In Progress of a current painting aka The Dead Space?

This is a cell phone photo of a current painting I am working on. Unfortunately, my canon powershot appears to be broken! So documentation of artwork for the next few months will be haphazard of sorts. This painting is of a vacant lot near the Berks subways station. I walked in there, half thinking I was treading on land I would regret for some reason or another. Yet it was amazingly quiet. The "bustle" of front street was at a distance. There was so much green! So much, that is, in a philadelphia sense of mass of green. The ground was full of litter, some of it interoperable, most of it not.

here is it’s location

If you have looked at the map, notice how large a green space it is for the surrounding area! I felt like it was my own private park. I never could shake the unsafe feeling though, and perhaps it is justified.

From the Wikipedia article,

Kensington is perceived throughout the region for being one of Philadelphia’s poorest, most crime-ridden neighborhoods. There has been some recent revitilization, and the amount of total crime and shootings has declined significantly in recent years.

The painting is large – 42" Wide by 40" inches high.

My friend Adam Grossi speaks of child playgrounds as opened and abstracted half-places as proof of our own uncertainties about our adult world, and perhaps even a hopeful obeisance to the child’s unknowing, her/his potential to unravel and reconstruct.

I see something analogous in these spaces like the one above. They are half-places too: open and abstracted with subjective meaning. However, they are transitory spaces, some turning into old growth and some turning into new lofts. (or Casinos) Playgrounds change too as new safety features are introduced… Both spaces come to reflect the society that built them in some fashion.

This land is kensington could be called a "Dead Space" or a "Vacant lot" or simply "forgotten" or "neglected."

But I believe they hold as many lessons as we could hope for if we paid attention.

By Noel Hefele

Noel Hefele is an artist living in the Bronx