Monday, August 25, 2014

A Good Ride - - Literally

The Northside neighborhood has some interesting things hidden in it's nooks and crannies.  Within the Mexican War Streets section, the City of Asylum has several homes for exiled writers to use.  These houses are made available to writers who were persecuted in their home countries and are now living in exile here.  Housing and financial assistance is provided to help them through the transition to their new lives.  On the exterior of these homes is artwork that includes literary text.  We've seen the "house publishings" before.  It's quite unusual, but that wasn't what we were fascinated by today.  Today we were following clues and trying to figure out a bit of a puzzle.

We started our ride planning only to stop by some new artwork ("Art in the Alley") installed on Eloise St. before taking the trail out toward the waterfront. 

The granite and porcelain mosaic titled "First Historic District" by Glenn Olcerst was impressive.  I wondered if he planned to add more along this wall, but then I found a Post Gazette article that said he was hoping some of his neighbors would.  That could be very cool if they did.

We were debating how we wanted to go from there when I remembered that I'd seen something new up on Sampsonia St a few weeks ago.  It was during a torrential rain, so I hadn't gotten a good look at it.  We headed that way.  

On the way there we noticed a few odd signs.  At first I really didn't think much about them, but my friend wanted to know what they meant.  "Estero", "Balloon", "Memories"... what were these one word embellishments scattered randomly around the neighborhood for? 

Reaching Sampsonia St where the City of Asylum houses are, I pointed to the writing on the road.  That's what I had seen before, but couldn't really investigate in a thunderstorm.

Now that we could read some of the text winding around in curves on the street we realized that the words we had seen on several house were the same words we found here.  Coincidence?  I think not.  We circled the neighborhood finding more of these words - on doors, windows, fences and walls.  We asked a man on the sidewalk if he knew what it was about.  All he could tell us was that it was an art installation, but he was fuzzy on the details.  We went back up to Sampsonia to have one more look at what was written.  When we got there we found a couple of city employees about to remove all the writing on the street! But we just found this!!  Nooooooo!  Turns out that it was only meant to be a temporary exhibit.  This was the first of five temporary exhibits planned for this area, and it's lifespan had reached it's end.

The installation is/was titled "River of Words", done by three Venezuelan writers/artists. From the City of Asylum website:

"River of Words is a collaboration between the Central Northside community and Venezuelan author Israel Centeno, and Venezuelan visual artists Carolina Arnal and Gisela Romero. Using neural synapsis as a metaphor for connection between human beings, the project will include temporary, ephemeral artworks, texts, and words “hosted” by community members on the exteriors of their homes and gardens. “Human beings make contact with each other through the exchange of energy, affection, and knowledge,” the artists noted in their project proposal. “We’ll use words and sentences as links between houses as in the synaptic space,” creating a visual array of connections and relationships."

The city workers were about to start their pressure washer and erase this river of words, so we decided to continue on our ride. Before we made it out of this neighborhood we discovered a bucket of chalk next to the sidewalk.  You'd expect to see tic-tac-toe grids, hopscotch courts or maybe a sketch of a dog - but not here.  Here we found "Squirrel holds very still - dog can't see".  A budding poet?

You would think that would be enough literary discoveries for one neighborhood, but then we found this awesome free library!

Not the first tiny library we've found lately.  We saw this one last week in Edgewood:

I LOVE this idea!  The next time I ride in one of those neighborhoods I'm going to bring a couple of books to donate.

Finally we resumed our ride.  Stopped in the city to see what progress was being made on the installation of the new Cultural District bike racks.  They're in the process of putting in the artist designed racks that won a contest last year. We know what three of the five look like, and we've done our recon around the Cultural District and located exactly where they're being installed, but none of them are in yet. We'll keep checking for them.

While we were on that recon mission, we noticed a snazzy looking Vet Taxi parked by the convention center hotel.  I did a double take and realized I was seeing my first Tesla S in real life. 

Which taxi would you want to ride in???

The driver saw our interested and showed us a few things on the car.  Wow.  Very cool!  He mentioned that it was completely quiet with the electric engine and I reminded him that cyclists and pedestrians would never hear him approaching.  He commented that we have mirrors, right?  Well, I have a mirror, and so does the friend I was riding with today, but not all cyclist do. In fact a lot of them don't. I think we need to get the word out to hybrid and electric car drivers. They need to be aware that cyclists and pedestrians might not realize they're approaching and could do something unexpected.  Yikes.

Maybe we need to make some sort of bell to hang on hybrids and electric vehicles.  Like a big version of a cat collar, or something like the bear bells they sell for your handlebars?  Sleigh bells?