Us Verses Them

“They purposely keep us out.”

The elderly woman was talking about a barricade set up between two apartment buildings as the gated entrance to a downtown event that charges a $3 entrance fee.  The “rich” people living in the building located just inside the barricade “are welcome” to attend and “get to go free” while “poor” people living in the building right next door are, in her opinion, purposely kept out.  As if charging people who live outside the gate an entrance fee is meant to discourage local people from attending events in their own neighborhood.

It took me a minute to wrap my brain around that.

The location she described would be the best place to set up an entrance gate for an event held on Federal Plaza Central.  I offered logical explanations; she could not be swayed.  As we talked, I realized that a barricade placed between the two buildings represented a lot more to her than just the entrance gate to an event.  She saw it as a wall of separation, physical evidence of discrimination.  They get to go for free, we have to pay.  They are wanted, we are not. Us. Them. Those people. I have heard at least a dozen different people make little comments now and then about us, them, and those people.  Words like:  That’s for those people, not us.  They don’t want us here. They want us gone.

I think it stems from a sense of being excluded from city revitalization efforts.

Maybe some people have watched too many movies with story lines about revitalization of a neighborhood, usually with some underdog fighting to save their home from a wrecking ball.  That is not going to happen here.  No one is trying to push anyone out.

So, the downtown neighborhood is being sold as the hip cool place for young professionals to live, work, and play.   We need an influx of young people just to balance out, to create a vibrant mix of young and old and all types of people.  Right now, the demographics are 83% elderly and/or disabled residents.   Someday, it might be 50/50 or even 70/30.  And it won’t be from displacing old folks… the population is growing.


Quick Lesson:  Revitalization 101

Wells Building (Photo credit:  DJ, age 9)

Wells Building (Photo credit: DJ, age 9)

  See this old building with the cool lacy edge on top (lion heads or gargoyles, not sure which)?
It is the Wells Building.  Thanks to revitalization, it will be saved.

Kress Building (photo credit: DJ age 9)

Kress Building (photo credit: DJ, age 9)

Now see this building?  Or, what is left of this building as it is being demolished.
This is what happens when buildings fall into decline.  It was too far gone to save.

Any questions?

This “US verses THEM” thing has to stop because it is infiltrating my own head.  It’s like when I was walking downtown on a Saturday night and some artsy thing caught my eye.  I almost walked in to ask about it… my stopper was other people’s words in my head:  “Look where you are… that’s for them.”

Whoa.  I need to step out of the box of my own building and become active in my new (as in just moved here last fall) community as a whole before I get sucked into the undercurrent of separatism.  And not just for my own self… if I can help disperse some of this nonsense, so be it.


Purple Mud

I put myself in “GIMP school” to learn how to use GIMP software.  Basically, I’m just hitting websites with tutorials and watching YouTube how-to videos.  And playing… the best way to learn anything is to just play with it, try this and that and see what happens.

Today, I was playing with brushes.  I am so amazed that there are specialty brushes that lay down swirls and leaf shapes, hearts and clouds and all sorts of things.  I did not erase, crop, or delete… just kept laying down more.  When I needed a “clean slate” to keep going, I just colored it all in with whatever brush I was using last and picked a new color to keep going.

Here’s the results — after so much build up of colors, it was looking a little muddy.


I feel like I should do some kind of attribute to the persons who created the special brushes, kudos to them whoever they are!  This is like so cool.  And it is so much fun.


Mosaic Guitar

After posting “June Bug” today, I looked at my last post and noticed that I promised to share the photos of the mosaic guitar now that it is done.  I had posted photos on BeesATC and neglected to post here, so my apologies!

Mosaic Guitar FRONT

Mosaic Guitar

Mosaic Guitar BACK

Mosaic Guitar BACK

If you want to see it in person, it will be in the  32nd Annual YWCA “Women Artists: A Celebration!” show June 21 to July 19, 2014 at the YWCA of Youngstown building located at 25 Rayen Avenue in Youngstown, Ohio.  Tickets are required for the opening night preview party, otherwise the hours are Monday – Saturday, 12 to 4 PM (closed on July 4-5 and all Sundays except July 13th).

The mosaic guitar is priced at $300 because it is my first mosaic guitar and it is not perfect so I would not feel right asking top dollar.   It is grouted and sealed for indoor display.  The back of the neck is painted (not tiled) so it could be hung on the wall with a standard U hook bracket used for hanging guitars.

NOTE:  click on photos if you want to see it bigger.

A treble clef made of copper wire dangles in the sound hole as a tribute to American artist Lily Harmon (1912-1998) because I got hit by a Deja vu when I walked into the Butler Museum of American Art to see her life retrospective show (Trumbull County Branch, 1997?) and saw her guitar assemblage with the strawberry hanging in the sound hole.   I recognized it.  I  knew I had seen that same strawberry dangling inside an old guitar repurposed as art years ago (before 1970?) as it had captured my full attention when I was a child absorbing the colors and textures of art up like a little sponge.   Our guitars may look nothing alike (hers was assemblage art, mine is mosaic, different designs and everything) but my thoughts often turned to her while I was working on this guitar.  I knew that I had to hang a dangle in the sound hole as my way of saying thank you to an artist who influenced future generations.

There are no strings because when some old guitars die, they donate their organs (reusable parts: tuners, nut, bridge, etc.) to cigar box guitar makers so the music can live on.