Since March, I have spent more time in New York than ever before: forty-five nights, in four bedrooms, in three neighborhoods. Brooklyn, to be precise, waking up on weekdays to ride the train into Greenwich Village. Ideologically resisting the idea of commuting even while overflowing with wonder, breathing in history, my fingers on the pulse of what often feels like America itself.
In August, I lived in Crown Heights for a week. One night, returning late, I waited for the platform to empty so that I could leisurely admire each painting by Hugo Consuegra, whose work lines the Utica Ave station. The drawings are surreal—dinosaurs walking under a concerned-looking crescent moon; a UFO abducting two figures in a forest clearing; a full-lipped sun smiling at a scarecrow. The station has separate platforms for inbound and outbound trains; the inbound platform is sun-themed while the outbound is moon-themed, the paintings part of an installation that Consuegra named Good Morning and Good Night.
For most of my time in New York, all but the week in Crown Heights, I’ve slept in Bushwick, walked every morning to the Myrtle-Wyckoff station. Here is the quintessential Brooklyn, a train grinding past overhead while another rumbles the concrete from below. The L and M trains intersect at this station, and while the M is a faster route into Greenwich, its recent maintenance closure has sent me through the turnstiles and down two flights of stairs to the L. At the bottom, lining the opposing platform walls, are the tiled murals familiar to many New York subway stations. It is still a wonder, with each new station I find myself in, to see the unassuming works of art that accompany each.
After my most recent stint in Brooklyn, I recreated the tiled “M” of the Myrtle-Wyckoff station. I’ve been continuing to paint when I travel, and the practice has become a gratifying way to capture memories.
See you again soon, New York.