A Finding Aid to the Artist Tenants Association Records,
1959-1978
, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.artitena
Creators:
Artist Tenants Association (New York, N.Y.)
Dates:
1959-1978
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
1 Linear Feet
Repository:
The records of the Artist Tenants Association measure 1.0 linear feet and date from 1959 to 1978. They document the Association's efforts to alter New York City building codes to permit artists to live in lofts, initiating the development of SoHo as an art center. Records include business correspondence, founding documents, memoranda and press releases, member lists, financial records, clippings, and a scrapbook of clippings pertaining to the organization.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The records of the Artist Tenants Association measure 1.0 linear feet and date from 1959 to 1978. They document the Association's efforts to alter New York City building codes to permit artists to live in lofts, initiating the development of SoHo as an art center. Records include business correspondence, founding documents, memoranda and press releases, member lists, financial records, clippings, and a scrapbook of clippings pertaining to the organization.
The correspondence in the collection includes a handful of letters from artists regarding the availability of lofts, letters from the New York City Housing and Development Administration, and information from other co-housing projects in the city. In addition, there is a report, "Arts Administrator Need and Potential in New York State," drafted by George Alan Smith for the New York State Council on the Arts.
Administrative records include a legal resolution of unincorporation, meeting announcements, press releases and memoranda, member lists, and phone messages. Finanical records include checking and savings account books, canceled checks and check memos, bank statements, and receipts related to Association activities. The clippings in the collection relate to coverage of Association activities and topics relevant to their objectives.
The scrapbook of clippings chronicle housing needs of New York City artists, press coverage related to the Association, and supplementary articles tracing the development of the SoHo neighborhood as an integrated artists' live and work community.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 5 series:
  • Series 1: Correspondence, 1967-1969 (Box 1; 12 folders)
  • Series 2: Administrative Records, 1961-1969 (Box 1; 10 folders)
  • Series 3: Financial Records, 1961-1969 (Boxes 1-2; 0.2 linear feet)
  • Series 4: Printed Material, 1967-1978 (Box 2; 4 folders)
  • Series 5: Scrapbook, 1959-1976 (BV 1; 0.2 linear feet)

Historical Note
Historical Note
The Artist Tenants Association was loosely formed in the early 1960s to petition the office of Robert Wagner, then mayor of New York, for permission to live in manufacturing districts not officially zoned for residence. The city eventually agreed to an Artist in Residence (A.I.R.) program, which led to a more formal movement to legalize artists' occupation of studio spaces in the neighborhood "South of Houston," shorted to SoHo.
On March 31, 1965, the Association acquired a formal certificate of unincorporation, although they had been operating in an unofficial capacity since the fall of 1961. In addition to negotiating with the city, the Artist Tenants Association served as a centralized information resource by disseminating information to artists, proposing boycotts and other actions early in the negotiation process, and raising funds to support artists and building projects. Between 1964 and 1968, the Association was central to the negotiation of the A.I.R. Agreement, which received approval in 1964 and officially passed as an amendment concerning Artists' Centers and Studios in March 1968.
Influential artists who supported the Association's first artist boycott in protest of the city's 1961 studio-loft evictions include Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt, and Richard Stankiewicz.

Administration
Alternative Forms Available
This collection was digitized in its entirety in
2012
and is available via the Archives of American Art's website. Blank pages and duplicates have not been scanned. In most cases, the cover, title page, and individual relevant pages have been scanned from published materials.
Processing Information
The collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Judy Ng and digitized in 2012 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Author
Judy Ng
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by Terra Foundation for American Art
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
The records were donated to the Archives of American Art by Ruth Fortel, the financial secretary of the Association, in 1978 and 1979.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Artist Tenants Association records, 1959-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Artist Tenants Association records are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Related Material
Also found in the Archives of American Art are the SoHo Artists Association Records, 1968-1978.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artists -- Housing -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artists' studios -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art -- Societies, etc. -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/