Psss. You can get a sustainable sweater similar to this vintage one at Beklina.
On a beautiful fall Sunday in New York, the questions becomes, “How do we get outside and do something that fully takes advantage of this beautiful day?” You just know that if you don’t see the sunshine, you’ll regret it forever. And it has to be just the right thing. Not just brunch on the sidewalk. Doesn’t count.
Luckily, I actually keep a list of “Things I Want to Do” for these occasions. As my boyfriend and I finished up our brunch at Lighthouse in Williamsburg, I scrolled through the options, and “Do a street art tour of Bushwick,” jumped out at me. We ran home so I could grab my camera and a charger, and we took the L train to the Jefferson stop.
The profusion of street art in Bushwick isn’t an accident. It’s the brain child of Joseph Ficalora, who grew up in Bushwick, owns a business there, and invites artists from all over the world to come and paint for free on the walls of consenting businesses. In the process (which took just a year) he has beautified a blighted part of the city, and has nudged Bushwick another step toward being an international destination. There are guided tours of the Bushwick Art Collective, which I imagine are helpful because you get to learn about the artists, but we decided to guide ourselves by just wandering. After all, we come here all the time. We just usually come at night for the parties.
Bushwick isn’t like Manhattan, where the streets run straight and wherever you turn, you find a gentrified block. Here, you might find yourself walking in circles as you navigated the crazy-quilted streets. On one block, there’s a row of organic cafés and markets. The next, nothing but light industrial warehouses and walls with construction vehicles parked inside. But it turns out that following the street art is the perfect way to discover all Bushwick has to offer. We followed our eyes and found not just beautiful murals, but new restaurants, bars, and vintage stores.
But the first thing we found was a work in progress with the artist himself layering on paint. He talked to us for a bit about his work–it took five stencils to make each little piece of fried chicken floating on the wall–and let me take a picture of him, though with his face hidden. Then we kept going down the largely silent streets.
Just as the battery light on my camera started blinking, we came around a corner and found ourselves among people again, and next to a cool looking bar/restaurant called the Montana Trail House. So we paused for an afternoon drink while he charged his phone and I charged my camera. Good idea: the interior of Montana Trail House is almost all salvaged from a midwest bar, and they have several cocktails and drinks based on apple cider vinegar, purported to be one of the healthiest things ever. We vowed to come back for a proper meal later.
One suggestion I would make is go in the morning, instead of the early afternoon like we did. Bushwick is a bright place. There are few trees (ironically, since Bushwick comes from the Dutch words for town in the woods) and the sun bounces off of everything–the pavement, sidewalk, warehouse walls, cars–to create almost a haze of sunlight everywhere you look. It made taking good pictures a challenge, because of the harsh shadows and flares being picked up by the camera. And as the days get shorter, the time between bright, bright sunlight and darkness is getting shorter and shorter. So the morning, with its soft light, will be your best bet.
We followed the art down another hoppin’ street, where we passed by a big bar called Lot 45, a place where our friends have held parties a lot recently, and Union Pizza Works, which has a stellar reputation. It was a lively area, with skateboarders, tourists, and residents all taking in the sunshine, snapping pics of the art, and waiting for seats at whatever place they were brunching.
We continued on toward the Morgan stop on the L, finding ourselves again on nearly deserted streets saturated with art. Then we rounded a corner by Roberta’s and suddenly we were in civilization again. I popped into the Mobile Vintage Shop, a small trailer where everything is $10 or less, and found a pink oversized sweater.
Psss. You can get a really similar sustainable sweater at Beklina.
Then we ended our tour at Momo Sushi Shack for dinner. By the time we emerged, it was dark outside. Pity, since as we walked home, we found ever more art that we had missed!