Thursday, October 1, 2015

Connections and photos at Ray's Candy Store

[Copyright© 2015 Whitney Browne Photography]

Tonight is the opening reception of "At Ray's: Connection Is Why We’re Here," a photography exhibit by Whitney Browne.

Browne, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, HuffPost and Time Out, has worked on and off at Ray's Candy Store, 113 Avenue A, the past two years. And she brought along her camera during shifts.

We asked Browne a few questions about her time at the shop alongside 82-year-old proprietor Ray Alvarez ...

How did you start working at Ray's?

I have been going to Ray’s as a customer since 2006, but in 2013, I started helping him out behind the counter. I go in when I can, which is sporadic at best. Sometimes I am in there for weeks at a time, and then I can’t make it in for months, but whenever I walk in the door Ray welcomes me in.

In 2013, I wandered into Ray’s and he taught me how to make my own egg cream. People started coming in so he taught me how to make fries and shakes. He said he needed some help, so I just started coming back and helping when I could. For a few months in 2013, I was in between apartments and was able to stay in Union Square. I could not sleep, so I would go in and help Ray during the graveyard shift. In all honesty, a big part of why I went to Ray’s and still do, is because I get lonely, and when I am at Ray’s I feel useful.

What intrigues you the most about Ray’s?

I am intrigued by Ray’s perseverance. I love that he has been around for over 40 years. The East Village has always been where I am drawn to in the city, and I like feeling connected to a part of the city that I cherish.

The regulars are also super special to me. I love that people come to Ray’s to hang out and chat. There really aren’t many places of this kind that I know of. Ray’s is a hub. We talk about what’s going on in the world and the city.

I know why I come to Ray’s, it’s personal. About me needing some interaction. I wonder why other people are there too. We all say to hang out, but I think going to Ray’s does something more. I like the characters who walk through the door.

What has been your most memorable moment from your time at Ray’s?

I really don’t know if I have a most memorable moment. It all kinda gets rolled up into an experience.

Maybe the first few times Ray went to lay down in the back and he left me to run the shop. I can remember thinking, "wow, Ray trusts me."

[Copyright© 2015 Whitney Browne Photography]

"At Ray’s: Connection Is Why We’re Here," on view tonight through Monday at 103 Allen St. and Delancey.

Gallery Hours: tonight and Friday 6-9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 2-8 p.m., Monday, 6-9 p.m.

There's a raffle tonight for a framed print from the exhibit. The ticket will be drawn at 7:30 p.m. Raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 tickets for $20. All the proceeds from the raffle are going straight to Ray.

Find more details here. The exhibit is co-presented with miLES.


Anonymous said...

Please show your support everyone Whitney and Ray are great East Villagers and have meant a lot to the community

Paul Battaglia said...

Yes, please support Ray. He gave me my first job there when I was 13(Summer of '82).