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Posts Tagged ‘found art’

I’m so glad Cousin Claire shared this New York Times story on Facebook. It’s about a school custodian with an artistic bent whose talent is raising everyone’s spirits.

Corey Kilgannon writes writes that Israel Reyes, “senior handyman and longtime boiler operator at Public School 69X Journey Prep in the Soundview section of the Bronx,” finds the lonely summer months to be a good time “to concentrate on the colorful wall murals he has become known for painting inside the 93-year-old building. …

“For years, the 15-foot walls were faded and drab, Mr. Reyes said.

“ ‘There were no colors — it was like walking into a prison,’ recalled Mr. Reyes, who said that 12 years ago he grew tired of watching students entering the building each morning with their heads down.

“ ‘A lot of these kids come from broken homes, just like I did, and I’d see them walking in, all stressed out and looking down, because the school looked even worse than their homes,’ he said. ‘I wanted to do something to make them look up.’

“So he persuaded the principal to let him use leftover paint from other jobs in the building to start creating an educational wonderland. He worked for years, during his down time, his lunch hour and on his personal time, even late into the night.

“ ‘The kids come in now in the morning and they smile,’ Mr. Reyes said. ‘They come in and ask me, “What’s next?” and I show them what I worked on overnight.’ ” …

“Mr. Reyes, whom everyone calls Carlos, said he and his five brothers were raised by his father in the Bronx and on a farm in Puerto Rico.

“ ‘We had to make our own toys from garbage, from whatever we found,’ said Mr. Reyes, who as an adult has made sculptures out of trash-picked objects, especially the wooden legs off discarded furniture, to entertain his four children and 14 grandchildren.

“He calls it ‘table leg art,’ and has made a panorama representation of Manhattan that is on display in the school library, a cityscape with wooden legs as skyscrapers. …

“Until recently, said Mr. Reyes, a widower, his apartment was decorated in an over-the-top theme — a botanical garden with a pond, a lamppost and a park bench — recalling his Puerto Rican upbringing.

“ ‘When my son moved back home, I had to sleep on the bench,’ he said. ‘I’d tell people, “I’m not homeless, but I sleep on a park bench.” ‘ ” More.

I’ve read that no matter what kind of job you have, there should be some aspect that is yours alone, where you can express your creativity. I couldn’t agree more.

Photo: Santiago Mejia/The New York Times  
Israel Reyes, at Public School 69X in the Bronx, wanted to brighten the building for students. 

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Longtime readers may recall I took a playwriting class a couple years ago. One of the assignments — which I blogged about here — was to listen in on a conversation in a public place and write it down word for word. Very awkward, but a good lesson in the random way people really talk.

Now the artist/cabby Daniel J. Wilson has taken the concept to an extreme, recording customers’ conversations and using them in his art.

Matt Flegenheimer writes at the NY Times that while driving a taxi in New York, Wilson “secretly recorded the conversations of his passengers, assembled the highlights into an audio collage of the back-seat musings and installed the final product in his taxi, playing the clips for his riders …

“ ‘It’s this world where people act like you don’t exist, even though you’re three feet away,’ Mr. Wilson, 35, said from the front seat of his cab recently. ‘You get this fragment of a person.’ ” More.

Much has been done with the invisibility theme in literature: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, the powerful Mammy in The Sound and the Fury, the murderer disguised as an “invisible” waiter in an Agatha Christie novel — you can probably come up with more.

The Times article discusses the invasion of privacy. I think invasion of privacy might be the penalty for treating humans as invisible.

Photo: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Victoria Reis, left, called Daniel J. Wilson’s audio collage “the least pretentious and most experimental” work she had seen all week, and tipped him.

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