Monday, July 6, 2015

Rickie Lee credits New Orleans for her renewal

By Alex Rawls
New Orleans Advocate

When Bruce Springsteen brought singer Rickie Lee Jones onstage during his Jazz Fest appearance in 2014, it was the answer to a “whatever happened to” question.
In 1979, Jones’ self-titled debut album produced two hits, “Chuck E.’s in Love” and “Coolsville.” She was on the cover of Rolling Stone. She won a Grammy for best new artist and was enough of a celebrity to have a signature style item — her beret.
She pursued her love of jazz-inflected pop and soul through the ’80s and into the ’90s, but her audience dwindled along the way.
Her music stayed good and her voice became an even more distinctive, better controlled instrument, but Jones was out of step with the moment.
It was such a musically dynamic time that she had a hard time being heard
“To have been the foremost female pop singer and have no one know you is humbling,” Jones said.
Her generation still remembers her impact, but another has grown up without an awareness of her.
“The gift of something like that is that you have to harness an inner strength and an inner confidence,” she said.
Rickie Lee Jones is back with a new album, “The Other Side of Desire,” which was released Tuesday.
She has been a New Orleans resident since October 2013, and she credits the move for helping her reconnect to the joy of making music.
Before the move, Jones lived in Los Angeles, but it had become a dead end. She’d become discontented and hyperconscious of her work, second-guessing her musical choices. Even her friends became hard to see.
“I was so lonely there,” she said. “The thing that happened for me here was that wherever I went — and this must have something to do with what I was seeking and maybe changed myself — people looked me in the eye and said, ‘Good morning.’ They’re not doing that in L.A.”
Dr. John first introduced Jones to New Orleans in 1989 when the two recorded a version of “Makin’ Whoopie” together.
He sent her out to meet James Booker and the Neville Brothers, among others. That visit made enough of an impression that she was startled by the number of tourists she saw when she moved here.
“When I go to the Quarter, which is still really enchanting to me, every block has tourists,” she said. “I don’t feel the indigenous population like I did back then. I’m sure they’re still there, but I don’t feel them.”
Creatively, Jones had been in a bad place, but things started to turn around here.
She struck up a friendship with the Lost Bayou Ramblers’ Louis Michot, and that helped her think of songwriting not as a business or a sellable product but as simple creativity.
She came to think of writing songs as part of how people connect and communicate, and the process became easier.
Their friendship inspired her to write “Waltz de Mon Pere,” her first song for “The Other Side of Desire.”
She said her writing process has always been a slow one in which ideas come to her, get written down, and over time some lines get built on while others are removed and replaced. Because it’s laborious, she has traditionally written only when she needed to for an upcoming album, but that changed in New Orleans.
“I’m still writing,” she said. “Almost every day, I’m still hearing music. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s safe to leave the levers open and keep writing and listening.”
Despite its title, “Waltz de Mon Pere” and most of the songs on the album sound like they could only have come from Jones.
Since her debut album, Jones has populated her songs with the people life overlooks, people who look for and offer gestures of human warmth — frequently boozy ones — because that’s all they have to give.
The core band on the album is made up of longtime New Orleanians — Jon Cleary, James Singleton, Shane Theriot and Doug Belote — but they only exert mild gravitational pull on “The Other Side of Desire.”
Jones’ fans will very clearly recognize it as a Rickie Lee Jones album.
For the first time, Jones involved fans in the recording process. She funded the sessions with a Pledge Music campaign and kept contributors abreast of the album’s progress through a series of blog posts.
Some big donors got a chance to visit the studio, which took some adjustment for Jones.
“If it would have happened at some other time (in my career) it would have been intolerable,” Jones said. She thought of this album as a “family project,” and that helped her get her mind around the visitors.
“My family had just gotten bigger. As it turned out, every one of them was a really neat person. They were all OK.”
When Jones joined Springsteen onstage at Jazz Fest, it was as much of a surprise for her as it was for the crowd.
Springsteen guitarist Nils Lofgren and his wife are fans of Jones, and when Jones saw that Springsteen was playing Jazz Fest, she reached out to Lofgren’s wife to say hello. They invited her to visit them backstage, and when Springsteen saw her, he got a bunch of lyrics and went over some songs for her to sing.
“When I was up there singing, he came over and said, ‘Don’t leave the stage,’ ” she remembered. As the set continued, the band went into songs she didn’t know, but she stood with his wife and backing vocalist Patti Scialfa and did what she could. “I don’t think my mic was on,” Jones said, laughing.
“He said, ‘We love you, and we’re so glad you’re back,’ and I wasn’t back yet. It was, ‘All of us are waiting for you,’ and to walk up and say that to me was — oh, my heart.”

