On the C-Line

The View From Grove Street

3C, Andrew Chiodo, 40, Psychiatric Social Worker, and William Bland, 32, Painter–art student

Andrew Chiodo (upper left) with William Bland
Next stop, Greenwich Village: the facade of 26 Grove
all photography: Sylvia Plachy
Next stop, Greenwich Village: the facade of 26 Grove

"The books are central to both of us." Chiodo speaks firmly about what makes 3C home to the couple. Sitting on the blue velvet sofa, arm draped loosely around Bland's shoulder, he points to the floor-to-ceiling shelves—fiction, biography, history, art—covering the entry wall of their elegantly appointed living room.

"And my plants!" Bill interjects. "Hungry for the sunlight they don't get."

Chiodo moved into 26 Grove 11 years ago, first into a studio. When he heard that two one-bedrooms were available, he took 3C sight unseen, not even peeking at the pricier 6C. A fiction writer who published in Christopher Street, he went to grad school and now directs a psychiatric day treatment center at Cabrini. Bland, a corporate dropout studying at the New York Academy of Art, moved in a year ago. He gave up more expansive digs on the Upper West Side and, along with Chiodo, lots of stuff. He notes that they're the only couple in the C line. "The apartment's too cheap to give up," he hypothesizes, "and too small to share."

Each kept his prize possessions. For Chiodo, it's the art deco sofa and red velvet chair he inherited from his friend Luigi DeSisti—"a counter guy at Murray's Cheese on Bleecker." For Bland, it's an Early American bedside table that belonged to his paternal grandfather. "He was a cardiologist in Boston and the patriarch of our family," he says. "I tried to model myself on him—his generosity, his caring, and integrity."

"I'm gonna butt in," Chiodo pipes up. "Bill has a thing for feather beds. He brought it with him." He pokes his finger into its soft white depths. Above the bed is a rare poster of the young Sinatra. "Saint Francis," Chiodo quips. "My father was a big fan."

The two windows facing Grove Street are their treasure—and their curse. "Obnoxious, drunk, straight frat boys from Chumley's," Andrew grouses. "They come and they puke."

4C, Jayne Baum, age 47, Private Art Dealer

Jayne Baum, Bear, and her "Princess and the Pea" bed

Everything about the look of Jayne Baum and her apartment is minimal and orderly except her hair, which she wears profuse and untamed. And almost everything is in black and white, including her white puffball of a Samoyed, Bear.

Baum moved into 26 Grove in 1976, right out of NYU. She was painting then, taking art classes, and working in a gallery. Over the years, she worked in a number of galleries and opened her own in 1982 when she was only 27. That was the first of a series of galleries she owned, the last one in Soho from 1988 to '95, before she started working privately. She was one of the first to exhibit contemporary photography in an art gallery, working with photographers who approached their medium with the freedom of painters. "I sort of broke open a market where there really wasn't one in place," she says.

The art she collects is everywhere in the apartment, elegantly framed and hung as in a museum. Over the 1940s Italian leather sofa, she notes, is "a giclée print by Don Freeman, and that—" "Woof!" Bear barks excitedly. Baum turns, squats to doggy level, grasps his collar with her perfectly manicured nails, looks in his eyes, and says sternly, "No competition."

The Freeman print is a digitally created cabbage rose, and what looks like an abstract drawing of squiggles and loops next to it is a photograph by Ellen Carey, both of whom Baum represents. Baum's living room and bedroom are models of streamlined living. Bookshelves, cabinets, a "floating island" for storage, with a fold-out tabletop for dining: All proclaim a place for everything and everything in its place. So what makes it home? "Oh, my Princess and the Pea bed!" she says. "It's late-19th-century French hand-carved rosewood." The curlicue of its headboard rises above rows of pillows in antique white lace cases—"I detest ivory!" Baum exclaims—and ironed to perfection. But not by her. "Growing up, I had a great aunt—a mentor, a single woman who read books. She once said, 'One thing I'd never do is my own laundry.' It's a great luxury, to fall into a bed with great linens."

The bedroom walls are painted a pale lavender, which can look gray or white depending on how the light strikes them. Baum's awareness of light and color permeates the apartment. "I like morning light," she says. "Also rainy days. I like to stay curled up on the couch reading." Across from the window that faces a wall? "That, of course, is not"—she laughs—"charming."

5C, Carolyn Bilderback, 'Senior,' Dancer, Choreographer, and Teacher

Carolyn Bilderback, dancing as an agonized horse

In 1960, living in Hoboken, eking out a living as a dancer and dance teacher, Carolyn Bilderback could only dream about an apartment in Manhattan. Then, after observing his daughter in Bilderback's class, a father announced, "I want my daughter to study with you in New York." The teacher protested that she didn't have a place in New York. "Well," he replied, "I have a building in the Village, and you will have the next free apartment." The rent-controlled 5C cost $78 a month.

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