A Sketchy Greenwich Village

Anthemions atop the fence posts, at 30 Leroy Street. Original to the 1830s building.

If you’re walking down the sidewalk and see someone with a small notebook, staring up at a historic building as he jots down a charming sketch of an architectural detail, then you just might have stumbled upon artist Nick Golebiewski. And you might never guess that what Nick’s doing is actually creating content for an Instagram account that posts daily lunchtime drawings, for over 1,000 followers, of sites around his home in Greenwich Village (and across the entire city). On December 31st, Nick’s Instagram account, dubbed Nick’s Lunchbox Service, turned three years old, and I had the pleasure of sitting down with the Villager to talk about his art, the Instagram project, and what he loves about the city. He also picked out some of his favorite drawings to feature in this post, so scroll down and have a look!

Q: Tell me about your professional background.
A: I graduated with a BFA in Painting from the University at Buffalo, and have worked in museums–managing admin at both the Guggenheim and Cooper Hewitt. At the former I actually made lunches for colleagues, and at the latter I began making a drawing every day during lunch break—both known as “Nick’s Lunchbox Service.” I’m a visual artist and have a studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Snow banks on Bank Street.

Q: How did you get started with these daily drawings?
A: I got started at a time where I was making intricate, vibrant, gouache paintings on paper that would take about 80 hours or so each. It was kind of a relief to make something that takes between 30 seconds and 30 minutes to complete. Now it’s a ritual making and posting a daily drawing for over 1,000 days in a row, reaching 3 full years on Dec 31, 2016.

The Christmas tree under Washington Square Arch

Q: What are your favorite thing to draw? 
A: The ubiquitous anthemion topping iron fences throughout Greenwich Village. [Ed. note: The anthemion is featured in GVSHP’s logo and the name of our newsletter! AndI swear I didn’t tell him to say that.]
That and throw in Federal and Greek Revival style doorways, buildings within historic districts in NYC and in other cities, Central Park, the High Line, museums, places that have a certain thread like apartments that Woody Guthrie lived at in NYC, and places where you can see the horizon.

A rosette bolt-bracket anchored in the painted-over ironspot brick facade at 21 Leroy Street, built in 1899.

Q: Your daily drawings so often focus on the buildings in the city. Have you always been interested in architecture and the built environment?
A: I was always interested in city neighborhoods beforehand, doing a series of paintings of Chinatown, for example. But my interest has really grown since starting this project–for example, pinpointing landmarked buildings in the Upper East Side where I worked then. It all really expanding from there. By now, I’ve probably read the entire Greenwich Village Historic District Report piece-by-piece.

The Freewheelin’ Jones Street in Greenwich Village, site of Bob Dylan’s famous album cover.

Q: What’s special, to you, about life in Greenwich Village?
A: Especially now that I’m a parent of a 2-year-old, it really does feels like a neighborhood. The libraries we go to all the time–the Hudson Park Library and the Jefferson Market Library–are fantastic. Especially the Jefferson Market Library’s clock tower, which was a rallying cry for the historic preservation movement.

Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village, originally a courthouse built in 1876 in a Victorian Gothic style designed by Vaux and Withers.

Like so many Villagers, it sounds like historic preservation and local culture have become a defacto way of life for Nick and his family. We’re glad to have artists like Nick in the neighborhood, and we’ll keep checking his Instagram for more doses of charming Village life! We suggest you do the same.
If you’ve got your own drawings about town, tag #gvshp on Instagram so we can enjoy them together! And look out in 2017 for some fun drawing programs with Nick.

Ivy-covered 18 West 10th Street was home to writer Emma Lazarus. A line from her poem, “The New Colossus,” is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

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