Haynes Atkins

W 46th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves.

Haynes Atkins

Photograph: Jay Muhlin

What are you doing? Some repair work on the Majestic Theater here. I work for the Shubert Organization. We maintain and restore theaters on Broadway.

Do you find the work mind-numbing? Well, today I'm doing maintenance work, but mainly I do decorative painting: gold leaf, glazing, marblelizing, trompe l'oeil, wood graining... It can be a little mind-numbing, but there are seven painters who maintain 17 theaters, so there's always something to be done.

You must see some buildings with real personality. Yes. I've been in love with old buildings since I was a really young child. We lived down South, in New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

Alabama! As scary and hickish as us Yanks imagine? Like everywhere else, it's got the good and the bad. It's got a black eye from over the years—civil rights and such—but there are people working to make it better. That's a whole 'nother story. I came to New York to work as an artist. This is a go-measure-yourself-against-the-world kind of place.

And did it live up to your expectations? Yeah. You never really like New York. You either love it or hate it. [Laughs] I still love it. I hate it sometimes, too.

How old are you? Uh, can I say I was born the Year of the Dog?

Sure. 1982, right? [Laughs] Well, you'll have to figure it out. Does a gentleman ever reveal his age?

Usually! What gives? I'm just trying to be contrary.

More from Haynes

"I'm a fine-art painter as well. Lately I've been painting with watercolor on Plexiglas. They're abstract and somewhat informed by the decorative work I've done in theaters."

"I also live upstate part of the time. I have a place in Ulster County with my wife and four-year-old. We're sort of a stereotype."

"At the Belasco Theatre on 44th Street, they recently uncovered some Everett Shinn paintings. He was from the Ashcan School. They'd been completely painted over in the '50s or '60s—it was that same mentality that tore down Penn Station. A great cry went up after that—it was enough. They're restoring them to the way they were."

—Kate Lowenstein