…and there was still Art on the Beach.
This photo was taken back when Battery Park City was still a beach.
This is smart. Super smart. It’s getting more and more rare to see an actual, honest to goodness guerilla campaign that involves both a surprise and an insight tied together with a purpose. Slappin…
This Richard Serra visual joke is making us cry! So good.
One of my favorite Toronto landmarks is somewhat of a secret - to see it you need an international plane ticket. Once you’ve passed security and entered the departure lounge of Toronto Pearson Airport, you’ll find Richard Serra’s grandiose, “Tilted Spheres” (2002-2004). Trust me when I say a healthy dose of jet lag makes its enormous size and trippy echo effect even more surreal. As an added chuckle, I recently came across this photo by Canadian artist, Dean Baldwin, titled “Explaining the Richard Serra at Pearson Airport Using a Red Onion” (2007). Canadian humor is the best.
I had seen Vonnegut only once at a forum in Connecticut in 2006, where he appeared onstage with Joyce Carol Oates and Jennifer Weiner, the three of them parodying a dysfunctional family in a scene that led to much laughter. The theater, however, was completely absent of sound when an audience member asked a cultural-political question and Weiner sputtered, “I wasn’t expecting to have to deliver a message about humanity tonight.” “Well, leave,” was Vonnegut’s response.
And the Third Ward could be his canvas. He was inspired by John Biggers, the late African-American muralist who painted black neighborhoods of shotgun houses like the ones on Holman Street and showed them to be places of pride and community, not poverty and crime. “It hit me,” Mr. Lowe recalled, “that we should find an area like the one that Biggers painted that was historically significant and bring it to life.”
Behind him as he spoke, a phalanx of 22 gleaming shotgun houses stretched across two blocks. Built in 1930 as tenant shacks, derelict by the early ’90s, they were bought by Mr. Lowe and a coalition of artists and others. To Mr. Lowe they were like “found objects.”
Seed money came from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation. The director of the Menil Collection gave his staff Mondays off to help renovate. Chevron redid the outside of a dozen buildings. Hundreds of volunteers pitched in to clear trash and sweep up used needles, hang wallboard and fortify porches. A local church adopted a house, and so did people and families from the neighborhood.
One of those people was Garnet Coleman, the neighborhood’s representative in the Texas House. His father’s family has lived in the Third Ward for 100 years. “Art is about the human condition,” he told me when I phoned him the other day. “You wipe out a people when you wipe out their history. What Rick is trying to do is to restore that history.”
“People interested in housing and social services have a narrow focus. From a developer’s standpoint, the houses we’ve built are not cost-effective. But to me, they’re not just housing. They tell a story about a community. The process by which we arrived at the design involved looking at the history of shotgun houses, out of which came the desire to preserve traditions like having the houses be off the ground and use pier-and-beam, not slab-on-grade, foundations. Everybody I used to work with when I did carpentry and house painting, which was how I earned a living years ago, told me the design was crazy. But to me, it translates the symbolism that John Biggers painted into another visual form, which is architecture.”
“In Houston, Art is Where the Home Is” from The New York Times