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Under 100k Upstate. Part II

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Yesterday we looked at some fixer uppers in The Catskills in the under $70k price range. Now let’s see what $70k-99k will buy you. As mentioned in Part I, I’m holding broker links back because I may have interest in looking at these for myself. So, contact me if you’re interested and I might or might not hook you up…depending on how I feel. Kidding. I’ll be nice. Maybe.

That cute red house above is really not that old. The 1 BR, 1 bath home was built in 1980. It doesn’t look so small in the picture, but it’s actually tiny at 498 square feet. It sits on less than 1/2 acre in Hunter, back a bit from the road (Rt. 23-A). $75k.


Another red house! This one has been vacant for years and probably needs everything, maybe including well and septic. The 1890 house is a decent size compared to the first one and yesterday’s. It’s 1320 square feet on 3 acres. Here’s the beautiful thing… It’s in Gardiner. That’s top notch, yo. Just take the New Paltz exit off the Thruway and you’re there in about an hour and a half. $82,500.


This lovely view comes with a 1593 square foot house on 1.2 acres in Pine Hill. Where’s Pine Hill? Near Belleayre and Phoenicia. The view is more impressive than the 1961 house which looks half renovated. That’s a plus, since the work was already started. It needs siding as there is currently exposed insulation (looks new) and there are some new plywood subfloors inside. Actually, maybe it needs more of an update than a renovation. $99k.


For 99k, this house is habitable and can be worked on over time unlike some of the others. It’s a whopping 2120 square feet on about half an acre with a dilapidated garage. Built in 1951, it’s located in Lake Katrine, which is actually pretty beautiful. The house is right near the Esopus Creek. That is awesome 90% of the time. The other 10%, means this house is located in a flood zone. Oh, and there’s a trailer park across the street. $99k.


Hey, this one is actually NOT a fixer upper! Well, that’s no fun for me. Located in Chichester, which is also in the Phoenicia vicinity, it’s 831 sq ft on a quarter of an acre. There’s a wood stove for those winter ski trips and taxes are under 1000! $99,900.

5 Digit Upstate Fixer Uppers

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Yes, they exist. Five digit homes in Ulster and Greene Counties for under $100k. And I’m not talking slightly under. I mean like starting at $50k. Of course these are all handyperson specials. Some of them are beautiful waterfront locations. That used to mean it was desirable but after Hurricane Irene swept through those areas, it’s actually a drawback to be near water. Oh well, did I mention how inexpensive these homes are?

Here’s the deal. I’m not posting listing broker links. You know why? Because I’m interested in seeing a few of these babies for myself. You can either contact me and I may swing up there with you as a buyer’s agent whilst checking it out for moi as well….or you can do your own research. Hint: You can do a Google search by image now.

The one above is my favorite (that I chose to actually share. Yeah, that’s right…I’m keeping a few for myself. MMMWWWWHHHAAAHHHAAA!!!!) It’s the ultimate farmhouse restoration project. Located in the village of Catskill within walking distance to shops and restaurants. Nearly a quarter of an acre on the main drag (as in small town main drag). Priced at $70k.


Under 1000 square feet on 0.8 acres in desirable Rosendale. I know “desirable” is realtor’s speak, but guess what? This realtor actually DOES lust after Rosendale! It says the owner is willing to consider all offers. Oh yeah, I almost forgot…The asking price? 49k.


Again, a small house, coming in at 720 square feet. This one sits on nearly 2 private acres in Accord with creek and waterfall! The 1938 home is in need of total rehab (as they all are) and is going up for auction. It will probably have to be all cash. $63,700


1953 Cape on .32 acres in Saugerties. 2 bedrooms in 855 square feet priced at $69,500.

There were more! In the $70-$99k price range. Ah, I’ll get to them tomorrow.

Enough with the Renting!

Enough with the Renting! published on 10 Comments on Enough with the Renting!


Are you pretty well set in your career and still wasting money on rent?  Come on, take the bullfighter by his nuts and let’s get this show on the road. From the Bushwick native getting angry about gentrification to my Williamsburg friend Judy who may get lucky enough to be bought out by the building’s new owner, it’s time to make wine out of those sour grapes!

