My path to The LAND an art gallery was through my boss at La Montañita Co-op.
I worked with Edite Cates, co-owner of The LAND, in the Marketing department. Our conversations always drifted into the conceptual, so I was thrilled when she asked me to contribute a work for a show about localism.
The show grew from an art project by Marshall Kovitz*, during his morning bike rides. As he rode, he took photographs of strangers’ lawn art. Where other artists responded to themes of topography, literal/aerial perspective, and hyper-localized growth, I was taken with the essence of Marshall’s project.
Simmering under the photography, I saw questions of right and privilege. These gave rise to questions of assumptions and unintended oppression.
I interpreted them in an absurd conversation between a local woman and a local police officer. They talked about (how to talk about) the theft of the woman’s lawn.
“‘He stole your lawn?’ she said.” was born.
I retyped the poem 12 times and cut it into strips of varying lengths, so different portions of the conversation would be visible. I placed the strips out of order at the base of the the complete conversation. Gallery visitors could then each take home a small portion of the conversation—without context. What they took from the gallery might make some sense there, then, but in a few days—or months, or years—they might find it again, and try to make sense of it.
I felt this mirrored the trouble with these photographs. Homes, and lawns, are intimate, semi-private places. Photographing them, as a person who doesn’t live there, or in those communities, raises complex, important questions. And of course, my response comes from the perspective of someone also not in one of the pictured homes.
The show ran at The LAND an art gallery May–June, 2013.
*When I wrote this update, I learned that Marshall passed in early 2016. I was very sorry to hear this, and my heart still goes out to his loved ones. Whatever his complexities, he was a very sincere man, and a committed peace activist.