I'm in Maine today, waiting for snow and feeling thankful for friends and family. New adventures. Changing seasons. Raw milk ice cream, rain, and oceans too cold to swim in. I'm grateful for you, too — I'm so lucky to have found a place in this lovely little online world — thank you so much for having me.
If it's possible to be in love with an Instagram account, then I'm head over heels for We Never Met, an account started by Ogilvy London's Alex Mendes and Hugo Catraio. The feed features photos of strangers on the street, captioned by an imagined backstory. In the pair's own words, it's "a series of conversations we never had. Short stories created for random strangers whose faces we never get to see." Amazing.
They have been in this in and out relationship for the past couple of years. He loves her more than anything, but the Lambretta can be truly selfish sometimes.
Whenever he's feeling blue, he'll enter a cheese shop and say "surprise me."
He has 521 friends on Google Plus. He doesn't know he has Google Plus.
Every now and then you'll find him dressed overly formal. That means he hasn't done laundry for a while.
He likes to say goodbye using words such as "ciao" and "au revoir," but is never prepared when people who speak other languages reply.
This week: a beautiful blog post by Sam Shorey on laying claim to the cities we live in (and the fear of loving a new place after experiencing the pain of leaving the last). I've always felt an urge to hang on to the cities I've called home, and though I live in Brooklyn currently, I find myself missing it every now and then, as if I've already left. In her post, Sam — who recently moved from Amherst to Seattle — wonders: how long can you live in a place before you say you're from there? Read more on Ashore — one of my longtime favorites — here.
POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV focuses on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.
I ran into the younger brother of an old friend yesterday as I crossed the street in front of the Wythe Hotel. He was a seventh grader the year I graduated high school — a boy who came up to my shoulder, and wore fishnets on his forearms. He had a tiny voice and giant brown eyes. He'd hug me every time we passed in the halls. He was approaching with arms outstretched this time, too, only he'd grown a foot, and his voice had deepened, and he wore a pair of what can only be described as very beautiful glasses. "Shoko, I wish I could catch up, but I'm on my way to an interview," he said, holding up a printed resume. "I have to run."
We told each other we'd meet again soon. They grow up so fast, I thought, in a moment of total ridiculousness as I watched him go. Just look at him — so young, his whole life ahead of him.
In Friends & Neighbors, I'll introduce you to some of my favorite creative businesses in Williamsburg. With a new expensive store or chain restaurant opening seemingly every week, there's been much talk these days about how Williamsburg is "over." This series showcases shops, restaurants, and studios that make the neighborhood special, and prove that integrity, creativity, and an artistic spirit are still alive and well. They're places that make me proud to live here, and to call the faces behind their counters neighbors. Photographs by Jacquelyne Pierson.
Thirty-two thousand books line the walls at 103 North 3rd Street — to take it all in is to spend a lot of time squinting, staring, standing back in awe. "There's so much amazing work here," says co-founder Steven Peterman. "Just looking at the shelves really captures the beauty of the project as a whole. Each book is a story. Each book is a voice."
The Brooklyn Art Library, as the space is called, is home to The Sketchbook Project, an eight-year-long undertaking that has resulted in the collection and cataloguing of tens of thousands of artists' sketchbooks from around the globe. Anyone — regardless of artistic background — can submit, so long as he or she meets the annual deadline and a small fee. Once turned in, each 32-page volume is made searchable by subject, place of origin, key words, and other various categories — then, it's added to the library so that anyone who visits can find it and flip through its pages.
Stationed in their current location since 2010, the Art Library serves as both storefront and community space, inviting locals and tourists alike to browse. Teachers bring students on class visits; shoppers stop in to peruse an assortment of paper goods and art materials. Each time, they're greeted by a friendly staff (a small one, with less than ten members total), who are at the ready to help navigate the shelves.
As a neighbor of the shop since it opened, I've come in many times, often just to look around, but also to share it with visiting friends — it's a perfect, only-in-New-Yorkgem, and though it's built on an idea that seems larger than life, the library itself manages to somehow make the city — and the world — seem smaller. "I love the idea of connecting the community," Steven says, "and of finding people who have the same thoughts and ideas as you, all over the world, who haven't been dead for 100 years."
"There's no way we could have predicted that we'd get here," he continues, "that we'd end up in Williamsburg, with this many books. It's been a little like we're on a ship moving through the fog." When asked whether he's seen everything in the space, he smiles. "Definitely not. When the deadlines come, we get bags of mail at once. So we're always finding things we've never seen. There's always a treasure to be found."
Brooklyn Art Library, 103A North 3rd Street, (718) 388-7941 Mon-Sun 11am - 7pm
Five Minutes with Steven Peterman: Where did The Sketchbook Project originate? We started in 2006 in Atlanta. We opened up a gallery where you'd pay us a monthly fee for wall space, but it wasn't really what we wanted to do. We wanted to work more with the community, so we started a series of projects — the first was called A Million Little Pictures. We sent out disposable cameras with a simple idea in mind: that many different people would come together to create something. The Sketchbook Project was just one of many things we were doing at the time, but it was one people kept relating to. And it continued to grow — between 2009 and 2010, we grew from 3,000 people doing the project to 28,000. In the art world, often you have to know someone or pay to have your work seen, but we wanted to create something fun and non-intimidating. Eventually, we moved to New York in 2009. And here we are.
What's been the most exciting part of the journey thus far? It's allowed us to travel and meet people all over the world. We met a woman in Australia in her 60s who did the project and then decided to go to art school. I love that there are great illustrators and artists participating, but there are also people who are just looking for a way to tell a story.
Do you keep a sketchbook yourself? I have three books in the collection. Everyone who works with us has made one over the past few years. Every late winter, we get together as a staff and share them. It's really changed my perspective on the project — it's so much work to make a 32-page book.
Visit the Brooklyn Art Library website, here, and The Sketchbook Project,here.
Nick Turpin's photographs of London bus passengers on winter nights are gorgeous and ghostly, full of mystery. They remind me of those fleeting moments on trains when you catch the eye of someone in a passing car — you wonder, what are they thinking about? or where are they going? or did they see me, too? Those moments — connecting with strangers, however briefly, and dreaming up their stories — is one of my favorite parts of living in a city.
See more at Nick Turpin's website, here. Thanks, Ignant.
This week, from Omid Safi's The Disease of Being Busy: Reflections from a Duke University professor on the downfalls of constant busy-ness. Says Safi: "What happened to a world in which we can sit with people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?"
He continues: "I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and face-paced sports. I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life." Read the piece in its entirety, here.