Ok, so I don’t know the Bushwick woman’s situation. On the other hand, Judy is sane enough to know that her eviction can potentially lead to something positive. She has her head on straight and will do the right thing. But for those of you making excuses as to why you can’t buy your own place, I’ve got counter logic. *This doesn’t pertain to you if you really don’t want to/cannot own for good reason.

So how is being priced out/evicted a positive thing? Well, I’m a firm believer in “Something better will come along.” That better scenario is YOU becoming the property owner so that nobody can control your housing situation ever again. Unless of course, you default on your mortgage or you happen to live where some developer wants to build a stadium.

Prices are too damn high? Well the first thing you need to ask yourself is why you are being such a diva. No, you don’t have to live in Cobble Hill/ Park Slope/ West Village/ Williamsburg/ insertoverpricedneighborhoodhere. Get over yourself! Haven’t you heard that Queens is the new Brooklyn and The Bronx is the new Queens? Parts of New Jersey are affordable. What about Yonkers? Did you know that you can get a cute Victorian for $150k in Beacon? Look at this $28,900 house in Newburgh! Holy crap, I might buy it myself!

Down payment and loan issues? Ok, lemme go back to my first house when we didn’t have a pot to piss in and my credit was in the toilet. Luckily, our mommies helped out. We are far from being trustafarians and in fact, my folks were totally working class. But a few dollars from each mom plus a co-signing from my mother on the loan helped. Unfortunately, not everyone has family members (Don’t forget to hit up brothers and sisters!) who can help.

So, you gotta come up with your own shekels. Do you realize how much you can actually put away if you tried? Give up the lattes, the cigarettes, the beer. Cook dinner instead of ordering in. Use coupons. Skip the vacation. Buy second hand clothes (It’s vintage. It’s cool.) It won’t be terribly fun, but give it a shot for a few months and you just might come up with the closing costs (yeah, don’t forget to include that).

Buy a fixer upper. You don’t want to or you don’t know anything about renovating? Boo hoo. Learn how, you milksop. Buying a “renovated” place does not mean it won’t turn into a money pit. Do it yourself so you know what’s behind those walls. Pay less. Work on it over time. Put some sweat into it.

“But I’m not handy.” There are people out there who fix drains and roof leaks for a living. They are called contractors and handypersons. Hire them. But really, you should have a basic understanding of your house because a large percentage of these folks will rip you off. True story! Or just buy a condo and pay for maintenance.

Finally, try for a two family. Let those sorry ass tenants pay your mortgage this time around. Feels good, doesn’t it?

4 Renovations That Can Decrease Resale Value

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By Tali Wee of Zillow

Purchasing a home is typically the most expensive purchase a person makes in his or her lifetime, so it’s understandable why buyers are focused on a property’s small details. Searching for a home can be discouraging, especially in competitive markets where properties sell quickly, because shoppers don’t have much time to make decisions. For that reason, home sellers should prepare their homes to make the best impressions on buyers.

Some features that often deter home buyers from making offers are elaborate additions that the current owners made with the intention of adding value to their homes. For example, a homeowner may have dreamt of having a koi pond someday; when it’s finally a realistic possibility, the owner installs the large pond in the averaged sized backyard. After enjoying the ideal pond for years, the homeowner decides to sell the home thinking this addition should increase the property’s value. Instead, the specialized feature limits the number of interested buyers since many prefer additional yard to a koi pond. The installation then represents a renovation the buyer would have to make, possibly reducing the purchase price they’re willing to pay. Calculating the costs of a mortgage, the interest over the life of a loan, the price of property taxes and insurance, in addition to renovating the backyard can be overwhelming for potential buyers.

Before homeowners get carried away with making renovations and anticipating positive returns on their investments (ROI), consider avoiding these four projects that may decrease resale value.

1. Swimming Pools

Just as the koi pond is a deterrent for some homebuyers, so are swimming pools. Buyers might be disinterested in a pool if they don’t swim or don’t want the responsibility of keeping the pool clean and the watered conditioned. If buyers have small children or pets that do not swim, the pool could be a safety hazard. In addition, swimming pools represent an additional liability for homeowners. Though some home shoppers specifically seek properties with pools, in areas with cooler climates, pools could be a strong deterrent for the majority of buyers.

