Last September, we visited Leon Reid IV‘s studio and brought back some photos. Less than a month later, Hurricane Sandy blew through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, leaving so many of us devastated. Leon’s studio is located right up against Newtown Creek in Greenpoint. When the storm hit, the creek flooded the studio with nasty, polluted water; damaging equipment, artwork, and the space itself. Slowly but surely, Leon’s working to bring things back together. We recently talked briefly about his rebuilding process and where things are headed going forward. Click past the jump for Leon’s account of the ordeal and some news from his studio. And stop by his booth at the Fountain Art Fair (March 8-10, 68 Lexington Ave.), where he’ll be showing some of the flooded works.
Well first of all how have you been? What’ve you been up to lately?
I’ve been good man. I’m pretty much back to normal at the studio after Sandy’s wreckage thanks to the help of friends, family, volunteers and various art organizations.
Did you have to use an interim studio for a while?
Nah, didn’t have the luxury of an interim studio. It was brutal labor until it was back to being operational. I do know of some great organizations in NYC that are offering studio space to artists effected by Sandy.
Studio before Sandy.
It wasn’t just your studio right? It was like the whole compound?
Yeah man, the whole 4ft and under of 99 Commercial street got flooded. Even the building owners got their offices flooded. We were all in it together. No one had seen anything close to that storm.
And you have a lot of heavy equipment down there. Did any of that survive?
Yeah, my welder got soaked in saltwater and was basically D.O.A. until a buddy of mine took it apart, put it back together again and it was as good as new. A lot of my DeWalt tools survived which is why I will always buy that brand now, but my RYOBI equipment did not last. Thanks to Andy Baker from Kontraptioneering and Jon Petingill from Rush Design for the help.
So crazy. What about the art that was on display in the studio?
All of the photo prints were destroyed -the frames too. Many drawings were soaked but were salvageable. A lot of sculptures were soaked and rusted. The 100 Story House was 70% destroyed. The list goes on but I forged ahead and completed several projects in the aftermath of the storm. 1) I created a limited edition sculpture called “American Debt” and 2) I completed a custom chandelier for a private home.
Good to see you kept moving. Do you have plans to create any works in the future that address the storm?
Yeah, several weeks after the storm I created a design as part of my “Recent History Design Series”. For the design I used the famous I Heart NY logo. The I & NY part of the logo sits behind murky river water while the heart floats above water- in essence stating that Sandy may have flooded NYC but our hearts are still in tact.
Besides basic hard work, are there any things you’ve done to speed up the recovery process? Is there anything other people can do to chip in?
Yeah there are ways to help out. If anyone is interested I could always use a hand around the studio. Many volunteers helped me rebuild and I still have some people that are restoring some of the damaged artwork and helping create new works. Anyone interested in helping out should send an email to [email protected]. Or if anyone wants to support by way of contribution you can visit this site: http://www.leonthe4th.com/Studio%20Disaster%20Relief/1.html