As soon as I stepped into the front room, a stubby woman with curly gray hair blocked my path and glared at me through her oval spectacles with her hands on her hips. "What are you doing here?" she barked.
"Researching a book on Edward Hopper," I stammered.
"Well, I have an issue with you being in here. I'm meeting with a student. Who said you could be here?"
Taken aback, I blurted out the last in the string of people who had told me it was OK. "The receptionist out front." Almost immediately, I realized my mistake.
"Come with me," the stumpy academic said, like a third-grade teacher curling a finger before her eye, and we marched back out to the Latina in a silky orange mini-skirt working behind a shoulder-high brown metal divider who had pointed me to the studio.
"No one is to be allowed into that room when I am having a meeting with a student," the older woman chastised the younger. The trollish social worker waddled on back down the hall, and the Latina receptionist shrugged.
The NYU takeover of the studio was complete.