Many of you have asked about my parents. I mentioned in my last newsletter that they were living in a Red Cross shelter waiting to see if their home would survive the California fires. Unfortunately, it did not. When they were finally allowed to drive up and check almost two weeks later, they found nothing left to salvage.
Not only did they lose their home, their place of security, comfort, and safety, but also all their belongings. With no time to pack during the immediate evacuation, they left with barely more than the clothes on their backs. Gone are their photos, their treasured objects, and my mother’s quilts she handmade over decades. To lose your home and all your possessions in your 80’s is a hard thing.
The silver lining during this emergency was the American Red Cross and the Sonoma community. I spoke to my parents almost every day during their evacuation. They were set up in the local high school, sleeping on cots lined up in tight formations. Around them were other evacuees, children, and pets. The shelter had an almost festive mood as the community and Red Cross provided games, meals, nurses, and hairdressers to fill the time and provide support. My parents, who were rather isolated in their home, were able to connect with others, share stories, and pet dogs. Every time I spoke to them, they raved about how nice everyone was and how the community united to support their neighbors (with clothing and toiletry donations), while a local gym opened its doors so people could take showers. Even when they were invited to stay at a friend’s home, they chose to stay at the shelter.
They are now at a crossroads. Do they rebuild which could take years? Or move to live near me or my brother? Perhaps they look for a senior community to replicate the social aspect they enjoyed during the evacuation? I hope they reflect on how they enjoyed being part of a community these past two weeks when determining their next step. I’ll let you know.
The Red Cross made a very difficult situation so much better for my parents. Won’t you please donate to the American Red Cross? Click here.
I was recently selected as one of 14 artists to submit work for one of four New York City subway stations. I submitted my proposal two weeks ago and I am waiting to hear back soon (fingers crossed everyone, and send good karma this way). The project is quite large requiring 140 horizontal feet of artwork! I can’t fit the whole work on this page, but here are a few “snippets”. My design illustrates a world where diverse individuals (the flowers) live together without prejudice or intolerance. In this world, every flower is unique and varied, and thrives in harmony with its neighboring blossoms.
To get my own feel for Astoria, I walked around the 30th Avenue neighborhood. This community is a true melting pot of humanity. Stand on a street corner for five minutes, and you’ll hear a half a dozen languages. Watch the pedestrians, and see headscarves, yarmulkes, turbans, and Mets caps that only hinted at the mélange of different cultures that live in the area. It seems that everyone here has found their place, and that place supports the tolerance of others.
Designs and Metaphor:
The fanciful design of my diversity garden represents the Astoria neighborhood. The wild assortment of flowers pose as the diversity of nationalities, religions, and cultural traditions existing in this community. These differences complement each other and it is the vast variety of the botanical species that make the garden so appealing. Metaphorically, my garden microcosm celebrates a post racial/bias world where differences and similarities are celebrated and supported by all members of a community. I believe Astoria is growing into such a community. The ribbons weaving through the flowers suggest the connectivity of the residents in this urban neighborhood and the many ways they touch each other’s lives.
I created the flowers similar in size to the subway commuters. As people walk by the blossoms, I hope they feel that they too are part of this colorful garden, just one more welcomed flower in the tolerant landscape of Astoria.
If you follow my Instagram account (@kathyfergusonart), you’ll know that I love street art. I don’t mean that horrible tagging of initials that defaces everything it touches. I am referring to the beautiful, creative art murals by street artists that grace many city buildings.
Brazilian artist Binho Ribeiro
Long Island City has a history of great street art beginning with the famous 5Pointz building. It was once considered a mecca for graffiti artists before its demolition in 2014. Fortunately, Art Org NYC is bringing back great street art with “Top to Bottom”, a curated public mural project in Queens. One of these projects is across the street from my studio and I get to see new artwork created almost every week.
Artist dMote – I love the tongue in cheek story of the street artist being chased from the scene
Top to Bottom is a series of murals by more than 50 artists, painted on the three-story exterior of a city block long building at 43-01 21st Street in Long Island City. If you go, make sure that you walk all the way around the building, looking both high and low – there’s a lot to see! You might even see an artist hard at work creating a new masterpiece. I have included some photos of my favorites.
Back on April 6, 2014, I posted some small paintings I did of the New School building in New York City. I can’t seem to get enough of this building. So here I go again with another larger, abstract version of it. I’m just living with the painting for now, waiting for it to tell me if it’s finished or not. Let me know what you think. Stop or keep going? Suggestions? Thank you in advance for your input.
“New School Refractions”, Acrylic on Panel, 24″ x 30″.