A Queens Art “Intervention” Found on the Pulaski Bridge

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    An “intervention,” as the term is used in modernity, is when the family and friends of an addict or alcoholic gather to let the offending party know how their bad behavior is affecting the larger group. The idea is that the addict will be shamed into seeking some sort of professional treatment for their various issues. Clearly, things cannot continue as they are and the addict must mend their ways and conform to societal norms. There’s even a TV show called “Intervention” which presents the dramatic and emotional confrontations which ensue during these gatherings.

    As everybody knows, those of us who live in Queens are dross consumerists. All of our time is spent at big box stores, fast food establishments, or just mindlessly sitting in traffic while going nowhere important. Work, breed, and die, that’s us. Brooklyn, on the other hand, has artisinal pickles, salty chocolate, and bacon ice cream. Queens needs to be more like Brooklyn, say the Brooklyn people. Well… that’s what everyone in Brooklyn and Manhattan thinks should happen around here.

    Hence, the Queens Art Intervention was created, to expand our limited minds and offer a dab of color and smattering of high culture to our otherwise drab existence.

    More after the jump…

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    On September 27th, the Queens Art Intervention created a series of installations around the borough. The one pictured in today’s post is “Levitate” by Kate Bonsted and Hannah Wnorowski. It consisted of a series of colored tarps affixed to the bridge’s fence line with twine. A gradation of color – red through oranges and yellows, with white at the center of the span – was observed as I crossed Newtown Creek from Greenpoint to Hunters Point. All in all – whimsical and fun, and it broke up the urban setting with a bit of color. My pique is not aimed at the artists, nor at their work.

    Rather, I’m offended at the idea of an intervention. Queens doesn’t need an intervention, thank you very much, and you can keep your artisinal pickles – we’ve got vibrant diversity.

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    Spending as much time as I do around Newtown Creek, a lot of my time is spent over in Greenpoint with the “cool kids.”

    The cool kids don’t exactly see Queens as a desirable destination for leisure or domesticity (other than Rockaway), convinced as they are about the efficacy of the “Brooklyn culture” (by which they mean North Brooklyn and Red Hook, not Canarsie or Coney Island). I make it a point of telling them that they would hate Queens, hoping that the same pressures that have driven rents in North Brooklyn to north of four grand a month won’t begin to be felt in my neighborhood. They live like 19th century tenement dwellers over there, with multiple familial units sharing the same apartment.

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    A Staten Island Art Intervention would likely result in a torch bearing mob chasing the artists over the Verrazano, and the artists would likely just end up on the NYPD’s missing persons list if an intervention was staged in the Bronx. On the Pulaski Bridge, however, which is a surprisingly busy pedestrian and bicycle crossing between Brooklyn and Queens – there’s this.

    Incidentally, I almost got smashed by a bicycling enthusiast shortly after taking this shot, a fellow who thought it appropriate to ride at full speed while weaving amongst the pedestrian traffic. Maybe we should have a Bicyclist intervention, to let the spandex wearers amongst us know how their behavior is affecting the rest of the group?

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    I’m no critic. What I am is a graphic and commercial artist who has had a long career in the applied arts – I’ve drawn comics, worked extensively for Madison Avenue, and am quite obviously a photographer. Never had much of a yen for the high concept stuff, personally, which sort of leaves me out of the “critiquing it thing.” Saying that, I kind of liked the installation.

    Normally, it’s plastic shopping bags and wind blown trash that are stuck to this fence, but there you go. The kinetic nature of “Levitate” was fun, the tarps were moving about on the breeze, and the bright chromatics of the piece were accentuated by the back light of the sun.

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    The colored tarps gradated back to reds – from the yellow, orange and white at the center span – as I approached the Jackson Avenue or Queens side. As I approached Queens, a sudden desire to go to Elmhurst and visit a shopping mall erupted within me. Also, I felt a sudden urge to visit an Applebee’s or Panera Bread restaurant where I could eat something mass produced which would neither be local nor seasonal. An overwhelming compulsion to speculate about the 2015 Mets lineup also overcame.

    Perhaps an intervention was needed after all.

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    The bicycle people kept shooting by me at high speed, on the dangerous path which crosses the Pulaski Bridge. As an aside, I can tell you that the NYC DOT is working on a plan which will allow these human powered vehicles an actual vehicle lane on the bridge. This will deprive automotive traffic of one lane, of course, which is something that business interests on both sides of the Creek are fairly livid about. I seem to recall that it’s the east side of the bridge (the McGuinness to 11th street side) which will host the new bicycle thoroughfare.

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    This isn’t the only Queens Art Intervention site, of course, merely the one I happened to wander through. The artists posted a placard explaining the installation, which is displayed above.

    Personally, I find the term “intervention” somewhat offensive. What do you have to say on the matter, Queensicans?

    Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.

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