art:. Curtis Bryant, Shervins Cafe, Lower East Side



one man, without a camera


Bronx resident Curtis Bryant doesn’t need to own a camera to be a photographer. With a creative mind and creative resources, he exhibited his first solo photography exhibition ‘Mug’ at Shervin’s Cafe in New York’s East Village.  His shots are so beautiful, its a wonder they could even be contained.

c:  You had an exhibit, a #onemanshow at Shervin/s Cafe, can you share how that came about?

Curtis Bryant: Would you believe me if I said i got it by answering an ad on craigslist? Well I did. I answered an ad that said a small cafe in the LES was looking for artist to showcase their work for 2 weeks. I applied via email and got a response the same day. When I found out it was at Shervin’s Cafe, I was excited.  I was familiar with the location because friends of mine had held events of their own there before.

Shervin the owner is also a really awesome guy. When I met with Shervin for this exhibition he expressed that he was a fan of my “mugshot” work and that’s what he wanted me to show. Confused by what he was talking about I then realized he was referring to my portrait work. And that’s how the title MUG was born.

c: You created a new body of work for the exhibition, is that your normal process? And, how did the theme MUG come about, which is a lovely reference as well to coffee culture?

CB:  I always create a new body of work when I have an exhibition and being that this was my first solo show I HAD TO. (Emphasis is his)

Creating new work each time challenges me to be inspired and produce quickly. This became a habit because of classes at Parsons. When given a class or homework assignment, your professor needs to see as many ideas from you as possible. People are super visual so when given options, there will always be options that they dislike automatically, ones that think have potential and another that they can’t live without. I make it my job when I have an exhibition to always create a body of work that people leave my show discussing and contemplating their favorite/s.

c: Shervin’s Cafe is an after hours space, providing intimacy and a boudoir cafe feel, what about this environment speaks to your creative art.

CB: The intimacy of Shervin’s Cafe was exactly what I wanted for this show. People see me at parties and see me on social media and think I’m always the life of the party, which I can be, but there are times when I like to just relax and be alone. Shervins aesthetic helped me portray this other side of myself to others.

c: You mentioned that you don’t have a camera. How is that possible when your such a good photographer? And, as such what do you like to shoot on?

CB: I can’t believe you asked me about this. He laughs.

c: I think its interesting. And, an inspiring part of your story and many of our stories as creatives about finding the resources to create what we want to see.

CB: All of my friends who have camera’s barely use them so I guess you can say I’m being a smart photographer. Why buy my own camera when I have so many to choose from? People always ask me which camera do i prefer and I think it’s all about the eye of the photographer. There are people taking better pictures with their iPhones then people are who self-proclaimed real photographers on social media. (NO SHADE).

c: How did you find your subjects? And, how did you decide on which photo would become the one to make the exhibit.

cb: My subjects are all friends of mine. Once I decided on the theme of the show, my subjects instantly came to mind. The other interesting thing about this process was that I shot all of my subjects in one week on different days. They were a surprised to one another until the night of the show.

c: Your photography is direct and has a pleasant darkness. Where does this come from for you?

CB: Thanks but I think I would use honesty and not darkness.

c: Okay. However, just to be clear, darkness for me is referring to color tones and grains, not the actual darkness of skin per se.

CB: And not to say that darkness isn’t honest but I think this element comes from me not using Photoshop to edit my work. I’m not making people look “perfect” because none of us are.

c: This is your first solo exhibition, how important is the space of coffee culture to art?

CB: I don’t drink [coffee], but I know if it wasn’t for weed, music or coffee a lot of artist wouldn’t make it.

You can see more of Curtis Bryant’s creative works here.


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