Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Guerilla Art: Breaking out of the Museum

One day last fall I was rushing by the library in downtown Trinidad and out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a white object. On my way to complete yet another errand, I ignored it. Because I’m busy.
We’re all busy.
Too busy.
Three errands later, I ran across Commercial Street, hopped up to the sidewalk, then spun around. I’d almost stepped on something.
Another white object.
Human shaped.
I peered down at the sewer drain and found two paper cut outs in human form, or as their creator, Peggy Westmoreland, calls them, papels (paper people).
I stopped. 
Here was a plain white piece of paper flush with the wonder of childhood.

And then I got to thinking... maybe back at the library I should have paid attention. Then I might have known that there was something I wanted to see. I walked back to the library and sure enough, there were six papels reading and hanging out on the steps. 

I smiled. The drudgery of errands had tuned into fun.
How many other papels had I missed?
I stuffed my list into the bottom of my purse and decided to prowl the rest of downtown Trinidad. After all, who knew how long these delicate papels would last. They were vulnerable to wind and rain, wicked pigeons and clumsy feet.
I walked the streets again, slowly. 

This time I discovered not only papels but the world they and I inhabited, the rough brick of the streets, the grainy concrete sidewalks, the fire engine red of the paper box, all of which had been there, passed over unseen by me and how many others. 

But even more than that, I discovered the playful human imagination - that a lamp post can become a starting gate for a race, a cement slab become a slide, a window ledge, a place to snicker at people running around too busy to notice you. 

That day I regained my sense of wonder, which is one of the many reasons we need art as much as we need air and water. 
Thank you Peggy.