Living in Art

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Karen Santry has a 500-square-foot studio at Westbeth, the storied artists’ housing complex in the far West Village.

Her rent is a thrilling $894, which is actually higher than the building average of $554 for a studio, because rents there are income-adjusted.

Ms. Santry moved into the coveted building in 1990 and into her studio apartment, with its 14-foot ceiling and super size view, seven years later.

Ms. Santry is finishing up a series of larger-than-life portraits of Japanese Kabuki actors, which she paints on rosewood cutouts.

An architect, Barry Silberstang, lined one wall with bookshelves and installed a spiral staircase rising to a platform that extends over half the space.

Earrings and bangles are pick-me-ups, Ms. Santry says, when she is on her feet all day teaching.

A high ceiling, white paint and natural light allow this live-work space to double as a gallery.

Last stop is the kitchenette, a cunning study in red where plastic bowls with kitschy lids are lined up on an open shelf like the Nutcracker chorus line in Disney’s “Fantasia.”

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