2. Massive Walk-in Closets & Home Theatres

In general, home buyers prefer a bedroom over a room specifically designed for a single purpose. A bedroom converted into an elaborate walk-in closet could be a dream coming true for a buyer, where most buyers would find more value in an additional bedroom or a room with more square footage. Home theaters also appeal to a narrow audience, but such installations limit the options for most home shoppers.

3. Garage Conversions

Another conversion that homeowners may assume would add value to their properties is the garage. Home sellers should not underestimate the value of a garage for home buyers. Although converting a garage into a family room, bedroom or man cave appeals to some buyers, the renovation limits the original function of the space and therefore reduces the number of interested parties.

4. Lavish Landscaping

Though beautifully landscaped yards and garden beds exponentially increase the curb appeal of homes which impress home shoppers, all the foliage requires upkeep. Not unlike a massively overgrown garden, a highly tended to yard implies major work. If buyers aren’t interested in maintaining the extravagant landscaping, the sellers limit their list of buyers and do not reap a return for their pricey investments.

With all renovations, homeowners run the risk of missing the mark, losing money and even decreasing the resale values of their homes. Some high-end kitchen and bathroom upgrades even have low ROI. The best renovation rule is to stay neutral with upgrades and avoid specialized features. Specificity narrows the range of interested buyers. Additionally, extreme projects may seem like extra benefits to one person while another may view them as drawbacks, even lowering the offer price to cover costs of correcting the remodel. Consider these variables when preparing to sell a home and stick to low maintenance but traditional remodels for the greatest ROI.

High End? Upscale? Luxury?

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Now, THIS is a great kitchen!

If there’s anything in real estate that makes me cringe, it’s the overuse of words like “high end”, “luxury” and “upscale”. Ya know, one person’s “high end” is another person’s schlock. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not coming at ya from a snooty perspective. I wouldn’t know luxury if I was ensconced in it. But I do know my cheap-ass materials.

Yes, some of these “high end” fixtures can be expensive and look extravagant, but sometimes less is more. I can spot a generic Home Depot front door or bathroom vanity a mile away. And if you paid good money for something that I’m confusing with Home Depot shite, well then, you’ve paid too much.

So, what passes my “upscale” test? Well made. One of a kind. Designer. Did I mention well made?

Please, flippers and landlords, stop with all the luxury talk. Stainless appliances with cherry cabinets and a granite counter top is not necessarily high end. Subzero and Viking with custom, hand made cabinets and lava stone counter….now you’ve earned use of those words.


This kitchen was described as “luxury”. I spy Ikea. Now, hear me out. It’s a perfectly fine kitchen and there’s nothing wrong with Ikea, but one does not usually equate it with luxury. That light fixture is under ten bucks. I know because I’ve used them in many of my own downscale, low end renovations.


This was described as an “upscale townhouse”. I don’t even know where to begin. It wasn’t even upscale for 1975.


“Luxury brand new construction”


And the winner is… This “huge Victorian mansion. L-U-X-U-R-Y!!!!” Found on Craigslist. Right below this ad was another post, same text but with an image of a raised ranch. Neither photo depicts a luxurious Victorian mansion.

Rent or Buy Vacation Home?

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With housing prices out of control in the boroughs, will home ownership be out of reach for the middle class now? Not necessarily, depending on which neighborhoods are deemed acceptable. But let’s say you’re happy with your rental and still have a hankering to own some property. Some folks forgo the primary residence and purchase an affordable second home instead.

So, what are the pros and cons of owning a vacation property rather than renting it? Having been there done that myself, I came up with a list. Feel free to add your own opinion.


1. It’s yours. Bring pets, leave it messy, do what you want with it!

2. It’s there whenever you want it. Feel like getting away last minute? No worries about booking a place.

3. Entertain. Invite friends. Have a party.

4. It’s free. When all is said and done, if you sell, you can hopefully get your money back, plus more.

5. Rent it out when you’re not using it. See #4 about it being free.

6. Disaster strikes? Y2k, terrorist attack, NYC blackout, gotta live off the land? You have a place to run.


1. Winterize. Gotta turn off water or keep some heat going so pipes don’t freeze when not in use.

2. Maintenance. Grass, exterior paint, shoveling snow. If you’re not around to see it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. These things need to be taken care of.

3. Will you use it? Don’t go out and buy a country house if your schedule doesn’t allow maximum usage. Better off renting if you won’t be able to enjoy it.

