Marshall Fine Art Services
ART; Making Ends Meet In a Creative World
The New York Times
By HELEN A. HARRISON
MAKING art and making a living are often mutually exclusive. For every professional artist who is successful enough to survive by selling work, there are thousands who have to find another job that pays the bills. Predictably, creative people find creative ways of balancing two professions.

Teaching is a time-honored way for an artist to keep the wolf from the door. It is, in fact, the most common alternative profession listed on applications for financial support at the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in Manhattan, according to Caroline Black, its program officer. The foundation, established in 1985, gives grants that enable artists to take time off from their day jobs and concentrate on their own work.

It is the legacy of the late Lee Krasner, who was one of thousands of artists given government-financed jobs during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project. Recognizing the value of such support, Ms. Krasner decided to create what Francis V. O'Connor, one of her friends, calls ''Lee's private W. P. A.''

Besides teaching, other professions listed on the foundation's applications are gallery assistant, yoga instructor, carpenter and chef. The ideal day jobs have flexible hours, allowing artists studio time. And they may involve some of the same skills that they use to create their work.

''Cooking is a creative thing in its own right,'' said the painter Bill Durham, who was awarded a Pollock-Krasner grant in 1998 and who was for many years a professional restaurant manager and caterer. He lives in Amagansett, where he also ran a bed-and-breakfast in his home for a time, and where a large barn on the property serves as his studio.

Mr. Durham began his dual careers in 1963 in New York City, after graduating with an art degree from Michigan State University. Charles Pollock, Jackson Pollock's eldest brother, was one of his teachers.

''Charles told me to go to New York if I wanted to make it as an artist,'' Mr. Durham recalled. He also remembered Mr. Pollock's warning that he would need to find other work, and his advice to do ''something menial, not to teach.'' He fell into the restaurant business in the 1960's after befriending Ralph Martell, the owner of Martell's, a restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

There have been stretches when Mr. Durham sold enough work to live on, as he is doing now, but as with even the most successful artists, he has had his ups and downs. During one fallow period he took up cooking and had a catering firm. ''Every time I got into financial trouble,'' he said, ''I went into the food business.''

That might also have been the day job of choice for the painter Lawrence Castagna of East Hampton, who was awarded a Pollock-Krasner grant in 2002, since he put himself through Southampton College in the 1970's by working as a cook. But while studying art at the college, he also began working as a studio assistant to established artists, including Elaine de Kooning. That eventually led him to train as an art conservator, and he now owns his own business, Lawrence Castagna Art Conservation and Restoration.

Mr. Castagna's interest in that field dates to the mid-1980's, when he took work by Ms. de Kooning and her husband, Willem, to New York City for conservation. He became fascinated by the equipment and procedures, and when he inquired about the possibility of training, he discovered that the studio had a vacancy. ''An opportunity opened up,'' he said, ''and it all came together.'' After four years in the city, he returned to the East End and set up his own conservation studio.

''My commute is a walk up and down the staircase,'' said Mr. Castagna, whose art studio and place of business are under the same roof, letting him switch back and forth between projects as he pleases.

He finds that working on other people's art sometimes inspires his own. ''I feel that as I'm getting better as a conservator, I'm getting better as an artist,'' he said.

Though artists often find outside work in art galleries, few of them want the responsibility of actually running one. An exception is Elisca Jeansonne, who owns Gallery Merz in Sag Harbor, named for the collages and constructed environments of Kurt Schwitters, a pioneering Dada artist.

Ms. Jeansonne strives to maintain Schwitters's irreverent spirit, both in her choice of gallery artists and in her own work, which is primarily collage and assemblage.

''Betty Parsons is my idol,'' Ms. Jeansonne said, referring to the legendary artist and art dealer who represented some of the major figures of the New York School from the 1940's until her death in 1980. Not only do she and Ms. Parsons have similar career tracks, but their art, often made of found objects, has much in common.

Ms. Jeansonne, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, came to Long Island in 1982 and immediately felt at home in the stimulating environment of the arts community in the East End. She found work at galleries in the area and also did framing at home before opening Gallery Merz five years ago.

While acknowledging that running a gallery gives her much less flexibility and free time for her own work, Ms. Jeansonne believes that interacting with other artists and the public has been a valuable experience. ''I got outside the box I had created for myself,'' she said.

Another artist who handles the work of others, but in a different way, is the painter and sculptor Marshall Didier, the owner of Marshall Fine Arts, an art transportation and installation service established in 1972 in Huntington. He now has a home and studio in East Patchogue.

Mr. Didier, an Illinois native, studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago and C. W. Post College and later taught in local schools. He started the moving business as an ad hoc service for artist friends and galleries in the area, and built the business by word of mouth. The firm now operates nationwide and handles art for institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

''Initially I had just enough business to allow me to take blocks of time for my own work,'' Mr. Didier said.

When the business began to crowd out his personal time, he hired a professional staff, often including fellow artists, to allow him to continue balancing his two careers. But like the others interviewed, he acknowledges that it isn't easy to find that balance. No matter how fulfilling the second career is, it often impinges on the first.

As Mr. Didier put it, ''Everything is a mixed blessing.''