Categories
Residencies

The Museum Opens

On Friday I attended the Museum opening, a culmination of a long collaboration between the Barbudans, the politicians and the researchers at the Barbuda Archeological Research Center  (BARC). The ceremonies started about 10am with a series of speeches by leading figures, including John Mussington, the principle of the high school here, and Dr. Sophia Perdikaris, the director of BARC. A group of children played steel pan renditions of Bob Marley and what I think was Twist and Shout (?). There was a delightful elasticity to their playing.

It is important to note that there are two museums. In one building there is an “adult” museum, with archeological finds, a human skeleton named “George” and historical photographs of life on the island. Across the way, there is a museum for children. Here you will find informative yet fun posters about the importance of mangroves, the dance of bees, a small boat for the children to play in and various other installations to generate excitement. Both rooms can hold about 18 people at most, so they were at capacity for much of the day as people checked it out for the first time.

I was struck by two things:

The audience was full of children. This is of course due to the fact that the schools create a field trip out of the event, but these children are the ones who will grow with the museum. The museums are seeds. They are institutionalized places where stories of the past are presented in a formalized way. They also give us the opportunity to orient our own lives to this narrative. It is the children that will grow up having this as a part of their lives. The principle is already setting up a program where they help manage it.

The difference between having a museum and not having a museum is huge. Can you imagine not having one in your home? No matter what the size, opening up that space in a formalized way within a culture is a tremendous intervention. There is now a place to display artifacts found on the island, not ship them off somewhere else. Barbuda now can be in control of its own narrative a bit more, having a place to perpetually ask “what does it mean to be from Barbuda?”

Of course this is all just a beginning. There are real challenges in how to manage and grow the museums. But it was a nice moment to observe, this transition from all the hard work of setting it up to letting it become part of the social fabric of Barbuda.

 

Categories
Residencies

‘Nuff Respect Going For a Swim

Today was filled with a lot of conversation. Five more folks came into Barbuda for the museum opening tomorrow.

In the morning time, I met the local high school principal and some of his students. The students were very polite and yet sharply witty at the same time. I gave the a brief introduction to what I hoped we could do while I am here and several of them seemed genuinely enthusiastic. I brought some of my greeting card prints to give to them at some point.

Take my Picture / Don't Take my Picture.
Take my Picture / Don’t Take my Picture.

I passed a group of kids hiding under a staircase on their break from lunch. One kid saw I had a camera and exclaimed “Don’t take my picture!” so I pleaded with them jokingly, “Why not?” About 4 of them scattered, leaving these two in the photo on the left. They were ready and willing to confront the camera. I think it makes for a compelling photograph. I wonder why some kids were so against it.

I did some sketching with oil pastels in the morning, trying to warm up and get the muscles going. I had no blue, so I ended up making the sky a bright purple. It felt like the heat of the day was nicely conveyed by the purple. The research center’s mascot, Max the doberman / rottweiler has a bit of a fear of kids. He was moving through the scene I was sketching, anxious and annoyed by the kids. So I colored him in red.

Had  Beef Patty for lunch from a lady on the side of the road with a tupperware full of them. I think it came out to about 1 dollar. It was obviously homemade and quite tasty. I had a meatball too. We also visited a general store. On the one hand it was strange to see some familiar brands like Gatorade and the like, but the store was 60-70 percent empty. The woman behind the register was  keeping a running leger of the inventory in the story in a big note pad. When I purchased a razor, she marked it down dutifully.

Barbuda is a small island. Most of the goods are imported, either officially, or in bags on the planes and ferries.

I painted in the afternoon, eager to push pigment. I set up at the lagoon with a lightweight aluminum easel. It took a little while to get comfortable, as the wind would blow the canvas down onto the palette and I forgot a rag to wipe my hands. The new easel became painterly rather quickly.

The painting is small, perhaps 9 x 12.

When painting I started to feel the gravitational pull of the practice. It pulled me in and it also brought about the errant passerby. I used this opportunity to have conversations. I found out that a large metal buoy in the lagoon that I was painting had blown there from Nova Scotia during a storm. People from Nova Scotia had verified this. I spoke with Byron, who likes  art but doesn’t have time to practice because he works day and night at his snack shop. He dreams of owning a restaurant one day. He lived in the Bronx from 1979, when he was 19, to 1986. He had been to Brooklyn once, but only driving. They were looking for a party but could not find it.