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Maafa ceremony recalls enslaved ancestors


By Mary Rickard
New Orleans Advocate


The millions of Africans and their descendents who suffered and perished in slavery will be remembered on the morning of Saturday, July 4, with singing, dancing, drumming and prayer during the 15th annual Maafa Commemoration. According to a statement from Ashe Cultural Arts Center, sponsors of the event, Maafa is a Kiswahili word meaning “horrific tragedy.”
The two-hour ceremony begins at 7 a.m. at Congo Square and will be followed by a procession winding though the historic Treme neighborhood, the French Quarter and ending at the Mississippi River, where slave ships landed. White carnations will be tossed into the river at Woldenberg Park where the procession will conclude. Participants are asked to wear white attire for the ceremonies.
Carol Bebelle, Ashe Cultural Arts Center executive director, said, “The local Maafa Commemoration offers an opportunity for the whole community to pause and reflect on this great transgression against humanity. It allows us to personally, and as a community, agree to distance ourselves institutionally, in word and deed, from that transgression, its legacy and the evolved practice of racism in our civic, social, spiritual and personal lives.”
The healing ceremony in Congo Square will include inter-faith words of healing, a tribute to the indigenous people of Louisiana and the release of white doves of peace. Senegal’s Morikeba Kouyate will play traditional music on the kora, a West African harp.
Ancestors will be honored by name, including victims of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the levee breaches, bombings in Boston, the Mother’s Day shooting in New Orleans and other incidents of senseless violence.
According to Luther Gray, coordinator of Ashe’s community and cultural programs, Congo Square is important because it was the only place in the Antebellum South where enslaved African-Americans and people of color could practice their rituals and communicate in their own language.
“We’re 200 years removed, but the spiritual energy is still there,” Gray said. “It’s not just something in the past.”
According to Gray, American Indians in the area were the ones who made Congo Square sacred ground, with their rituals during the corn harvests, before the arrival of the French.
At the ceremony, Queen Chief Warhorse, chief of the Tchufuncta Nation, Chahta Tribe, will speak, while the Treme Fi-Yi-Yi Mardi Gras Indians perform, he said.
At 9 a.m., drummers, musicians, Mardi Gras Indians and African dancers will lead the gathering of participants in a procession, first stopping at the Tomb of the Unknown Slave beside St. Augustine Catholic Church. Guides will be stationed at several significant locations, including the former site of the convent of Sisters of the Holy Family, a Catholic order of free women of color founded by Henriette DeLille; former slave auction sites at Cafe Maspero and Royal Orleans; and the Louisiana Supreme Courthouse where Homer Adolph Plessy appealed a racial segregation law in the case, Plessy v. Fergusson.
Historically, slaves, American Indians and free people of color congregated at Congo Square on Sundays to sell goods and reaffirm their heritage. New Orleans was the only place in the South where drums had not been forbidden. To this day, members of the Congo Square Preservation Society meet weekly to continue the legacy of drumming.
The Code Noir created laws for slavery in French colonies, including rules for punishment but also gave slaves the right to marry, keep families together and have Sundays free from work. These laws affecting enslaved persons were unique to Louisiana.
“New Orleans is a Sunday city, based on the fact that it was a free day,” Gray said.
Celebrations commemorating African ancestors who endured the Middle Passage take place annually in many cities, including San Francisco; Houston; Montgomery, Alabama; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; New York; and Rio de Janeiro.
Shuttles will be available to return people to Congo Square after the ceremony concludes.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Teacher learned about New Orleans 'specialness'

By Mark Guarino

NEW ORLEANS ADVOCATE


The roots of Melanie Deffendall’s family go deep in New Orleans. Her ancestors arrived in the city in 1721 and generations since have stayed put. Before Katrina hit and the levees broke, she was enjoying a life she established in Gentilly Woods: gardening, enjoying her home, and teaching at nearby Delgado Community College. On May 5, 2006, her son Benjamin interviewed her about her past, the impact of the storm and what lay ahead. What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation.

