13 November 2009

Park(ing) Day came to Jackson Heights.

Photo: Hrag Vartanian.

Had I read at all about the coming of “Park(ing) Day” to my neighborhood on 18 September, I probably dismissed it as not being relevant or interesting. More than likely I confused it with the unfortunately similarly named “It’s My Park Day” which I avoided because of its emphasis on families and children. If I anticipate crowds of screaming, running children, I scream and run the opposite direction. If I expect throngs of babies in strollers, I stroll someplace else.

Photo: Haci Richard.

That day turned out to be a busy one for me anyway. After staying up late at Elevate meeting guys on whom I developed crushes, I probably slept right through Park(ing) Day before marking the Jewish new year by running out to LGBT Night at Asia Society’s Leo Bar. The front door of my apartment building was also barricaded at the time due to construction that necessitated my coming and going via the service entrance. Due to all these poor excuses, I did not attend.

Photo: Hrag Vartanian.

Despite my lack of attendance, a small, temporary park called “Stone Soup Park” was nevertheless assembled across parking spaces in front of our Aqua Clara Laundromat, the location chosen because of the participation of the Laundromat Project who “bring art programs to where our neighbors already are: the local laundromat” and thereby “aim to raise the quality of life in New York City for people whose incomes do not guarantee broad access to mainstream arts and cultural facilities.”

Photo: Hrag Vartanian.

That art program was The Photo Booth Without Borders by local artist Carlos Martínez (site, micro-’blog, Facebook) who was sponsored by the Laundromat Project’s Create Change Public Artist Residency Program to develop artwork specific to the neighborhood, and whose fascinating installation did this by “recording participants’ personal stories and taking photographs of them interacting inside the booth.” (I assume “Create Change” to be a double entendre that also refers to the coin-operated laundry.) Live music was even performed by tango trio Mi, Miha & Me.

In addition to the movie above, Carlos also made one about the creation of the piece, and Hrag uploaded two videos (1, 2) shot at the event.

In retrospect, I wish I had attended, but at least there was one gay, Near Eastern person present enjoying and documenting the event: Hrag Vartanian, whose pictures adorn this article. Pictures and videos by Haci Richard are also online, but they seem to confirm my worst fears that it became an occasion for parents to dominate such a small space by stuffing so many children and strollers into it that childfree adults cannot enjoy themselves.

Photo: Haci Richard.

Updated, 11 December 2009: I found an additional set of photographs by L.M.
Updated, 29 December 2009: And two more by C.C.F. and C.M.


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