Spotlight Regular

with Erica Rosenfield

by Aileen Kyoko Haugh

Erica Rosenfeld reminds me of Drew Barrymore. I realized this when I was on the phone with her while I waited outside her house for our scheduled interview. “I am SO sorry. I am at the Café. Be right there.” Her scurried and genuinely apologetic voice gave off that Barrymore girl next-door charm. Mere minutes later, Erica came running down the street and for the next hour and a half, we alternated between sipping Café Regular coffee, pear juice and talk, lots of talk.
Walking into Erica’s apartment is absolutely like entering an extraordinary world. Popping with bright colors, obscure objects and one very lovable dog, her home is truly a map of Erica. The kitchen, art studio, and garden are lined up one after another. Everywhere you look, there is an art project in progress. Even her backyard has several vintage TVs painted in gold. She laughed and joked “We thought that painting them gold made them more valuable.” Within the seeming chaos of her art studio filled with the eclectic and the random, I also sensed the serenity.
Erica has been a Regular since 2007. She is famous for visiting the Café daily with her loving pup, Izzy. She wears sunglasses from the 50’s and gets her double latte while keeping an eye on Izzy outside. Not surprisingly Erica is an artist – and an extremely talented one. She tells me: “ It’s the thing that makes me the happiest.” After she finished school and eventually moved to Brooklyn, she found her medium, glass blowing. “I don’t think I was able to express myself fully until I found glass. It’s a wonderful community and culture. A lot of how I learned was experiential. Experiential learning is a remarkable thing.” Fast forward years later, she is a successful artist who makes her living with an exclusive line of jewelry and glass sculptures.
Erica also co-founded an artist collective, The Burnt Asphalt Family, which she describes as “a group of artists, designers, teachers, students, fabricators and chefs whose mission is to create unique, performance-based “installations” that reinvent objects and redefine the relationships of audience and performer and observer and participant”. At the end of each performance, a giant edible piece has been created and they invite the audience to bite into it themselves. “The last performance we made pork bah-mi, brussel sprouts and roasted tomatoes. Using neon marshmallows and chocolate we made a radioactive cloud that rained white chocolate teeth into marshmallow lemons. The audience made s’mores out of it.”
As we conversed, Izzy bored, took to barking as dogs will do. To quiet him down, Erica jumped up and scoped a spoon full of peanut butter inside his bone. She looked at me with guilty eyes: “This is so wrong of me!”  I giggled with her. Erica continued on: “I have a show here next year called Like Remembering A Dream The Day After. It’s about the feeling you get when you wake up from a dream and everything is very lucid and as the day goes on the memory dissipates and everything becomes more abstract. I think right now my work is about philosophy of memory.” As I listened, I was drawn into the uniqueness of Erica’s artwork. Each piece expresses a concept that she is passionate about. “I collect fruit that is going bad from grocery stores. I put them in a kiln and bring it to 900 degrees and it turns into carbon. The carbon fruit makes me think about preservation and what we choose to hold on to. Also, what rituals we create to bring comfort to our lives such as for me- walking to Café Regular daily.”
Erica enthusiastically described her daily ritual visiting Café Regular. “There are so many interesting people in the neighborhood. When I go in I see the freelancers, writers and small business owners. Reading Spotlight Regular is so helpful to get to know people. People care at Café Regular and it’s nice to feel something bigger than your own little vortex.” She has created true relationships with the baristas. One day, I overheard Erica offering love advice to one of the younger baristas disclosing to her: “Its like you are in the TV show Girls but I promise you, you will get out of it. We are all in Girls at some point in our lives. I was definitely 25 once and freaking out.”
I can’t help but feel excited about the straightforward yet vital concept of rituals. I asked Erica to tell me more. “I am constantly moving through the studio, the garden and the kitchen which are all very ritualistic to me whether I am making dinner or a marshmallow sculpture. Being surrounded by this ephemera keeps me constantly thinking about my work and ritual. This helps me evolve as an artist.” I walk around her home a few more times snapping photos before wrapping up. After I left, I found myself pondering the beauty of rituals and which ones bring me warmth and happiness. Living in an unpredictable city, having a regular coffee shop and Regulars to connect with every day really does feed the soul. Thank you Erica for reminding me of the positive influence that simple daily rituals play in your life.
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