Benjamin Deffendall: Mom, what was it like to live in New Orleans during the ’50s and ’60s?
Melanie Deffendall: I was telling my coworkers about the wagons that used to come down the street when I was 4 or 5. We had the waffle wagon, the rag wagon, the vegetable and fruit wagon. So it was a simpler time than it is now. We didn’t have a TV until I was about 5, which was OK. We lived in a working-class neighborhood. Segregation was still in place. We always lived in neighborhoods that were mixed, black and white. Different streets, but in close proximity to each other. I don’t know, I just don’t want to live anywhere else. I will probably stay here until we all have to leave. When you visit other places, you realize how different New Orleans is. Even at my age, I didn’t realize how different it was until we had to evacuate.
BD: What is it about New Orleans that makes you not want to leave?
MD: I think it’s because we have such a different attitude about things. If you think about all the hurricanes that have devastated Florida and Texas and Mississippi, nobody’s had blue tarp fashion shows, nobody’s had comedy on gutted refrigerators that you don’t dare open. People look at things differently here. They’re more relaxed, more laid back. I think it’s just a way of life and an attitude that attracts people to come here but they don’t take it home. And we just try to enjoy life. Not do things so rigidly.
BD: Tell me about your family.
MD: My family had a lot of characters. My grandmother and her sister were named Thelma and Louise. They ran liquor over to the Gulf Coast during Prohibition for money. My mother had one leg, she had a brother with one arm, and another brother who was deaf.
My dad made false teeth. And when I was a kid he would bring home all kinds of people that didn’t have teeth. There was a guy on Canal Street with no legs and he was on a little platform on wheels and he sold pencils during the day. But he didn’t have teeth so my dad brought him home. We lived in a house with stairs. And he had these two blocks of wood with handles and he would pull himself up the stairs like that. Well my mother had one leg but we didn’t know anybody with no legs. So we were just fascinated.
We had two old ladies that used to come that my dad made teeth for. And they would come every week to get them adjusted. They would bring stuff from the bakery. So we were always glad to see them. One day my dad said to me, “Go downstairs.” He had a laboratory down in the basement of the house. And he said, “Have a seat.” He didn’t do a thing to the teeth, all he did was clean them. He sat down and smoked a cigarette, took them back upstairs. They would say, “Oh, much better.” It was just an outing for them. Then we had another friend of my dad’s who was a plumber. He could do pushups with all four of us sitting on his back. We were really impressed because he was only about 5 feet tall but he was really strong.
[Jazz clarinetist] Pete Fountain was a friend of your grandfather’s. They grew up in the same neighborhood. When he finished playing a gig, he would go by grannie’s house. They were all younger. He would bring hot French bread and she’d make the coffee and they would sit up and just drink coffee and eat French bread. Two or three o’clock in the morning. They didn’t mind that.
BD: How has your life been different than you imagined?
MD: Since last August it has quite a bit different. We had a complete lifestyle change, all of us. You leave your house with three days worth of clothes and expect maybe two weeks without electricity. Then the storm passes and you wake up to find out how it’s going and find your entire city is under water. I don’t think the total catastrophic nature of the event sunk in. So we are still trying to figure out, “now what?”
I thought I had a pretty comfortable life. I was pretty set, liked my house, liked my yard, the garden was pretty good. Now I have studs in the roof. Furniture from other people, donations. I really don’t have a place to keep them because I don’t know what to do with my house until they tell us what we can do. Then FEMA says if you rebuild and you don’t meet code, we can fine you. We have nothing, and you’re going to fine us for fixing our house so we have a place to live?
Most of us feel like gypsies. We have things here, there and everywhere. It’s a hard time. And people are not getting better mentally. They are getting worse.
BD: What was the most important lesson you learned?
MD: Stuff is not important at all. It’s nice to have things, but it’s the people and your relationships with people. They don’t have anything either. They’re as wiped out as we are. But they share. Whatever you have, you just share with everybody else. I think people have now a new love for New Orleans. All things New Orleans, we have to go. If you have French Quarter Fest, people show up, Jazz Fest, people go. Small concerts, people go. People are going out and trying to be with other people. Because of course it’s not nice to be at your house now.
BD: What do you want to say to people about all of this?
MD: You can’t give up. You have to come back and you have to make it right. You can’t keep out whole sections of the population because you think they’re not worthy or poor or uneducated, or have some kind of past you don’t like. Everybody should be able to come back. I don’t think housing projects are a good thing, but they could have repaired some of those housing projects much easier than they dragged all those trailers in here.
It’s the people who make New Orleans. It’s not the place so much. You can’t transplant yourself somewhere else; it just doesn’t work. We have to join together. We need to get some clear answers. We all feel we have no leadership whatsoever. So everyone’s out there doing their own thing and we’re not moving forward as fast as we should. We feel great abandonment by the government. We don’t have enough mental health professionals here. People are really wigging out. We need help.
BD: Anything else you want to say?
MD: Let’s talk about All Saint’s Day. That bothered me a lot this year. I always went to the cemetery and put flowers. And I couldn’t. And it was my job to carry that forward. It was a big day, you got dressed up, you went to the cemetery and you went out to eat. It’s really pretty because the flowers are all over the whole place. Couldn’t get in there this year. I guess when I die you’ll have to do it. Because no one else does.
Deffendall returned to work at Delgado, where she teaches sociology and created the Irma Thomas Center for Women in Search of Excellence that empowers female students to stay in school and on a path to success.
Even though she says she is “dreading” the 10-year anniversary of Katrina, she finds she often talks about her experience with students. The stories, she believes, need to be told.
“I don’t think it helps me, I think it helps them,” she said. “For me, it’s like picking at a scab. Once you do it, things start bubbling up really fast. I think that’s true for a lot of us.”
It took three years for Deffendall, 63, to return to her home, which took more than four feet of water. Those early years of living in a FEMA trailer took perseverance but she says she is encouraged that her neighborhood is now just starting to look better. Abandoned lots are being purchased and empty homes are getting occupied.
But to her, New Orleans still has a long way to go. “I really don’t think we’re there yet,” she says. “I had a plan that my house would be paid for when I was retired. But now I will die probably owing money on this house,” she said. “Katrina had long-term effects that people don’t think about.”

