By James Maher
Name: Jon R. Jewett
Occupation: Photographer and Writer
Location: 7th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A
Time: 5:30 pm on Monday, March 28
I’m coming from the East Village Cheese shop. It’s heaven. And they have the discount section. Tonight I don’t feel like cooking, so I have some cheese, some pâté, a good loaf of bread, and fruit… and certainly a vodka rocks before hand.
I grew up in Maine, between Camden and Bar Harbor — one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. It’s stunning. I go up there for the summers. All my summer friends lived here in New York. I have been coming to New York forever and ever, and there was a time about 20 years ago that I decided that the Maine winters were too much. I got out. That’s what brought me here. Certainly the friends, and what New York has to offer drew me here. I like the arts and good food and I had a way to move here, and so I did.
When I first came, I lived over on Midtown West — Hell's Kitchen. And I then became a personal assistant to a writer and critic friend of mine, who was getting older and I worked for her for 10 years.
New York is the best place in the world to live alone. It really is. I miss the bookstores all over the place. That was a big draw. If you take pictures, there’s always something to go out for a walk for. Every walk is different, because you’re looking at it through the lens.
Cheaper rent brought me to this neighborhood, even though rents are getting high here. I came here about three years ago in February. Something about the East Village that I adore is the light and the lack of density. You don’t really have a tourist attraction down here, so we don’t get that. I work at the community garden, 6BC. I volunteer there. That gives me a private park directly across the street. It’s the best. I go there and knit and read. I use it a lot. It’s a good group of people. It’s where I’ve met a lot of my friends. I walk to Chinatown to shop for food. It’s about half the price and it’s fun, but you have to have a certain edge to do it.
I like shops like [East Village Cheese]. I try to do business with stores that only have one cash register. I want it to be sort of a mom and pop, where they may live upstairs or something like that, because you make friends with the people in the store.
I go in spurts ... I do a million and one things, and then for a month I just lay low. I call it, home enough so I can’t wait to go out, and out enough so I can’t wait to stay home. That’s the balance I like to keep. There are the galleries, museums. Sometimes I can never plan and all of a sudden it’s just time to go to the Met for a day. You can be spontaneous here. I keep a to-do list.
There’s the European influence. I shop for food every night. I do the errands and at the end of the errands pick up three or four newspapers, some food, and then I have these very pleasant evenings at home. I’m strange. I’m a little homebody in New York, but I think there are more of those that we think. Home life in New York can be so pleasant.
And Maine is such a tight in together state. All of my Maine friends, who are all over the country, we keep the fire going, like all winter, thinking about what’s coming up in the summer. I have to give Maine a lot of credit. I go there for about three or four months in the summertime to work, and then I come back to process my work here. I think that makes me overlook a lot of the negatives of city living.
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.