The potential harm of wildflowers

Today I had a wonderful conversation with Debbie, the Right of way manager at the Texas State Comptrollers office in Downtown Austin. I called her in regards to an idea that I had. Its very simple, I want to hand out wildflowers to strangers using this tiny boarded up bank on the corner of 10th and San Jacinto as my backdrop/headquarters. I knew it would be better for me to ask for forgiveness  rather than permission if I wanted to actually execute my plan, but I’ve found that often these discussions about what can and cannot be done in public space are so compelling that I must pick at the scab.

Here is how I recall the conversation ( I tried to resist embellishments and maintain the chronology of our exchange)

Hello, This is Debbie.

Ooh Hi! I’m Bridget, I left you a message earlier, about wildflowers.

Ooh yes, I got your message, can you tell me more about what you would like to do?

Yes, I’d like to do a very short temporary performance on Thursday between 3 and 6, where I hand wildflowers to passers by.

Will you be taking pictures or filming it?

No.

Hmm, I guess I’m not exactly sure what your doing and why.

I’m not selling anything, I would just be standing and walking and handing people flowers for a while.

Well, we can’t have people just standing around.

How long could I stand there before its considered loitering?

I’m not sure, and the State isn’t going to allow any activity that would make it appear as though the state represents you.

But if I saw a guy walking across the property wearing a shirt I didn’t like or asking me the time when I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I would not assume that the state was representing him, or that he was a representative of the state.

Yeah well, you’d also need insurance.

I could get some insurance for this, I’m sure it wouldn’t be too costly.

Pause…I still don’t really get it.

Well, I’ve always been drawn to that strange little boarded up bank. The white cubby where the ATM once stood looks reminiscent of a gallery, its so minimal and sanitized. That building seems like a nice backdrop because of its scale, former function and context. I want to create unique and fleeting interactions with passersby. I’m hoping the act of receiving a common flower from a stranger will create openness and joy in interactions with strangers.

Huh, well I guess I don’t know a lot about art. And I’m sure we can’t get the paperwork done before Thursday. Even for filming projects it would take longer than that. But, I do understand the idea of doing something nice.

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound argumentative, I know its not you that makes the rules, but this is so interesting to me. I can’t help but continue to ask you questions…. Are people allowed to walk across that property?

Yes.

Are they allowed to stand there for a little while?

Well that’s where loitering comes into play

What if I walked the whole time? If I became a nuisance and was asked to leave, I would.

Well security is high right now due to what’s going on at the capital. And we don’t want to allow any activity that could potentially harm state employees.

I’m sorry; I have to point out the humor in the idea that having a person hand a state employee a wildflower might somehow do anyone harm.

Pause…..

What if I look down at my phone to send a text message or check the time… would I be loitering? How does the state define loitering?

Well, I don’t know.

Who should I contact about this? Its so interesting, how is this all defined?

I guess you should contact your representative.

That seems like a big leap to make.

Or you could call the General Land Office or the Secretary of State.

(I must point out here… she is suggesting I call the secretary of state if I want to achieve my final goal of handing out wildflowers on state property.)

Agh, I wish I would have recorded this conversation, this is so interesting to me.

Well I’m sorry. If you want to send me some pictures of what you want to do an we can start the paperwork.

THE END

 (actually I got her email and may pursue this further)

… do you feel tempted to hand a wildflower to a stranger at 10th and San Jacinto now? I do! Hopefully it would be Debbie to receive it. She was very respectful during this conversation and I recognize that it really doesn’t have anything to do with her. I’ve had really stupid conversations with state and city employees… this was not one of them. FLOWERS

Meeting #5 : Craft

Reading/Reference List:

Artists/Artisans

Meeting #4

A Curious Gang of Roving Persons

Host: Bridget Quinn

Assigned reading: Hyperart: Thomasson by Akasegawa Genpei

Hyperart: Thomasson was a nice follow up after the Situationist International Manifesto and Invisible Cities. It has a similar playfulness and the engages the idea of imagined histories/ narratives embedded in landscape. Stylistically I was drawn to it because its so conversational and not very academic. Spencer mentioned that the style of the writing was wanderesque, which seemed fitting. Everyone observed that as the book progressed the strict definition of a Thomasson seemed to loosen up (along with the tone of the writing). This meeting was structured as a guided wander… I had a couple stops in mind, and we hit up the derelict flower shop on a whim.

The Pannel Place Marginal Nature Preserve – Accidental preservation

Exploring the marginal nature in a space where strangely situated fences create small sanctuaries

Exploring marginal nature in a space where strangely situated fences create small sanctuaries. A sampling of found objects: a weathered marble, a metal hinge & a piece of unknown machine, tile, carpet which was transformed into a host for moss and algae, and a couple rugs.

The Ramp to Nowhere

I have long been fascinated by stairways that lead up to buildings that no longer exist.

IMG_6141

 

The Derelict Flower Shop

The Purest Thomasson observed on our Walk

Door?

Decommissioned door, at CJ’s Shell station

Other Stuff

Thomasson stamp

Chris Gannon found this gem of a Thomasson stamp after the meeting. Isn’t this a lovely one?

NEW MEMBERS: Rachel Crist and Daedalus Hoffman – Thanks so much for joining us!

The next meeting will be hosted by Spencer Cook & Ann Armstrong. Details on the assignment to come shortly!

XOXO

B

“Never try to c…

“Never try to convey your idea to the audience—it is a thankless and senseless task. Show them life, and they’ll find within themselves the means to assess and appreciate it.” –Andrei Tarkovsky

Member Work: Girls Guild

Cheyenne Weaver and Diana Griffin are hard at work crafting a new website for their start up, Girls Guild. In the meantime they have an awesome new apprenticeship being offered with Son of a Sailor Jewelry.

“Girls Guild is a community that brings together girls with women artists and makers through apprenticeship.

We like to explain it as being like Etsy, but for making, not buying! We give girls and women the chance to learn the practical, creative, and critical thinking skills of making while working with an artist or craftswoman in her actual workspace.”

GUILD

Cheyenne and Diana are social entrepreneurs and alumni from the Austin Center 4 Design.

Hardly Sound: Ralph White

KLRU is producing this wonderful series about music and storytelling, called Hardly Sound. The themes explored in this episode seem so relevant to me right now. Art making, sincerity, bravery, acceptance, openness, hard work… agh, so good. I would write more about it, but I think you should just watch it! Thank you To Christopher Kim for making me aware of his work!

Member Work

Pick up Lines for Me You and Everyone We Know

by Dorota Biczel

A review of Not How It Happened by Chicago-based Joel Ross and Jason Creps, currently on view at Tiny Park.

Joel Ross and Jason Creps, IN THE FUTURE (installed and abandoned, Bradley, Illinois), 2012

Joel Ross and Jason Creps, IN THE FUTURE (installed and abandoned, Bradley, Illinois), 2012

                                                                                      Check it out!