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Harold Battiste, composer, producer, dies

By: WWL-TV

Harold Battiste, the prolific New Orleans jazz musician whose work as a composer, producer and arranger helped shape the careers of Sonny and Cher, Sam Cooke, Dr. John and dozens of others, died Friday. He was 83.
Friends and family posted news of Battiste's death after a lengthy illness.
As a producer and arranger, Battiste was the man behind a string of number one hits by artists locally and nationally, including Barbara George's "I Know (You Don t Love Me No More)", Joe Jones' "You Talk Too Much," Lee Dorsey's "Ya Ya" and Sam Cooke's "You Send Me."
After moving to Los Angeles in the 1970s (where he spent 30 years in the music industry), he also shaped the early careers of Sonny and Cher, the singing duo with whom he worked for 15 years, earning them six gold records. Battiste also acted as musical director on their television series. He also made the arrangement and led the band for "I Got You Babe," the No. 1, million-selling song that made Sonny and Cher a hit recording act in the summer of 1965.
"Sonny wouldn't do anything without me," Battiste told The Advocate music writer John Wirt in a 2010 interview. "Sonny knew what I could do better than I knew. He told me, 'Man, you're better than most of these cats out here!' But I didn't know that anything that I did had that much value. I got $125 for 'I Got You Babe.' That's all."
According to Wirt, Battiste didn't reap big financial rewards from Sonny and Cher, but his work with the duo did mean he could fulfill his highest priority, supporting his family. He also genuinely liked Bono, Wirt wrote.
"He was a beautiful cat," Battiste said. "And he just wouldn't let me go. I didn't want to do that television show. But Sonny said, 'Look, Harold. Come and just do three shows.' 'OK, I'll try it.' And the producer really liked the music that I wrote and the opening show was wonderful. I said, 'Well, this is interesting, so I'm going to stick it out.' "
In addition to the artists above, Battiste's dozens of credits include the O'Jays, the Fifth Dimension's Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, New Orleans' Art Neville, Larry Williams, Lee Dorsey, Eddie Bo, King Floyd and Willie Tee.
Battiste also played a key role in helping New Orleans music icon Mac Rebennack develop his Dr. John stage persona in the 1960s and 1970s, producing the singer/pianist's early albums.
"His mama called me when he was on his way out to California. She said, 'Look out for him, because he can't come back to New Orleans.' But I had known him since he was a youngster. He came to me when I was still working with Specialty Records in New Orleans, about 15, 16 years old, when he was a clean-cut little Catholic boy," Battiste said in the 2010 interview.
Battiste worked with the bevy of New Orleans musicians who were in Los Angeles at the time to help craft the "Dr. John" persona, based on a character conjured from voodoo legend.
"That was the key to when I did the Dr. John thing," Battiste explained. "I just had to get a bunch of New Orleans people. I knew that we would make the vibe that we wanted." Dr. John the Night Tripper made his well-received debut in February 1968 with the mystically joyful Gris-Gris. Battiste arranged and produced more Dr. John projects, 1969's Babylon and 1972's landmark homage to New Orleans rhythm-and-blues, Gumbo.
A native of New Orleans and graduate of Dillard University, Battiste also worked early on as a teacher in the public school system. Later, as a music educator he also helped establish the jazz studies program at the University of New Orleans (alongside Marsalis) and can count among his proteges the Marsalis children (Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason) as well as Nicholas Payton, Victor Goines and others. Battiste also lectured on jazz studies at UNO and established the AFO Foundation to help preserve and document the heritage of New Orleans music.
Battiste was the subject of a 2010 memoir co-written by Karen Celestan and published by The Historic New Orleans Collection, titled "Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man."
"I worked on it about eight years, man," he said in The Advocate interview. "But I never thought anybody would publish it!"
Battiste said he felt overwhelmed upon seeing the book for the first time.
"It brought tears to my eyes," he said in the music studio in his small New Orleans apartment. "Seeing myself like that, in a book, I realized I didn't know who I was. It was that profound to me. I said, 'Did I really do all that?'"

