Sarah Goodyear is a Brooklyn-based contributing writer to CityLab. She's written about cities for a variety of publications, including Grist and Streetsblog.
A Brooklyn artist says good riddance to Mayor Michael Bloomberg with a fairly unusual art project.
As the clock ticks down on Michael Bloomberg's controversial 12-year tenure as mayor of New York, some are praising his public health policies, his efforts to improve public safety, his economic development.
Others can't wait to see him go.
In the latter camp, you’ll find Heather, the proprietor of a blog called New York Shitty (a.k.a. That Greenpoint Blog) an artist, and a self-described "woman about town" (she doesn’t use her last name in her public work). Since 2006, Heather has been documenting the ups and downs of the Greenpoint neighborhood, a working-class industrial enclave in North Brooklyn that has been changing rapidly as gentrification takes hold. Her tone is often one of wild and dark-humored outrage.
Heather’s got a keen eye for fabulous random "urban artifacts," but she also tackles much more serious stuff, such as the rampant real estate speculation in the area and the destructive effect it is having on longtime residents and businesses. Suffice it to say that Heather is not a fan of the Bloomberg administration’s pro-development policies, nor of its policing tactics, including stop and frisk.
"The question is, who are they doing this for?" she says. "And the really ugly answer is, they’re doing it for people like me. The newer, more affluent people. And - no thanks."
As she considered how best to bid farewell to the Bloomberg era, the idea of snow globes came to mind. Here's how she described her thought process on her Flickr page:
The purpose of snow globes is to have a souvenir of a vacation. They're little self-contained utopias. Some time ago I had the idea of creating a series of souvenirs from places (literal and otherwise) from places people do not want to go to. In essence, my plan was to explore dystopias in small(ish) hand held form. I hit a brick wall and tabled this project. Recently I had a breakthrough. Here it is very simplistically stated:
1. In just over a month the Bloomberg Administration will be over.
2. Mayor Mike's New York City is *quite* dystopic.
3. I need only leave my apartment, parse through the photos I have taken over the years or simply surf the Internet to find inspiration/material.
Consider these to be souvenirs of /a testament to what 12 years of Bloomturd have done to my community. NOTE: this could not have happened without enablers. These snow globes are dedicated to them.
"When I got my MFA in sculpture in the late 1990s, I didn’t imagine myself making snow globes in Greenpoint in 2013," says Heather, who has completed four of the globes and is planning on making as many as 12. It hasn’t been easy, she says, as she’s never worked in this medium before. "It's been trial and error," she says. "A lot of error."
The scenes Heather has crafting deal with the privatization and monetization of public space (“Expulsion of the Fairies”), homelessness (“Bloomblight”), and overly aggressive police tactics ("Stop and Frisk!"). She says she’d ultimately like to auction off the globes and donate the proceeds to an organization that helps fight police violations of civil liberties, or provides services for people who don’t have a place to live.
"Ultimately, I can make the snow globes," she says. "The 60-year-old Latino guy who’s getting stopped and frisked can't."
All images courtesy of Heather.