Cailley LaPara

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Natalia Sacasa doesn’t make plans; she follows paths to see where they’ll take her. When the 10-year Bushwick resident opened up Meantime, a boutique shop and artist’s studio on St. Nicholas Avenue in October, she expected to stay open for about five months, like a pop-up. But the shop has continued to present new possibilities for her and the artists who work there.

One of these possibilities is hosting art workshops for members of the community. It was an idea that Sacasa had since Meantime first opened, and she is finally getting to see it take shape. The first workshop, kind of a test run for future ones, took place Thursday evening. The project? Freakebana, “the ugly-cool style of arranging flowers.”

Freakebana, a term coined by Editor-in-Chief of The Cut Stella Bugbee, is a take on ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Where ikebana is characterized by asymmetry, sparseness and minimalistic refinement, freakebana spins that austere beauty into something funky, even provocative, by using found objects—anything from an empty bottle found on the sidewalk to a sweet potato—instead of the traditional sleek vases and delicate flowers of ikebana.

Freakebana by Sacasa.

Sacasa has hopes that these workshops, which will have a suggested donation, will function as a way to bring community members together. “This idea of the workshops is just about bringing more people into contact,” Sacasa told Bushwick Daily.

Meantime has already served as a gathering place for various community members since its opening. The artists who work in the studio space have hosted their own small workshop classes, and last month over 20 people from the community congregated to discuss the proposed men’s shelter on Wyckoff Avenue.

Sacasa was inspired to open her own shop because she noticed the row of empty storefronts along St. Nicholas Avenue and had a desire to see those filled once again. “It kind of bothered me that there used to be some activity here. Especially the church, which was a communal space,” she said, referring to the church that had occupied one of the storefronts, “and then it was all of a sudden empty.”

Meantime’s stock and curiosities.

Since opening the shop, Sacasa feels that she has become more connected to her neighborhood, a relationship she was not able to develop as fully when she worked full-time at an art gallery in Chelsea, where she worked for 19 years. “I was in a tunnel that just connected me from [Bushwick] to Chelsea, and I didn’t live in the world. And now I feel like I live in the world.”

Although Sacasa says she doesn’t have a clear trajectory for Meantime, she is pleased with how the shop has evolved from a pop-up to a sort of co-op, where artists, students and anyone else can enjoy the peaceful, creative atmosphere. “The value of the experience for me is in the space, and in the contact that the space affords me.”

Meantime storefront.

For updates and information on upcoming workshops at Meantime, check out Meantime’s Instagram, where you can also get in touch with Natalia Sacasa.

All photos courtesy of Meantime.

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