4. Same place. All the time. That’s it. No more exploring.

5. Mortgage all year round. Whether it’s a first or second mortgage, you’ll be paying for that baby even if you never use it.

6. Double set of everything. Furniture, dishes, linens, coffee maker, you name it.

Dutchess County Under $200k

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Agent Full

Yesterday we looked at what you can pick up in Dutchess County for under $100k. Cash deals that would cost double the initial investment to make them habitable. So, what can you get if you had double the dough? These places look a little less scary.

I think I actually looked at the house above over a year ago before I decided on Rockaway instead of upstate. If it’s the same house, it was a nice piece of property, although a bit out of the way. Location is Red Hook, but it’s about 8 miles into the town of Red Hook or Tivoli. Very rural.

I was under the impression that it was difficult to show because of the tenant at the time. The house is now vacant and it’s priced to sell, as they say. $129k for a 2 BR, 2 bath fixer upper on 4.24 acres. Taxes are $2975. There’s a shed on the property that could make a nice little art studio.

Agent Full

Ok, so this looks like a vinyl sided new construction, but it’s actually an old barn conversion. Not that you can tell from the new interiors either but the loft-like space is a good thing. The 900 square foot 1900 structure sits on .33 of an acre on a not-so-busy road. Taxes are listed at $1013, although I’d verify that if I were you. Can’t imagine they are actually that low.

Agent Full

This is my favorite. A great looking farm house on .86 acres in Pine Plains. Don’t ask me anything about Pine Plains because I don’t know, but I like the house. $165k. Taxes are $3298. Here’s what makes it a better deal than the others…it’s a 12 room house @ 2572 square feet. Built in 1840. Sweet.

Agent Full

This house belongs to my friend’s family and it’s her listing. A mid-century sprawling ranch on over 3 acres in Red Hook for $179.9k. There’s lots of potential here, including the convenient location. That’s actually the drawback though. It’s right on Rt. 9-G. The house does sit back from the road. That’s the driveway you see in the picture. With a decent 6 foot privacy fence, you would hardly notice the road. Taxes are $6937.

Agent Full

This one is great! An 1829 post and beam Colonial in Rhinebeck WITH details! House is on 2.79 acres. Why so inexpensive at $199,900? Well, it’s only a 2 BR @ 1050 square feet. Taxes are $7541. I still think it’s a good deal. Situated between Rhinebeck and Red Hook. Rhinebeck is always going to fetch higher prices, so “location, location, location”.

I didn’t include links to individual list agents as any agent can show all of these houses. Contact me if you’re interested in looking and I’ll hook you up with someone.

Dutchess County Under $100k

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Agent Full

Now that I have some time on my hands, I’m back to bugging Upstate Broker and checking out his MLS. Got some change to spare? There are homes to be had for under $100k. They probably need another $100k in renovations but that’s beside the point.

These are mostly short sales that must be paid for in cash. I left out the ones that stated “tear down”.

The Diamond in the Rough above is located in Staatsburg. That’s the area that’s not quite Hyde Park and not quite Rhinebeck but somewhere in between. For $35,900 you get a home on .17 acres that is in need of a lot of TLC. According to Google Maps, it looks as if the house is right near the train tracks, which up beyond Poughkeepsie, would be Amtrack.

Built in 1920, the 1248 square foot house has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, forced air oil heat and 100 amps. Taxes are $2314.

Agent Full

This lovely fixer upper is in Fishkill. There is not much information given on the MLS sheet but it’s been on the market for awhile at $58k. Built in 1925, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath on 0.3 acre. 1200 square feet. Taxes: $2726.

Agent Full

This is what you get in Pawling for $69,375. An 1885 2600 square foot farm house on .54 acre. Not bad. Of course it needs work. They all do! Walk to town and Metro North station. Sounds great? Before you run up there to have a look, here’s the bad news… taxes are $9319.

Agent Full

Back to Fishkill. This one looks like it would make a decent country house for someone who may want to commute as well. Convenient, yet on an entire acre of private land bordering state land. Built in 1910. The house has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, oil heat and 100 amps. Been on the market for over a year. Original list was $237k. Now priced at $92k. A bargain! Taxes are $3936.

