Friday, July 22, 2011

Plants On Their Own

I finally put the plants out in the streets this morning. It was so hot. Today was the hottest day in the city since 1977.  When I came outside at 6 am, the heat descended like a shroud.

I put a plant near the graffiti walls I photographed earlier.

The tags were freshly painted, I saw them covering the old tags a few weeks ago. It had me thinking about how ephemeral the whole process is, even the people making the art will cover it over with new images. But this is a topic for another day.

This stretch of Bushwick Avenue is particularly treeless.

I liked the church of the evangelical crusade and hoped that this plant would find a good home. In fact, I wasn't too worried about the first two plants. In spite of the desolate nature of the graffiti wall, I saw a man walking a pair of Weimaraners. There was a deli further along Bushwick Ave. that was selling plants. I didn't hang the plant near them. The plants will probably be quickly taken from these places.

There are other areas so close to where I live that are so stressful and desolate. I wanted to put plants there. However, I started to feel anxious that these plants would find a home.

I started to worry about the rough areas that I was leaving the plants in.

I don't even remember the name of this street. It was practically empty although the Friday morning traffic was already in high gear. There was a man working out in the park across the street and another sitting on a stoop around the corner. I didn't lock my bike because there was no other pole close enough. I kept it nearby where I could grab it in a few seconds if I felt nervous, but no one came down the block.

Still, it had that nasty old eighties vibe and I regretted my decision to bring plants to the neglected parts of the city.

There was one apartment building. It was not all empty.

Broadway near Flushing Avenue is relentlessly noisy. Subways, trucks, car alarms, there is no calm. I hung the plant off a support from the elevated J train. The note I left with my blog address had become smudged. I worried that the other plants had damaged notes.

I hung the final plant off a chain link fence near Myrtle Avenue.

I felt a strange sadness that I have never felt before doing street art. I have sent plants into the world without feeling this loss.

Maybe it was because the last time I put plants out, it was in Soho and not during a heat wave. Maybe I would have been better waiting until Sunday when the weather should break. I know I have to let go, they are only plants, cuttings that I could have easily composted. I just hope they find a good home.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Of Weeds and Disorder

The peas that were looking so promising all turned brown and most of their vines died. I do not know if it was the week of rain or that I missed the moment to harvest the peas. A neighboring vine crept through the fence and took advantage of the string trellis I made for the peas.

After watching the peas shrivel and die, I could not help but marvel at this robust plant curling authoritatively through the garden.  Perhaps some people would not consider this lovely vine to be a weed, but it has that rustic hardiness.

I trained it over the netting we put up to keep the cats from wandering. I just don't want it rushing off and strangling the roses.

My work space is in disarray, I have to sort some shelves and put some things away. I can stand a certain amount of disorder, but when it crosses a certain point I can't do any work until I clean up. 

Hopefully I will be able to do the first plant installation early next week.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

JR in New York

One of my favorite artists, JR has been in town putting up his work. He is a French photographer who has been traveling the world making huge wheat paste portraits.

The New York Times did a big article on him after he won the TED prize.  He sounded pretty humble in the Times article, just a simple graffiti artist doing his thing.

I get the feeling that he has deep affection for his subjects. So much art is kind of ironic, with Andy Warhol's ghost snickering in the background. When I saw JR's portraits from Tunisia right after their revolution, I was moved by how he captured the excitement of the Tunisians.

After I took a few pictures of his work, I found others, it was almost like a scavenger hunt. I wish I could make art with JR.

The Wooster Collective has some posts about his work here.