Re: Cohousing for Artists [was Cohousing for Senior Artists - Request from CNN
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2017 14:17:23 -0700 (PDT)
> On Mar 12, 2017, at 9:14 PM, Emilie Parker <emilie.v.parker [at]> 
> wrote:
> A lot of these stories seem to highlight unfair and naive negative 
> generalizations upon which to discriminate against art cohousers.  

I knew that would be the case — that people would think I was making negative 
generalizations, but “negative” is a judgement. Reality can be reality or it 
can feel negative. To have a passion that is greater than yard work, stoking 
the furnace, or cooking meals would not be negative to an artist.

I’m basing this on my experience. I am an artist and have worked with artists 
for 60 years. 25 years teaching at the college level, much of it in Soho and 
Greenwich Village. Plus I was exhibiting, judging shows, running workshops for 
artists, etc. Often commuting 3-4 hours a day.

The negativity comes from putting the realities of the artist's life together 
with the realities of cohousing. Two hard roads that are good roads don’t make 
one easy road.

Obviously I’m making generalizations, but generalizations are what is in play 
when you are casting your net to the general   population. You need to know 
what the general population is likely to produce. When you are building a 
cohousing community it is pretty easy at times to feel negative about the 
people who won’t join you and about why they won’t join.

Artists are a small fraction of the general population. The percentage of any 
population who will be interested in cohousing is a fraction. So we are now 
down to fractions of fractions. 

Then look at the lifestyle of artists — low income, working two jobs. With 
children. These are not the people who can even afford cohousing. And they are 
more interested in their work than anything else. Of course, this depends on 
your definition of artist. I’m thinking about artists who are working toward be 
full-time professional exhibiting, usually teaching, and selling their work.

The generalization of artists being free-spirited, forward thinking socially 
radical, peace-loving, and naturally collaborative people is as true of artists 
as it is of everyone else. And of cohousers. 

That’s why we have to think twice about how wonderful it would be to have a 
cohousing community of artists. It would take as much support as affordable or 
low-income cohousing for people who work two jobs, have children, and a primary 
interest that for visual artists is by its nature not social. Dance and music 
require many hours a day of practice, just to keep the physical skills honed. 
Those hours are put in after paying work.

The traditional forms of cohousing, with self-management, home ownership, and 
workshare don’t work for everyone.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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