The year was 2006 – I started working at the middle school after another teacher retired ten years into my career. I would be teaching 8th grade Art and an 8th grade accelerated Studio in Art class, for which I had to plan a field trip to New York City.
I followed the guide left by the previous teacher using the same bus company. In addition, I planned every detail including the itinerary of visiting two museums and the cost calculations to include fees for the museums and meals from the school cafeteria. It was a lot of work, a huge responsibility on top of preparing new curriculum and all that teaching stuff. I was excited though, because I focused on all the cool things the kids would learn about art, all the amazing art and art history to see and experience, and of course the thrill of being in Manhattan. My students all kept saying they just wanted to see a real live hobo.
Finally, the day of the trip arrived. It was November 10th, the day before Veteran’s Day. Everything was going at a good clip until about five hours in when the bus started having wonky problems. It took us an extra hour to get from Macy’s in Manhattan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art because the bus kept, like, shutting down-starting up again-shutting down, etc. at every stop light. We arrived, spent five wonderful hours enjoying the Met and the American Museum of Natural History. Instead of the company dispatching another bus, the driver returned with that faulty one. Start-stop-start-stop-infinity until we made it to a Mobil station where we evacuated. The bus driver put transmission fluid in then said he would drive around the block and come back for us. He left us stranded for six hours, maybe seven. We, kind of, became hobos.
Luckily, it was a warm November night. The children took it all in stride. An adventure for them – they never felt in danger or scared. Lol, I am pretty sure some of the chaperones are still traumatized to this day. A one-day trip turned into an overnight ordeal. Somehow the principal paid for us to take taxis to rendezvous with the dead bus now parked in a grocery store parking lot somewhere in the Bronx. We made it home the next day via a bus dispatched from Quebec that had smashed both headlights in a collision with two deer on its way to save us.
Those students are about twenty-five years old now! Wow, that is just so crazy. I suspect they are all doing amazing things these days and are not among the homeless faces exhibited in this art show.
San Diego artist Neil Shigley has been working on this series of prints for about as long as I have had this memory in my head. He interviews the subjects, photographs them then begins sketching their faces and transforms them into these larger than life prints.
Each one looks to use two large pieces of linoleum; they are printed on two sheets of paper and mounted with large tacks directly into the wall. The result is an in-your-face type of statement. Making the invisible visible in terms of the scope of homelessness in our society. Apparently, it is a vast and growing population in the San Diego area with people of all ages living on the streets and in parks, and just barely existing in this nomadic way.
The exhibition is titled Invisible People: Portraits of the Homeless. The art reception was tonight. It continues at Art Rage Gallery (505 Hawley Ave., Syracuse, New York) through October 27, 2018. Shigley will talk about his work on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 7:00 pm in the gallery. Call (315) 218-5711 for more information. Gallery hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 2:00 – 7:00 pm and Saturday noon – 4:00 pm.