“We were not going to do any projects in the summer of 2017. We were going to wait for 2018. But the election happened last November and we felt we had a moral obligation to do something to respond to the current political climate through public art,” said Anne Marie Purkey Levine, a Portland art consultant and a volunteer for TEMPOArt, sponsor of this art series. “Is this a gateway?” she asked.
Her comments came as Christian Prasch, 39, the artist for the installation, was putting the last wooden box in place on his public art piece during the First Friday Art Walk in Portland. Assisting him was his finance Joanna Shaw, also an architect.
What do we do with walls? Do we build them up or tear them down? That is the question that this wall of 51 plywood boxes made by Prasch poses to the public. “What do we do with community resources? How do we use them?” asked Prasch an architect who lives in East Bayside. “It’s up to the public to decide how to use public resources,” he said. One use of public resources could be to remove the boxes and use them as seats to have conversations with others.
Just moments after Prasch had finished building the community wall, children had begun to remove the boxes that made up the community wall. “Walls do not make good neighbors” said one child. City manager Poor Jon take note. (For more on Poor Jon, please see post herein dated July 31, 2017.)
TempoArt was founded several years ago by fiber artist Alice Spencer. Her husband Dick Spencer dabbled in State politics years ago.
Daily monitoring of the community wall will take place. Prasch works close by and will check on the wall frequently during the day. Also a video cam has been installed in the nearby Bard Coffee to monitor activity around the wall.
“The American Dream” the inaugural project in Lincoln Park of TEMPOArt will remain in place throughout the summer. The work of Maine artist Judith Hoffman, is another example of a response to today’s socio-political climate. Housing for far too many in Portland, if available, is upside down because it is too expensive to afford. City renters have no rights and that could have been altered by the Housing Committee, chaired by Councilor Jill Duson.
However, an editorial in “The New York Times,” by Robert J. Shiller, on August 6, 2017 traces the changing meanings of the phrase – “The American Dream.” According to Shiller back in the 1930’s it meant “freedom, mutual respect and equality of opportunity. It had more to do with morality than material success.” During his presidential campaign, Twisted Trump used the phrase to promote his “entrepreneurial” agenda by eliminating government regulations – particularly through the EPA. But Shiller ends his editorial in the business section by advocating that the American Dream should be of a “just society, where everyone has an opportunity to reach the fullest stature of which they are innately capable.” Not a plank in the Twisted Trump agenda. What does the American Dream mean to you?
Rob Gould, another board member of TEMPOArt said: “The artist wants people to do whatever they want with this wall. Is this a wall or an archway? It’s up to the public,” he said.
Please visit TEMPOArtMaine.org for more.