I also encountered Nuff Respect, a beautiful racing horse. Her owner was taking her for a swim to prepare for a race this Sunday. The horse followed the boat well out into the lagoon and you could tell it was a bit of a workout from the breathing. It was stunning. When they were done, Nuff Respect left with her owner riding her.

I also saw some fish, skimming over the water like skipping stones.

The sky seems so large here, perhaps because of the persistant flatness of the island. I tried the impossible task of painting the rolling clouds and reflecting water, searching for the impression, or  the style of the land.

I painted until the sun went down and the colors of the water and the clouds dimmed. The evening was filled with conversation. A lecture by Anders from Sweden, who showed an example of his multi-screen video projects about climate change. The discussion afterwards brought about some interesting ideas. How to you democratize the voices heard speaking on the impact of climate change? Can the field be level in terms of who speaks with authority? It is problematic if one speaks too much in the realm of academics, yet some shaping of ideas and crafting of language is needed to move the effort along. Words do matter. They shape beliefs, values ideas and ultimately action. But sometimes actions might not need shaping. Perhaps they are clear enough already.

The principal told an interesting story at dinner. He said that a fisherman was in talks with a ‘developer’ who wanted him to invest in his business, get more boats to get more fish. “And then what?” said the fisherman. Well, you need to get an accountant, hire people to work for you, buy more boats, sort out distribution, and so on and so on. “And then what?” Well! you have plenty of money. You are a millionaire and you can live in a beautiful place and go fishing whenever you want with plenty of leisure time. And the fisherman said “I can do that all now.”  Of course, I am mangling the eloquence and impact of how the principal told it, but his point was very clear. Development is a diffferent idea for different people.

I was also struck by this idea from Kevel: “Climate change mimics generational change.” It’s a simple, yet insightful way of framing the issue that I had not thought of. But I am saying more and more “boy, it sure isn’t snowing like it did when I was a kid!” How in the world do you get kids to care about it if that is how we frame it? “Yeah yeah yeah grandpa…”

Finally, I had a great discussion with someone working for the World Heritage site plan in Antigua. As a life long resident there,  he highlighted a lot of the tensions stemming from the differences between the two islands. He will be speaking tomorrow night and I look forward to learning more.

 

Categories
Residencies

Barbuda!

I made it to Barbuda!

That was the plane. There were perhaps eight of us. All of the luggage was just tossed in the back. Shortly before boarding the plane, I was standing in the Antigua departure lounge and a bunch of ants crawled up my leg. No matter what, we are always living in and among non-human populations. What differs is the level of acceptance and desire for management of these relationships.

The flight over was only 18 minutes and the pilot said we “hopefully” would reach 2,500 feet and that the plane “was loud and shaky because that is how the plane is designed.” The water below was clear enough to see what I suppose were the reefs.

The airport was equally tiny! Just a short strip with a small wooden building on the side.

We then went on a tour around to see a bunch of the local areas. Small small small.

Donkey, Horse, and Cattle populations roam freely along the streets.

The Barbuda Archeological Research Center is an amazing hub of activity, buzzing with scientists, students, and professors as they get ready for the Children and Adult museums opening friday.

Bug Managment
Bug Management

We manage the endless bug population indoors at the BARC research center with these tennis racket zappers. You press a button as you swing it, swatting the bugs with a spark and they drop dead. It is great, much more satisfying than I thought. I hope to become a jedi with this by the end.

 

 

We took an interesting tour through the bush with a knowledgable fellow who told us all about the plants and the landscape. There are a lot of ecological challenges for Barbuda, not the least of which is the low lying elevation and the livestock running rampant eating up the vegetation.

The BARC group is doing fantastic work down here, really building infrastructure that is embedded in the community.

We finished the day with a group dinner and lecture on Informal Science Education by Jennifer Adams.

I have to find the writing rhythm here, but the schedule should slow down a bit after the Museum opens on Friday. So much to take in, in the meantime.

Barbuda!

I made it to Barbuda!

That was the plane. There were perhaps eight of us. All of the luggage was just tossed in the back. Shortly before boarding the plane, I was standing in the Antigua departure lounge and a bunch of ants crawled up my leg. No matter what, we are always living in and among non-human populations. What differs is the level of acceptance and desire for management of these relationships.

The flight over was only 18 minutes and the pilot said we “hopefully” would reach 2,500 feet and that the plane “was loud and shaky because that is how the plane is designed.” The water below was clear enough to see what I suppose were the reefs.

The airport was equally tiny! Just a short strip with a small wooden building on the side.

We then went on a tour around to see a bunch of the local areas. Small small small.

