I am not usually a fan of the more modern idioms of visual art. It is difficult for me to translate the language of abstraction.
But I thank Ms. Maya Hayuk, a public artist of Ukrainian extraction. She has splashed the color and patterns of pysanky onto the shambling gray and brown pallet of Braddock, Pa., which is right next door to my little burg.
Braddock is a has-been town. The steel mill is still fired up, but no one is meant to live there anymore, except the people who have to. The town's mayor, John Fetterman (above), has made the news, nobly leading the charge to turn "has-been" into "will-be."
We'll see. He's got my prayers and cooperation for sure. You have to like a guy who graduates from Harvard, sets up house in a gritty place, and does so with the panache of living in an old shop building and setting up two freight cars on the roof for extra work space.
Braddock has been on the news before. Levi Strauss, the jeans people, seemed to like it for a back drop for whatever idiom they were trying on last year.
My inimitably artistic niece just sent me the vimeo of Ms. Hayuk's work next door. I've seen it, driving by. There are also lots of other graphic presentations. Some of the great graffiti artworks are on display on the main drag. Even the Braddock sign is a graffiti-type mural -- surely a better thing than the bland stuff that gets festooned with unnaturally colored mulch and suburbanized plantings.
Because of her work, and the work of graffiti artists (who usually get excoriated by the folk at New Criterion), and because of the labor of Fetterman and his pals, Braddock has color, and occasionally escapes its black and white film noir melancholy.
Which makes me wonder. Is this artwork a better sign ... a better image ... a better icon, if you will ... for the work of the good news?
I mean ... nothing else seems to be working well or honestly ... could it possibly be that we should see this missionary land more like Braddock than the city on the hill?
... and the substance of our madmen campaign more like the art of Easter in Braddock ... more, say, than a white clapboard church in the vale, that no longer exists?