Jazz Junkie. Roaming Resident. Wisteria Waterer. We visit with artist Daniel Horowitz at his Vinegar Hill hideaway.
“I usually wake up in a fairly groggy state.”
It’s a kind of perfect summer morning in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn when we arrive on Daniel Horowitz’s quiet cobblestone street. After a few raps on a door, he answers wearing a patterned kimono, tied loosely, exposing a deep “V” of wiry chest hair. “I’ll apologize in advance,” he says as he leads us up the stairs, “I usually wake up in a fairly groggy state.”
Horowitz, 35, is a graphic designer by trade, an accomplished illustrator, and at least for the moment, a large-scale painter. For several months, he’s been trying his hand at the new medium in a residency at Pioneer Works Center for Arts and Innovation in Red Hook. Part of the experience is an open studio environment that allows visitors to watch the artists at work. “All the vulnerabilities are on display,” Horowitz explains. “[Painting] is bearing fruits, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done… I didn’t want to roll over one day and be 55, and say “man, I could have been a great painter if I had tried it.”
Horowitz admits he began to feel overwhelmed several years ago by his commercial obligations. So much, that he curbed much of his graphic design work to start doing a drawing each day for a year (the results are now a book entitled 365 Drawing). “My soul was starting to hurt a bit,” he says between bites of cereal. “I really needed to do some personal work – to feel like I was producing at the same rate I consume.”
Daniel tells us the first thing he does every day is kiss his wife. Then he makes his way towards a cracked leather chair in his light-filled living room and meditates “for maybe 20 minutes”. Next is coffee. Daniel brews Stumptown in a French Press and turns on the radio – adjusting the the dial to 89.9. “Have you heard of this guy, Phil Schaap?” He asks. “Some guys are into baseball stats… this man is into jazz. He has like an encyclopedic knowledge and he goes on and on.” He pours coffee into small, ceramic mugs. “All we have is almond milk – that’s going to be kind of weird, but let’s go with it.”
He shaves quickly, leaving a small tuft of hair just above his chin (“I think every guy goes through that period of wanting to shave with a brush and hot towel, but that dedication usually ends”), gets dressed in “painting clothes” and walks out a side door to the terrace to water the plants. His rescued cat, Mimi, sits inside one of the planters, watching him. He carries a hose towards Mimi and mock sprays, laughing, “Maybe the wisteria needs some water, too.”
“My routine got severely jumbled when I took this residency. I mean… it’s strange. How do you create a new routine that you know is a temporary one?”
“The studio I own is two blocks down the street, so my commute was a few steps.” Now, Daniel rides his Vespa to Red Hook every day. And when this residency ends in September, he’s on to yet another one in Mexico City. We’re standing in the street now, and he pops on his helmet and jumps on his scooter. “I mean… it’s strange. How do you create a new routine that you know is a temporary one?”
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