It was an unusually hot day last month when I sat down with Maggie Antalek to discuss living and working as an artist and entrepreneur in Greenpoint. Swiftly apparent was her marriage between the two and it has been a successful marriage at that, with her personal brand, business, and art practice truly coalescing once she settled in an apartment on Manhattan Avenue nearly a year ago.
True for so many of us Greenpointers, Maggie loves living and working in a neighborhood that is both cosmopolitan and community-oriented, and draws inspiration from the bustling energy in and outside of Greenpoint’s small businesses to the sunsets over the East River piers; and, much like the neighborhood, Maggie exudes a certain joie de vivre which makes it easy to see why her vibrant style and warm personality attract clients and clicks alike.
In fact, the current iteration of Maggie’s work and art practice was born out of necessity: hunkered down at home during lockdown, she was forced to turn inward and utilize what she had within arm’s reach. Her blank apartment walls served as her canvas (“white walls get boring”) and her endless pursuit of creating and expressing joy began to take shape in the form of murals. This was no sourdough starter hobby — it was her pivot to a new platform and career that played off her background in events, content creation, and fine art.
Going viral certainly hasn’t hurt either. A handful of features and her ever popular Instagram and TikTok accounts (including a video with 3.5 million+ views) have taken her from two Lower East Side apartments to her current light-filled space in Greenpoint. In fact, the high level of engagement she found with her 30,000+ followers when it came to her work, home, and pending move to Greenpoint resulted in content collaborations with the like of muuv and TaskRabbit. Maggie was honored to work with these partners: “They made the move enjoyable and exciting as I started my new chapter in Greenpoint.”
Her studio practice is located at 253 Greenpoint Avenue: a building home to other artists and startups where Maggie is not constrained by site-specific demands or client requests, where her joie de vivre finds its way to canvas and paper. She is still developing this body of work which is a departure from the bold geometric patterns of her murals but, as to be expected, the paintings are immersed in happy, warm-toned colors; orange, a favorite. To view the work in person, Greenpointers need not travel far: schedule a studio visit or stop by Greenpoint Handmade Market this Sunday, May 21. Select watercolor paintings are available for purchase on her website. Regardless of the medium or platform, Maggie wants her audience “to see the colors, shapes, and composition [of her work] and think, it would bring me joy to have that in my home.”
When asked about her current dream project, Maggie enthusiastically responded: painting murals in local Greenpoint bars and restaurants. Is there one in particular she has in mind? Yes, in fact, the blank wall in Esme’s (999 Manhattan Avenue) light-filled entrance. The restaurant is quite literally near and dear to her as Maggie lives close by and is a frequent patron with friends and family. The Esters (192 Nassau Avenue) and Elder Greene (160 Franklin Avenue) also come up. Regardless, she particularly loves creating accessible work, work that becomes a part of the community; as she has become part of Greenpoint.
As we parted ways, the late afternoon sun glinted off her necklace which read, “Greenpoint” (from Souvenir on 63 Meserole Avenue, no less), and it was clear to me that, like her murals, Maggie is here to stay.