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Love letter to New Orleans

Dear America: I guess we should reintroduce ourselves. We’re still New Orleans.”
Prize-winning writer Chris Rose stood on the small stage in a gallery in the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, reading words resembling those he had penned from the Baton Rouge airport almost 10 years earlier.
He recalled the days after Hurricane Katrina came barreling through the Gulf of Mexico, bringing with it floodwaters that killed more than 1,800 people and devastated the city he had learned to call home.
“It’s been 10 years since we showed up on your doorsteps unannounced, unprepared and, in many cases, unwilling,” Rose said, eliciting tears, laughter and the occasional “Yeah, you right!” from attentive spectators.
“But please take it as no insult that most of us did come back, like we promised we would,” he continued. “You’ve got your own music and food and rituals that make you happy, and if there’s anything we understand here, it’s an unconditional allegiance to our foods, our music and our rituals.”
The piece, a love letter to New Orleans, was a follow-up to the introduction published in “1 Dead in Attic,” the collection of short articles he wrote in 2005 as a journalist for The Times-Picayune. It also served as an introduction to “Love, Write, Light,” a crowdsourcing and fundraising campaign launching Monday in anticipation of Katrina’s anniversary.
The idea behind the campaign is to give New Orleanians a voice and the opportunity to share stories of joy, heartache, love and triumph of the city’s recovery through letters and photographs, according to David Morris, one of the organizers behind the project.
“It’s an indirect answer to the question that the city does a great job of answering: Why rebuild?” said Morris, who serves as the executive director of Evacuteer, a nonprofit designed to help residents evacuate safely, and for free, in the face of a future storm. “We want to capture some of that magic.”
But “Love, Write, Light” isn’t just a way for people to tell stories. It’s also tied to a fundraiser initiated by Evacuteer, a project co-founded by local journalist and photographer Robert X. Fogarty.
Money raised from the project will help light up statues erected in 17 locations, called “evacuspots,” around the city, so they’re visible 24 hours a day. People needing help in evacuating are supposed to gather at those spots.
The project also marks the first time that Evacuteer has partnered with “Dear World,” Fogarty’s messages-on-skin photography project that has gotten international acclaim for its work with survivors of natural disasters, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Syrian refugee crisis.
“It accomplishes something that’s going to be different as we ramp up to the 10th anniversary: How do we strike a balance between respectful reflection on what happened and paying homage to what we lost, and showcasing progress?” Morris said. “This is the sweet spot.”

