Sunday, October 26, 2014

Art in the Park This Weekend

Art in the Park! 2014. from New Haven, Connecticut on Vimeo.

If you like art, and you are a fan of Edgewood Park, then divert your attention for one moment to witness some of the transformation taking place at Coogan Pavilion and Skatepark in Westville.

The Edgewood Skate Park was built in the late 1990's and has fallen into a state of disrepair. The main adjoining structure, Coogan Pavilion, suffered damage during a fire a couple of years ago. Recently, the building has been patched up and fixed. Now, Channel One (the only consistent local skate shop in the area for years) has finally come around to organize a graffiti jam this weekend. There are several events planned around it.
Here's the schedule.

10:30am: The art of Writing with Andrea von Bujdoss, T Kid 170 and REO

1:15pm: Hip Hop: Introduction of the Word and the Beat with Akua Naru

3:00pm: Pop Culture's Theft of the Rebels with Janette Beckman and Cey Adams.
Coogan Pavillion, Getting Repairs

10:30am: Graffiti is Freedom with Josh Griffin and a special guest.

1:00pm: The art of BreakDancing Workshop with Taris Clemons

2:30pm Graffiti vs Street Art with T Kid 170, Dave "Chino" Villorente & Muck.

Participating artists include Cey Adams, Janette Beckman, Queen Andrea, T-Kid 170, Cycle, Chino, Dr. Revolt, Muck, Alice Mizrachi, Dooley-O, Jahmane, Cers One, Ryan Cyr, Dave Thomas, Zeph Farmby, Josh Griffin,  Hi Crew, Tenk 2 and DJ Lokash.


Ian, Videographer:
I really like going to events like this, take some random footage, mix it in with a performance, throw some graphics on it and some music behind it and call it a day. It's much more to me than that, though. This "City Video" stuff is a labor of love, for the people in my community. That park was built in 1998. If I were better at holding my own records, I'd have some documentation of that as well. But the city never wanted there ever to be any graffiti in the beginning. They were also too cheap to pay to clean it up when kids went down there and painted anyway. Nor did they ever bother to afford installing cameras. It became not that big of a deal and the answer they came up with was just to ignore it.

The new policy has become "embrace it." Behold its imperfection, when you stand up close to it and examine the smallest particles. Letting go over the control, of what it looks like.

Now we have a Krusy Ramp. The ramp is full of imperfections. There once was a weather strip in place in the middle, I guess in case there were any concrete expansion, which never happened. The weather stripping fell off and now there's a contour difference down the line of where that was. For that reason, it's an imperfect ramp and not many would want to skate it. The park needed a makeover, in the short term, but in the long-run it should probably be rebuilt.

There was a time when there were many skate parks in the area. The fellow who operated the original Haven Skatepark in North Haven (a legendary myth that is true, it had a full wooden pool and a half-dome built into it for skating, like a geodesic roller-derby for boarders), Rick barely broke even after insurance and paying for the lights in that place. It was hardly affordable, even to him, and he operated it almost at cost. The roof collapsed in 2011 due to a snowstorm, Ironically because Rick is also a landscaper and at the time, he was clearing the snow off of rooftops. Unfortunately he was never called upon to clean his own, and when it caved in, the landlord did not assume any responsibility for it at all. The ramps were ruined from the water damage. 

It took that long (nearly 16 years of waiting, for some), for artists to finally become welcome into the community to paint on the walls of the park and on the ramps. This had never been done, and it took a decade and a half before organizers were finally able to get the city's permission, and paint on the ramps. Some of these people were the same people who had been "tagging" illegally for years and years. Of course, these also became the best taggers. And it also became something of a party for the New York and LA elite graffiti painting artists to visit New Haven and see what the city is all about. I guess even Jules would be considered among them.

Jules (the girl painting the ramp) would be an incredible subject for a feature documentary. She is sort of a big sister to me, because we lived together when we were younger and she just took that role in my life at the time. she's always been adventurous and looked out for me the way I always imagined a good older sister would. When i was in California this springtime, I met up with her. It was very sad, however, because her chihuahua Tula had just passed away. This happened the day I got off the plane. I was there, actually, to train for a solar electrical contractor position which I never ended up taking. I liked the training. It was literally a vacation. the job itself was a disaster, however when i returned to CT (to work 5am-9pm (17-hour days...?  I don't think so). i did not end up staying with the job, but I did it the best I could.

There is video I filmed, mainly in the afternoons, after work. I was stationed in Santa Clarita, just 40 minutes north of Downtown LA; the equivalent of driving from New Haven to Hartford, in my best estimation. The traffic got worse the later you drove, so when they'd let me out for work at 4pm (which is why training was quite literally a vacation), I'd take the company truck and park it in Venice Beach. Then walk up the coast heading north to Santa Monica, the sun setting to my west. The colors were amazingCombinations of colors i had never seen before. 

Those afternoons, Muck (Jules) was trying to recover from the loss of her dog. And she blamed herself heavily for allowing the dog to eat a small amount of fast food in recency; It wasn't her fault, I consoled, because dogs only stay with us for a little while; they don't live as long as we do. 

Now I thought the vacation would be a mess, but it turns out the the whole entire Venice Community came out to support her that week. Her landlord, who was actually allowing her to work in his first floor apartment for free (but no one was allowed to live there, a condition of it not being occupied as an apartment and only used for a work space), gave her scaffolding and a lift, in light of the fact that she lost her dog. They let her paint a giant Tula on the side of the building, which is incredible because it seemed kind of appropriate for her. All she wanted was to stare at a picture of her, anyways; and that's what Jules does when she paints. Unabashedly she holds a photograph close to her face, and travels from there; from what her eyes see, to what she paints. 

Here's the video footage from Venice Beach. We collaborated with one of those helicopter people.
It was part of a separate Network i was trying to create. Just remember that the skate park in the video is actually the Edgewood SkatePark equivalent of that area. It's a public park. Nearby there is a public graffiti wall. Amazing.