ARTIST ANDREA SPIROS HAPPENED to be walking by a Clinton Hill public school one afternoon when she saw workers removing the large, thin steel plates she had become obsessed with from the chain-link fence around the schoolyard perimeter. The plates, although beautiful in their green patina, had served for years as a barrier between the schoolyard and the world outside, reminding Spiros more of a prison than of a school. Learning the plates were destined for the trash, Spiros took them to her studio.
“These plates were like canvases full of images, imprinted with maps of their past, some with the cross-hatch pattern of the chain link, others with man-made graffiti, with the numerous paint shades and textures juxtaposed over each other,” she says.
Working to preserve the worn surfaces, Spiros silk-screened images of her own design to the 4-foot-tall, 40-pound steel plates. The concept is based on the parallel she observes between schoolyards and prisons, something she calls a “very poignant subject in the community” now that schools have metal detectors at the doors and ever-sterile urban yards. For the series, titled “Playground,” Spiros received a grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Brooklyn Arts Council.
“Most schoolyards are uglier than prison yards,” is a sentiment echoed by one Brooklyn parent with school-age children in response to Spiros’ project. However, not all messages of “Playground” are direct commentary on the schoolyard. At some point in her adult life, Spiros began to see fences as icons of exclusion and ownership, and has used them periodically in her art, although this is the first time it has had a political orientation. One panel, “Recruitment,” depicts the Pied Piper leading children away while newborns in Army helmets float above. Another, “Camp Katrina,” overlays the electric fences of Auschwitz on the Louisiana Superdome.
“Some of the designs are about cognitive space, too, and how we grow up learning these certain narratives, myths or nursery rhymes,” she explains. “We get our worldview from them, and particularly during times of war, it is a patriarchal message.”
An exhibit of “Playground” will open at the Bed-Stuy YMCA on Oct. 8 with an introduction from Spiros and various performances by Brooklyn artists. DANNY SIMMONS will read from his last book, “I Dreamed My People Were Calling But I Couldn’t Find My Way Home,” and D. LAMMIE HANSON will sing original songs acapella.
Spiros will be a well-exhibited artist in October. She will also exhibit pieces at the Clinton Hill Art Festival Oct. 4 through 12, and one piece at Williamsburg’s Holland Tunnel Gallery in an exhibit titled, “Night and Day,” opening Oct. 11. Proteus Gowanus, which showed a preview of “Playground” in the spring, will exhibit another piece of Spiros’ in a new annual exhibition, “Mend,” beginning Oct. 17.
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MORE NOTES ON PEOPLE:
NARROWS COMMUNITY THEATER is presenting an original full-length comedy by Dyker Heights resident HOLLIE ROSENBERG called, “Spoiled Cherries.” This latest work by the emerging playwright asks the question: at what age does childhood end? The lead character is a 26-year-old wannabe poet, who struggles with her own refusal to grow up, but ultimately learns some things as she “couch surfs” through her troubles.
As a playwright, Rosenberg has previously had productions at the Riant Theater’s Strawberry One-Act Festival (where she was a semifinalist), Brooklyn Heights Players and American Heritage School for the Performing Arts. She has a B.A. in film production from Columbia College Chicago and is working towards her M.A. in Creative Writing Scripts at City University of London.
“Spoiled Cherries” opens Oct. 10 at Salem Lutheran Church at 8 p.m. Other show nights are Oct. 11, 16, 17 and 18, all at 8 p.m. Call (718) 482-3173 or visit www.narrowscommunitytheater.com.
PARK SLOPER ILYA CHAIKEN’s acclaimed debut feature film, “Margarita Happy Hour,” premiered at Sundance 2001 and proceeded to such prestigious festivals as those in L.A. and Toronto before receiving distribution from Wellspring. “Margarita” had its close-to-home premiere last weekend on channel Thirteen/WNET’s Saturday night filmfest Reel 13.
In “Margarita,” Zelda, queen of the Downtown arts scene in Brooklyn, is a young mother living with her baby, her writer boyfriend and a bunch of friends in a loft. Every afternoon, she and her girlfriends and their children get together at the local watering hole (Elora’s on Prospect Park West) to celebrate and commiserate the vicissitudes of single (and not so single) motherhood, and worse — the encroaching maturity that they’ve put off for so long.
The filmmaker notes that because the footage was shot in 2000, the Park Slope of the film barely resembles the Slope of today.
Chaiken studied filmmaking at SUNY Purchase, and first received attention for her short films, “The Actress” and “Match Flick,” for which she was awarded a Statue Award from the Princess Grace Foundation. Her second feature, “Liberty Kid,” about Brooklyn youths struggling in the aftermath of 9/11 that spans the beginning of the Iraq War, will be released on DVD on Veterans Day — Nov. 11, 2008. She is currently directing a short film for the NYC Department of Education as part of their Internet safety campaign about “cyber-bullying.”
ON THURSDAY, OCT. 2, A DISCUSSION session sponsored by the Friends of Douglass/Fort Greene Park and by the Brooklyn Parks Dept., will give neighbors an opportunity to talk about the renovation of Thomas Greene Park.
MARIA PAGANO, president of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, says, “I look forward to hearing from all the surrounding neighborhoods. This is a good-sized park and there are lots of possibilities, people just have to come to the meeting and give us their ideas. We will then make our own community wish-list with ideas from moms, dads, kids, athletes and just folks looking for a nice spot in the sun — whatever! It’s going to be great.”
Meet at Bethel Baptist Church, 265 Bergen St., 7 to 9 p.m.