Donkey, Horse, and Cattle populations roam freely along the streets.

The Barbuda Archeological Research Center is an amazing hub of activity, buzzing with scientists, students, and professors as they get ready for the Children and Adult museums opening friday.

Bug Managment
Bug Management

We manage the endless bug population indoors at the BARC research center with these tennis racket zappers. You press a button as you swing it, swatting the bugs with a spark and they drop dead. It is great, much more satisfying than I thought. I hope to become a jedi with this by the end.

 

 

We took an interesting tour through the bush with a knowledgable fellow who told us all about the plants and the landscape. There are a lot of ecological challenges for Barbuda, not the least of which is the low lying elevation and the livestock running rampant eating up the vegetation.

The BARC group is doing fantastic work down here, really building infrastructure that is embedded in the community.

We finished the day with a group dinner and lecture on Informal Science Education by Jennifer Adams.

I have to find the writing rhythm here, but the schedule should slow down a bit after the Museum opens on Friday. So much to take in, in the meantime.

Categories
Residencies

Antigua

I arrived at about 2pm in the VC bird Airport, stepped off the plane and my coat and long pants immediately felt ridiculous. My bag weighed 49.5 pounds and it was a bit too heavy. I thought I could walk to the Wind Chime hotel, but it was too hot! I took a taxi there.

I think I was the only person staying there! The people were quite nice and suggested I go to downtown St. John’s for the evening. Unfortunately they must have thought I was interested in duty free shops. I had no interest in buying a watch or fancy cologne. But I enjoyed wandering around and soaking in a bit of the texture.

There were a handful of stray dogs. In Brooklyn, we seem to accept stray cats, but not dogs. I enjoyed the weathered and saturated patina on many of the buildings. The music was half global pop, and half great tunes that I never heard before. I felt an odd mix of money, leisure, poverty and    work.

I learned the phrase Wadadli, which is the name of the local beer. When I ordered one, I learned that it was the original name for the island, before Columbus decided to name it “Antigua.” The meaning of the word seemed similar to the South African word “ubuntu.”

I watched all the cruise ship folks mill about and look at the duty free shops. I marveled at the huge size of the Queen Elizabeth ship. When the shops closed at about 6pm, this area cleared out and, like ants, the cruise ship folk walked up the long pier to board the ship. You have to wonder what version of Antigua they carry away with them. Duty free zones are non-places, areas that are legally outside of a particular definition of a governed body. The shops are definitely not local Antigua owned companies either. It was nice to watch the ship slowly leave the harbor. There were little camera flashes from the decks of the cruise ship as people took photographs and the sun was setting. Most of those flashes were because of the automatic setting on the camera and the setting sun, an accidental engagement.

A local man asked “Did you miss the ship?” and I laughed and said “no.”

Afterwards I had some food at the Big Banana and called the husband and wife taxi team that had been taking me around. They brought me back to the hotel where I got plenty of sleep to prepare for the flight to Barbuda the next day.

Categories
Residency

Destination: Barbuda

On January 15th, I am headed to Barbuda! I will be there for 3 weeks, organizing a mural with local high school students and plein air landscape painting. The residency is part of the Human Ecodynamics Research Center.

It is incredibly exciting. I don’t know what to expect!  I will be keeping a journal of the experience – so stay tuned!

Categories
Announcements

Repre1: A vibrant exhibition of contemporary portrait and landscape paintings.

I am excited to announce I am in a show in London opening up this week!  We are a group of representational painters called “Repre.”  I wish I could be there for the show! But I am please as punch that my paintings will be.

From the press release:

1-13 May 2012

Open daily 10-5pm (admission free)

Private view Monday 1 May 6-8pm

For late night openings, please visit

www.repreart.co.uk

A unique collaborative exhibition brings emerging talent to the surface

 

Repre art collective is a group of artists who have come together to exhibit, celebrate and promote contemporary representational art. They share a common vision to capture and depict reality and express it through diverse and eloquent forms of painting. This is their first collaborative exhibition together and the installation promises to be a vibrant display of contemporary portrait and landscape painting.

 

The choice to hold their first exhibition together in St Martin-in-the-Fields and at the heart of the establishment in Trafalgar Square conveys their desire to raise the profile of contemporary figurative art and what it can truly articulate. It is fitting that a venue which has shown work by established artists such as Chris Gollon and Mike Chapman can also accommodate the work of emerging talent.