Agent Full

I saved the best and of course, most expensive for last. $98,500 sounds steep now, doesn’t it? Ok, so it doesn’t look like much from the picture, but this house sits on a 3 acre property with foot bridges, a brook, granite cliffs and a waterfall. The house is only 3 season, but if it’s a gut renovation anyway, not a big deal to heat and insulate that baby. Built in 1950, it’s only 672 square feet. Located in Fishkill, south of 84, which I’ve always considered close-ish Cold Spring. Taxes are $2874.

Interesting Upstate Properties

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Why have just a house when you can get something spectacular for the same price? Here’s what popped up during a 5 minute search on Craigslist. Imagine what I could have found had I spent 10 minutes doing a proper broker’s search.


Have you ever hiked Minnewaska? You know when you can see those private properties from the trail and you wonder who lives there? Then you get jealous and you’re all like “Well, what makes them so special that they get to have a backyard like this?” Well, here’s your chance to own a house with a Minnewaska backyard.

No, you won’t own the Minnewaska trail but the house does sit on 5.6 private acres and the lovely farmhouse itself is not too shabby. There is also a barn situated on the property. All this for $399k. I want.


A nothing special house in a nothing special -yet convenient- area, but the indoor pool is priceless. The house itself was built in 1930 and the exterior is cute, but interior is a generic renovation. That’s ok. It’s easy enough to make it fabulous. Located in Bloomingburg, which is a sleepy town, but fairly close to Middletown big box shopping. It’s just about commutable and the bus to the city does stop in Bloomingburg. $257k.


According to the Craigslist ad, this historic church is located in central Columbia County. It’s 2100 square feet and needs work (drool). $190k. That’s all the info there is, apart from the blog which has a few photos but nothing else.

Still amazing what can be bought upstate for the price of a studio in the armpits of Brooklyn.

Upstate Craigs: Under $100k

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It’s been awhile since we looked into real estate here. That’s simply because the temptation to actually buy is too strong. But since there are no funds anyway, what does it hurt to look, eh? So, you should buy something instead. Deal?

The Monticello house above is pretty cute. It sits on 3/4 acre near town. If you’re not familiar with Monticello, it’s actually pretty run down. The area is naturally beautiful though, so if you just ignore the derelicts, it could be a nice place. For only 65 grand, what do you expect?


This 3 bedroom ranch in Pine Plains is going for $69.9k. Don’t know much about Pine Plains except that it’s east of The Taconic about as north as Red Hook. It’s also horse country. Looks like this house is in a cul-de-sac-ey area.


I’m going to sound like a realtor here and say “Bring your vision!”. Yes, this is a garage. With electric and a well. It’s 1000 square feet and sits on an acre of land in Esopus. That’s some nice weekender country right there. For $79k, that would make a nice home conversion. Turn that garage into a “carriage house”!


Ooh, this sweet little cottage on a dead end road comes in at $99k. It’s located in Claryville, a beautiful hamlet in the town Neversink, Sullivan County. Here’s the thing…It’s a dry town. We rented a cottage in Claryville once and it was a 30 minute drive to the closest liquor shop. Not saying this house is as far out as the house we rented, but just letting you know…it’s dry.


Occupied published on No Comments on Occupied


It’s been nearly a year since I started renovations on the Rockaway house. I can finally say that both apartments are fully occupied now and I get to have my life back!

The project was meant to be a flip that would take a few months. Ok, so it took a bit longer with some minor and major disasters. Lemme fill you in on my setbacks. May I?

1. Disaster One. Crappy contractors. I can’t even begin to imagine how badly contractors rip off folks who don’t know a thing about the renovation process. When pipes separate and fall inside the wall and paint starts to peel after a few days, you MUST know that shortcuts were taken, right? This is why I DIY. Unless you want to spend the big bucks on a high end licensed contractor who comes with a thousand percent positive referrals, be verrrry careful.

Slow contractors who didn’t know what they were doing, contractors whose work had to be done over cost me an extra month or two in the beginning (and throughout). A month that I might have been able to unload the house on some poor, unsuspecting sucker prior to….

