Friday, June 30, 2017

Public Art

I've written before of how my limited artistic talents have proven beneficial at the school (for example, read “Graphic Arts” or “I'm no Michelangelo”). However, I've been doing a lot of work away from the school as well lately.

I don't have any pictures, but I painted the name and the registration number on both sides of a fishing boat at the nearby port of Anse-de-Mai. Another fisherman wants me to do his boat as well. Rather than paying me cash, I arranged for fish to be donated for feeding the Courts for Kids people who are coming to build the playing court in my village at the end of July. [Special thanks to those of you who donated to this project! I can still get donations over the next ten days or so if you want to help.]

I've also done some painting for the Village Council. To promote our annual village feast—known as “Fete Thibaud” in the kweyol language—I painted the wall along the road near the beach where the feast is held. I only did a red outline of the letters to preserve the yellow and black traffic control theme of the existing wall.

I told my students (this wall is across from the school entrance) that all the letters look like they are dancing (or drunk), except for the letter “U”—which is also a bit thinner than the other letters. I told them that is because I want all of them to stay on the “straight and narrow,” so I crafted that life advice reminder into the sign.
The new bat cave trail is important to the future of our village. In order to make drive through tourists more aware of it, I painted a mural on the front of the building known as the fundraising center that the Village Council owns along the main road. I wanted to make it similar to the logo for the old Batman television show. As it turned out, I was working on this mural the weekend that Adam West, the actor who portrayed Batman on television, died. Thus, it is a bit of my own personal tribute to him. I especially like the picture above (that someone else had taken without my knowledge) because it shows me explaining what I was doing to one of my young first graders.
I also wanted to promote Fete Thibaud along the side of the fundraising center that faces oncoming traffic. To the left of the doorway (see above), I have a festive “Fete” in different colored letters above a calligraphy version of Thibaud. To the right of the doorway (see below), the date of the village feast is explained in terms that won't require repainting each year (ignore the exposed wiring for the missing electric meter).
I've shown this “Welcome to Thibaud” sign that I painted on the bus stop before, but I have since gone back and added a dark shadowing to make the letters stand out more. I'm limited in paint color selection, as it is expensive here and I must rely on donated paint.
There is no signage along the main road to Portsmouth alerting drivers where to turn off to go to Thibaud. Most Dominicans already know where everything is, so road signs are not that important to them. I walked out to the main road a few weeks ago and looked for possibilities to increase our visibility and awareness to drivers. All I could find that was available was this end of an 8 inch wide concrete retaining wall near the turnoff. It isn't much, but at least now we have some form of presence along the main road that we didn't have before. Little steps can lead to big changes.
Finally, I did this painting today for my landlord's shop along the main road. She seemed to like the Old English look to the lettering (that is her husband standing in the doorway in the picture below). It may not be perfect, but at least we are getting a bit more of a presence along the roadway. When I first got here, you could drive through the village and never know the name of it. It wasn't very inviting to outsiders. My hope is that in some way these “public art” projects will eventually help to bring in some much needed tourist money. This village can certainly use it!

P.S. I thought I'd share with you what I had for lunch today. We got out of school early today (thus no school lunch), so I purchased some pig snout soup from one of the shops to have for lunch today. Pig's feet, pig tail, and pig snout are commonly used in Caribbean cooking, and they really aren't all that bad. I have described pig snout as tasting like ham, only chewier.

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