Photo by Jefferson Siegel
Ivy Brown in her gallery.
From meatpackers to mobs of partiers, she’s lived amid it
By Cynthia Romero
Everything about Ivy Brown’s loft makes it an escape amid the hustle and bustle of the Meatpacking District. From the tin-foil tree with branches seemingly growing out to the ceiling to the statue of a life-size pig that greets visitors from a corner in the gallery, Brown’s loft breathes art even in between shows at her gallery.
A resident of the Meatpacking District since 1985, Brown has seen the neighborhood transform over the years. The streets that were once filled with butchers and men hanging meat on hooks are now a mecca for up-and-coming boutiques, restaurants, bars and the crowds they bring.
“When I first moved in, everything was different,” said Brown. “It was a very active area and it used to stink because of the meat, and the meatpackers would hover over fires to keep themselves warm. It was sort of cinematic and beautiful in a way.”
Although Brown is among the few people who actually live in the Meatpacking District, she said there is still a misconception that the area has no residents.
“There’s this assumption that nobody lives here, so people don’t really pay no never mind to those of us who do live here,” she said. “It’s tough for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the summer because of all the noise.”
Brown admits living around the smell and sight of meat for so long made her stop eating meat altogether.
“It wasn’t planned or anything,” she confessed. “I stop eating meat one day, it turned into another day — and before I knew it, it had been a year since I had eaten meat. I haven’t eaten it since.”
One look at the manicured neighborhood and it’s hard to believe that Brown had trouble convincing her friends to visit her when she first moved in.
“It was really gritty and dirty,” she said. “Most of my friends didn’t even want to come down this way. It was really dark back then.”
Before opening her gallery in 2001, Brown was representing photographers, stylists, makeup artists and hairstylists for commercial business. Her most memorable moment was an art show she put together shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.
“I felt like it was something I had to do immediately because we might not be here tomorrow,” she said. “It was really beautiful to see how happy everyone was just to be here and sort of forget about what was hovering over our heads.”
With the scene constantly changing and the influx of people coming and going, Brown said she’s felt lucky to be able to have been “hiding in plain sight” for all these years.
“All in all, I feel very fortunate to live where I live and to do what I do,” she said.
The Ivy Brown Gallery is located at 675 Hudson St., fourth floor. The gallery will host a ceramic solo exhibition, “Drop,” for artist Kenjiro Kitade on Aug. 6, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, call 212-925-1111.