Transparent

21 06 2011

 

 

The discovery of a luxury loft next an vacant lot with sunflowers and an old house was to good to pass up. The text is three stanzas from a previous poem, the site is Silver St. near the corner of Edwards St. I had a second window installation, with a new poem, but unfortunately it was taken within 24 hours. Se la vie.

(Also, apologies to Becky Harlan to stealing your window idea.)

 

 

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Translated [Pt. 2]

21 06 2011

 

 

 

 

 

A couple weeks ago I set up my translation the first stanza of raulrsalinas’ “La Loma” (the poem on my first sign project).

This is an empty lot on Crockett St. near the intersection of Silver St.

 

 





The Tire Dump, Redeemed

26 04 2011

The tires, as I had mentioned, were removed in less than 24 hours. I was disheartened, and had counted it as the third project (of six so far) to have been removed.

But then, on my walk to Gano Mission Center on Wednesday morning, I saw them in huge pile the adjacent field (behind the vine-covered fence you can see in the photos). And all the people of the land rejoiced. The next day I decided to just roll with the punches, and rearrange them in their new location.





Vacancies: The Tire Dump

19 04 2011

Aka the one that lasted less than 24 hours. . .  When I returned the next day, they were already removed, making this the third piece that has had a short life-span. They were gone before I could get any quality photos as well.

Seeing numerous piles of tires dumped in vacant lots or roadsides, I decided to play around with language, putting creative language where commercial language typically resides. (Unfortunately, it was still trash to someone.) I wrote this short poem specifically for the tires.

This is more commentary than I normally make alongside a poem, but I feel like giving some background to what brought the piece about. The 1st Ward was once the site of a Civil War mass grave — over which Jefferson Davis Hospital (now Elder Street Artist Lofts) was built — and I saw a connection between these acts of mass disposing of “expendables.” Two improper burials, with wider social implications. The subnarrative–the underlying connection–is the mass pushing out of people of color–having first dumped them into the ghetto then pushing them out again now that this land is desirable.

Dump us
in mass
graves, like
confederate
dead, like
runaway slaves
caught
between
breath and noose.




Wait…that’s not a for sale sign… (New Vacancies Installation)

8 04 2011

This week my last sign piece finally saw installation. Digging into Houston’s rocky soil was a huge barrier, but I finally settled on an abandoned lot on Spring Street, a block and a half from our house. The spot is next to Mallalieu Methodist Church and in view of two luxury loft clusters.

(click for larger image)

The Vacancies project started with observation (seeing the landscape, listening to stories) and with play (writing and painting, putting poetry where it “doesn’t belong,” ie, a for sale sign). This poem underwent an interesting transformation from three stanzas about undeveloped land in my hometown (Rancho Cucamonga, California) to a six-stanza meditation on the vacant, abandoned lots in the First Ward, and the wave of new construction, where new lofts are being built for and purchased by young, wealthy urban professionals. After this piece, the next few move away from the real estate sign mimicry — although I may return to it. New directions are coming. Stay tuned.





Benches: Installed.

11 02 2011

After several false attempts, we (Matt, Zach, Carter and I — Kate) finally but most successfully installed our pew-to-bench pieces in the neighborhood yesterday — and it may or may not have been one of the happiest moments of my month so far.

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and…
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
— T.S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday






Vacancies [Part II]

3 02 2011

For this new piece I used my own poem (which was a lot more satisfying) that I had written a little over a year ago, and adapted and expanded it to six three line stanzas, then arranged it as a “for sale” sign (with help from Becky on the first half). This on the lot on the corner of Summer & Holly. [read my description of the Vacancies project]

-Matt

 

 

FOR SALE: Houses

like halved pears, stripped skinless,

golden in heavy syrup,

 

on a small plot—memorial lawn

where scattered stones; where

Joseph’s bones buried in weeds

 

and sunflowers, sparking wires,

twist toward heaven

from abandoned soil.

 

FOR SALE: steps to no porch,

door to no room, the First Ward—

the sunken ground, the muddy yard

 

between bayous, the basin

beneath Houston’s heights,

collecting bones since the Civil War.

 

Dead soldiers, dead dogs—skeleton strays—

guard these vacant lots, these unmarked

graves waiting to be built over.