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Archive for October, 2008

I just want to share a bit of good news!   A painting titled, Expansion has been juried into Art St. Louis‘ annual regional exhibition!   Expansion is my first Carrollton piece to portray the lonely homes: broken and well-lit interiors, ghostly figures that exist between solidity and mere memories, with a binding, looming plane shape outlined like a grand plan over the whole scene.   I’ve recently started using Carrollton imagery in my paintings, and the works so far are still in a very early stage for a series.  I had suspected that other paintings of mine would stand a better chance of getting into the show.  However, my efforts of incorporating Carrollton into my works do seem to be paying off and I am very excited to be a part of this show nevertheless!

Art St. Louis XXIV opens Nov. 3rd and closes December 30th, 2008.  The opening reception is November 15th from 7PM until 9PM, with a pre-reception talk with the juror Mark Masuoka at 6PM.

Let me know if you will make it to the opening!

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…30 down and 26 left to go.

Its been an immensely fascinating year for me to deeply observe the last fragments of my dying neighborhood.   I’ve watched its last residents move on, and then come back to visit in tears.  I watched as abandoned homes were torched to blackened holes.   I’ve befriended the demolition crews who took my own home and learned of the human side of some of the Lambert officials.  I’ve stopped and talked to former residents who scavenge the plots of their beloved homeland.  I’ve been chased out by fast cars of wicked people up to no good.  I’ve been followed around by yellow Lambert trucks who think I am up to no good.   I’ve been waved at and begged to for directions on how to get out of this scary, desolate place they accidentially wandered into.  I’ve helped a carload of teenagers try and fix a tire in the night.  I’ve yelled at a man digging up a beautiful maple tree in the backyard of one of my favorite homes.   I’ve driven through in a hurry ‘just to see.’   I’ve sat for hours on the grassy hillsides listening to the eerie silence in the minutes between the hallowed sounds of jets turbines close overhead.    After all this, I am still inexplicably drawn to the area.

I’ve also been surprised and humbled by the large numbers of visitors to this modest site.  At first, I figured this would be just a place to keep notes about my time in Carrollton’s last years.  Instead it has become a calling to the residents to learn whats new and whats left in Carrollton.  Its inspired me to not just keep a blog but to write a book about this particular place and the effects of eminent domain on families and communities in general.   I have learned so much about the community already and I have so much more to learn about the fascinating and humble history of the area.  I cannot thank enough all the people who have read this site, written to me, commented, and contributed their own stories and images of life growing up in this unique town.

Access to the majority of the neighborhood will soon be cut off.    The gates, the band-aid on this gushing wound, are going up on more streets than I had predicted.   In the past couple weeks, I found it amusing how I could drive around and lazily end up on the backside of one of their two-screw aluminum traps.  We joked about the stupidity of the gate’s placements.  For example, they put a gate on Turon Court-  A street that was only 1/16th of a mile at most, both ends intersecting into Celburne.  It had maybe 5 houses on the whole street, yet they gated both ends of this tiny loop.  In the coming days, however, the only streets that will remain open are Woodford Way, part of Celburne, Brampton, and Hemet for access to O’Connor Park.   My own street of Brumley now has poles, ready for its set of gates.

They are going to leave the remaining houses to rot away behind the gates.   Hide it from the public and it all will go away.   The argument could be made that it is Lambert’s land and if they choose to close off the streets, it is their business.  In fact, I truly do understand and support that notion.  I would completely be ready for the street closures if Lambert were to do one thing… finish this and demolish all the remaining homes first.   Behind the gates, some of them could sit for years without notice.   What a sad and demoralizing fate for the owners of those homes who already went through so much to lose them in the first place.   Once again, Lambert fails to do the respectful and honorable thing for the residents they threw out.   Just like the new runway itself, Lambert’s gates on the streets of Carrollton are a short-sighted plan guaranteed to create more problems in the end.

My postings to this site will probably be more erradic given that access will be extremely limited and the grinding halt of any other activity in the area.  It doesn’t feel like there is a conclusion to this story yet, not at least while there are still houses standing.  We only know snippets of the possible fate of Carrollton as a Chinese air-shipping yard, but even that can change given this fretful economy.

Meanwhile, I will continue to organize the information I have gathered, and wait and see what will happen. One last thing I’ve been sitting on for a while.  There is one last landowner in Carrollton, a family friend of ours.   When he bought property in Carrollton for Fischer & Frichtel to build, he neglected to build on one strip of land he purchased.  That particular bit of land has its own address separate from his adjacent home address, which was destroyed last winter.   Evidentially, Lambert was unaware of this land deed, and he did not go out of his way to make mention of it until demo crews attempted to remove some of his property.  As far as I know he still has the title to this bit.  I think gating off his street might be a tad bit illegal since he technically still owns his land.   Beautiful indeed.

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