Saturday, May 14, 2011

International Pavilions for The Direct Arts World's Fair

It was a rather panicky morning. The van was late and it was hard to wake up even after a double espresso - but we arrived at Campos Community Garden with cardboard and paint not too long after Taylor Sakarett, the Art Assistant.

Taylor had come to us through an ad in Craigslist and I was pretty amazed to discover that he was a intrinsic part of Bushwick Project for the Arts, an art collective that until last year, had squatted a former factory on Meserole Street. I was excited to connect him with Matt Metzgar and Mac McGill, who were both part of the Lower East Side squat movement of the 1980s and 1990s.

Taylor and I began priming cardboard and cutting them down to size. Marcellus Hall arrived and got to work on making the Americas Pavilion. I was glad that he had thought to print out the design he had created.

Marcellus' witty cartoons have been in The New Yorker and The New York Times. I first met him in the late 1980s on the J train on a dare from two girl friends to talk to an utter stranger. I think Marcellus had just come to New York City from Minnesota but he had absolutely no problems with a strangely friendly Asian girl chatting him up.

Meanwhile, it turned out that the garden was hosting a Green Guerrillas plant giveaway, so we had to figure out how to position ourselves so we could co-exist in a functional way AND stay under the one of the two covered areas just in case it rained. The gray clouds in the sky did not look good.  After setting up here and there, art-making ended up on the covered stage while plant-giving ended up under the tent. 

Raindrops did begin to fall as Mac McGill got to the garden, but they thankfully stopped. The plant giveaway was really swinging by that time - it was actually great to re-connect with some of the Lower East Side gardeners whom I hadn't seen since I was exiled in January.

Since we sprang it on him at the last moment, Mac hadn't had time to design the Africa Pavilion. I showed him what Marcellus had designed and he sat down and began drawing.  Mac's wonderful work anthropomorphizing buildings in the political graphic magazine World War III Illustrated has always amazed me.

After deliberating for awhile, he came up with a design incorporating the pyramids of Egypt, the continent of Africa and two African masks. Taylor helped him tape up some cardboard and he got to work.

Luba Lukova arrived, rather confused at all the activity in the garden. At this point, thirty gardeners were picking up plants amidst several pieces of cardboard (finished and unfinished) and Marcellus and Mac were cheek-by-jowl on the covered stage.

I began working with Luba in 1996 after I saw her graphic design for another show at Theater for the New City. A Bulgarian-born artist, her work melds a constructivist sense with the storytelling of surrealists. She designed the postcard and poster for my first play, VIRGIL, and for my second play, RITE OF RETURN.
I was trying to figure out where Luba could work when she stopped me and suggested that she plaster a plain white Pavilion with posters so it looks like a news kiosk. I loved the idea so we put Taylor on cutting out cardboard to dimensions that Luba and I agreed on.

Marcellus was supposed to have met Julee Kim for brunch but since it was getting past 3:00, he invited her to the garden and she helped him finish up.

Mac decided to take his half-finished artwork home to work on in leisure.

Matthew came as dusk fell and after wearily cleaning up, we finished the day with some excellent curry on 10th Street.

So the International Pavilions are pretty much in hand. Now we need to make Silent Auction displays...


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