By James Maher
Occupation: Leather Man
Location: First Avenue at Second Street
Date: April 5 at 5:15 pm
I’m from the the Bronx, New York, and I currently reside in the Bronx, New York.
Before I got into this, I was working in Macy’s department store. I just wanted to try something different. I’ve always been a crafty type of guy, making stuff, tinkering, and I just applied that aspiration to leather. I tried buying some leather and making stuff out of it, and this is what it evolved into.
I make belts and other things out of leather. I’ve been doing this for 30 years, since 1986, and I’ve been in this present location for six years.
Previously I was in what was then called Midtown, 30th Street and Sixth Avenue. I’d always wanted to come to the Village because the Village has always been representative of art and culture and things like that, and one day or one week at the other location there was a severe snowstorm, and I couldn’t go there, so I tried it over here and it was very good to me. And I’ve been here ever since. You’ve got the train station here, and it’s more of a neighborhood — so yeah, it’s pretty good here.
It’s more of a local neighborhood. The other area was like that when I first started working there, but then it gradually evolved into a commercial area where people didn’t really appreciate the arts anymore. They wanted stuff with labels on it, stuff off the racks — cookie-cutter stuff.
It’s great meeting fascinating people in this neighborhood. The other neighborhood, I wouldn’t meet anybody like you. I’m in a long line, or long link of art people. People come by and use my work as the foundation – they add stuff to it and take it to another level. Some people come by and they put a label on it. Some people come by and add other dimensions to it. This is a solid foundation – it’s genuine leather. That’s why they appreciate it.
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.