WEEKDAY MAGAZINE – A Day At Mottley Kitchen in The Bronx
So proud of myself and the spot I found, I walked back in the direction from which I came by car (not noticing the alternate side of the street parking sign - but that's another story for later) and followed the numbers down till I was at number 402.
The building had a tall wrought iron fence in front of it, but I didn't see a restaurant sign neither above on the building, nor on the door. Little did I know, was that there are two doors to this humble eatery and the one I did not enter through bore a sign with the name of the establishment.
OMG! is what I said to myself as I entered. What a great place! Alex was pretty insistent about my coming to Mottley Kitchen, and at first view I understood why. From the concrete floors throughout, to the rustic, white painted brick wall and steel beam columns, this cafe is part eclectic, part urban loft and definitely my kind of place!
Arriving a bit early, I could not hold out for Matteo's arrival and resist the gruyere and chive biscuit that caught my eye, along with a rooibos tea. After placing my order, I found a comfy table near the staircase and made myself at home with my laptop, camera and phone laid out, feeling like the other Bronx locals that were seated and those frequenting to take out their breakfast.
Born and raised in Italy, Matteo departed his homeland for the city of Paris a decade ago, where he currently resides and is proud to call home. His love of photography started at the tender age of four, taking his first photograph and soon thereafter, the proud owner of his very own camera at age six! Matteo established himself as a professional photographer, first working for news agencies and then moving along to the glamour of fashion photography for such renown publications as Vogue Italy and G.Q. Magazines, respectively.
During our brief time together, it was clear that Matteo possessed the right balance in how he approaches his profession as a photographer and why his international success is off to a running start. His passion for creating photography collections that reflect his original visions and capturing them for the world to see, is equally matched with his savvy business sense in maintaining his ongoing success as an entrepreneurial "working photographer." Combining the rigors of his professional assignment work with the creation of his original, photography projects, he is able to expand and grow the latter by not falling into the trap of many creative types in becoming a "starving artist" who refuses to combine personal creativity with commercial endeavors.
The balance between these otherwise, seemingly opposed professional approaches has proven to be a good formula for Matteo as is evident from the success he has and continues to enjoy with his first major creative inspiration: "The Bronx-La Villette."
Through an extensive and detailed exploration of the many facets of this borough, Alex suggested that perhaps Matteo consider taking photos during his Bronx visit for a possible photography collection. Matteo took Alex's suggestion to heart and took many photos of the people he would meet and interact with during his walking tours with Alex through the South Bronx neighborhood.
Upon returning to Paris and getting caught up in the preoccupation of work and travel, Matteo finally focused on the images he had taken during his Bronx trip. Looking at his Bronx neighborhood photos with fresh eyes, after a number of months had passed, Matteo was intrigued by what he had captured in his simple portraits of the people who call The Bronx home, partaking in their ordinary, everyday lives. He fancied the collection so much that he decided to embark on a similar endeavor, capturing the people of his own Paris neighborhood of La Villette, in their natural surroundings and daily lives, in much the same way.
These two areas, though technically, part of their main city, have more "neighborhood" qualities of family, hometown businesses and warmth, even though they are technically recognized as part of a bigger metropolis.
But perhaps, the greatest commonality is their dark and gray reputations to the world at large as "dangerous" and "unsafe" places. The Bronx has long endured the negative view from the outside as being a bad place, full of undesirables and peril to those who visit. According to Matteo, he explained to me that La Villette suffered in much the same way, being portrayed on the world stage and in the media, as an unsafe area of Paris.
The globalized shadowy, somber and mirky reputations shared and promulgated in the news and by Hollywood has left a lasting impression in people's consciousness about these two neighborhoods. However, Matteo's photography collection captures the humanity and down to earth aspects of the individuals that reside in The Bronx and La Villette, and call these neighborhoods home.
Matteo and I spoke in detail about his style and photography preferences. He shared with me that, in his opinion, and quite obviously to the trained eyes of a photographer, good, old fashioned film is the best method for optimum photographic aesthetic quality. This is precisely how he shot his photos for The Bronx-La Villette project, all of which are featured in black and white.
The Bronx - La Villette collection contains roughly 50 images in total. Matteo has also self published a stunning hardcover book featuring the full collection of photographs, aptly titled "The Bronx-La Villette," which will soon be available through his website.
In addition to seeing the collection up close and personal this month in The Bronx, you can also follow Matteo on social media, including Instagram, links for which are on his website at www.matteopellegrinuzzi.com.
The Bronx-La Villette
Through April 28, 2018
Poe Cottage Visitor Center in Poe Park
2640 Grand Concourse
Bronx, New York