You currently run RE : ALABAYAN in TriBeCa – how has the neighbourhood evolved over the years that you’ve spent in New York?
I’ve been in Tribeca coming up on 20 years. I’ve never really lived anywhere else on the island! When I first moved here, I lived in the northwest area of Tribeca, which was very quiet and desolate. It was just after 9/11, and most people had left the area. So it had this empty feeling, which I loved! But cross Canal and you are in Soho. The feeling of being isolated and the quietness of the area was a huge draw, but I was just a couple of blocks from all the hustle of Canal Street and Soho. Tribeca had destination places like Chanterelle, The Odeon, El Teddys, The Harrison, Issey Miyake, Dune, R20th, Donzella Antiques, Steven Allen and Bubby’s, but it still felt like you could get lost or wander and stumble upon something special. There were lots of little small garage buildings, but most of these are gone now and large apartment buildings or luxury loft buildings have replaced them. Even though there are a lot more buildings here, the energy differs from other neighbourhoods in New York — at night it’s still small town-like. I like that!
What are some things you love about Downtown Manhattan?
I love the energy of downtown and the mix of people! As the tip of Manhattan narrows, you get several neighbourhoods blending, like TriBeCa into Chinatown, Financial District into TriBeCa, Soho into Little Italy, Little Italy into Chinatown, LES into Chinatown, Financial into Seaport, etc. This creates a diverse mix, and I love this. That is the real NYC! I also love walking the cobblestone streets. I like discovering — downtown makes walking around the neighbourhoods easy, and I’m always hoping to discover something new.
Why do you think that art and fashion are able to flourish and evolve so much in New York?
I think New York will always flourish in art and fashion, just because we are in NYC and everyone comes here to be something, see something or get something. Currently, I think corporate art and fashion are flourishing, and not necessarily the true creatives. New York has become very expensive for young or small artists or designers to survive. But as I said in the first sentence, NYC will always flourish in art & fashion because it’s NYC!
How do you choose which artists and creators to feature in your store?
I choose artists, designers, brands, or creators that speak to me someway or somehow — it’s hard to explain. I like to find a common thread between their work or them as individuals, and how that fits into my world. When I am attracted to a style, an artist, or their personality I see how that can fit in my world — the RE : AL world!
I think about how we can collaborate together. I like to create and curate together. I also just choose people who I think are exquisite at their craft — whatever it may be!
Who are some of your favorite current New York-based artists and where can their work be found?
-OKS by Oksana Todorova (sold at my store, or www.oksnyc.com)
-OneOneHundred by Graham Tabor and Miguel Villalobos (Cristina Grajales Gallery, @oneonehundred on Instagram and an exhibition at my store is in the works!)
-Florence Penault Ceramics (sold at my store, or www.florencepenault.com)
-Alison Daniels Two Tree Studios (sold at my store, or www.twotreestudios.com)
-Shin Murayama (by request only or through an exhibition, www.shinmurayama.com)
-Sho Shibuya (@shoshibuya on Instagram)
How would a perfect day in New York be spent for you?
Walking and discovering some art, then eating and celebrating the new discovery!