Industrial designer and former Manhattan resident likes Saugerties’ architecture, natural beauty and creative people
Anchorage native Tim Sweet’s the youngest of six kids born in five states to an acclaimed petroleum geologist and his librarian/teacher/pianist wife. Formative years spent in Alaska clearly shape his tastes today. Sweet moved to the Alphabet City neighborhood of Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1988, where he initially worked on the electronics side of the film industry, later becoming a video editor and a sound engineer.
Sweet was a member of The Gargoyle Mechanique Laboratory, a group of artists who ran a small gallery and performance space. Composing and deejaying “illbient” music – a retro techno offshoot of Brian Eno’s “ambient” movement – under the moniker Dr. Decent, Tim even wrote the score for an early MTV show. In 1994, Sweet opened his own studio, The RV, because he liked the literal meaning of the common acronym for a recreational vehicle as a metaphor for a post-Andy Warhol art factory.
Thirteen years later, after graduating with a design degree from Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver, Sweet actually bought a an 18-foot 1960 Airstream Traveler, which he gutted, refurbished and polished to mirror-like perfection. He’d had his eye on this particular Airstream since he was 16 – its previous owners were his family’s neighbors in Boulder, Colorado.
After a stint out west, Tim decided he missed his old friends in New York and relocated to Saugerties three years ago because it was near the city, beautiful, and affordable. A regular on the Saugerties Artists Studios Tour, Tim’s always accompanied by Micro, his 12-year-old pooch. Currently, Sweet’s making all sorts of weird, wonderful and sometimes practical things in the former Nac’s Racing garage on Route 212. He’s painstakingly restored a Serro Scotty trailer, which is for sale for $13,500, and he makes custom covers for industrial equipment and elegantly simple light fixtures.
What makes Saugerties unique?
Its natural beauty, historical architecture and creative community.
What is your favorite virtue?
I have four – humility, honesty, patience and creativity, but if you are making me pick just one, well then, creativity.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What is your favorite color, flower and animal?
Sky blue, safety orange, and shiny silver – you have to put that in. Orchid. And the moose. They’re common in Alaska.
What do you like most about this community?
I can’t decide whether it’s the Lighthouse path or Smith Hardware store.
Who is the most interesting person you have met in Saugerties?
It’s difficult to say…would it be the materials specialist? Or the music producer? Or the native who gave me a great historical tour of the area?
What’s your idea of the perfect Saturday?
A hike with my dog and a friend, a nice view, a picnic, and some good music.
Which qualities do you most admire in others?
People who interest me the most are producing work in a very passionate manner.
Do you have any heroes?
Brian Eno, who, incidentally, co-wrote the song “Heroes” with David Bowie.
What’s your idea of happiness?
Being on the road, not knowing where I’ll camp for weeks at a time, then coming home recharged.
What’s your idea of misery?
What talent do you wish you’d been given?
The talent for sitting at my computer and building my web site.
What’s your main fault?
I can be stubborn.
For which fault do you have the most tolerance?
I’m very tolerant of obsessive-compulsive artistic behavior.
What’s your favorite motto?
“Take the path of least resistance.” I say it to myself all the time.
What characters in history do you most dislike?
Whoever invented strip malls.
What is your present state of mind?
I’m over-thinking this.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear Saint Peter say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“Commence your ability to time travel.”
Interview by Jennifer Farley