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Racism and Censorship in Holyoke

2014/09/27 in Absurd, Art, Gentrification, Holyoke, Mailbag, Press Release, Racism, Shame

I received this email from David Flores about his art and his experiences with racism and censorship in Holyoke.

(David Flores at work on the piece in question)

Printed in it’s entirety:

On Saturday, September 19, 2014, my mural celebrating the Puerto Rican diaspora in Holyoke, MA was scheduled for installation as part of a set of pieces created in conjunction with the Holyoke Alleyway Revitalization Project. Before the piece could go up, the owner of the building on which it was to be installed decided that it could not be displayed on her property. She said that my piece would do more harm than good to Holyoke’s Hispanic community, and that in order to display it I would have to change it to make it “more diverse.” The mural consists of an 8’ x 16’ Puerto Rican license plate with HOLYOKE written across the center. Whereas many Boricuas throughout Holyoke proudly display similar license plates that point to their hometowns on the island, my project intended to claim that Holyoke is part of Puerto Rico. Holyoke is the community with the highest percentage of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. (44.70%), yet Puerto Ricans are deeply marginalized in almost every aspect of the city. Although the building owner had approved of my design and seen the finished project well in advance of the scheduled installation, she caved to pressure from nearby business owners and others who seek to prohibit public displays of Puerto Ricanness in Holyoke. Thus, the decision to exclude my mural from this public art exhibit is emblematic of the wider suppression of Puerto Ricans and Puerto Ricanness throughout Holyoke. With my mural, I hoped to contribute to efforts toward claiming public space in solidarity with Holyoke’s Puerto Rican community. However, this building owner’s decision and logic amount to the race-based exclusion of Puerto Ricanness in Holyoke at best and the censorship of Puerto Ricanness in Holyoke at worst. While the Holyoke Alleyway Revitalization Project has supported my mural, the decision to collaborate with a bigoted building owner on this project reflects the fundamental problems with this “revitalization” initiative. In fact, like other “revitalization” efforts in Puerto Rican neighborhoods and communities of color throughout the U.S., such projects end up participating in processes of gentrification despite their organizers’ best intentions.

As a Mexican artist born and raised in Chicago, I have been deeply inspired by Chicago’s Puerto Rican movement, particularly the strong Puerto Rican leadership in schools, community organizations, elected positions, and artistic initiatives. This community also taught me the value of Mexican-Puerto Rican solidarity, as expressed through joint efforts to combat educational inequality, gentrification, and (im)migrant stigmatization. This solidarity is most clearly represented in a chant that is often used in Latin@ political demonstrations in Chicago: “!Boricua y Méxicano, Luchando Mano a Mano!” This solidarity represents a form of diversity that exceeds the imagination of the building owner who prohibited my mural. I hope that this piece finds a prominent home and that it helps to celebrate Puerto Ricanness in Holyoke. I am also working with community members to combat the suppression of Puerto Ricans and make sure that this does not happen again. In addition to these efforts, I am seeking to collaborate with longstanding community residents to create site-specific public art in Holyoke through a fundraising effort I have named “!Más Color, Más Poder!” I also plan to adapt my Puerto Rican license plate project in other U.S. cities with large Puerto Rican populations. By affirming Puerto Ricanness in Holyoke, I hope to contribute toward the creation of communities that embrace and uplift marginalized populations throughout the U.S.

Bio:
David Flores is an Artist, Designer, and Community Activist who focuses on Latin@ placemaking through art and design. He has worked creatively with non-profits and community based initiatives in Chicago, IL and Holyoke, MA for over a decade. A native of the south side of Chicago, his work challenges the fears and anxieties that are associated with low-income communities of color by emphasizing their value, beauty, knowledge, and resilience.

AH POOK IS HERE

2012/09/20 in Absurd, Art, Axis Mundi, Elections, Eschatology, Video

As the 13th Baktun approaches its end William’s poem becomes absolute.

 

We have a new type of rule now, not one man rule, or rule of aristocracy, or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision.  They are representatives of abstract forces who’ve reached power through surrender of self.   The iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past.  There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers.  The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident inept, frightened pilots at the controls of vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.

 

I AM HOLYOKE

2012/04/06 in Art, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, pronography, Rob Deza

PRONOBLEM IS HOLYOKE

Today as part of Rob Deza’s Faces of Holyoke project we (Mojo and I) were photographed by the Pine St fire demolition.