 

A prize draw will take place on the night of the private view as Julie Bennett, Nathaniel Fowles and Patrick Simkins will be donating limited edition prints of their work to raise funds for St. Martin-in-the-Fields BBC Radio 4 Christmas Appeal.

 

Exhibiting artists: Julie Bennett, Nathaniel Fowles, Jemma Grundon, Noel Hefele, Amelia Humber, Rebecca Molloy, Louise Morgan, Andrew Newton and Patrick Simkins.

 

 

Venue details:

The Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 4JJ

 

Charing Cross tube

 

www.repreart.co.uk

Twitter: @repreart

Contact: info@repreart.co.uk

Tel: 07743 221 364

Categories
In Progress

In progress: prospect park pavilion

image

Decent session tonight on a painting of the chinese pavillion in prospect park. It is about thirty inches wide. The space is a relic from a different era. It is also interesting to see the landscape outside of the structure. Nothing but light and shadow will be inside. I am unhappy with the composition at the moment but believe I can make it sit better.

Categories
neighborhood

The Parkside Prize: Registration Deadline

Oil painting of Parkside Avenue and Ocean Avenue in Flatbush by Noel Hefele
Parkside Avenue and Ocean Avenue

The Parkside Prize, a design competition for Parkside Avenue, is fast approaching a registration deadline. It’s exciting to see it reach this point, as I remember going to one of the first meetings back in the spring. Submissions have been coming in and we are planning to present them to the jury in January.

The Parkside Prize was the first neighborhood initiative I was involved in. I made the project website. I can’t wait to see the ideas that come in. Parkside Avenue was the first street in the neighborhood I encountered when I moved here last year. It is a vibrant place—plenty of opportunity and constraints. Fingers crossed a provocative, yet pragmatic design that can gather momentum.

Register! Design submission deadline is December 15th.

Don’t forget: There is just 2 days left to register for the contest to redesign Parkside Avenue.

 

We all know how shabby that block can be at its worst … how maddening it is to see all that concrete after a walk through Prospect Park, how sad it is to see all that crumbling plaster and peeling paint after arriving home on the Q. We all know how much better it could be, if the traffic were milder, if the sidewalks were cleaner, if the city cared for our block the way its cares for Columbus Circle, or Grand Army Plaza, or the Brooklyn waterfront. This is your chance to remake your neighborhood.

 

The deadline to register is December 1. The deadline to send in your design is December 15. The grand prize is $1000. All of the information you need is right here: www.theparksideprize.org

 

So! All you designers, all you architects. All you hackers and artists and freelancers. All you who ride the subway and think of old Walt Whitman. All you who, in your most private ambitions, see a city more open than Olmsted’s, more modern than Moses’s, more surreal than Julius Knipl’s …! Yes, you …! All of you …! This is your hour …! Do not delay …! One thousand dollars …! Register today …!

Categories
Uncategorized

The Neighborhood Show Opening

Our pop-up neighborhood show opening went great. We had a large turn out, with people coming from all over the neighborhood. Senator Adams gave a brief speech about how he would like to see more arts in the PLG neighborhood. Leslie and Daniel provided steel drum and guitar music while everybody looked around at the artwork from over 40 contributors. The mood was energetic and most people were astounded to see something like this going on—and sad to hear it will return to being vacant mid-november.

I was able to include many of my recent paintings.  The surprise hit was the street corner,which I recently reworked. It was the most directly identifiable location. I love the chance to hang salon style, and this show provided that challenge. The bananas are a bit out of place, but so be it! I decided to hang them anyway.

Felix had a drawing of the “city in pink” hanging in the kids room. Students from several area schools were invited to participate. It was great to see them at the opening with their parents. They seemed very proud.

I was a bit out of it overall. I was fighting off a cold, which made traversing the social aspects of the opening a bit hard. My reaction time was slow. I was able to jump on the microphone for a little minute though! Did a quick verse on an acoustic cover of Marleys “I Don’t Wanna Wait in Vain For Your Love” It was fun to rock over steel drums for the first time!  But Felix had me beat. He rocked the steel drums and danced and seemed to have a great time.

Overall, its been amazing to meet so many people in the neighborhood through this effort. The response has also been inspiring. Many folks have been walking in off the street with a smile on their face. I think the show has tightened community bonds a bit, and also illustrated a vibrant arts culture in the immediate area. It will be bittersweet when the pop up gallery closes, but the case has been made for such events in the neighborhood and I look forward to seeing what we can do next.

For now, I’m off to catch the music programming for this weekend at 552 flatbush, the Neighborhood show. Make sure to catch it by the closing party on November 13th.