Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Site #6 "Bright Light Fence" Elizabeth Underwood 5723 Galvez

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Google Map

This particular stretch of fence is compelling to me mostly because of its sheer existence. That it’s still standing while so much in the surrounding area is gone seems like a miracle to me, one I wanted to acknowledge with an equivalent gesture of surprise.

There’s a real sweetness to the house, too, poignant and endearing. It used to be canary yellow, you can see that much. And I can imagine some wonderful stuff happening on that front porch. Newspapers, gossip, sweet tea.

I wanted to create something here that reflected the simple charm and magic that I can still feel emanating from this property. The mini-water bottles, brightly dyed water, and the messages that are in some of the bottles are my unaffected choices in keeping with the easy feeling I get from the energy of this house.

Every time I visit this location to add to the piece or just check in on it the wind is howling around and I am surrounded by ghosts. The spirit of this lost community, the lost lives, and lost dreams whistle and whip through the yellow caution tape, the high dry weeds. And the colorful bottles in this small gate wink and sparkle like small stars I wish all the people who used to live here could see.

Site #5: "Seed Church" Speakman/Underwood: Mt. Carmel Church, corner of Galvez and Forstall/Lower 9th Ward

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I’ve been in the Lower 9 so much since Katrina: volunteering to gut houses, feeding animals who remain homeless, and to witness and digest the tragedy. I’ve always held a respectful reserve in terms of going into the properties uninvited and poking around and I never took a single photograph here until I started working for Art In Action. It felt exploitative until I actually built up a relationship with the place, as it is now, and had a reason to document the environment other than to have a photograph of the inconceivable (a car on a house!).

Over time and while exploring for locations, I have begun to feel a current and intimate connection with the landscape, the people, the place as it is now. And while contributing artist Christy Speakman (Bird/Puddle) was in town she and I spent a lot of time driving around looking for locations for work. We got out of the car a lot to just listen, walk around, breathe. And we found this church, Mt. Carmel, gutted and singing a very strange magnetic song. How eerie and metaphorical to find this shell of a church with empty plates and bowls stacked up out front with the “Invitation To Dine (with Jesus Christ)” plaque propped up behind them. It seemed appropriate to fill the dinnerware with bird seed.

For ages I’ve not seen one bird down here - only recently have I seen a few hawks and crows, so I had my doubts as to whether we’d be feeding anything but rats and mice. But last week while refilling the bowls hereI heard sparrows in the branches of the dead oaks out front. Their singing was delicate and bright and a clear reminder of the profound resiliency of life.

Site #4: "Innovators Barber Shop Mural" Claiborne @ Amelie (near Louisiana)/Central City

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Site #3 "O Water!" Jonathan Traviesa: Jefferson Davis Neutral Ground

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"Installing this piece was the utmost thrill. Just knowing that it has the potential to engage random people who come across it - that it may inspire them to think about its existence. That they may like the simplicity and weirdness of throwing together a few different things in a public space. Also it was a little frightening to climb a ladder of that height - but that was really special - being high up in those trees. Also it felt great to work with friends and have them help me."
- Jonathan Traviesa

(This piece was found & written about on this blog: b.rox. ArtInAction works!)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Site #2 "Green Is The New Black" Catherine Burke 2701 Decateur/Fauborg Marigny

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"When hurricanes are bearing down people put plywood up to protect their houses and in typical New Orleanian fashion it's often decorated with wise-ass slogans or art. To me this kind of work is in step with the celebratory, partying nature of New Orleans, which has not changed, which did not blow away in the storm, and I like it. A lot." Anonymous

Site #1 "T'n'T Murals" Anonymous: Corner of Caffin & Galvez/Lower 9th Ward

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"In this post-apocalypse town, what it's about now is not just what recovery means, how it's defined and how it manifests, but what survival means. We're non-stop being confronted with what is absent and missing and at the same time everyday there's the chance to be blown away that something still exists. That's what I think when I look at these paintings."
- Anonymous