FCC Artist Blog

Public Art Salon

Friday by Claudia Paraschiv

J and Azia explore the millstone at The Cornerstone

J and Azia explore the millstone at The Cornerstone

Last Friday’s Public Art Salon was quiet but playful. I had just finished an eight hour class at the Boston Architectural College where we took new students to explore the city as a learning laboratory and I was tired. I took the opportunity to simply focus on stories for the Story Corner project where people write down a short memory that occurred somewhere in Four Corners. We will then photograph the location, create postcards with the image and narrative, and distribute them to local merchants to share these neighborhood stories far and wide.

We collected four lovely stories on Friday. In the next couple weeks, we will be going out in the neighborhood and photographing these locations to evoke some of the joy, nostalgia, and resiliency expressed by their narrators. Do you have a 4C story you’d like to write? Please contact us! Below are four stories from last Friday:

 

Eric writes of who was next door to The Cornerstone decades ago

Eric writes of who was next door to The Cornerstone decades ago

Kenneth writes of love found in an everyday neighborhood place

Kenneth writes of love found in an everyday neighborhood place

Egobudike writes of transforming tragedy into love and mission

Egobudike writes of transforming tragedy into love and mission

Mariah writes of her favorite convenience store, Sandy’s Variety Store

Mariah writes of her favorite convenience store, Sandy’s Variety Store

Saturday by Azia Carle

Inspired by reclaiming unused chairs, Mechelle heads the creation of the sign that captures the essence of the transformation from unused to useful and beautiful!

Inspired by reclaiming unused chairs, Mechelle heads the creation of the sign that captures the essence of the transformation from unused to useful and beautiful!

Early in the afternoon Azia was able to revisit two of the local businesses both representing the island of the Dominican Republic. En route, she spent some time with Aziza, Artist in Transit, while she set up for T-Stop Meal at the bus shelter next to the new Seats of Power + Codex 4 Corners bench.  Then she continued her mission.

The first business she returned to was Xclusive Barbershop. After reintroducing the focus and goal of the project, Azia was able to show her sketch for the design of the chair. Although the design was well received the shop owner was cautious about moving forward with the painting without the opinions of his partner.

Azia then moved on to speak with the owners of Santo Domingo a local Restaurant in the community. She again reintroduced the project and showcased her sketches but the owner felt that he could not dedicate the time necessary to create a design for the chair for his business. He agreed to meet with Azia later in the week to develop the design further.

Back on DAC plaza at 157 Washington Street, the priming continued on the chairs, while young participants painted chairs on brown paper. More to come!

Join Azia, Mechelle, and Cadieja on DAC Plaza every Saturday from 11am – 2pm at the Public Art Salon: Roots of 4 Corners!

All photos are credited to our4corners

Saturday Public Art Salon: Roots of Four Corners Week 1

Post by: Mechelle Merritt

Cornerstone meeting planning Public Art Salon 3!

Cornerstone meeting planning Public Art Salon 3!

We are excited to be kicking off the  Public Art Salon 3: ”Roots of 4 Corners.” The purpose of the Salon is to unify, recycle, and inspire. We are reaching out to our local Four Corner businesses to learn more about the cultures around us. We will use the information we learn to create chairs that express the genuine heritage of each store we visit for the next six weeks.

Cadieja on the left Mechelle in the right at “Reggae on the Grill”

Cadieja on the left Mechelle in the right at “Reggae on the Grill”

We were fortunate to be able to interview a Reggae on the Grill employee before their renovations. He told us about the food Jamaicans eat, and he was very happy to share his experience. We learned about stew chicken, ox-tail, cabbage, curry chicken, and plantains. Also he told us a special recipe for a drink called Sorrel where you extract the flavor from the sorrel green plant that then comes out as red liquid.

Cadieja and Mechelle interview the historic food store S.K.B’s.

Cadieja and Mechelle interview the historic food store S.K.B’s.

S.K.B convenience store has been in Four Corners since 1998. The store is owned by Daman Muhammad from India. We interviewed an employee who told about a famous dish his family loved to eat. The dish is called biryani made with chicken, beef, sausage, vegetables, and rice. We found that very similar to Jambalaya.

The crew at “Exclusive” barbershop

The crew at “Exclusive” barbershop

Exclusive Barbershop was the next stop to interview. Their barbers  were full of energy and very welcoming. They are from the Dominican Republic and they speak fluent Spanish and English. They named coconuts, cabbage, plantains, rice-n-beans, chicken-n-beef patties, and sea food as popular foods from their country. We found many similarities between their food and Jamaican food.

