Levi Dylan, with his unruly black hair and beautiful dark eyes, strides into the Ukrainian National Home restaurant, in Manhattan’s East Village. A matronly waitress with hair that is a shade between beetroot and aubergine expresses annoyance when we order two cups of tea: “No one comes in here just to drink!” We order the blintzes.
Dylan has spent the better part of the day painting in Red Hook. His friend has access to Pioneer Works, Dustin Yellin’s massive studio and exhibition space. “I painted for five hours,” he says. “Some skull-looking things. A syringe going into a skull. I draw a lot of faces.” It’s difficult for Dylan to paint in his East Village apartment, so he goes out to Brooklyn when he can. He doesn’t keep many of his canvases. “I just leave ’em places,” for friends or strangers to find.
This seems about right for a highly creative 22-year-old who describes himself as a nomad. He toggles between Los Angeles, where he grew up, and New York City, where he’s lived on and off for three years. The eldest son of singer-songwriter Jakob Dylan and the screenwriter Paige Dylan, he once envisioned becoming a professional musician like his famous father and very famous grandfather (Bob). “I’ve always had an interest in performing. I used to play in the band Dreamers Dose, like the dose you’ve been dreaming of, which has since disbanded,” he says, a touch wistfully. “We were really good.” His former bandmates have moved on, while Dylan forges ahead with a career that’s more visual: modeling, acting, producing short films. “I have an eye for what looks good,” he says. He has a role in an upcoming film project he’s not at liberty to disclose and has appeared in a few music videos, including Steve Aoki and Moxie’s “I Love It When You Cry,” in which he plays XL-7, “the world’s first humanoid robot, catered directly to the user’s needs and superior in every way.” He still plays guitar “by my lonesome, for fun.” Acoustic, not electric, since he is mindful of the neighbors.
The night after the presidential election, Dylan joined protesters marching from Union Square to Trump Tower, “an epic walk.” That is, until “the cars were gridlocked and people were banging on car windows. I thought it was rude. I felt bad about that, and I left.” That’s Dylan in a nutshell: independent and spirited, but thoughtfully so.