Make YOUR Pinwheel!

Pinwheel Making Workshops every Tuesday in April 6-8pm at 10 Derby Square! Join us! (space is limited)mwm_invitation to participate_Page_1

You are Invited to Participate!
We’re excited to introduce Move With Me, this year’s participatory community art installation for the Salem Arts Festival.

We invite participants to connect to Salem’s continued legacy of sailing by creating pinwheels from sailcloth donated by Doyle Sailmakers, a local institution since 1982! We use the wasted bits and left over pieces to create pinwheels playfully reminiscent of power-generating turbines.

Participants connect to distant cultures by taking time to draw out cultural patterns from across the world, directly onto the sailcloth with permanent markers to withstand the rain.

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Choose a country you’d like to represent, dig up a cultural pattern, textile or motif and draw it on a sailcloth square! (Contact us for pinwheel kits.) The pinwheels lightly touch Front Street and are made of mostly recycled materials.

The multiple pinwheels above Front Street, like a movable quilt of cultural patterns, will embody the communal movement and connection of cultures across waters and land from the past to now, moving in confluence when the wind is just right.

In the months leading to the festival on June 3-5, Claudia and others will lead workshops to color and make these pinwheels. Join her at 10 Derby Square every Tuesday in April from 6-8pm!

Deadline to receive your sailcloth square(s): April 30th
Deadline to contribute your colored square(s): May 31st

CONTACT US!

Move With Me is led by Claudia Paraschiv, local architect, public artist, and founder of Salem Public Space Project. In 2014 she led the participatory project HulaArt over Artists Row. Last year, local fiber artist Kate Babcock led Front Yard Street Art. Leslie Lavesque and the Phoenix School students have been instrumental in the development of these community art projects. A big thank you to Kylie Sullivan of Main Streets for enabling it all and John Andrews of Creative Salem for documenting it all!

An Early May Walk through the Point

As we near the end of May, breezy and calm with a dash of rain, the beginning of the month seems an era ago, with its frozen ground, snow drifts, and biting wind. A Friday afternoon walk shows the neighborhood beginning to wake after a long winter: the spring thaw characterized by trees in flower and play on asphalt.

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Flowering tree on Prince Street, across from Mary Jane Lee Park.

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Salem Street is for play, not just cars!

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Balcony of toys ready for outside play in Mary Jane Lee Park.

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The middle block between Harbor and Ward Streets reveals dramatic in-between spaces; they host play, especially on small scooters and tricycles.

Tree in bloom on Harbor Street, while the historic, abandoned building awaits its future fate...

Tree in bloom on Harbor Street, while the historic, abandoned building awaits its future fate…

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A surprising view, with dramatic sky, towards Ward Street.

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The future site of the Ward Street Pocket Park has been the site of informal play for over a decade.

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Bright Blooms


Walking the Point

It’s hard to go into a place without an agenda. As I begin my walk on a Sunday morning in late April, my agenda is to photograph The Point for “The Beauty of the Point” series, (a fledgling in April). I imagine big beauty to make a big point: the neighborhood is misunderstood and here’s a photo of an ideal tree lined street to prove it.

Perhaps I am still an outsider. Perhaps I don’t see certain things. Or by simple bad luck, I miss all sorts of harmonious happenings occurring just seconds before I happen along. Or perhaps my words cannot carry to you the subtle beauty I do find; small things show joy, activity, striving, an enjoyment of life, a smile for the almost spring day.

The surrounding reality dominates these small things and, while beautiful, they tell a bittersweet tale: no one goes into a “good” neighborhood to photograph “good things.” Of course, people may go there to also set the record straight and show the loneliness of still idealized suburban bliss. Set to capture the suburban banality, the photographer unwittingly smiles at the blooming azaleas. Here, I come in search of flowers and trip over the trash. In both instances, the case for a place is complicated by its own complexity. This is what I found walking The Point in April.

The flower growing between asphalt cracks encourages me to bring out my camera. Still on the edge of the neighborhood, I walk along the path traced by Palmer Cove shore. The southern edge of The Point is not a distinct line, but depends on perception and changes like the tides.

The most popular community garden in Salem, on the edge of The Point, is alive with a half dozen people talking, planning, painting, plotting and potting. Perhaps there will be a version of this garden in the center of The Point and not on the edge, soon enough. My first stop is to look upon the sunflower bud we planted two days ago; it lies as if slain on the nutrient rich soil we brought to help it grow. Across the way in Mary Jane Lee Park, the bulletin board is up and clean but unused. With disappointment at eyelevel, I look up: the street trees relish the day and their young chartreuse buds reach up to the sky to contrast it, and my perception. This is Dow Street.

