1959-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Return to top

Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Correspondence, 1967-1969
(Box 1; 12 folders)

The correspondence in the collection includes a handful of letters from artists regarding the availability of lofts, letters from the New York City Housing and Development Administration, and information from other co-housing projects in the city. In addition, there is a report, "Arts Administrator Need and Potential in New York State," drafted by George Alan Smith for the New York State Council on the Arts.

Letters are alphabetically arranged by business name or last name of correspondent. The series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 1 Artist Tenants Association Members, 1967-1968
1 2 Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace, 1968
1 3 City of New York, Housing and Development Association, 1968
1 4 Cooper Square Community Development Committee and Businessmen's Association, 1968- 1969
1 5 Encyclopedia of Associations, 1967
1 6 Henry Street Studio Apartments, 1968
1 7 New School for Social Research, 1968
1 8 New York City Attorney General's Office, 1968
1 9 New York State Council for the Arts, 1967-1969
1 10 Park Slope North Improvement Corporation, 1968
1 11 Timney, John J., 1967
1 12 Peace and Freedom Party, 1968

Series 2: Administrative Records, 1961-1969
(Box 1; 10 folders)

These records include a legal resolution of unincorporation, meeting announcements, press releases and memoranda, member lists, and phone messages.

The material in each folder is arranged chronologically. The series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 13 General Resolution of Unincorporated Association, 1965
1 14 Meeting Announcements, 1966-1967
1 15 Member Address Book, circa 1964-1969
1 16 Member Dues Book, 1964
1 17 Member Lists, 1967
1 18 Press Releases and Memorandum, 1961-1968
1 19 Notes, General, 1961-1968
1 20 Notes, ATA Secretary (Ruth Fortel), 1965-1967
1 21-22 Phone Messages, 1967-1968
(2 folders)

Series 3: Financial Records, 1961-1969
(Boxes 1-2; 0.2 linear feet)

These records include checking and savings account books, canceled checks and check memos, bank statements, and receipts related to Association activities.

The material in each folder is arranged chronologically. The series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 23-24 Checking Account, Bank Statements, 1966-1965
(2 folders)
1 25-27 Checking Account, Canceled Checks, 1961-1969
(3 folders)
Box Folder
2 1 Checking Account, Deposit Slips, 1961-1967
2 2 Checking Account, Memorandum, 1961-1965
2 3 Checking Account, Monthly Charges, 1963-1969
2 4 Savings Account, Deposit Book, 1964-1966
2 5 Receipts and Statements, circa 1961-1967
2 6-8 Receipts and Statements, 1961-1963
(3 folders)
2 9-10 Receipts and Statements, 1964
(2 folders)
2 11-13 Receipts and Statements, 1965-1967
(3 folders)
2 14 Receipts and Statements, Petty Cash, 1966-1967
2 15 Receipts and Statements, NY Telephone, 1964-1969
2 16 Receipts and Statements, Telephone Exchange, 1966-1968

Series 4: Printed Material, 1967-1978
(Box 2; 4 folders)

Clippings in the collection relate to coverage of Association activities and topics relevant to their objectives.

The material is arranged chronologically. The series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
2 17 Clippings, 1967-1968
2 18-20 Clippings, 1975-1978
(3 folders)

Series 5: Scrapbook, 1959-1976
(BV 1; 0.2 linear feet)

The scrapbook of clippings chronicle housing needs of New York City artists, press coverage related to the Association, and supplementary articles tracing the development of the SoHo neighborhood as an integrated artists' live and work community.

The series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
2 21 Scrapbook, 1959-1967
(Oversized material housed in BV 1)
2 22-25 Scrapbook, Additional Clippings, 1966-1976
(4 folders)
2 26 Scrapbook, Additional Material, 1961-1974
Box
BV 1 Scrapbook, 1959-1967
(Oversized material scanned with Box 2, F21)