I met artist Richard Humann on a Queens-bound G train in the summer of 2015. He was reading a book about Chinatown and I asked him if it was good. It wasn’t, he noted, but we talked and we stayed in touch, sharing our memories and dreams of Brooklyn. He’s traveled the world for his award-winning art, but since 1985 Greenpoint has always been home. While he can’t recall creating any conscious odes to Greenpoint in his work, the neighborhood and its residents have undoubtedly influenced him in his decades here.
When he moved to Brooklyn from his hometown of Stony Point, New York (“I would say it’s like an hour north of the city but it’s a million miles away”) after college, he shacked up on Meserole Avenue. In the years since, he’s migrated a mere block over. “I never left,” he smiles. When he first moved to Greenpoint, Humann recalls that Williamsburg was considered a hotter area because it was more rough and tumble – south of 7th Street wasn’t considered safe. He had shows in both neighbs though, from the Minor Injury Gallery – one of North Brooklyn’s first as far as he’s aware – to Williamsburg’s Pan Arts gallery, both long closed.
He’s stayed put as the neighborhood changed over the years along with the rest of the borough and city. I spoke with him about his thoughts on gentrification, the bad old days, bygone businesses, and what the future holds for Greenpoint. Continue reading