Bushwick Power Couples: Makin' Love & Culture Happen
Bushwick is the kind of place where love frequently blossoms into a creative partnership and vice versa
Bushwick is the kind of place where love frequently blossoms into a creative partnership and vice versa. Perhaps more than in other New York neighborhoods, we see love and life partners make art, start businesses, or publish books together. For the second time around, Bushwick Daily has put together a list of our favorite Bushwick power couples who have had significant impact on Bushwick's culture in the past year.
While considering nominations, we have reached out to our community via social media and requested your input. But please don't consider this an exhaustive list because Bushwick is full of tremendous couples who live, love and work together and are doing an amazing job at it.
Do you feel like we've missed someone super-special? Please leave us a comment and tell us why they should be on the list!
♥ Meryl Meisler + Patricia O'Brien
No proper Bushwickian needs an introduction to a photographer Meryl Meisler who used to teach art at local Bushwick school in the 1990s. On her Bushwick walks, Meryl captured the life and joy in the most unlikely environment--the post-burnout Bushwick in thousands of moving photographs. After numerous exhibitions and public appearances, Meryl has published a quintessential photography book, Disco Era Bushwick: A Tale of Two Cities last year and received a massive, well-deserve international recognition.
Little do people know that Meryl's wife, Patricia O'Brien has been more than involved in her success. Pattie, who also used to be a teacher in Bushwick in the 1980s and 1990s, designs every element for Meryl’s exhibits and books, from branding, business cards, postcards, catalogues, e-blasts, publicity, website, bookmarks, posters and signage.
Where did you meet: "We actually grew up in the same town but we didn’t become friends until our brothers introduced us after college. Friendship developed into a cross-country romance and then living together in NYC since 1980."
Your absolute favorite thing to do together: "We love traveling together."
Favorite Bushwick Date: "Our favorite date is celebrating with dinner, cocktails and laughing during BOS weekend."
♥ Prospero Vega + Maria Pavlovska
Prospero and his wife Maria are a well known couple around Bushwick. You might have seen them having a dinner at The Bodega or passionately discussing something very important while walking home on Willoughby Ave. Bushwick born and raised Prospero is an entrepreneur by day and a thrilling writer by night; a star of our collection Bushwick Nightz. Maria is a Macedonia-born artist who currently works from Mana Contemporary and has exhibited internationally with the names like Julian Schnabel. "Maria saved my life from the streets at one point and continues to confound every stereotype of a Brooklyn artist you can think of simply by being her very raw, unreconstructed and upfront immigrant self," said Prospero of his wife and we love it/them.
Where did you meet: "We met 9 years ago at an art opening in the city for Maria in Gallery MC (her first solo show in NYC). I [Prospero] was working with the owner and was in charge of taking visiting artists around NYC. After a week of "sight-seeing" (I don't think we went to one emblematic destination. I basically just showed her prehistoric Bushwick and the old waterfront in Willy B), and we remained inseparable ever since. I'm a dreamer and she's the gravity..."
Your absolute favorite thing to do together: "Walking. Really."
Favorite Bushwick Date: "The first Bushwick Open Studios."
♥ Jason Andrew + Norman Jabaut
Jason Andrew is undoubtedly one of the most important people at Bushwick art scene. 10 years ago he co-founded Norte Maar, a non-profit for collaborations across the arts, which he has been using as a platform to organize and curate hundreds of innovative art shows and dance performances. Together with his husband, Norman, this Bushwick couple doesn't hesitate to offer their apartment as an art gallery several times a year; they organize a neighborhood gallery walk, Beat Nite twice a year, and really do so many things that if we tried to mention them all, we'd be here for a couple of hours. It is safe to say that Jason and Norman (a talented artist himself) have helped hundreds of Bushwick artists to gain recognition outside of the neighborhood. Kudos!
Where did you meet: "We met the old fashion way, in a bar. Norman was shy and sent a friend over to introduce him. Our first date was at the top of the Empire State Building a few days later."
Your absolute favorite thing to do together: "Throw art parties at any location that will allow us. We will take all the furniture out and bring all the art in. We snuck art into the Brooklyn Museum for our last big art party. In 2014, we acquired a small farm in the Adirondacks where we now have some quiet time to dream up new projects."
Your favorite Bushwick date: "We have four restaurants that we rotate through, Cafe Ghia for the burger and the staff; Union Pizza for the salads and desserts, Il Passatore for their homemade pasta and lastly MOMO for the "Bombs" and tofu salad."
♥ Jinyen + Christopher Carew
Christopher and Jinyen are the smiling couple behind Shwick Market, which opened last year and has since grown into a hub of Bushwick makers and our favorite post-brunch stop. Jinyen and Christopher have worked together since 2007 when they started Chalkboard Tees company. Originally, they have been selling their chalkboard tees on the streets all over the city and across the country. Their product got so popular amongst the kids (I mean, you can draw on your tee!) that they opened two pop-up shops in Williamsburg and in NoHo. They are currently also running The Chalkboard Tee school fundraising program, which helps to support arts education for kids. "Since we first moved to Bushwick in 2006 we’ve seen the neighborhood changing, and with our experience selling at markets we thought it would be a great place to open one ourselves. We love to help creative startups grow," told us Jinyen.