I Am Holyoke

I Am Holyoke

Rob Deza Photography

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the General Assembly

2012/03/10 in Art, Eschatology, H.U.S.H., Occupy, pronography, Weather

This was pretty damn cool.

Today I met a young woman with a beautiful smile…

She had a tattoo on her left wrist…

That she had created from a graffiti she had seen…

Which was created using one of my stencils!

(My friend Damian Cote also made a wood block cut for me.)

This just really made my day.

Full disclosure:  I made this stencil and created t-shirts as well as a few graffiti here and there.  I also released it into the wild.  I handed cut stencils to a few folks that I knew would put them ANYWHERE and they did.  I published it on the internet in a few places.  I am not sure if it appears outside of Western Mass but it may.  I painted it on sidewalks, lampposts, power conduits and telephone poles…  never on private property.  I say this because I have seen it somewhere I would not have done myself.   Not me!

I created this stencil back in 2007.  For those that are not aware, those creatures are kodama (tree spirits) and, of course, the date was at the time what I thought would be a hot topic as it approached…  or that people would make it a dialog and I was doing my part to make it so?  There really is no relevant connection between the image of kodama and the 2012 date when I created the image.  It was made solely to have people ask “why”?  But now that I look at it today I imagine that there is a sort of man versus nature / our time is up scenario.  After I saw the tattoo I arrived home to read some extremely depressing news.  We have witnessed the first ever migration due to climate change circumstances.  The Micronesian nation of Kiribati (population 100,000) has relocated to Fiji due to rising sea levels.  Also, a few weeks ago I read that the rate of extinction on this planet was 1000X what the normal rate was except for an Extinction Level Event (ELE – like an ice age, caldera or asteroid hitting the Earth – something that would kill 20-90% of life).  Essentially meaning that the human species’ behavior on this earth is approaching that of a disaster.

I still act as if things can be and are worth saving even though part of me believes that this house of cards will soon fall; that we are on a path to destruction well past any tipping point that we should have been paying heed to for a long time.  I don’t know, is it true?  Eschatology provides many possibilities from a number of faiths and prophecy.  However, I do know one thing; I am not at all afraid.  If there is some sort of cataclysm or apocalypse that will bring humanity to its close I want a first class front row seat.  I have indeed seen it all.  Sure, more experiences are appreciated…  but is there a point?  Don’t get me wrong, I am not some New Age freak that believes that some Mayan prophecy is our end.  I am simply wishing that there was one to prepare for as that would give me comfort that we (all living things) might actually come together, for once… if only for the end.

Public Enemy #1

2012/01/08 in Activism, Admin, Alex Morse, Art, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Lies, Mayor, Mike Plaisance, The Republican, Youth

 

I have never volunteered or donated to a candidate with the exception of two and there are a number of reasons for that. First, I am an anarchist at heart…  I don’t desire the hierarchy that representative government requires – I don’t see politicians as leaders.  Second, I think that the bar is set way too low as to what is qualified and elected by our voters.  The results are actually quite absurd in my mind…  on the local and recent we have Murphy, Vacon and Bresnahan?  What the fuck are people thinking?  Not just the voters, what motivates these freaks to actually put their hat in the race?  It really boggles my mind.  If we actually had real leaders then maybe I could reconcile the first problem in local elections.  Third, there is the buyer’s remorse.  The system is the system and I participate even though it is against my better judgments I suppose.  I voted for Vega…  I voted for Deval.  I have since self-flagellated a million times for these crimes I have committed.  Of course, I admit that it is true that I have had reservations about a few people and have been rewarded.  But mostly I am cynical and disappointed when it comes to politics.  That all said, I did support and volunteer for two candidates:  Robert Reich when he ran in the Democratic (puke) Primary to potentially oppose Mitt Romney.  His failure sent me deeper into the politics-hole.  Recently I donated time, money and support to our newly elected Mayor Morse.  Why?  I thought that he embodied and supported what represented success to my city – our city – and I see him as a leader, honest, qualified and committed.  I believe in him as do many.

