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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Saturday, May 30, 2020

HAPPY 50TH WESTBETH

I believe it was 1973, my father began work with Ellen Stewart over at LaMama. Ellen was the connection that got us in to Westbeth. My mom still lives in the same apartment that we grew up in and remains doing service there. Funny the original formula for that building was you had to be an artist- understanding that a four year rotation was required, to allow a continual flow of enabling to occur for other artists. However, I do not think Westbeth ever upheld that original by law, my mom is still there along with most of the families that I grew up with. My father left almost 2 years after we moved in, and even though my mom was not a "direct artist", she was involved in art works with her tap dancing in Nam June Paik pieces. My mom is an avid seamstress an sewing artist. She made alot of my clothes when I was litte and all of our costumes for halloween- specifically for one of the plays my brother was in at PS 41 called The Evolution of Resolution for the Pollution Solution - the costumes that my mom sewed for that production were amazing and professional! There were hats and colorful fabrics, mega padding like shit u see at disney world---- to bring forth the real feeling of the characters -a Gertrude the grape and a Strawberry, Sammy String Bean, and Tulula tomato.... among others! We were always playing dress up! Our neighbors next door- my brother and I always put on rock shows` lip syncing our favorite musicians, recreating the marx brothers or a movie we saw in the theater. My mom even choreographed my fifth grade graduation performance. Always involved with school , community and service of many kinds. Perhaps it was the RN, in her, as a registered nurse - my mom remains to be tapped in at Westbeth. She was sewing homemade masks for co-vid most recently! Westbeth is an unusual place, if you have ever been there - you understand. The long hallways with the white Ball lights ~ exasperating the repetition of a lengthy vibe of a mental institution. Colorful walls on certain floors and black arrows on the doors of apartments on 3 6 and 9 being those were the duplex floors. The energy was peculiar. Perhaps it was the left over vibes from all the Bell Lab activity. Among the suicides. When we moved in , I was about three or four. Growing up there- it felt like a huge world in and of itself. We could explore for endless hours, an to actually be able to go thru unlocked doors and crawl thru spaces to get to cubby holes within old chimmneys. Old basement corridors that lead in an out of itself, to staircases that brought you to whole other worlds yet still connected. Certain sections had different vibes. There were narrow stairwells and grand stairwells, ramps and a inside basketball play court next to the laundry room. The basement was a labyrinth but really it was the entire building in itself. It was a raw space of new an old. There were things still left to explore, as I remember- upon one journey thru- we made it upstairs in the A section- a staircase beyond a stairwell- there was a whole area virtually left untouched. There were over turned desks with papers strewn all over, chairs, drawers opened- secretarial utensils still in their place - filing cabinets some empty some just left full - like they hadn't made it over to cleaning up that section yet. But as a youngster, to see the world today. Everything is locked, watched over, nothing left to explore. The memory of heightened senses , being in abandoned places felt like a kingdom for a young mind.... all the possibilities - like floating thru time- exploring a time capsule this was Our private inside playground. This was my age of reason. There was the courtyard with Quadrahedron jungle gyms on padded matts - a community co op play group with milk crate chairs, apple juice an graham crackers. Carrying mothers and a community of self absorbed artists that gave way to a freedom not many kids have today. The world, our world was different then. The sense of freedom to explore was what Westbeth was about. and even an enormous fountain with lights at night the rest within a circle of cement circles. We all loved to hop across them as fast as we could , risking a slip to a concrete slab to the head, knee or what have you. You could smell the water in the air as you entered the courtyard from bank st. They had a theater there and the Halloween Parade always kicked off in our courtyard. The Witch would travel on a rope across one building roof to the adjacent building . Setting off the parade of Bread and puppets giant stilted creatures an costumes, drums an music. The celebrations in the early days were innocent an free and as time passed, it seemed more of a nuisance then a pleasure. or had I just gotten older? The streets no longer could contain the masses and eventually the parade was moved. But we always got the best candy collection when we were little. Halloween was somehow very fitting for our building. It was creepy. Something about my childhood always had me feeling like I was special, chosen, unique/ whether it was growing up in Westbeth or NYC Somewhat like Adams Family- having a dad that was an actor, or stepdad that seemed ordinary but came from a self made elevator business, that provided us with lots of life journeys, constantly traveling- either to visit my father- whom moved away from the cruelty of an unfulfilling broadway/ off broadway NYC life- off to Cambridge Mass. just as I entered seventh grade at I.S.70. These journey's Provided perspective and time to ease the bedeviled mind of a one bathroom , tiny loft filled with a rising teenage angst of never feeling like I ever quite fit in anywhere. It's hard to believe Westbeth turns 50 this year! About a year ago there was a call for artists to contribute a new logo idea for the 50th Anniversary, but nothing came of it I had alot of fun messing around!! Word has it- There is a new logo on the table for discussion at Westbeth and no one knows what it looks like but in my opinion there is one logo for Westbeth that is & always will be the ONLY LOGO for WESTBETH. I have a hard time with change! I just hope people of Westbeth step on speak out!