ONE-BEDROOM CO-OP IN 1922 BUILDING
Location Murray Hill
Price $185,000 (maintenance $749.60)
Square feet 750
Occupant Ruby Lerner (Executive Director, Creative Capital Foundation)
What a wonderful terra-cotta . . . Wait. You haveto come back to the hallway. Look at theseclosets—Venetian stucco, marble dust, beautiful, everybody walks in and says, Oh, it’s so Italian. My architect is doing a platform seating area over here. In a way I’m designing a social space. Of course, I don’t know if I’ll have people over. . . .
Your faucet is so sleek. Isn’t it? I’m getting a Mitchell Gold sofa, lush. In my past, I used to say my epitaph was going to read, Saved From Elegance. One of my friends said, My dear, when were you ever threatened? But now things have changed. Here, Cambodian silk pillows for the window seat. And the bathroom—I’d always wanted a whirlpool tub and I thought, well, why not? Oh, and the tile! My doorman said, Can’t I just live in your bathroom?
Stop with the interior design! We have to talk about how you closed in June but haven’t had time to move in because you’ve been so busy creating a new funding basis for artists to replace government cuts and also how you like Murray Hill because it’s so “unsung” and the building is so “untrendy, graciously aging.” Nobody is slamming anybody in the hallways, no couples sitting on the lobby floor sniffing each other’s tattoos. In fact, when the managing agent talks about how quiet the building is, so family, his voice drops to a whisper. You’ve lived in wilder places.A commune in the ’60s. I was teaching in an experimental high school in D.C., where teachers and students lived together. . . .
Oh God, you didn’t have an affair with a student! Anyway, your New York years began in 1976 when you paid $325 a month to live on East 90th and you were audience development director at the Manhattan Theatre Club. This is after you grew up in a ’50s ranch house with your Jewish East European immigrant parents who owned a clothing store in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina where there were maybe three Jewish families, then Goucher College, graduate school in theater, 10 years in Atlanta, part of that time running Alternate Roots, living with a documentary filmmaker in a little Victorian bungalow with half a roof, then back to New York to run the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers and live in a Gramercy Park apartment which you loved because you could see the moon at night through the skylight though it meant living on the sixth floor, huff puff. Why move? I had some major life changes. My dad died recently and left me some money. I never could have amassed enough for a down payment on my own, working in the arts. Also, I went from running my third undercapitalized artist organization to this foundation where for the first time in my life I’m getting an adult salary.
So you could hire an architect to re-create the kitchen, put a towel warmer in the bathroom. How much? I haven’t added it up because I don’t want to. My mother gave me some money. Say just over $50,000.
It’s interesting. You’re a product of the ’60s in most every way, yet you’re so infatuated with decor right now. I know. I rejected all those things in the ’60s. But what is interesting about this moment is that a lot of well-designed things have been made more affordable. I’ve been able to participate in that. I got a lot of furniture online. Also, I’m at a point where I want to make a space that’s nice for my friends. I’m 51. Two years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m fine now. But I’ve made a lot of changes. The apartment may be symbolic. I was just thinking how my life has been this journey from careless to carefree to careful. If you look at this apartment, there’s been care taken, with all of it.