The need to repair, improve, and some would say beautify America’s aging infrastructure, helped U.S. President Joe Biden score some major political points with the passage of his $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in November 2021. It will be a while before the majority of Americans get to experience actual physical results of the accomplishment and come to fully appreciate what it means.
The power of art, however, is such that it allows creatives like Lady Pink, Banksy, and Eduardo Kobra to apply their particular visions of future possibilities for public architectures more immediately. Even public areas subject to war can function as art installations which convey messages more aligned with hope and beauty.
The henry Street underpass in Savannah, Georgia, is a very unique feature of the city’s infrastructure. Its solid design appears more than capable of continuing for years to support the freight cars which rumble across the rail tracks above it nearly every day. The walls of the underpass have also long proven an ideal space for various visual artists to express themselves. I have not been as bold as some to place images directly on the walls of the underpass, but the structure has inspired creative efforts by me more than once.
The first time I shared the story of my enduring interest in the Henry Street underpass was in June 2018 when I completed work on two fine art photographs: “Henry Street Underpass Number 1 and Number 2.” With those images, I mostly wanted to document what stood out for me as the passageway’s amazing design largely defined by giant steel X’s. I had walked through it many times as a child but only much later, after leaving and returning for extended stays, did it strike me as something extraordinary.
More recently, I wondered what it might look like to utilize the space as the setting for an art installation. The prospect was an unlikely one to attempt on the street itself but completely doable as reimaginings presented on a mixed-media canvas. With that in mind, I have been able to produce a series of "Henry Street Underpass Art Portal” art pieces. A detail from Number 1 is seen above. Two complete images are now available for purchase on Fine Art America.com and Pixels.com.
It is obvious that art cannot accomplish the kind of work which machinery and engineering will over the next few years as different types of infrastructures are reinforced, or completely replaced. What it can do is help us remember that notions of progress do not have to come at the expense of beauty or mindfulness in our lives. In fact, each can help enhance the valued purpose of the other.
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Glowing Wings of Freedom 2023 with and without text are the second and third mixed media painting editions of my 2017 artwork titled Glowing Bird of Midnight Love. The original work featured the following quote from the book Visions of A Skylark Dressed In Black.
“I see your wings are made
of many kingdoms,
nations, and stories
oh glowing bird of midnight love…”
The quote for the 2023 text edition comes from the book The River of Winged Dreams. As seen below, it is part of a poem titled “Angel of Hope’s Persistent Flight.” The poem was first written as a chain of haiku to commemorate Barack Obama’s historic election to the U.S. Presidency. It is shared with this 2023 creation to commemorate the first year anniversary of the people Ukraine’s valiant battle to remain an independent sovereign democratic nation.
The heartbreak of millions of refugees and the economic crises which have resulted from the conflict with Russia over the past year have impacted communities around the world. But none, where this particular war is concerned, have suffered more or fought harder to preserve the values of what we call “freedom” and “democracy” than Ukrainians themselves.
Angel of Hope’s Persistent Flight
Wreaths of nuclear ash
decorate civilian hearts
with unresolved blood.
Greed, crowned emperor,
rules the earth with cold disdain
for harmony’s path.
War poisons the land
like diseased minds downloaded
into bowls of tears.
Chaos, loving none
so much as itself, slurps and
spits dead souls like bones.
What is belief now?
What is faith that will not die?
What news from heaven?
In midnight’s orchard
roses blossom the secrets
that heal daylight’s wounds.
Beats of broken hearts
flow waves of revelation––
open gates to strength.
Cradled in scorched arms,
a soldier’s moon keeps its vows––
shines persistent hope.
This love that God is
curves in figure eights greater
than both time and space.
Death wins nothing here,
gnawing wings that amputate––
then spread, lift up, fly.
(from The River of Winged Dreams)
Contemporary award-winning American author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.