Letters of love, heartache

Although the campaign officially kicks off Monday, Fogarty and his team have been working for months to gather letters from New Orleanians reflecting on the city 10 years after Katrina.
On Saturday, during a preview event held for the campaign, Rose spoke about the things that have always made New Orleans special. He praised the city’s culture — a place “where music falls from the sky like rain” — and the smells, like coffee, sweet olive and fried fish.
“Educated folks like to call that the lure of indigenous culture,” Rose said in his slow, metered cadence. “We just call it home.”
He also acknowledged the city’s changes, mentioning “Hollywood South,” proposed sound ordinances, smoking bans and the effort to jail corrupt politicians. And he praised the spirit of the people who rolled up their sleeves and rebuilt in the face of adversity, doubt and fear.
“It’s always been one of New Orleans’ unique charms, the way it changes so much, so fast and so often, and yet it remains exactly the same,” he added. “It’s the glorious paradox of life here in the city where irony is a birthright.”
Rose wasn’t the only one called to share his letter. Some, like his, were uplifting and hopeful — such as one by a firefighter who felt it was fate that brought him back to Louisiana after Katrina so he could meet the Xavier student who would eventually become his wife.
And Brandan “BMike” Odums, a local artist and producer, wrote in his letter how he was inspired by how New Orleanians took their struggles and managed to make them into something beautiful.
“That’s what the culture of New Orleans has been able to do so well historically, traditionally,” Odums wrote. “I think we’ve found ways to take the pain, take the struggle, and make it valuable, make it art — whether you call it art, or call it music, or call it soul.”

‘A punch in the gut’

Other experiences, when read out loud, felt like what Morris called “a punch in the gut,” such as Xavier University professor Joseph K. Byrd, who recalled such profound violence as he was trying to evacuate his students that he feared they wouldn’t all make it out of the city alive.
After the water began rising at the Xavier campus, where Byrd stayed with about 100 students who had been unable to evacuate, they eventually made their way to Interstate 10.
There, he said, the situation went from bad to “horrifying” as people brandished guns and knives, trapped while waiting for buses to carry them to safety.
Amidst the chaos were his students, and the wounded: A man with no legs struggled to keep himself dry with a tarp as the rain kept coming down.
“A National Guardsman said, ‘We’re going to come back with the buses,’ and he asked me a strange question,” Byrd recalled. “He said, ‘How should we come back?’ And I said, ‘Come back ready.’ I guess he understood because when the Jeeps came back, they came back with men with M16 rifles.”
Another reader, a blind woman, recalled how she returned to help her community, only to then go deaf from the toxic mold that had infiltrated her neighborhood.
But even she said she couldn’t imagine her life anywhere besides New Orleans.
“Even if I had known I was going to be deaf-blind, I would have come back,” said Rox’e Homstad. “I would rather be deaf-blind in New Orleans than hearing and sighted anywhere else, because this is where I belong.”

Raising funds

Like Homstad or Byrd or Rose, anyone from around the world can share their feelings about the city on the free website, lovewritelight.org.
Ultimately, Fogarty and the rest of the Evacuteer and “Dear World” crew are hoping that those who contribute letters will also be inspired to contribute funds or volunteer for a project that was started three years ago but never quite finished.
In a move that Mayor Mitch Landrieu called “integral to the city’s emergency response plan,” Evacuteer installed public statues at each of the 17 neighborhood pickup points for a new emergency plan that replaced the idea of using the Superdome and Convention Center as “shelters of last resort.”
Reaching 14 feet high, the 800-pound, stainless steel “Evacuspot” sculptures are located around the city. Shaped like a man waving his hand, they signal to the roughly 35,000 people who don’t have access to transportation where to go in order to get a free ride out of town.
During an emergency, volunteers will staff the spots and help residents board RTA buses, which will bring them to the Union Passenger Terminal. There, the volunteers will help manage lines and load luggage into chartered buses to take the residents out of town.
The problem, Fogarty said, is that the Evacuspot sculptures aren’t lit at night.
“The core strategy of public art as a place to meet is that people who are waiting for the bus, or reading the paper, or leaning up against it, they know what this man means,” Fogarty said, pointing to an image of the statue. “We are recognizing that we are missing tens of millions of impressions per year” because the sculptures aren’t clearly visible at night.
To light the statues, Evacuteer members are trying to raise $250,000. They’re encouraging donations on the website and asking volunteers to underwrite the cost of dinner parties, where guests can pay anywhere from $100 to $500 per person to attend.
“If we can double the amount of impressions by lighting them, it’s an honor and a tribute to those we lost and left behind 10 years ago,” Fogarty said. “It’s about adding a positive and real change to make sure this never happens again.”
Morris agreed.
“This is the lesson learned,” he said.