 

Now we exist in a bacchanalian revelry for what seems to be a victory with two big fundraising parties this week.  Yes, Morse is a win but he’s not the only thing that will bring us out of the darkness.  As a 22 year non-native resident of Holyoke I can attest to the fact that in the past five-ten years the -potential- of Holyoke has been its calling card.  Much has changed – old Holyoke is in its death throws, a thriving arts district has developed, the canal has been recognized as an asset, Victory Theater is a reality, state leadership has helped with the data center project and now Morse arrives at the right time to be the facilitator and architect of Holyoke’s renaissance.  It is not just him… as there a number of concepts that one would credit as prerequisites to the success of a city – especially with a small city like ours. With the exception of a few of the obvious offerings that municipal government is expected to provide I will name a few positives that I find extremely important, and I am sure that you, the reader, will agree with most of these: Good schools and libraries – especially the presence of a college or community college in city limits, like HCC; after-school and summer activities for kids and teens – organized by schools, non-profits or community based actions like KPAO! and the Unrestrained Youth Group; arts and culture – especially venues that foster homegrown talent and creativity; successful local small businesses that cater to the public; employment within city limits – ideally not looking towards big-box corporate part time / wage labor; public transportation within and to and from our downtown; neighbors helping neighbors; leadership that engages the population; ethnic, gender, religious diversity and acceptance; community policing; civic pride… etc.

 

That all said…  there is one very powerful and influential force that is almost wholly absent from our sphere:  Media and Journalism.  Outside of blogs and weekly papers there really is not that much coverage as the only local daily paper that focuses on Holyoke stoops to tabloid nonsense and local broadcast TV while similar is increasingly irrelevant in the internet age.  Holyoke has long been the whipping boy in the news and I do find it odd how this works…  sure, there is plenty to report about with crime, casinos, fiascoes and bad politics…  but when there is nothing else to report what do you do?  You make stupid vapid nonsense into controversy.  The Republican has nothing to offer but coupons for Dunkin’ Donuts and tabloid journalism.  It really is a shame…  it has a glorious history with Tom Wolfe, Charles Dow and Edward Bellamy (anyone that has not read Looking Backward should).  Check out this headline and story from The Republican’s best and brightest reporter, the beef-witted Mike Plaisance:  Holyoke’s new Mayor Alex Morse generates excitement, but how long before backlash arrives? When? It arrived when you wrote this bullshit “story”.

 

I would go as far as saying that The Republican is anti-Holyoke.

H.U.S.H. in the Advocate again.

2011/12/28 in Activism, Art, At-large, C.R.U.S.H., Casino, Chickens, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Mailbag, Patti Devine, Press, pronography

The Halos and Horns edition gives Patti Devine her second (or third?) set of horns; this time for her bullying of CRUSH to censor my work.

Thanks to the Advocate for your continued support of Holyoke and your stand-up defense of free expression.

…and special thanks to Patti.  What would we do without a nemesis?  I am indeed somewhat sad that you lost.  You were inspiration.  Most of all, thank you for coining the term ‘pronography‘.  That was brilliant.  I hope you have a happy New Year.

For those arriving for the first time here is the back story:

Meet Our Founder

H.U.S.H. in the news

H.U.S.H. Mailbag

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

H.U.S.H. in the Advocate again.

Potty Divine

 

 

 

Happy Holidays from H.U.S.H.

2011/12/20 in Admin, Art, H.U.S.H., MIFA, Victory Theater, Vimeo

Architects Durkee Brown Viveiros Werenfels that are working on the revival of the Victory Theater created this little VIDEO teaser for us:

 


Wichita Lineman

2011/11/14 in Art, Eschatology, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Masks, Music, Weather

This is dedicated to those that helped clean up Holyoke in the aftermath of the global weirding storm.

 

Occupy HCC

2011/11/13 in Activism, Art, H.U.S.H., HCC, Occupy, Politics, Press, pronoblem, pronography

OCCUPY an impromptu peoples art show

I will have two pieces in this show.  Stop by Thursday Nov 17, 5:30 – 7:30 for the reception.

Taber Gallery Holyoke Community College

 

Don’t Panic!!!

2011/11/08 in Activism, Anarchism, Art, Audio, Eschatology, Federal, H.U.S.H., Masks, Obama, pronosound, Weather

This is only a test…

In another unprecedented move in the US Presidency (the last one being an in the field execution of a US citizen without any due process)  tomorrow, Wed November 9th at 14:00 EST (2pm), there will be a first time nationwide test of the emergency broadcasting system (EAS) for a full 3.5 minutes conducted by FEMA and ordered by the president himself.