Where did you meet: "We met in 2006 at a lounge that Chris used to DJ at, called Pop. It’s now closed, but it was on 4th Ave, between 12th and 13th, near Union Square. A friend of Chris' was spinning that night, she saw him dancing, and we kind of kicked it off. The rest is history."
Your absolute favorite thing to do together: "Going for a nice dinner, followed by a long night of dancing."
Your favorite Bushwick date: "Trying out a new restaurant (we love Little Mo), then to an art show, and maybe some dancing. : )"
♥ Robert Walden + Henry Chung
Slick, well-curated art shows and wholehearted presence at Bushwick art scene as well at Volta Art Fair in New York and Aqua Art Fair in Miami-- that's Robert Henry Contemporary. A gallery located at Bushwick's prime art building, 56 Bogart is run by partners in love and in business, Robert Walden and Henry Chung.
You'd think they spend more than enough time together between running the gallery and sharing an art studio in Red Hook (both men are also artists), but they run together also another business, a vintage housewares store in the South Slope. Robert grew up in Mississippi. Henry is native New Yorker and grew up in Brooklyn and Queens.
Where did you meet: "We met at a mutual friend's dinner party. We actually barely said a word to each other during dinner. At least one of us thought that it was a setup (which it wasn't) and decidedly tried not to play along. It was a few days after the 2006 blizzard and when we left the dinner party, the buses weren't running quite right because of the weather conditions. So, we walked the mile or so back to the M train together. We ended up spending a whole lot of time together that evening despite it all."
Your absolute favorite thing to do together: "We both cook a lot, and whenever we do, we invariably dine while watching old BBC murder mysteries. Agatha Christie stories have been favorite for our dining entertainment lately."
Your favorite Bushwick date: "It was the day that we didn't go to work and we came to Bushwick to see the space that would eventually become our gallery and change our lives. The pull of Bushwick was undeniable. We had pizza to celebrate."
♥ Jamie Schmitz + Shana Bellot
Husband-wife duo, long-time Bushwick residents, Jefftown's king and queen took Bushwick by storm in late 2013 when they transformed an old garage on Troutman St. into Bushwick's favorite gastropub, The Rookery, and thus participated to the transformation of their block into a major Bushwick catwalk. It must have been the destiny that brought a former bartender and a drummer from the Lower East Side, Jamie and a marketing specialist for booze brands, Shana, together, as partners, parents (a shoutout to little Parker) and of course, bar owners! "Oh, and Shana is a shockingly good tarot card reader," added Jamie. "Though I won’t let her read my cards."
Where did you meet: "We met while I [Jamie] was bartending at Clandestino in the LES. I found out she loved The Smiths so I played them whenever she came in an fed her whiskey until she agreed to hang out. She dated a bartending drummer against her better judgment."
Your absolute favorite thing to do together: "Go to the Spotted Pig knowing that there will be hours long wait for a table so we get to hang out and drink and chat while we wait and then order a copious amount of oysters."
Your favorite Bushwick date: "Probably having a quiet dinner at Northeast Kingdom or a long boozy afternoon at Roberta's. Though our dates lately are going to Food Bazaar and trying to find veggies that Parker will try;)"
♥ Nyssa Frank & Mike Garcia
The most popular couple of under the J train tracks, Nyssa Frank and Mike Garcia unknowingly moved to Bushwick the same summer almost seven years ago. A lot has changed since then. Energetic Nyssa has opened The Living Gallery (first at The Loom, later at 1094 Broadway), and sound engineer and booking agent Mike became its music director. The gallery's name doesn't lie because it truly is living with its abundant artistic, musical as well as community programming. Make sure to pop in and say hi at one of their numerous events, or at The Bridging Bushwick community garden, the couple generously maintains.
Nyssa and Mike plays together in a trash band, Cum Blood. Yes, it's that romantic.
Where did you meet: "We met in Brooklyn, a few times before really seeing each other."
Your absolute favorite thing to do together: "Our favorite thing to do together is walk around New York. In the summer we walk all the way to the beach. Seeing the different cultures and worlds that make up the outer boroughs is always enlightening, and is what keeps us living here."
Your favorite Bushwick date: "Our favorite Bushwick date would be something like barbecuing in front of our house and sitting on our porch eating, watching the passersby."
♥ Mike Berlant + Amy Mathis (Wild Torus)
Mike Berlant and Amy Mathis who are better known in Bushwick's circles as Wild Torus, or Vlady VØz Tokk and Mág Ne Tá Z’air, are the perfect example of a relationship that transformed itself into a massive artistic collaboration. "We merge together disparate cultural, gender, and generational identities through an interdisciplinary art practice, not limited to traditional forms or content. Our vision has since been to combine metaphysical notions with popular technology and body performance," says the couple of itself.
Wild Torus' first official performance took place at the happening in a pop-up space in Soho during the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Since then, Wild Torus has been performing non-stop throughout the city but primarily at Bushwick's Bizarre, Silent Barn, and more!
Where did you meet: "In a church on Maujer Street while putting together a DIY art exhibition for ReformArt. Our combination of underground art, spirituality, and love was established at the outset."
Your absolute favorite thing to do together: "Enacting spectacular, interactive, self-awareness rituals with the citizens of Bushwick as our invented cult collective, Wild Torus."
Your favorite Bushwick date: "Taking romantic walks along Newtown Creek and getting high off the fumes. It's Super-Fun(d)!"