Neighbors’ Day: April 30
To mark the first anniversary of the Whitney’s new home, neighbors visit free on Saturday, April 30.Reserve tickets
I’ve always been told that a person is a direct product of his or her environment. I suppose this implies that the best way for someone to understand me is to know where I’m from.
I was born on April 26,1994 at a hospital on 82nd Street and West End. For a very short time I lived but four blocks from my place of birth in a spacious apartment that, to me, has absolutely no significance other than that it was the place where I experienced my first memory. Yes, it was here that my father and I, (at that time only an infant of two years), fell down the staircase in our apartment and I received my first scar, which I still have to this day. Of course all I remember is a blinding corridor of white, suddenly ended by a tumble into blackness.
This apartment, now not so pleasantly remembered, was not to be my home for long. By the time I was six we had moved uptown by thirty blocks to my current residence at 112th Street and Riverside Drive. It was not until this time that I truly became acquainted with even the most familiar of my surroundings. Growing up, I had two parents: a mother and a father. My mom is a very hard worker (sometimes working herself crazy), who constantly juggles meticulous care of her family with a meticulous work ethic. If I owe my sense of discipline, organization, and hard work to anyone, it would most likely be her. My father is a mostly laid back guy who sometimes “whips out” the rigid disciplinarian in him. He always kept my brother and I in line and has probably helped me be a more moral, less selfish person. I have an older brother, Sam, who, growing up, epitomized the ultimate enemy that constantly beat me up, stole my things, and refused to ever admit he was wrong. However, it would not always be that way, and I would eventually discover that my brother is in fact a kind, fiercely ambitious, intelligent, and hardworking individual who has had a huge impact on my academic interests and plans.
My impending return to school (I had previously attended a French preschool that cost my parents a fortune and failed to expand my French vocabulary beyond that of “Bonjour”) forced me to become well-acquainted with my surrounding neighborhood. The daily sixteen- block trip to my elementary school, PS 75, revealed the wonders of the so-called Upper West Side. There was a brightness to the lights and a tangible vibrancy that made it so “New York,” and yet so unique to the rest of the city. Everyone who went there immediately felt the hustle of the streets and the excitement of the people. Simultaneously, there was a peaceful quality to the brisk nights, guardian-like buildings, and lazy evening sunsets over Riverside Park.
It was not long before I made contact with the people of the Upper West Side as well. It seems that PS 75 not only introduced me to my beloved neighborhood, but also to almost all of my closest friends. First I met Damon. Damon was a shy and slightly awkward young child obsessed with covert Ops and sniper gunning whom I was lucky enough to run into by literally running into him. Damon was certainly not limited to playing games with fake guns and rapidly expanded as a person who is one of the most talented teenage musicians I know, and a constant inspiration to me for improving my own art. For almost as long as I can remember Damon has been a constant in my life and I’m very grateful for his friendship. Next came Danny and Elie. The two were an inseparable pair, and certainly had been, long before I ever met them in the third grade. Despite my being tall when they were short, blonde when they were dark-haired, an “uptowner” when they were “downtowners,” and Christian when they were Jewish, I was somehow able to wiggle my way into their group. We became an inseparable trio. If one introduced something to the group, it was almost inevitable the others would pick it up too. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why I have such a fervent love for history and reading, as well as art.
I cannot entirely owe my love of drawing to my friends and family. I loved drawing from the first time I found out I could draw a dinosaur. Yes, it sounds odd, but at the time, (I was quite young), I had an unexplainable obsession with dinosaurs. And the fact that I could draw them meant that for as long as the dinosaur fad lasted, the drawing would too. Somehow drawing outlasted the “age of dinosaurs” and it became clear that drawing would probably outlast a lot of other things in my life as well. To this day, I’m still not perfectly clear as to why I love art so much. I just know that it is one of my greatest sources of pride, passion, and joy.