This, of course, has the hair of conspiracy theorists of all political stripes standing on end.  What, with his re-election almost a year away, Occupy Wall Street exposing fascist police state like actions in many large cities, fracking induced earthquakes, 2012 on the horizon, crazy solar storm activity that might cause more damage than any previous disaster, the always looming war with the remaining ‘Axis of Evil‘ duo or terror threat  and the possibility of us passing through the tail of a comet in the next few weeks there is plenty of fodder for fear here…

Well, Obama’s pre-recorded near two minute portion EAS test has been leaked to various corners of the Internet.  Here it is.  Judge for yourself:

 

 

Occupy Holyoke

2011/11/04 in Activism, Anarchism, Art, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Jobs, Occupy, Politics, Press, pronoblem, pronography

Poster I made for a local Occupy art show…  300dpi for print quality available to those that are at OWS events.

Holyoke Mayoral Candidates on WGBY

2011/11/03 in Alex Morse, Art, Boob Tube, Casino, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Mayor, Pluta, Vimeo, WGBY

For those that missed it – Pluta and Morse on Connecting Point.

 

 Wampum points and jobs for the poor = pennies on the dollar.

 

 

Malloween

2011/10/31 in Activism, Art, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Mall, Masks, pronoblem, Weather

God Hates Beech Street!

There is not one tree to be found on Beech Street that has not lost at least one large limb, and many are down completely.

((A view towards the 202 intersection.)

My car also took a huge hit but being a 22 year old Mercedes I ended up with just a little dimple of a dent.

(The Chariot of Fear pinned by trees)

Seeing that most towns canceled trick-or-treat due to the conditions we went to the mall with the kids.  This made perfect sense since I did witness power lines on the ground, branches still falling off and one roof avalanche that took knife sharp slate down with the snow – it is dangerous enough that crowds should be discouraged from the streets.

I never go to the mall, but a chance to head there as the Canal Monster was irresistible.

(Canal monster visits the holiest of holy monuments to consumerism, the Apple Store.)

 

Outstanding

2011/10/30 in Activism, Art, Bresnahan, Charter, Council, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Lisi, Murphy, Politics, pronography, Vega

H.U.S.H. on the streets.

As HUSH readers witnessed in our readers poll we have decided to support Dan Bresnahan.  On a chilly October Saturday HUSH members stood out with our Bresnahan banner.  It was fun.  We did get a lot of smiles, honks and many hand gestures in the forms of waves, devil horns and a few middle fingers.  We certainly stuck out from the crowd and unfortunately may have detracted from other campaign efforts held at the Yankee Peddler corner.  Just as we were to wrap up our standout HUSH was blessed with a visit from Dan The Man himself (as seen in the image below).  He thanked us, offered to buy the banner and invited us to his victory party on election night.  Also on the scene were candidates Lisi, Vega and Murpy.

Dan, if you are reading this, the banner is $500.  Fair price for an original hand-painted design and almost $100 worth of paint and materials.  You can contact me via the contact link if you wish to purchase.  It will be available after the election as we do plan on standing out with it a couple more times.

Team Pluta Photoshop

2011/10/29 in Activism, Alex Morse, Art, Casino, Council, Elections, Holyoke, Lies, Lisi, Mayor, Pluta, pronography

Who on Team Pluta thought that this was a great idea?

(Lisi = null)

H.U.S.H member Krampus Boardway forwarded me this link, Elaine Pluta’s Community Service Page.  If this page changes between now and your reading, here is a screen shot.  Just click to view full resolution:

Once again, here is another website that I added to Archive.org. There was a snapshot from Feb 2011 but nothing since.

Why would you edit out “Lisi” from these signs rather than simply using a different image? There was no historical record of this page at Archive and Google Cache has this as current.  I wonder, was the image previously of these signs with the name included?  It would be interesting to know if the image changed after Lisi gave support to Morse.  Either way, it is an odd move.  The page simply lists Pluta’s service history so the image is not really relevant to the content…  so, any image could takes its place.  Why use an image that is obviously altered and makes a statement about Lisi?  Odd, I say.

There is one thing I regret in this election cycle.  I saw Pluta standing out on the Beech and Northampton intersections holding her sign BACKWARDS for over a minute displaying a wood stick and staples to the traffic.  I took my time to yell at her “your sign is backwards” while she cupped her ear “Huh?”.  I yelled three times before a supporter standing with her corrected it.  It was beautiful.  I wish I snapped a photo rather than heckled her.  Oh well.