Volume 75, Number 8 | July 13- 20, 2005

Restaurant puts focus on changing scene in its new photography show

By Cathy Jedruczek

Villager photo
Sergio Bitichi, owner of Macelleria restaurant, hosts an annual exhibit of artists’ works that promote the
Village area.
Patrons at Macelleria, a pioneering restaurant in the Meatpacking District, indulge in rustic Italian food and artwork — Tokyo style. The restaurant’s current exhibit, on display till Aug. 9, features photos of the Meat Market by two Japanese artists, Takayoshi Nonaka and Hanayuki Higashi. Nonaka, an art director of a fashion company, and Higashi, a freelance photographer, three years ago formed erom. In 2002, erom published their first Meat Market guidebook. Photos in the sixth issue of the guide, some on view at Macelleria, offer comment on the rapidly changing Market, and according to Nagisa Imaizumi, a public relations representative for H.P. France, Nonaka’s company, “capture the subtle and ephemeral beauty of everyday life in the highly unique area in New York City.”

Sergio Bitichi, owner of Macelleria (“butcher shop” in Italian), once a year promotes artists whose work focuses on the Village. Photos from last year’s exhibit documented buildings prior to their demolition. This year, Bitichi selected 10 photographs of the Meat Market, out of 50 presented to him by erom. “They show me what they have and I decide what I will use,” said Bitichi of the selection process.

Bitichi, an artist himself, who’s a member of the Brooklyn Waterfront Artist Coalition and who likes to paint with watercolors, opened Macelleria five years ago. The restaurant, a former meat warehouse, still reminds of what it once was. Dangling meat hooks, a wooden cabinet — which Bitichi rebuilt and now uses as a wine refrigerator — a cow head fixed into the wall lend a Market atmosphere. A photo of a butcher cutting a piece of meat is mounted on an old and massive wooden door and an image of a leg of lamb hangs above wine bottles.

Bitichi, who gets his meat from one of the 21 meat businesses still operating in the Meat Market is not certain what the future will bring, but sees the changes as an “improvement.” “Before it was scary,” said Bitichi of the neighborhood.

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