2. Disaster Two. Sandy. Yes, Superstorm Sandy is listed second to bad contractors. Not that I would ever want for anyone to go through that again, but believe it or not, the combination of incompetent team members set me back worse than the worst storm of the century. All in all, I was lucky. Just basement damage and some siding. Some pocket change from insurance that helped pay for the new boiler. It wasn’t so much the money that got to me as it was the time and momentum that was lost. With an NYC gas shortage and no heat or power at the house, this would set me back close to 2 months.

3. Disaster Three. Oops. Wrecked my car. Well, that’s what we get for trying to spend New Year’s Day working on the house. Some dumb bitch ran the red light and next thing we know, the car was totaled. Another bad luck/good luck story: We walked away! Set back of about 2 weeks until I dealt with the situation and got another car to get over to the house. Remember that the trains were not running after the storm.

Ok, those were the major setbacks. What do setbacks mean? It means you can’t fold. You have to readjust the original plan. With the real estate market down in Rockaway after the hurricane, I knew I’d be stuck with the house for awhile and I’d have to rent instead of sell. On the plus side, I’ll be earning back some money I lost.

This could all be blessings in disguise. The universe works in mysterious ways. It fucks with you but for good reason. Putting me through tests? Hell yeah. Making me hang on to the house until Rockaway rebuilds stronger and better than ever, so my house will be worth a small fortune?

Let’s hope so.

Mid Century in Dublin

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Living One_l

Hey, if anyone is in the market for a house in Dublin (You never know), my friend’s home is up for sale.

The house is right across the street from my mother in law in Foxrock, an area that my husband does not like to admit he’s from because it’s a bit suburban well heeled. The houses around there are a mostly samey-samey but I’ve always loved going over to 74 Clonkeen for tea so I can drool over their awesome mid-century interiors. And this is from a person who doesn’t get excited over mid-century design! The parents really had superb taste.

I’ll miss going over there. Unless you buy it and invite me over for tea. Just a thought.

Exterior 3_l

Bedroom 1_l

Live from Rockaway, it’s…

Live from Rockaway, it’s… published on 1 Comment on Live from Rockaway, it’s…


Just finished the house website! I actually bought the domain for Rockaway House but then it was just sooo much easier to create the site through Weebly, so I said WTH.

Here goes nuthin’. So, I guess this means the house is officially on the market, even though there’s still plenty of work left to do.

Showing this weekend. The fire under my butt has been lit.

Apartment One

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Open living/dining/kitchen area.

One half of the two family Rockaway house will be liveable by June 1st! As in liveable for normal people, not someone like me who no longer notices lack of switchplates and doorknobs. The self imposed deadline was set for this weekend to take some pictures and start spreading the word. Although it’s ready for it’s close-up, it’s a few days from being ready to show. Show by next weekend? Yeah, probably!!

The entire house will be for sale or rent by the end of this month. I call it a two story bungalow. It’s a cozy (that means small in realtor speak) 2 BR over 1BR, just under 1000 square feet for the whole house. Gotta do some comps and math to come up with prices. The website will get started (but not finished) today.

I’m on a roll baby and it feels good!



Yeah, that toe kick needs to be painted and stove needs backsplash.


The old singer sewing machine base trick. A favorite of mine.


Long, narrow bedroom in the back of the house. I want to work a little magic on those plain, white doors if I get the time.


Kitchen area before.


Living room during demo.

Hey Moma,Can We Talk?

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NYC - American Folk Art Museum

So, MOMA, I hear you want to expand. How nice for you. No, really. That’s actually good news for New York. We do love a good art museum. Love it more when it’s a suggested admission and not some crazy, rip off price that’s too steep for actual working artists to afford, but I digress.

It seems a bit … oh, I dunno, ironic, that in order for you to expand, you want to tear down a 12 year old architectural work of art by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. Do you think that only canvases and sculptures should be considered art? Does it not matter to you that these architects CREATED this building?

Excuse me, but how is this any different than taking a torch to a Warhol? Could you imagine the outrage if someone went and bulldozed a pile of Pollocks? You even have an architecture and design department in the museum, for fuck’s sake!

Do I love the building in question? Not really. I don’t have much appreciation for anything new. I’m all about the antique and vintage. But that doesn’t mean I want to see someone’s work being torn down. It’s not a cheap-ass brick Fedder’s building. It’s someone’s imagination being brought to life.

And I think you, MOMA, of all institutions, should not try to tear down anyone’s imagination.

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