City Creative – Corridor

Corridor City Guide: East Village / Alphabet City, New York

The East Village / Alphabet City is an easy place to skip when visiting NY considering the glamour and beauty of other neighborhoods. That notwithstanding, the East Village has a sense of character that has withstood the hoards of NYU students and street kids alike. So, take some time to amble along with some Ukrainian grannies and peek into a neighborhood where the dive bar never died. 

 

COFFEE + SNACKS:

Abraço

81 E 7th St New York, NY 10003

Come for the cortado; stay for the Black Sesame Cardamon cake. This is our favorite espresso in New York with the best soundtrack too.

 

Veniero's

342 E 11th St New York, NY 10003

Skip Little Italy, grab a deli ticket and take the ride to ricotta cheesecake heaven in this NY institution. You could also take a seat, however, we never have. 

 

Ray's Candy Store

113 Ave A New York, NY 10009

Buy your soft serve and beignets and eat across the street in Thompkins Square Park.  Also available are fried oreos, of course, served by Ray.

Sunny & Annie

94 Ave B New York, NY 10003

Run of the mill bodega that serves pho sandwiches. Order the Pho #1, get a bench in Thompkins Square and never drink soup again. 

 

EAT $ (<$10):

 

Schnitz

177 1st Ave New York, NY 10009

They make incredible schnitzel sandwiches. That's it. But, this schnitzel is on another level. 

Xi'an Famous Foods

81 St Marks PL New York, NY 10009

This is basically a NY chain, but their $4 lamb burger is one of the best values in the city. When winter comes, you'll find us here sipping on brutally spicy lamb noodle soup.

Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen

33 E 7th St New York, NY 10009

Like walking into an Ukrainian grandma's kitchen - because you are. Treat yourself to a bowl of borscht ($2) and a stuffed cabbage ($4). If that's doesn't work, turn yourself into a dumpling by eating 12 cheese perogies.


EAT $$ (<$20): 

Somtum Der

85 Ave A New York, NY 10009

The best Thai in New York with unassuming prices and fedora clad wait-staff. Order the catfish salad and Isan-style fried chicken. Downstairs is an unmarked dance hall named Elvis.

Maiden Lane

162 Ave B New York, NY 10009

Canned seafood heaven - yes. You'll find great cocktails, great DJs and seafood delights.


DIVES: 


Blue and Gold

79 E 7th St New York, NY 10003

Friendly, cheap ($3 lager/ $5 single malts) with a decent jukebox and pool table. What's not to like? Also, picklebacks. 

Sophie's

509 E 5th St  New York, NY 10003

If Blue and Gold is too divey for you, Sophie's is a bit larger, less underground (literally) and marginally more hip. A good jukebox, good people and less crowded on the weekends (albeit, still quite crowded).


SHOP: 

 

The Lodge

220 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

Stocking only American made men's accessories and grooming products, The Lodge is a focused and precise store with a considered collection. Find our scarves and ties here, along with socks from American Trench and bags from Topo Designs. 


Stillhouse

117 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

Beautiful jewelry, ceramics and home wares in a minimal space. Tasteful pieces in a tasteful space makes for an unfussy and pleasurable experience. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

INTERVIEW

DEREK WEISBURG

Sculptor

 

We visited the sculptor Derek Weisberg at his studio in Bushwick. Focused on abstract human forms, Weisberg’s creativity, technique, and personality are manifested in his work. Dan met Derek to discuss his art and his neighborhood.

Dan: Where did you start?

Derek: Age 6, I put my hands in clay. Before that, it was mashed potatoes at the dinner table. Or taking old action figures and taking them apart and reassembling with a hot glue gun.

I look around your studio, I see the masks and elegant almost art deco like forms. How have your motifs or themes progressed?

About 10 years ago, I was very interested in making very refined, stylized figures. Super detailed, super sculpted – I was trying to master the material. Trying to make the clay do exactly what I wanted it to do. In doing that, I learned to really control the material. Down to the eyelids and the creases and folds in the skin - there was a hyper-stylization of the figure. At a certain point, I let go of that and moved more into abstraction, expressionistic mark making, and working more intuitively. I think that all the time spent mastering the craft really refined what I was doing.

So, like the common idiom – know the rules before you break them.

First you have to be able to command the material and have a level of craft before true personalization can occur.

 

It seems that we still see refined elements - like individual shards in your collage works. But even still, they seem like a secondary version because the features are abstracted.

Yes, where I first represented the form exactly – then I began to elongate the forehead and pull the eyes back and that’s what led to each iteration  away from the classical form.

Early on, I necessarily made the art naturalistic and then later I could abstract and exaggerate the forms.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on figurative plaster sculptures using the idea of shell as a metaphor of home and emptiness.

Where did the inspiration for this very specific idea come from?

Partly, it’s a natural evolution of my use of plaster. But I looked specifically to the arte povera  - meaning poor art – an Italian 1960s art movement using simple materials. I like the idea of using materials that are easily available.

Where are you from and how did you get to Bushwick?

Born and raised in the Bay Area, California – in a small town called Benicia, 45 minutes north of San Francisco. I went to California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and lived there for 10 years and moved to New York about 5 years ago.

 

 

Why did you come to NY?

Because New York is New York.

But really, why?

Both parents are from New York – so as a kid I would come back and visit. I knew New York from those experiences. From a very early age I wanted to live here. I could feel the energy and excitement and the draw of the place from my single digits. Also being an artist. It’s really important to be in New York for a period time because you’re exposed to exhibitions, quality of work, scale of work, opportunities that you wouldn’t be exposed to in other places. I think that it’s a requirement as an artist.

Then why Bushwick?

Honestly, it’s what I could afford [laughing]. New York is so goddamn expensive. On that note, making my work has always been my priority. I’d rather have more studio time to make my work then work another job. Also, there are a lot of artists and creatives that live here and now there are a lot of great restaurants and good bars.

How long have you been in Bushwick?

5 years.

What are your spots in Bushwick?

I mean my studio – but for drinks. I like the Keep because it’s a funky, funny-odd place with all this stuff inside and no one is ever there [laughing]! You can get your seat at the bar, you can get your drink – it’s perfect. That’s my style.

For food – I like this place for sandwiches called Hi Hello.

If you weren’t a sculptor, what would you be doing?

Not a real question. There’s no choice. I don’t have a choice. This is all that I’ve ever done. All that I can imagine doing.

Featured:

Red Nepped Flannel

Cavalry Twill - Olive - Straight

Army Green Overshirt

Indigo Railroad Stripe

Photography: Kevin Yoo