Bethesda Site No. 2
As we wait for city approval of the first site design, Clare and I decided to go ahead and tackle another Bethesda location looking an extra touch of color. She sent me to Bethesda's 20th Street location (called Sanctuary) in Philly. I was greeted by Linda Green, the Program Coordinator of Sanctuary, who eagerly supported the idea. Linda showed me around Sanctuary's house -- where men can stay up to two years while recovering from addictions, preparing themselves for the job market, or getting the education they need to support themselves. Linda bustled about, turning on lights, enthusiastically greeting and introducing me to several of the residents. Everyone, myself included, seemed to immediately trust Linda. Gentlemen checked in with her to grab their medicines, wash their dishes, or just say hello. The next man who walked by was a Haitian gentleman who used to be a lawyer in Haiti before he came the United States.
"God bless you," I said in Creole.
"Hello," he said while shaking my hand with a small, polite smile.
"Sak pase?" I tried next (slang for what's up?).
He responded to this more enthusiastically with a, "N'ap boule!" (slang for, not much, but translates more literally as 'I'm burning up')
"What I love about Bethesda," Linda said afterwards, "is that we are allowed to be family here. We take care of the professional aspects, but after that, we can be compassionate. I love the human to human interaction I have here." Clare too had mentioned this familial, warm climate encouraged by Bethesda's various programs. Both women were right, I felt right at home.
My goal for this project is to extend the feeling of homey warmth, possibility, and brotherhood that I felt in Sanctuary. Linda and I decided that the wall in the back courtyard would be the perfect place to add a mural.
I want to create two optical illusions in this mural: 1) paint a garden statue of two men arm in arm encouraging one another that looks 3D and made of marble 2) make it look like the brick wall turns into an archway covered in wisteria that leads into a peaceful garden scene beyond.
Once housing gives us the go ahead, I'll get to work! Thanks to Linda for her openness and cheer and to Clare who has been sending numerous emails to make these murals get the permission to live on the walls of Philadelphia!