The last thing you might expect to find on dark, potholed Moffat Street abutting Evergreen Cemetery is an art collective named Unit J. Nevertheless, its members have transformed the kind of warehouse ubiquitous in the neighborhood into a live/work space that captures Bushwick’s do-it-yourself aesthetic.
One of the founding members and resident of Unit J, Dru Cutler, describes Bushwick as a place where “people don’t wait for permission to test out their ideas. They just do it. That’s very inspiring.”
Cutler started living in the Moffat Street building well before Unit J became an organized collective. He says, “I remember meeting my first roommate Eli [Bridges], with his giant head of curly hair, at a bonfire behind the graveyard. We knew we were rolling the dice on each other.”
The start was rocky, though, since the committed members had to “weed out the bad apples—like the dude who used to cook giant helpings of frozen beef at 3 a.m.—and agreed to a series of guidelines for living and working at Unit J. Now, it’s much more collaborative. Much more realistic.”
Last Friday, the collective put on a show featuring the work of members who will be heading down to Austin, Texas for the famed South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, an annual gathering of artists, musicians, and filmmakers. The show functioned primarily as a fundraiser, but it was also a showcase of what the collective does on a day-to-day basis: curate good, high-energy music of the indie/Americana variety.
When we asked about how Bushwick might change in the coming years given the closure of the L, Cutler seemed optimistic and said “we’ll have to build cooler, more exciting stuff to do in our own neighborhood. I’m talking about simple things like coffee shops and pubs but also more ambitious things like art galleries, venues and maybe even a park.”
In order to make their dreams of creating more art and culture spaces in Bushwick a reality, the group of musicians is taking to the road to play some shows down in Austin, Texas in early March. And after that, you’ll be able to catch them back at it in their unlikely musical haven.
Arts and music collective that hosts events in its huge space.
338 Moffat St. (Off of the Wilson L)
Featured image by Kevin Hoopes for Bushwick Daily.