You know when you meet someone in New York, and all of a sudden you remember why you live here in the first place — Maia Ruth Lee and Peter Sutherland are that times two. They met in Nepal when she invited him to attend a photography workshop for kids in Kathmandu - and they ended up falling in love and coming back to New York together. I mean, a-dorable. Now they live in Chinatown where each pursues his/her creative visions and projects, with the occasional collaboration for good measure. Peter, who started out as a documentary-style photographer and videographer, has branched out into sculpture and photo-based assemblages that explore the aesthetics of hippie, mountain, and ski subcultures. While Maia’s work includes zines, books, her Nepal Zig Zag hat, and a very chill line of TROLL tongue pipes. Standard Culture caught up with this super-sweet duo to find out how they stay leveled, inspired, and curious in their adopted hometown.
STANDARD CULTURE: What’s one of your NYC rituals?
MAIA: One of my recent rituals is to go to an aura reader in TriBeCa. My studio is near there so I go to the spot on the way to my studio when I'm feeling uninspired.
PETER: In the summer at dusk I like to ride my bike from Chinatown to Prospect Park where I do a few laps and listen to whatever music I'm in the mood for.
Favorite NYC neighborhood to wander?
MAIA: TriBeCa and financial district are my favorite parts of the city to wander around in. I don't know what New York used to be like in the heydays but I can feel the energy of the real New York when I'm in that area.
PETER: Chinatown where we live is a cool place, deep Lower East Side is also good. I don't like to wander on foot so I bike around most of the time.
TROLL tongue pipe by Maia Ruth Lee
Most inspiring thing you’ve seen lately?
PETER: I like what 8ballzines is doing in NY - it's super DIY and inspiring.
MAIA: My friend Violet Dennison's work is inspiring to me, I got a new studio adjacent to hers in Gowanus so I see her work evolving, and I admire her process.
What is a personal New York City landmark?
PETER: 6th Street and Avenue A. This is where I originally got out of a taxi when I arrived in NY for the first time in '98.
MAIA: West Side Highway bike lanes. I remember riding to Chelsea from Chinatown for the first time and the ride was so pleasant and beautiful. Sometimes I like just riding up and down the lanes and stopping and sitting on the benches.
PETER: Driving over the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan.
MAIA: New York City from Williamsburg, end of Grand Street waterfront.
Captain Lead Foot, Peter Sutherland, 2014
Neighborhood establishment you couldn’t live without.
PETER: Smile To Go on Howard street is healthy, plus the staff is cool.
MAIA: Dimes in Chinatown.
Thing you most look forward to when returning to NYC?
PETER: To be honest it's seeing my friends here.
MAIA: Being on my bike, riding the subway, walking - being autonomous.
What’s the thing you always forget about NYC?
MAIA: I forget that we have access to the best museum shows, live shows, theater, music, readings, standup, lectures…the list goes on and on.
Favorite Pho? Favorite noodles? Favorite dumplings?
PETER: Sobaya for noodles.
MAIA: Nha Trang on Centre St for pho and Grand Sichuan in Chelsea for dumplings.