Flowers are resilient

Flowers are resilient

Community garden volunteers - springtime actions

Community garden volunteers – springtime actions

Some fertile soil, but the sunflower didn't make it

Some fertile soil, but the sunflower didn’t make it

Community Events - waiting

Community Events – waiting

Blooms on Dow Street

Blooms on Dow Street

06_Dow Street sign

I then turn North and walk along Congress Street – a potential bustling business thoroughfare, if you are to believe the musings of an older gentlemen discussing possibilities for the area at The Point Visioning meeting from several weeks before. On the corner of Harbor and Congress streets, the branches of a mature tree frame an old mural placed three stories above street level. Its bright colors convey a favorite message: this is a good neighborhood. A play car speeds down Harbor Street towards me as I cross, and some of the bodegas are open for business.

Dow Street view west

Dow Street view west

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Harbor Street mural through trees

Harbor Street mural through trees

Toy car speeds down Harbor Street

Toy car speeds down Harbor Street

I keep walking. On the other side of Harbor Street, after passing Park Street, a narrow concrete alley and the least park-like of any of the streets, I happen along two novena candles placed on the sidewalk in front of another sort of mural. This mural, at sidewalk level, is different in many ways from the city sponsored one celebrating community. The unambiguous symbols of “R.I.P” on a gravestone and the candles on the sidewalk speak of the tragedy that occurred on this very spot. The message of the earlier official mural depended on the bright colors more than the content. Here these deeper colors of brown, black, red, and green against the masonry canvas communicate somber remembrance, but the direct message it what stays in your mind.

Park Street is the least vegetated of all these streets

Park Street is the least vegetated of all these streets

The informal mural on Dow Street

The informal mural on Dow Street

Thoughts of this mural occupy me as I aimlessly walk and snap photos: on Prince Street, a shell of an ancient television set provides a tiny shelf for tiny plants to grow; on Ward Street, parked cars perfectly frame the spire of Immaculate Conception, the neighborhood church.

old television set face with new plant growth

old television set face with new plant growth

view to Immaculate Conception, the community church

view to Immaculate Conception, the community church

As I walk back down Congress Street, I come to the northern edge of The Point. Here, a fragment of a park uses a checkerboard pattern to distribute the slight trees, brick-like paving, concrete paving, concrete benches or barriers, all organized along hard lines. This small, sterile park is the threshold to the neighborhood along Congress Street; a descriptive tourist board hints at the neighborhood’s history, but this official place feels incredibly out of place. The park is an attempt at improvement, perhaps, but only symbolically.

A threshold park?

A threshold park?

official history

official history

In this dense neighborhood, space is a premium, and this piece is not useful for play or for parking and so it remains unintegrated and unused. I walk along Peabody Street and I see layers of play through chain-link fences that provide a peculiar layer of transparency and security: the small diagonal frames beg one to look through. Somehow, these fences that frame the intermingling of disparate elements provide a greater opportunity for dialogue than the straight-jacketed park.

at play

at play

Rusted gate to city land of electrical plant

Rusted gate to city land of electrical plant

artificial flowers - layers of paradox

artificial flowers – layers of paradox

layers of nature and industry

layers of nature and industry

An older mural, and the new one on the right

An older mural, and the new one on the right

22_how many sponsors does it take to paint a mural

The edges of the neighborhood certainly show the most outside investment when compared to the central streets. A new official mural, opposite the relatively new Peabody Street Park, is also unreachably high on the third story of the blank brick side of the building. At eyelevel, a plaque highlights the many donors that made this mural possible. The message here too is familiar: this is a good neighborhood. It’s not a bad message, but it must be up high, where the contrasting messages that lie closer to the ground can’t contradict it.

View from Peabody Park, looking towards The Point

View from Peabody Park, looking towards The Point

As I look back towards the neighborhood, I begin to accept the competing narratives of the area, even as much of my work strives to bolster the good – much like the City Officials. But how can this attempt for improvement be robust and not mere lip-service? One truth is that those seeking to improve must first listen – this walk was an attempt to listen.

Are the officials listening to what the community really has to say? How can the official line engage the multifaceted community threads?

How can the community more effectively express their desires?

How could such a dialogue lead official efforts to truly benefit the community they claim to want to serve?

Federal Street

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06 federal street04 federal street 03 federal street01 federal street02 federal streetI walked on Federal Street and the surrounding streets just before sunset on Sunday. This small contained neighborhood sits above bridge street and its high position gives little away about the industrial street below. Glimpses are caught of the channelized river long abandoned by the mills, and the old unused rail, rusty, awaiting its conversion to a trail. The dogs must be there in their park but I heard no sounds from below. Above, in the idyllic streets where housewrights and tailors and harness makers built these houses in long ago times like 1777 and 1804. I came at an appropriate time of day. The warm winter sun low in the sky reached to brighten the already bright colors and make it all more picturesque, which goes quite well with a January nostalgia. To my surprise I found a wide brick stair that lead down to the functional mess of Bridge Street below; I did not take it, but wondered if it was a public through way. I asked a woman who came by walking her two small dogs; she said she didn’t know, but that she had used it as such on her way to the station. Well, that is good. Perhaps I can do the same on my way to work on a morning when I’m not running late. After I met a woman from Southern California walking down Federal Street; it is her daily exercise. 08 river street