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What will be my highest point?
To scrape at the sky.
To tear down the floors of heaven.
To prove angels can fly.
Because without the clouds beneath them.
We hope to make them liars.
We want the Sun.
- Milton De La Cruz
At the closing party of the gallery’s theme-of-the-year ‘MEND’, flag artist David Mahfouda unfurled his longer-than-a-flagpole-is-tall flag from the roof of the 5-story high building that houses Proteus Gowanus. The flag had been torn in exuberant waving and joyous dancing on Union Square, the night Obama was elected president. For seven months, Proteus Gowanus had been the “Mending HQ” for volunteers helping David restore the flag, and nurturing its spirit. Together they stitched the stripes back together, and sewed new stars onto the flag’s sky panel.
The flag was created in the year leading up to the election, as a bridge to a new beginning, by reclaiming the stars-and-stripes from millions of lapel pins, born(e) in the aftermath of 9/11, by resizing it millionfold into one flag to be held, moved, and cared for by many.
The night the flag became the people’s was the night the rips appeared, the need for mending, and the awareness that mending indeed can be done—that mending is needed to clear the skies, for the skies to celebrate the flag free-flowingly, for anyone to hold hands with that new sky, to take it into one’s circle, the circle of people, the circle of nations.
The night of June 28th, this flag was rolled from the rooftop to be carried by the wind—and torn again by the courtyard’s 19th century brick and mortar—into the hands of those who help mend it, for them to look up that 13-lane highway of red & white to see the big blue with stars, some clear, some still dimmed, and to feel comfort that even in this dire economy, there is a new normal worthy of dancing a jig, even if it’s sponsored by a major credit card.
Who needs a flagpole.
In trying to understand the sky and heavens above New York, I decided to take the most simple approach I could muster: observation. Everyday for two weeks I took reference footage of the sky above New York with my cellphone in the off chance that I would capture something that I haven’t noticed during my day to day operations.
At the end of those two weeks of observation I met a man, Jonathon (with his kids), on the sidewalk outside of a small East Village congregation and he proceeded to welcome me inside and talk with me about his perception of heaven. I recorded our conversation on my cellphone.
|The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.|
|NOUN:||Archaic 1. The vault of heaven; the sky. 2. The upper air.|
|ETYMOLOGY:||Middle English welken, from Old English wolcen, weolcen, cloud.|
Eddie Boros’ Tower of Toys grew and stood for a few decades on 6th and B. It was taken down in May 2008, a year after its creator’s passing. At my first encounter with the tower, the garden was closed. It was a cloudy day. It drizzled. The tower stopped me in my tracks. I lingered to take it in, looking through the bars of the fence. As a recent art school graduate, the Tower of Toys mesmerized me. It both honored and defied design theory. The structure was showing honesty in how it was built, starting on a broad base, tapering towards the welkin of this skyscraper city. It showed clarity in how it was created. If there is a comparison worth making with an architect-built structure it might be San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid, while in the realm of outsider architecture the structure has evoked Simon Rodia’s Watts towers for many. Eddie Boros defied what I learned in design theory in his construction and connection details. Although his tower looked and stood like a tall structure, its details did neither suggest that it should, nor assure its stability or longevity, where Rodia’s creation does. But Boros wasn’t a designer or architect in that schoolish way. He built from passion, with intuition, using that rough-n-tumble New York grit as the tower’s backbone and his own longevity as mortar. How cool is that
A photo album:
An elegy: http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/47237/