An Artist's Year of Recovery

by Kelsey Schappell
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Katherine Lorimer

Following Superstorm Sandy, many artists lost one-of-a-kind works -- and their livelihoods.

Leon Reid IV’s art studio is feet away from Greenpoint, Brooklyn's Newtown Creek -- one of the most polluted waterways in New York City. 
 
Last year, a day after Superstorm Sandy hit, he rushed over to find his studio submerged in more than four feet of water. 
 
"You could see where it had gotten,” Reid said. “Tables were upended and projects that were in progress were just scattered everywhere. So, yeah, it was pretty much the worst thing you could imagine happening."  
 
Reid lost his supplies and many works that were in progress. But lucky for him, he had kept some of his more valuable pieces at home. Other artists in the compound on 99 Commercial Street didn’t fare so well. Some decided to pack up and leave, but Leon remains positive.
 
"I know what nature can do now, but I'm not going to be afraid of it all the time. I'm not going to let it dictate what art work I can do and what tools I can have in my own space," he said. 
 
 
Reid says he was able to get back on his feet with help from family and friends, and donations from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He's still collecting donations, which can be made here. But he's learned his lesson.  
 
"If I hear of another ‘superstorm,’ first thing I'm doing is getting a U-Haul and packing up all my stuff and I'm not coming back here," Reid said. "I can't be flooded like this twice." 
 
But if there is a silver lining that has come out of this experience, Reid says it has inspired new projects. One, pictured above, is a sticker with the “I heart NY logo” under water. But like many in New York, he's still recovering. 
 
 

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