Monday, March 06, 2006

Raindrops on the freeway wall

Last summer, I think it was, I was on my way to my own bleak subway stop, at 4th Avenue and Prospect. It's a horrible corner--freeway overhead, freeway off-ramp to be traversed in one direction, six lanes of 4th Avenue to be traversed in the other, vacant lot on the corner, not a single plant or tree anywhere. The subway is only a block and a half from my apartment, but getting there feels like an ordeal akin to crossing the Sahara.

Then I looked up at the freeway wall. Glory be.

I thought, "Gosh, that's the most graceful and appropriate art installation I could possibly think of, for this particular place. Simple, subtle, not trying to make the wall anything it's not, but softening the bleakness in a completely natural way, and making it magical.

In case you can't tell from the photos, the drops are slightly different shades--silverish, copperish, and bronzeish. I couldn't figure out how the artist got them to stay there.

Then, two weeks later, they were gone. AAAAAAAAAAAGH! WHAT THE FUCK! Stupid goddamn fucking stupid city. As if they were hurting anybody. I mean. And I hadn't had the sense or the foresight to take any pictures.

A few months later, I was at an opening at TablaRasa Gallery. I was idly thumbing through one of the artist's portfolios, and came across something that looked sort of familiar.

Now, sometimes I can jump the gun, and be wrong in my attributions. But this, to me, looked like a Smoking Gun. I butted into the artist's conversation. "Are YOU the guy who did those teardrops at 4th Ave. and Prospect?"

He was. Whoopee. She jumps up and down, and up and down. The metal pieces are stuck on with very strong glue, so that when they get (!&@^) ripped down, you can sometimes see the traces of glue left on the bricks, if you look closely.

And now this artist, whose name is Danny, is on my mailing list, and on my blog, and has sent me these photos by request, which I am now sharing with you. I am so proud. The installations are a planned series of 30, of which 9 have been accomplished, and duly torn down by the frickin' NYC Department of Sanitation. He is taking a break for the winter, but informs me that 'round about April or May, more will be forthcoming. I can't wait.


Chris C. said...

Serena, I finally got a chance to look at your Swoon links and, yeah, I love what she's doing. This post and Swoon's stuff both made me think about how there's almost no "grafitti" as such in the desert where I live now, and all the surfaces here do these things "naturally" and how I dig it, but how I used to love how grafitti and other accreting and wearing processes tempered the surfaces in the city where I used to live. Cuz, like you, I knew those city surfaces intimately, and their state could calm me, or stimulate me, or alienate me, and shape my world for the moment. What Danny and Swoon are doing would so have fed me.

Humans CAN be graceful forces of nature, the same as wind and gravity and water and heat and root turgor are where I live now.

Pretty Lady said...

You are so right, Dandy. Swoon and Danny seem to me to be the Andy Goldsworthys of the inner city. It's one of the reasons I insist on living here. Treasures around every corner.