Monday, December 4, 2006

Site #12 "Pink Tree Pink!" Elizabeth Underwood: Peoples Avenue @ Mendez/Gentilly

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Google Map

All I want to do is create beautiful surprises in this landscape & for this community who have (and continue to) suffer/ed their share of surreal visual surprises/abuses for the past year & a half. Just a reason to go, "What the heck?!" for something other than seeing a car on top of a house or a house upside down in the middle of a road or an empty field where your favorite grocery store used to be.

On a more personal level, I realize that many elements of this installation are honoring my sister Milissa who died a year ago December 16th. Also working so close to the house where I was living at the time of Katrina, I am confronting my own “flood lines” (I lost everything), literally and metaphorically. As I climb into the recesses of this dead tree, tenderly painting away, giggling and cold, trains passing, crows overhead, I am painting my way out of a grief that is both private and collective. One passerby said, “You’re brightening things up!” and this has become my mantra for the Pink Tree Pink.

It is in process now and will continue to evolve.

Be sure to say hi to Mr. Joseph Rooney (he lives right across the street from it) when you visit Pink Tree Pink (he planted this tree and the others around it - this stretch of land used to be his garden and he's just waiting for the city to come and clean it up so he can get to it again).

Site/s #11: Generic Art Solutions: Bywater & Lower 9th Ward

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Generic Art Solutions, (please visit the GAS website), is the collaborative efforts of multimedia artists Matt Vis and Tony Campbell. Campbell and Vis were educated on either side of the pond; Campbell-London, Vis-New Orleans. This Art Team was conceptualized in New York, and their artistic union was galvanized when both artists moved to New Orleans.

G.A.S. creates their own corporate entity by using the advertising/marketing vocabulary, and as in the advertising world, the creative process is often a team activity. G.A.S is not limited in style, media or message. Their ideas lead their aesthetics, and they strive to make art appropriate for modern living.

G.A.S. uses performance as a tool, but not in the traditional sense. There is no stage/audience separation. It is an on-the-fly, unscripted intercourse. This forum questions where art begins and real life ends.

G.A.S. makes concept driven artwork, often with humor and/or mischief at its core. G.A.S uses humor as a deconstruction tool, establishing the familiar, the stereotypical scenario, but ultimately turns our expectations on their head. G.A.S demands their audience to look beyond the punch line. In reference to Generic Art Solutions the famous New Orleans art critic Doug McCash coined the term "Comic Conceptualists", which is neither rejected by nor embraced by Generic Art Solutions.

Katrina Trees:
Since the hurricane the New Orleans landscape has change in many significant ways, one of which was the sudden explosion of contractor ads in the cities neutral grounds and telegraph poles. G.A.S welcome this phenomenon as a new forum for art. Katrina Trees is a conceptual attempt to freshen up our city as well as advertise Generic Art Solutions as artists.

Hurricane Free Zone Signs:
Generic Art Solutions (G.A.S) have installed in New Orleans street signs declaring various areas a "Hurricane Free Zone". This street sign was inspired by the Drug Free Zone signs found in many Neighbourhood across the country. This sign is a direct response to the inaction of government to protect New Orleans from Hurricanes (levee failure). G.A.S feel that people who are confronted with situations which are out of their control are forced to lean purely on hope, faith, collective positivity,
superstition and a little luck.
The signs read :
"Hurricane Free Zone
Hope can make a difference
Positive thoughts brought to you by Generic Art Solutions"

This is an on-going project and more zones will follow soon.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Site #10: "Bird/Puddle" Christy Speakman: Lake Ponchatrain Tennis Courts

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"During my evacuation after Hurricane Katrina, I spent much time looking at aerial photographs of the city, watching in
disbelief as entire neighborhoods began to resemble street puddles. It was through these images that many people were able to locate and measure the flood levels of their home. Aspects of perspective, control, and surveillance are evident in this exchange.

Arriving in New York two months after the storm, I began making Polaroid photographs of puddles in the street. Using the Polaroid as a template, aluminum, resin and vinyl were used to build a floodwall around each puddle. The puddle form becomes a bowl with walls acting as a levee, while the bottom is flat to the ground, mimicking and emphasizing its photographic representation. The puddles are about transformation, both in time and geographical space, yet the form remains a justified abstraction. The shift from macro to micro is measured by using the length of my body as the measured distance of view. This human scale is not meant to alienate the viewer into the sublime, but rather to validate an embodied view of an ephemeral site.

Filling the puddles with birdseed is another metaphorical action, as the idea of flight in the threat of disaster may be seen as both fantastic and absurd. Here on the Lakefront, the puddles will be subject to the elements of rain, wind, sun, and migratory bird life. I am interested in the act of the birdfeeder puddle in that it may subvert the idea of the aerial (birds-eye) view as a powerful, god-like, and unobtainable measure of escape and longing.

This work is meant to function as a narrative disruption of the imagery we have been inundated with since the storm, using a hopeful rhetoric to create a dialogue that engages the survival process. It has done that already for me. The process of installing the work on the Lakefront was a powerful experience- even walking along the shore I became acutely aware of Elizabeth Underwood and I's footsteps in the sand, each and every persistent irregularity in the ground. Itching from the mosquitoes, we didn't say a word as I dug the puddles into the weeds and dirt. It was a strong itch and a long calmness.

Please walk through the tear in the fence, along the shores of Lake Ponchatrain, past the trash and debris into that hidden cove. Please step over the puddles and please feed the birds."
- Christy Speakman

(Bird/Puddle as of Dec 5th:

Site#9: "A Fish Tale" Podesta/Underwood: Corner of Magnolia and Washington/Central City

(Click on map to enlarge.)

Google Map

Assignment: One person tries to draw and the other person tries to stop them by drawing over and around them.
Tools: Anything to draw with and anything to draw on. We used stickers.

"At first we thought this assignment was kindof loud but then it got quiet and we did have some laughs. You have to be 100 percent about it or it is just a waste of your morning. A story got told which was a surprise. We think the fish is still swimming. We put the stickers up here because we think that during the hurricane there were fish swimming here and we wonder where they are now, like the people that used to be everywhere on this street. We hope you like our story if you go to read it remember that pictures were words first. Thanks!"
- The Sunshine Kids

Site #8: "Croatoan" Stephen Collier: Tennessee Street/Lower 9th Ward

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"The word “croatoan” was painted on to all the dead trees that are lined along Tennessee Street in the Lower Ninth Ward. Tennessee Street was chosen because the only things that remain on the street are dead oak trees and the occasional cinder block. All of the homes have been removed. There are no signs of life on this once lively street. This desertedness echo’s the mysterious word “croatoan” first discovered by Governor John White in 1590. White found the word “croatoan” carved in a tree in Roanoke Island. This word was the only trace of the first English colony left there a few years before. The colony was never found. They are now known as the “lost colony”. The word “croatoan” has mysterious and unpleasant connotations. It is the same feeling one gets while walking down Tennessee Street in the Lower Ninth Ward."
- Stephen Collier