Saturday, February 24, 2007

“Houseless”

Tonight I went to one of the most interesting galleries in St. Petersburg.
Studio 620 is a small gallery and has a variety of exhibits, lectures, and events. Recently, they have been showing the documentary movie Easy Street. The theme of the movie details the lives of the homeless here in St. Petersburg. I intentionally made the trip to the gallery looking forward to seeing this documentary. There has been a lot of press about the homeless primarily because the city is going through a period of renewal. In the downtown area you can’t look in any direction without seeing cranes and new high rises going up. These new complexes will be full of high priced condos, townhouses, and apartments. We are talking big time $$$$$. Besides buying up all the land and displacing a lot of low to middle class housing, the homeless are getting attention because they are now more unwanted than before the city’s renaissance. I don’t know what to think of all this. Since my opinion was blurred or at least middle of the road, I was hoping the documentary would help me to see things with a more informed eye. That didn’t happen. I am still straddling the line between having sympathy for those without a home, yet understanding why people don’t like having them around. Even though I am very liberal and empathetic, my skin crawled when some “houseless” (as they call themselves) men obviously drunk, joked and laughed as they displayed their creativity showing a batch of “We Work for……” signs on cardboard scraps. They looked into the camera and asked, “Why work?” when they can get money panhandling with their signs in tow. Yet, I cried when I watched those with severe mental or physical impairments who obviously needed genuine assistance.
I don’t know the answer. I wish I did. As I drove home from the gallery, I passed one of the “tent cities” constructed by the houseless community. The visual of all the rag tag tents, shopping carts, garbage, and wandering souls reminded me of this installation I did years ago. Looking at my little colony, I can’t help but think with all the zillions of dollars coming into this city and creativity being put into its rebuilding, there just has to be a way to accommodate those in need. You would think, right (?)


“Isodynamic Colony”
Mixed Media Installation
Size Variable
Click to Enlarge

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