21 questions

Ross Bleckner Thinks You’d Like Living in New York a Lot More If You Stopped Reading the Tabloids

Name: Ross Bleckner
Age: Internet age: 45/Real age: 60
Neighborhood: West Village
Occupation: Artist. He recently unveiled three works in collaboration with Steuben Glass, the first in the medium.

Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Walt Whitman or Barnett Newman. Both, in their own ways, helped to define what culture could mean in America. Whitman the vernacular and complex, Newman the idealistic and humane. Newman once ran for mayor of NYC. He lost.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
I’m not really a foodie; I could eat the same thing every night, and I go to restaurants that I can walk to. The pasta or liver at Bar Pitti always makes me happy.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Look at images, mix pigment and medium (i.e. oil, wax, etc. with paint), put it on, take it off, try again, talk on the phone, ask my assistant things, then go to NYU and teach.

What was your first job in New York?
Selling art supplies at Rosenthals, on the corner of Broadway and 13th, as an undergraduate at NYU. It was my way of learning the things you really need to know that art school somehow leaves out, like what material to use for what. De Kooning used to buy supplies there, and he once said to me, “If you want to be an artist, you have to work at it all the time, for the rest of your life.” I took that advice seriously.

What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
Red. The dialogue was actually intelligent; I was pleasantly surprised. Rothko had a sense of humor.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
Very infrequently.

What’s your drink?
Diet Coke.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
The only thing I know how to make is a reservation.

What’s your favorite medication?
Time-release Adderall.

What’s hanging above your sofa?
A 51”x41” Edward Burtynsky titled “Rock of Ages #39, Active Section, E.I. Smith Quarry, Barre, Vermont 1991.” I like the extreme perspective: It makes my living room seem like it falls into the quarry. The tininess of the miners at the bottom is scary.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
Over $100.

When’s bedtime?
Between 11 p.m. and midnight.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
New Times Square. I like LEDs.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
A larger-than-life, optimistic, self-assured impresario who both embodies the spirit of New York and makes New York architecture generic. He would do well to Google either Dr. Robin Ungar or Dr. Joel Kassimir.

What do you hate most about living in New York?
Nerve-piercing noise, especially of trucks backing up.

Who is your mortal enemy?
Still George Bush, but maybe now it will be John Boehner. You know they both hate New York.

When’s the last time you drove a car?
Last weekend. I wanted to take my dachshund, Winston, to the country.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
Got a good deal on a bigger studio in the same building in Chelsea.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
You’ll actually enjoy living in New York more once you stop reading both the Post and the Daily News, which I did five years ago (among other papers and magazines). The Times is a different story. It’s a habit I can’t break and just did a book called My Life in the New York Times, which is a compilation of many years of sentences I cut out and use in my sketchbooks that is structured vaguely like a self-help book that covers birth to death.

Where do you go to be alone?
My apartment.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
The search for new ideas, not being drawn in, and being drawn in.

Ross Bleckner Thinks You’d Like Living in New York a Lot More If You Stopped Reading the Tabloids