Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

a little crazy

There’s nothing good about an inch of ice on the sidewalk, but there’s nothing not to like about a gigantic snowman with a farm-fresh carrot nose—that’s apparently been stolen.

During my last visit to New York, one of my Road Runners friends asked a question that touches the core of this blog. “When you’re here do you ever think we’re crazy for the way we live?”

Well, yes.

It was especially bad this time amid talk of laying off 20,000 (!) teachers—basically anyone hired in the last five years. Streets had not been plowed because (a) the Sani workers wanted to send a message or (b) there had just been big cuts or (c) incompetent leadership.

Responses to the above varied according to union affiliation and/or attraction to conspiracy theories. Trash piled in man-sized mounds and everyone was grateful that the sub-freezing temps kept the smell and vermin at bay. A novel solution: instead of picking up trash, place it in deep freeze, kind of like left-over turkey parts from Thanksgiving. Wait a minute: those are leftovers from Thanksgiving!

These dark thoughts swam in my head as I ice-skated down the un-shoveled sidewalk to a final brunch date before catching the train back to Virginia. After five minutes in a great café with my friend Amelia, I couldn’t care less about the street conditions. The people are what keep me coming back and they’re still amazing, inspiring, and full of surprises.

After brunch, she took me on a tour of her new gallery and my mind was repeatedly blown away by the things I saw. She showed me a video of a dance performance from Brazil that was gorgeous in its simplicity. The other works on display explore some of the issues that are front and center in my own practice and they do what art does best: reminds us that we are not alone in our emotions. I felt invigorated and ready to jump back into life, somehow restored.

Then it was time for me to rush off to the train station after a quick hug and a last smile. I’ll be glad to return to warmer and greener climes but I’m easily reminded how great it is in New York and why we went there in the first place. It’s all very exceptional and a little bit crazy.

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