Letters from the Bush: Exploring the McKibbin Lofts

bushwick
Image courtesy of Michael Brotzman

When Natalya Krimgold pitched us a bi-monthly series of blog posts about the arts scene in her own, beloved corner of Brooklyn — Bushwick — we told her to sell us on its relevance to our international audience. “It’s the next logical move for New York’s creative scene,” she explained. “Greenwich Village, Soho, the East Village, Williamsburg, Bushwick.” At first we weren’t biting. But as evidenced by this and this she could be right; the hipster colony flies surprisingly under-the-radar for a neighborhood with such a rich history of harboring creative talent. Her first dispatch, an interview with three of the area’s pioneers, Tanya Annette Oesterling, Elaine Lachica, and Aaron Williams, after the jump and check out a gallery of Michael Brotzman’s favorite photographs of the Bush here.

Aaron Williams: Within a three-mile radius there’s probably a higher concentration of artists than anywhere in the country. Some pretty prominent artists used to live in this building. Martin Puryear was on the fourth floor. He had a retrospective at MoMA last year.

Elaine Lachica: Kaki King used to be in the basement. I saw her walking down the street — I think I saw her mailbox. She’s really big on the indie scene right now, like all over NPR and I think she sold out the Bowery Ballroom the last time she played there.

AW: The guitar player from the Cro-mags, this famous New York punk band in the ’80s, lived on the first floor.

Tanya Annette Oesterling: The building’s so full of musicians. I front a pop/punk band called the Erase-Hers. We played with a group called Each Other’s Mothers. They now live above us. We always hear bands, sometimes in the summer up to like 4 or 5 in the morning.

AW: When I moved in there were more people who seemed like they were serious about what they were doing and I think a lot of those people moved out. I’m sure there are a lot of people in these buildings who are aspiring, but I’d be curious to see who has real studios here.

EL: Michael Kaplan was a sculptor. He was my neighbor when I first moved in. Really nice guy, I didn’t see him that much. I think he was dating Brett Eason Ellis, who wrote Less Than Zero and American Psycho.

Mike’s sister knocked on our door and said, “I’m Mike’s sister, I haven’t heard from him in a week and we’re very close.” There were two cops with her. “Have you seen him or heard from him?” And I said that we hadn’t seen him in a while. They asked if they could get into his apartment. It was like a Law and Order episode. The cops went in there and, sure enough, discovered the body. We had smelled something. He had been in there for a week.

AW: He was very good and I think, had he lived, he would have done really well.

Stay tuned for part two of this ongoing series later this month.