Wednesday, November 04, 2009
I love small buildings and small mysteries. Here, at 82 7th Avenue and 301 Bleecker Street in the West Village, there is a remarkable tiny, two-story building occupied only by Zena and her daughter, Sylvia, who practice their trade as psychic readers. The triangular building dates from 1910 and is only 468 square feet, 234 per floor. The place just exudes charm - windows face both Bleecker Street and 7th Avenue South and allow easy viewing of the interior from the street. A brass placard on the exterior wall says "Zena, New York & Cannes." See the gallery of photos here.
I have passed by this shop for decades. It is quiet, with its glowing interior beckoning to me. Last night, it was time to probe this mystery. As fate had it, while shooting from the outside, pressed up against the beveled glass windows, Zena came by to enter her shop and asked if I would prefer taking photos from the inside. I accepted the invitation and entered for the first time.
This is one of the most comfortable small spaces I have ever been in. Everything is arranged and appointed just so. Soft fabrics, lighting, and warm colors are everywhere. There are stained glass lamps, solid brass finishes, and hardwood floors. A small stairway leads to the second floor, where more plush furnishings could be found, including a sofa. Zena told me that Architectural Digest had visited to do a story illustrating what can be done with small spaces.
I always wondered how such a small enterprise could support a shop in a high-profile, high-rent district. There are many possible answers, but Zena gave me one that made the most sense - she has owned the building for the last 25 years.
An elegant diamond shaped sign hanging in the window proclaims "Clairvoyant." A promo piece with a price schedule below lies below it. I cannot speak to claims of psychic abilities, and I have no experience with Zena or her daughter. For me, it was the mystery of the place that drew me to Zena's...