Sunday, May 6, 2012

when all is said + done...

near the stables in sowebo

when all is said and done, being in baltimore for 2 weeks with open walls baltimore was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  you have to appreciate the context.  i started wheat pasting 3 years ago in june of 2009 after returning from brasil.  since then i have wheat pasted images from my negative archive of the past 25 years on the navajo nation along roadsides here exploring how this might build community.  to find myself in baltimore with people whose work i've admired for the past 2 to 3 years was mind blowing.

i thought i'd be there for only 8 days.  however, it was cold and rainy which along with juggling who got to use the lifts made the coordination of getting pieces up tricky.  that and andrew doesn't have a car or driver's license which meant occasionally having to schlep buckets of wheat paste, the posters and brooms to sites in the neighborhood.  (shout out to nanook for all of your help!)  

for the life of me, i don't know why gaia + crew don't use lids when transporting their buckets of paste.  it's funny actually and is one of those things i love about those guys.  they'll have open 5 gallon containers of paste in the back of a vehicle when killian or one of the other crew members is around with a car.)  the biggest problem though was attempting to put a 36 foot piece up on an un-prepped surface.  once that piece came off the wall, i decided to stay another week and had to explore whether my staying was about satisfying my ego to produce good work in this environment versus honoring my word to tony about getting his picture up.  nanook and i had gotten a lot of positive feedback from people at 2 a.m. who were still on the street telling us how much they liked the piece.  in the end it was both my ego and my desire to honor my word to tony that led me to stay.

the people who were giving nanook and me positive feedback as we worked late into the night were black people of all ages from the hood.  it meant a lot to me that the work i did resonated with the people who were getting the work.  some of the comments i got from people in the neighborhood when i wasn't with nanook were things like "...we're happy to see a black person involved in putting art up over here.  thank you."

when i was installing my last day in baltimore outside galarie myrtis in station village a black woman who was at the stoplight waiting for it to change yelled out to me from her car window.

"that's nice!  i like that.  thank you for sharing your art with us.  be sure to put your name on it when you're done because if you don't, the white man will come along and say he did it."  

the whole thing of being black, a physician, in my 50s hanging out with people who are white, european, american, south american and in their 20s and 30s was a question addressed to me several times in interviews while i was in baltimore.  being in that space reminded me of being with street artists in brasil who were black, white, italian, french, brasilian and in their 20s and 30s.  they accepted me wholeheartedly without question or concern because they appreciated my love for the art.  it was the same way in baltimore.  i was moved deeply by the experience.  thank you baltimore and thank gaia for the opportunity.


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