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Meet the Artist: Anita Thacher

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On view through June 30, 2014 at the Mulberry Street Library is the collective works of SoHo neighbor and artist, Anita Thacher. The show, titled Time Present/Time Past evokes the first lines of the T.S. Eliot poem 'Four Quartets', and exclaims the evolution of Thachers work over time and over a variety of mediums. I spoke with Anita about her oeuvre.

You work in a variety of mediums—paint, fabric, photography, film, architectural installation—that's a lot of mediums! What informs your creative expression across the spectrum of media. Are there similarities? Differences?

I think that it is up to the viewer to see if there are similarities or differences in my work in different mediums. What I can say is that what attracts me to different mediums is my curiosity and interest in each of them. I would work in more mediums and more disciplines if I had the time. There are no forms of expression that I am not interested in exploring.

Please tell me a little bit about how you decided to explore the arts as a profession. Were you always drawn to the creative arts?

I was always interested in the arts. My first passion was music at age 5 and subsequently ballet, modern dance and poetry. I have a BA in English Literature. Growing up in NYC, I went to museums such as MoMA, Metropolitan Museum and Natural History Museum and attended many music and dance concerts, some theater, etc. during my teens and beyond.

Who or what are among your artistic influences (artists, historical periods, films, etc.)

I admire so many artists/filmmakers from many periods and am influenced by them all. An early film of mine, Homage to MAGRITTE celebrated a specific artist, however, the list of artists important to me is unending - Buster Keaton, J. L.Godard, Cocteau, Matisse, Joseph Cornell, Robert Irwin, Bruce Connor, Maya Deren, Jacques Tati, Ming-Liang Tsai, Wong Kar Wai, Mary Heilmann, Moira Dryer, William Kentridge, Alfred Hitchcock and on and on...

You have received support from grant-making organizations to help complete your vision with certain projects - do you have any words of advice to aspiring artists regarding approaching grant-making organizations? Any resources that you would encourage artists to take advantage of?

The competition for grants today is fierce so I suggest artists research available grants at the Foundation Center in New York City to see if there may be grants tailored to their specific projects or needs. They may discover grants that are highly specific so that only a few people can qualify for them… perhaps they will be among those fortunate few. Also New York State Council on the Arts grants to individual artists is a supportive program to explore.

You still have a working studio in this neighborhood. How have you seen the arts community change and evolve in SoHo/Nolita?

I have lived on the LES for many years and the neighborhood has gone through seismic changes. The artists who lived and worked here in the past have, for the most part, departed for Brooklyn, Queens or out of the city altogether. The rents are currently prohibitive for most artists. I am a renter protected by the New York State Loft Law, but we don’t know how long this protection will hold. If not for the efforts of a group of artists to make sure these laws were in place, I would be unable to continue living and working here.

You have representation from an art gallery and your work has appeared in the Tribeca Film Festival. What inspired you to exhibit your work at the New York Public Library?

I love libraries. I first visited a New York Public library when I was in kindergarten and I worked for a short time during college in a New York Public children’s library. I find the Mulberry Street Library in my neighborhood warm and welcoming and nicely designed. Exhibiting work in public spaces where art can be a casual part of daily life greatly appeals to me.

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