by Lena Marquise

“It is what it is.”

It took two years of Bushwick living for me to thoroughly grasp what I now see as my personal neighborhood motto. It’s a good thing I didn’t go into advertising, given how much time had elapsed before I could succinctly define my own neighborhood’s character. Recently, I’ve been in search of the right terms to define myself–which I frequently do as a character on a well-lit stage. After all, this is just another stage, isn’t it?

“It is what it is.” Then again, I’m told it’s all in how you say it.

I came to New York over 3 years ago on a whim. Just a week before I decided to pack up and move, I swore up and down that I hated Manhattan–with its clutter and occasional fish smell, thieves and energy vampires. Compared to the neat architecture of Boston, I was appalled. To me, Brooklyn was one word: desolate.

However, prodded by unseen forces, I kept on. I drove all the early morning to my first residence, off the Halsey L stop. The building was surrounded by steel mills and warehouses packed with sewing machines running at 6 a.m., machines spinning like mad and motorized by the tiny, pumping, plum feet of 100 old ladies and little girls, the latter of whom were indiscernible from the former. I parked.

Three months later, my cab passed one particularly foreboding building on my way home from my late night internship “opportunity” in Chelsea.

3 a.m.
Graffiti on red brick; black framed windows; peeling antiquated paint under heavy night lights. I coveted. I moved in that year.

Funny, I never could find a body to fill that third room, just like I never could hold down a 9-to-5. I got a little bored at times; it seemed perfectly natural to start unpacking, onto the walls. First, my taxidermy. With names and seniority, they got prime real estate. Bartholomew–always on windowsills; Beatrice II, too, needs a view. Soon the third floor of my decrepit, beloved house became a sight to behold. One room after the other took on life, with 10-foot illustrations by David Bray and laser etchings on X-rays by Jorden Haley. Found photos assembled into a story, a heart suspended in a terrarium, bird cages and skulls. A mere two years later, the rooms and hallways are filled to mild satisfaction, meaning–mild hysteria if moving day ever comes. Now if I could only fit my first-floor landlord’s Jehovah’s Witness pile of pamphlets into the art program of meta exhibitions and photo shoots.

I got excited when I heard about all the galleries opening up by the Jefferson L. I even looked at some shitty, overpriced room in the middle of other shitty overpriced rooms [more fit for storage than artists’ studios], in a big warehouse somewhere behind a building that smells like wet, dead dogs. Two years later I am thinking, Even Danger is getting all corporate Art world, and those stoners on the third floor from where we used to shoot porn have actually organized a mailer for a program besides Bushwick Open Studios.” Surely, surely, then, we dwellers of the ‘Wick have graduated the interdisciplinary program at some sort of preparatory school of communication and can handle a term as terse as “by appointment,” that its message would translate as well from a Manhattan showroom to one in the heart of Bushwick. Right? Perhaps not.

Please, kind reader, make an appointment. Come look at some art, pet Matt the One-Eyed Cat, and feed my head.
[Stay tuned for photo evidence.]
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