T&E Mini Mart

T&E Mini Mart

Another interesting interview was with “T&E Mini Mart,” our neighbor directly next door from DAC. The owner is from the country Trinidad and he talked about the West Indian food he loved to eat such as Roti – a tortilla-like roll up sandwich made with potatoes, shrimp, chicken, rice, beans, and special sauce. We thought this recipe was similar to burritos.

Chairs Mechelle found in the trash

Chairs Mechelle found in the trash

On my way to DAC I felt so lucky to find a mother load of chairs at my local church trash area. All of the chairs we are using for this project are recycled from the community. I feel this is a great way to help the environment.

STEP 1: clean the recycled chairs

STEP 1: clean the recycled chairs

To prepare for refurbishing chairs you need to clean the chairs before sanding. This is to prevent dirt from  destroying the sand paper. That way the sand  paper will smooth the wood properly.

STEP 2: sand the chairs

STEP 2: sand the chairs

Sanding the first chair was a very interesting process. First I used 100 level sand paper, secondly I used 120 level sand paper, then lastly 150 level paper for a smooth finish.

Resident of Four Corners helped us sand he was very nice.

Resident of Four Corners helped us sand he was very nice.

STEP 3: the painting starts stay tuned…….

I think the beginning of the “Roots of 4 Corners” project was a success. We  learned about the cultures of the local businesses, recycled chairs and inspired a local resident to be involved. This wonderful beginning proves art, is beautiful, functional and creates unity.

Public Art Salon: Hula Shades

By: Claudia Paraschiv

Sketch of HulaShades above Seats of Power + Codex IV Corners

Sketch of HulaShades above Seats of Power + Codex IV Corners

A few days after unveiling the bench, one of the participants mentioned that it gets a little too sunny in the afternoons, and that some sort of shade structure would enhance the experience. We were admittedly shy about taking on another 50-foot long shade project, this time somehow suspended and still water and wind-proof! I then remembered a temporary art project I helped coordinate in Salem for the 2014 Salem Arts Festival: HulaArt, where we suspended over 400 hula-hoops for several months above Artists’ Row. For Seats of Power, we hope to start with five or six HulaShades and see how they work at actually shading people, and resisting wind, sun, and rain.

Mechelle, Claudia, Austin, and Cadieja at Sewfisticated – happy to find beautiful African Prints

Mechelle, Claudia, Austin, and Cadieja at Sewfisticated – happy to find beautiful African Prints

With that project in mind, we set off to create HulaShades, using traditional African prints to create the shade itself. Last Friday, Mechelle, Cadieja, and I went in search of fabric.

We started the afternoon with artist Shaw Pong helping us troubleshoot the best way to use a curved needle to sew the cotton fabric tightly to the hoop. Soon we were joined by Azia and Zaria, Aziza (the Artist in Transit) and her baby August, as well two women on visit from Ireland! They found out about our project when I went into their mother’s beauty salon in search for more curved weave needles.

Gloria Alfred, another great local designer also stopped by the Salon to drop off more fabric for the effort. Daniel came to use use some paint for his skateboard, and the spontaneous fabric picnic went on past sunset.

We ended the Salon with some needed additions to the Big 4C Communication Toy – slowly but consistently we’re communicating what is going on on the Cornerstone, during the Salons, and in the neighborhood.

I was so glad to have Mechelle, Cadieja, and Azia join me in creating HulaShades – especially the day before their big Saturday Public Art Salon at DAC! Stay tuned! @ Public Art Salons per week now – things are moving!

Check out more of Claudia's work here

T-STOP TAKEOVER and highlighting cultural assets with the Artist in Transit

The Artist inTransit worked to highlight cultural assets, while gifting basil seedlings from the food project at the four corners commuter rail stop while conducting the second T-stop takeover and riding on the 23 bus along Washington st.  It was explexpained to T riders that the Dudley greenhouse is one stop away from four Corners and is a local community asset.  Written information about the  greenhouse was given out as well to help participants keep a lasting memory of the experience.  Working together as a team! Basil seedlings were also gifted to Artist in Residence Risa Horn so that she can use them in her Art installation in La Family Bodega.

The Artist in Transit also met with local residence and community assets from the four corners community to discuss how to transform the prior t-stop takeover into a meaningful installation that will benefit the local neighborhood association and spending the word of community engagement.

Stay tuned for more Public Curation, Public Engagement and Public Preservation with The Artist in Transit

Prep, Process and Upcoming Projects

Multicultural Festival

I will have a piece in the upcoming DSNI Multicultural Festival, Saturday, August 8th at Mary Hammond Park, across from the Kroc Center. I've been moved and inspired by the strength and number of responses to the Witness Sign on Dudley Street and the piece that I will be creating at the event hopes to captures many of the meaningful associations I have heard from people about the yellow flowers that constitute the words in the piece.

