Monday, October 23, 2017

Walking Brooklyn with a Friend, Arts Gowanus, Brooklyn Workshop Gallery, Book Group, Art Build for Sandy








Kim Fraczek added a new photo from Art Build for Sandy 5th Anniversary March! with this writer and Wendy Brawer.   Holy tomatoes, a bunch of artists are helping this march express clear demands that can't be ignored because it will be so powerfully beautiful.




A scary friend.


Some of our friends were in London for work.  And their kid stayed with us.  So, I picked her up after school on Friday.  In second grade, she told me about her day, her concerns about the world, and the weekend ahead.  Both excited and weary about ominous forebodings, she told me about things.  Kids wear the world well. They also know there's a lot of weight that we carry on our shoulders.  So we talked and played and went to the library and spent the weekend together.  All weekend long, I tried to look at the world through her eyes.

Mostly, we just walked through Brooklyn. My kids are teenagers now, doing their own thing, not much interested in Dad.  But the second grader, she was still more than happy to just hang around and walk or take whatever was coming of the day.  She was also visiting our family and its dynamics, sisters and parents, desires and defenses, among our ways of coping all weekend long. So we watched movies and the kids made slime.  We read Patricia Palacco kid stories about growing up, families and history. My favorite story is Pink and Say, a story about boys in the civil war. I can't make it through it without choking up.  But I also love Mrs. Katz and Tush and Thank You, Mr. Falker, her story about the teacher who helped her learn to love reading and learning.

All weekend we talked about books and art. Caroline and the kids and I went to visit a few open studios at Arts Gowanus in Red Hook. Our friend Avra sold ceramics, others oil paintings.   Peter Bornstein gave us a watercolor.  He said he felt like burning all his work when he was done with his career. He was no Lucian Freud, he told us.  He stuff was not going for seven million a pop.  We loved his paintings of Paris, New York and Buenes Aires. But he did not seem to want to sell anything. Artists are a lovely and quirky lot.

Sometimes it feels like the island of misfit toys, noted Caroline, ever weary about the messy relationship between the arts and commerce, creativity and capitalism.  Brooklyn is a city full of underappreciated artists trying to find their way.

Some sold banjos; others hung dioramas. We fell in love with the Stern Design Works, their kids playing as they worked and told stories about their craft.

There are so many artists out there working in Brooklyn.  I skipped going into Manhattan for one of my reading groups to go visit Martine and my friends at the Brooklyn Workshop Gallery, a community art space hosting a variety of regularly scheduled exhibits that is closing on Hoyt Street.  I only just discovered it.  But building is being sold to a developer.  He wants the artists out. The beat goes on.  So does the art.  NYC will break your heart. We create spaces and then they disappear over and over again.

My activist inspired reading group followed, down Smith Street. So we made our way to discuss Brit Bennett's The Mothers, her homage to mom's lost to suicide, their kids, their kids abortions, lost babies, and the trials of growing up.   Her voice felt familiar and compelling. 

Its not easy growing up, not easy for any of us.

Nadia's mother killed herself. Throughout the story we get to know Nadia, who has an abortion.  When her boyfriend fails to pick her up after the procedure, she goes to a party. 

"In the end, she found Luke at the Party," Bennett writes in The Mothers.  "Not just any party but a high school party., although Cody Richardson would've been offended to hear his parties referred to as such.  He had graduated ten years ago, after all, but his parties would always be high school parties because Nadia, and everyone else at Oceanside High,  had spent countless weekends partying at the house.  He was a sandy haired  skater, the type of white boy she had nothing in common with.  but even though she normally hated white boy parties - the repetitive techno music, the smothering Abercrombie and Fitch cologne, the terrible dancing - she had gone to Cody Richardson's parties because everyone did.  She had piled inside his beach bungalow every weekend, where you never worried about anyone's parents coming back to town early  or the cops shutting the party down, and now his floor plan read like a map of teenage firsts: the balcony where she's first smoked weed, hacking into the beach air, the corner of the kitchen where she's broken up with her first boyfriend; the hallway in front of the bathroom where she had drunk-cried the weekend after they buried her mother..."

Mothers is a messy story about growing up. 

We all have to.

Sunday, the kids and I walked through the city.   And I joined my friends at the Art Build for Sandy, painting all afternoon as we recalled the stories of what happened five years ago when the world around us changed. 

The invitation for the event declared: "On October 28th, we commemorate the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy by demanding our elected officials to take action on climate. Learn more at Sandy5.org.

Get ready to march by making our visions and demands impossible to ignore. We're making tons of fierce and beautiful art. No experience necessary! Come either day or both for any amount of time. Grab a paint brush, some old clothes and come make art!

Oct. 21 & 22 | 3-7pm
Building Stories
69 9th Street Brooklyn
(F or G train to Smith & 9th)."


For a minute there, people were looking out for each other.
And the planet seemed to say we don't need you humans too much anyways.

"I can't believe it was just five years ago," mused Wendy.

"I'm sad we have not learned more lessons from the experience," I followed. 

Kim showed me around the space on Smith and 9th.

"I think we are the only Occupy group still going in NYC," she smiled, looking at all the supplies from the People's Puppets of Occupy Wall Street.

Seth and company painted banners. 

Blue skies greeted us as we painted and recalled.  Next week is the big rally, starting at Cadmen Plaza.





































































































































































































Genny Roman  wrote me earlier in the night.



Ben,
Five years ago, Superstorm Sandy swept through the northeast and left entire communities devastated. Many Sandy survivors are still rebuilding their homes and their lives.
We know that climate change makes storms like Sandy more violent and intense, and we know that fossil fuels are to blame. Disasters like Sandy will only get worse as long as our elected officials keep supporting fossil fuels, and our most vulnerable communities will be the ones who suffer most.
The people hit hardest by Sandy were the poor, people of color, immigrants, and otherwise vulnerable communities -- just like Irma and Harvey today.

In 6 days we come together to say: that’s not who we are. In New York City we stand up for each other. By marching in the largest mobilization for full Sandy recovery and a just climate future, we'll show our elected officials that they must go beyond lip service and act on climate now.
Here are the details for the march:
WHAT: #Sandy5 March to Remember, Resist, & Rise

WHEN: Saturday, October 28th, 11:00 AM

WHERE: Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11201
In solidarity,
Genny Roman
Digital Strategist
New York Communities for Change
Together, we can build a movement. Help low-income and middle-income communities in New York stay strong.