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I didn’t think I’d have much to write about for a few days. There are so many planetary positions in retrograde, that I figured it could be quiet. And just when you think it’s safe to come out of the cave, the shadowy side of our collective psyches reminds, not just yet.

My upstate friend had invited me to join her group of artists Art2hrtSoho take 2 painting on the wooden planks used to protect homes and stores from pillaging rioters. Soho had definitely taken a hit and Stefanie was all about turning the violence and criminality into beauty and inspiration.

I had no visual plan in mind, but they supplied acrylics, brushes and boarded up buildings as canvases. So, it was up to me. I grabbed a few colors, something that looked like a sandwich wrapped in foil and went hunting for a space. I’m short so I needed one that I could paint an eye level story upon.

It was fun playing with only 3 colors and I ended up with a profile of a non-gender specific singer. An ice cream truck hovered in the street, playing great rock and roll and I found myself dancing on the step as I brought my painting to life.

Putting on the final touches, the door connected to the board I was working on started to open and I said, “oh please, wait.” I wanted to move the tubes of paint out of the way  A masked Caucasian woman of about 40 came out and started yelling at me…What am I doing there, what right do I have, can’t you see these were already painted, what nerve, out of my  way, and so forth. Firstly, I was so taken aback by her rudeness and dismissal of the good vibes we were all creating, that I stood dumbfounded. When I explained to her my purpose and that I was with a group, she dismissed it and continued to badger and threaten me. I had a mask on that may have slipped during my surprise and she accused me of not having social distance. She was the one unwilling to move and give me space to collect my paints.

I do not see myself as a threatening person. I also understand how the last four months have been emotionally tough on all of us and chose to share with her that, I, too, have been living in isolation and certainly didn’t mean to make her feel unsafe. I might as well have been speaking Latin, for she refused to hear and refused to try and understand. My foil wrapped sandwich also was part of my crime.” And you’re going to have a picnic, here, too? ” she screamed.

I bent down to put the caps tightly on all the paint tubes so I could carry my things back to the control area. The whole time she didn’t stop yelling.

After dropping off the supplies, I looked for an organizer. In general, I’m not a rule breaker and I don’t like confrontation. Perhaps I was in the wrong? NO said Miriam. She assured me that we were only painting on boards and they can be removed. I had actually forgotten that graffiti art ofttimes comes with the challenge of not being wanted. But what we were doing was beautiful –lightning up the neighborhood which had taken quite a hit.

I went back to my painting to take a few photos as was requested. In that short time, the tenant reappeared, and gave me a gift, my day’s Meaning. For at the moment when she started yelling and sticking her cell phone in my face, I was CHRIS COOPER and this was Central Park and she thought she was  vulnerable and I was the threatening African American bird watcher now in the form of a five ft one Jewish woman with a burrito wrapped in tin foil.

She may have said something about calling someone… How did this thing escalate from a picture of a cartoon singing to a frightened and angry woman sticking her camera in my face? If I had been Chris Cooper, I might have done the same to her with my phone…the duel, shoot out on an iPhone and Samsung Note8…  But really, all I wanted was to escape her negativity. As it is, I carried it all the way home, my once beautiful moment of togetherness thrown off my someone’s personal history and  lack of consciousness. Even if she hated my work, this is about something much bigger than her front door …our national  humanity and empathy are in real peril and shouldn’t we note  it, talk about it and change it?

 And besides, who  really knows I’m not Banksy?

Written by nancykoan

June 12, 2020 at 9:08 pm

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Could this event have triggered the Charlie Hebdo massacre?

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(c) The Art Newspaper 1/3/15

My first reaction to the tragedy in Paris was to post my own irreverent art as a symbol of solidarity (under lambstara on twitter). Then as I cooled off, not hard to do in this weather, I immersed myself in radio chat and Facebook reactions.   Weeding through diverse responses, though mostly shock and sadness like my own, I was sent an email from an art website.

According to the The Art Newspaper (1/3/14), France was to hold a  conference next week at The Institut du Monde in Paris. Its purpose was to attempt to bring closeness and understanding by “offering a more hopeful vision of the Arab world, than the well-known brutalities of the Islamic State and civil war in the Middle East.” Entitled “The Renewal of the Arab World”, it was to look at the areas in which it believes change is most needed–to develop an economically thriving, liberal, civil society, beginning with teaching methods. There would be talks on fostering   entrepreneurship, renewable energy, the emergence of women (one of the speakers is Lama Al Sulaiman, the deputy chairwoman of the chamber of commerce and industry in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) and how creativity and the art market are pushing the boundaries. This segment would be chaired by a woman, Anna Somers Cocks. Wow.

Zaki Nusseibeh, a senior figure in the Emirati political world, and Antonia Carver of the Art Dubai art fair, and four Emirati museum women were on the slate as well as business people and intellectuals from all over the Arab world. And dinner at the Quai d’Orsay. Magnifique. With Jack Lang, The Institut’s president since 2013, it would be a great affair; after all, he was the radical minister of culture (1981-86 and 1988-92) under President François Mitterrand and has been the force behind the revival.

What will he do now?

It occurred to me that this act of terrorism could have been a way to destabilize the efforts of Monsieur Lang and the Institut. It may have been cooked up to destroy an event that had the potential to shift ideological positions. For certainly art and culture can do that. Art is dangerous, especially for groups that want war and thrive on hatred. Art has the power to open up the heart and help change the mind, two things that extremists seemingly cannot tolerate.

I hope it is not cancelled.

Written by nancykoan

January 9, 2015 at 3:57 am

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