Dudley Street Signage

Ana Fidalgo, the local business owner of Nos Casa Cafe, approached me about the possibility of making banner signage that would hang from the telephone poles along the length of Dudley Street. We had a meeting with Eliza Parad, DSNI Community Organizer who works with many of the merchants, to talk about crafting a vision for the banners and an action plan to pursue project funding. Hopefully a broader AiR and Community Engagement Artist collaboration can happen around the visuals for this project.

Familia Grocery II

In continuing my interventions in La Familia, I have begun a lighting piece in the ICE CREAM case at the back of the store. The case has been the site of an installation in Familia Grocery II, where it is filled with artificial flowers. In lighting the case and adding text, I am hoping to create an experience that celebrates the unique culture and qualities of the neighborhood in an unexpected and surprising way.

Image Caption: Familia Grocery II owner Marleny's daughter, helping to install the lighting.

Youth, Social Justice Art, and Public Space

By: Nansi Guevara

Artist in Residence, Nansi Guevara, and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative have employed two student community artists who just graduated from the J. Burke High School.

These artists are working with Nansi and other DSNI youth to create a series of public art placemaking projects in response to national and local police violence against black and brown people.

"This project is based on the issue of police brutality. As people of color there are a lot of things we feel we can't do in public or around the police without getting harassed or arrested. So we, as a team of artists, are talking to community members and posing the question, "What do you wish you can do in public space, that you feel you can't." - Chyanne Sampson

Witness

By: Risa Horn

From my first week as Dudley Street's Artist in Residence, people have been talking to me about the Leon Building. They've been talking about how they imagine the building could be transformed in big and little ways: what kind of building they would like to see there, how it's sidewalk presence needs to change immediately, what kind of artistic interventions they imagine on the building, and all different perspectives about the current state of the building. 

A few weeks ago, Ché Madyun, local artist and DSNI Founder, and I sat outside, La Familia Grocery II, directly across from the Leon building and observed the activity of the street for about 45 minutes. It was 4pm and Dudley Street was crowded with cars and buses moving up and down the street. After about 30 minutes of watching the street's rhythm, my perception of the Leon building began to shift. I noticed that it stood out as one of the only things I could see that was not connected to the movement or sounds of the hot afternoon. I suppose that fact highlights the building's disconnection from community life, but it also opened up the idea that the building is a silent and knowledgeable witness to the life of the community. The role of silent witness is very different than the label of neighborhood blight, and I thought the ideas was intriguing and worth sharing in an artistic and public way.

A few days later, I wove a sign out of artificial flowers that said "WITNESS" on the fence of the Leon Building facing Dudley Street. I've seen these bright yellow artificial flowers used for street memorials along Dudley Street, including a memorial just a few blocks from the Kroc center, and they are sold at a dollar store in Dudley Square. In my conversations with residents and other artists, it has also come up that these flowers are also common decoration in Caribbean households. While creating the sign, I was interested in using materials that were already part of the everyday fabric of Dudley Street, but using them in an unexpected way to introduce an unexpected element to Dudley Street's everyday bustle.

It is also an important note that during the week of my observation with Ché, I heard that a man was killed outside of the Leon Building, as a means of keeping him from asking for change outside on the building's front steps.

The WITNESS sign currently stands on Dudley Street, as it has for a week and a half, without an explicit explanation. Instead, it leaves people to notice the message and wonder about why it is here, in this space, and to create their own connections and explanations.

While I was creating and maintaining the sign, residents frequently approached me on the sidewalk and from their cars, asking me what I was doing and why. All of the feedback has been 100% positive. Many expresses how much they liked the sign, but warned that it might be taken down soon. I've had quite a few rich conversations with folks, including the refection of one resident, who said, "It is beautiful and it makes people think. We are happy to have it here."

I pose these questions to you:

What would the Leon Building say if it could talk?

What buildings on Dudley Street have a story that needs to be told in a louder voice?

T-stop takeover with Artist in Transit Aziza Robinson-Goodnight and DSNI Arts and Culture Committee member Juan Williams

By: Aziza Robinson-Goodnight

AIT and Local Artist work together to takeover Dudley st T-stop in efforts to highlight community Asset Che Madyun with quotes posted on T-stop and desire to see these quote become permanent in and around the Fairmount Cultural Corridor.

The two spend two days of public engagement at the T-stop with young community members asking passers by "what you like to see here?", while encouraging members of the community to contribute either answers to the question or the artistic expressions on t-stop with window markers or colorful chalk on the ground.

This was a beautiful two days of engagement and building an inclusive vision of what the neighborhood would like to see while  highlighting community assets in the process