Being in the national capitol did not disappoint for my political art project. Many thanks to Sculptor Mary Early and DC native for helping me set up so many awesome destinations. As you can see by the picture above, the flag got covered with all sorts of sentiments about America. It's been a really wonderful time.
My first stop was at Diverse Markets SW, located near the waterfront in southwest DC. This monthly event has music, vendors, food, libations and this time, political art! It was hot, it was friday, and I was getting the vibe that people in DC may not want to have anything to do with more political BS. Once the sun started to settle behind the burgeoning skyline, the party started to pick up and so did the artwork.
I got a great variety of commentary on the flag, but not completely associated with the Presidential race. When I got the "Dump Trump" a gentleman immediately added "Or Hillary". I guess it's the balance of power. I was really impressed with the image above left of this gentleman with reverent face expressing his thoughts. This kind of interaction makes the work successful for me, his moment of reflection and genuine expression of whats been on his mind for a long while. And it cannot be all serious about our America because "Deez Nuts" has a platform and approval rating surpassing both nominated candidates. I see a sticker opportunity. Many thanks to Michael & Lexie & Rudy of MarketSW for hosting & helping me get there.
Saturday was another scorcher and I was partnered with Emily Arden of ReCreative Spaces DC. Her group is taking over a parking lot for the next three years to do art projects while development of the surrounding area takes place. As it was so freakin hot, there was minimal traffic in the lot for the flag, but I gladly helped out with the picnic table construction, in the shade!
I got to meet Michael, the gentleman who's company is doing the development. He gave me an amazing story of how the 22 acres south of this parking lot are all Section 8 housing and are about to be all torn down. This area of town is the "event horizon" of gentrification. Older homes across the street are going for 3/4 of a million dollars with the declining ghetto right across the street. What Michael told me next really does give me hope for our county. No, not planning a new Starbucks or "resort style city condo living, from the low 300s" but rather the development to be built will be mixed income, maintaining the Section 8 residents location. These are 3, 4, 5 generations of families who have lived here. It is their home, their neighborhood, their community. Michael tells me that the community does not believe him, that there's a lot of mistrust and doubt that this man's word will be kept. His strategy has been to engage the greatest generation, the grandmas of the community, the source of wisdom and direction for many. Even then you know it is not going to be an easy sell. I believe Michael will keep his word. I know he's got his work cut out for him between folks on both sides because neither believe he doing it. This man is putting real value in the phrase "Make America Great Again" because he sees a raising tide must raise all boats, not just for the affluent.
Many thanks to Emily for the great lunch and the contribution to my tour! It was a pleasure meeting such great people and thank you for welcoming me to your group.
I knew I had to brave the traffic and get down to the national mall. After a couple laps, I posted up nicely near the natural history museum. The response was instant. People, pictures, inquiry, hot hot hot. I passed out an entire box of cards and received amazing response. I met people from all over the world, all of whom were very curious as to what was going on. I would joke with them when I asked how they feel about america, "Maybe you've heard about us?" The response was overwhelmingly positive. "I love USA & I love Iran", "Peace to Afghanistan and America", "I love American & Cheeseburgers" Who can argue with that?
There were so many people that I barely had a chance to speak with anyone personally. One young lady quickly hopped up and wrote "9" on one of the stars. As she dashed back to her family, I asked "Why 9?" She replied that her grandmother was one of the nine people murdered in the Charleston SC church. We all think that the violence is somewhere else, that it doesn't affect us, that it is sad, but it's not here. Then you see just how close we are, how tightly American is packed together. That young lady could have ranted and spread hate as her expression, probably with good justification. But she didn't. She simply honored the loss of her grandmother and in the moment of heat & emotion I felt dizzy because I could hardly comprehend the amount of pain she must have gone through. We can be better. We Americans, all of us, we can be better.
I cannot express my gratitude to Ms.Mary Early. She has made my DC stop a total success. She got me spots to post-up and to park, given me a place to stay, & upped my social media game. She is amazing.
Thank You Thank You Thank You Mary. You made this stop a success!
ALSO!!! BIG SHOUT OUT to my friend Quay Krispy, who also put me up and assisted in my project. I love your pool (along with the rest of your neighbors!)
ALSO!!! Many thanks to my dear friend Doug Barton of Richmond, Virginia. A good ole Mizzippi sculptor who let me crash his house for a week and disrupt his neighborhood with political art. Thank you to Alison and Leyna for helping out with the project too.
Yes, you can trust us...