On Saturday, we served on the soupline, an honor to give water, trail mix, and chocolate chip granola bars to many houseless people. Yes, I love to work the water table! Water is my favorite!
I respected about 150 houseless people. Then Ming and I went for a walk nearby to see some murals. I had no idea I would leave weeping, or that a cop in SUV would follow us home.
First we saw was this one, at a site where people were camped for a long time. There’s trash and lots of microtrash there.
Who is Dorothy Dandridge? Oh, she was a Black actor. I don’t usually care about actors, but I know a lot of people find that entertainment important, and can look up to someone in that public role.
Then we saw this one. That butterfly guy looks familiar…
I had to laugh that they lost their S stencil and had to hand draw the S. Oh, sad no trespassing sign painters. Your threat is breaking my heart.
around the corner
“Now we’re going to go around the corner,” I told Ming. “Is this ok?”
“Yeah,” he said. I was a little scared, but Ming seemed perfectly fine.
The colors on this Black Lives Matter mural are very appealing to me. And I’m a sucker for hands with eyes in them, really.
This is the one that really blew my mind. The flames glowing out of the eyes of this creature destroy me. This is as good as art gets, for me. This why I’m alive!
I wish I had taken a longer pic, that I had backed up, of this whole mural. At the time, I didn’t understand it was all one art. I saw the flower part as separate from the rest, but now I understand it’s a whole. Maybe we’ll go back.
All of these murals are by the site of the Moulin Rouge Hotel, which is a famous hotel where the Black people would stay, years back. They would come to perform in Las Vegas, but would not be allowed to stay at the hotel where they performed.
The Moulin Rouge was an important historical place, but it was destroyed. So it seems more important and poignant, that these murals are right by that site, which feels sacred, and was betrayed. The art is trying to heal the pain of the Moulin Rouge, which was pain to begin with–the Black people were welcome to perform, at big casinos, but not stay there, as an injustice of racism.
The hotel could be obliterated, but the racism could not. These murals show the real needs of the people.
I found this article about the murals, but I could only read the beginning, as the RJ punishes me for using adblocker software. I can read it on my phone later. https://www.reviewjournal.com/local/local-las-vegas/murals-beautify-walls-near-moulin-rouge-site-in-historic-westside-2137548/
This one, I really like the shapes, and the double-wicked lamp. But I feel like I’m supposed to understand something about it that I don’t, like it must reference a cultural fact I missed. I will follow the clues.
Then we were at the part where some people were living. I didn’t want to butt into their space, but I also wanted to document the beauty and the sadness. So I kept photographing.
That’s the part where I was getting like I was going to cry, on top of the slightly scared trespassing feeling. Probably you can see why. My heart was broken. I didn’t know if I should walk loud, not to startle them, or walk quiet, so they could keep sleeping. It was around 7am?
Yes, definitely–Black lives matter, and I would like the Black lives to live in houses or apartments, if they prefer. Look at that art with yellow and extra eyes, behind the tent. Wow.
Who put something on top of this black cat, and then it sort of peeled off? Looks cool, huh.
I like the handprints. This one feels simple and sweet.
don’t forget your roots
Don’t forget your roots is such good advice. Yes, I will remember. Thank you for reminding me. Sometimes I wish I had roots, to absorb water from the earth. I guess I will use my mouth to drink instead.
This looks like art about art. I like the tummy.
I love these beautiful ladies. Say her name. I kinda know the local artist who uses that sigil, that’s on the shirt of the lady on the right. Not that we met, that I know of, but I’ve seen that sigil everywhere.
I think these are Black showgirls. One of the fun things of Las Vegas is seeing showgirls walking around sometimes, in their wild wild costumes. A couple of showgirls walking from a casino to their ride home, or maybe out on break, looking serious and “don’t fuck with me.” But the showgirls I always saw around were white.
This is a really good MLK quote–yes, hate is really too much to carry. I am so with this idea!
This photo is by Ming–somehow I missed this one, not sure how. How gorgeous! I love the TRY AGAIN idea, so much. Something brilliant about effort, work, art, video games. Getting knocked down, and getting up again.
My phone refuses to take photos sometimes. Usually it’s when I’m trying to photograph the sky–it fails to focus and refuses. So probably that’s what happened here.
This flower is so gorgeous. Then we turned another corner. I was full on spooked by then, trying to photograph all I could but walk fast.
from the street
These next few arts behind the fence, I could see from the street. So they are what tempted me to take this walk, in the first place. I wanted to see the MF DOOM art I’d glimpsed. But I had no idea there was so much on the backside, or the people living in tents on the backside.
Look at this green–so pretty, huh. What does it say? And another chrysanthemum.
Then the MF DOOM. And more green gorgeous words I cannot read, but someone probably can. Not me.
Holy crap–I am fatigued by making this long ass photo-heavy post, over the course of a few days. Uploading the photos takes forever, and making titles and alt titles for them, and choosing the good ones. When Ming and I went to Carrizozo, I promised my aunt more cemetery pics, and never followed through with that. Photo sorting is hard work, for me.
Here are some non-exhausted enthusiastic words from my instagram posts of these pics.
I see profound truths on these walls: transformative beauty, unfathomable pain, oppression, racism, death, unstoppable life. And the deep Mystery of art, when a gorgeous, wild reality spreads before my eyes to dazzle and amaze, God shimmering through the veil.
How did I get so lucky, to view such beautiful art to stoke the soul and inspire the mind? I study this art to learn the heart of Las Vegas, what people really need, actual family values. Truth in a vibrant color, curve of line, shape as it relates to a juxtaposed shape, human yearning. What’s gone from the physical world lives on in our collective spirit, ever held.
Thank you to the street artists who teach me more than I ever knew I could learn, at my own pace, expertly, for free.
We left the site; I walked as fast as I comfortably could, feeling a deep sense of gratitude that I am white, and Ming is not Black. We could trespass, then jaywalk to our car, scott-free. Yes–we were escaping.
Then I felt a deep sadness, that I was happy to be white, and we live in a city where People of Color are arrested for jaywalking. And many folks of all demographics have their possessions trashed for being houseless.
I was crying about those people who were snoozing in their tent, in the desert, among trash and shit, while I got to climb into Ming’s nifty car, and go home to a house with air conditioning and enough food to choke a horse! Crying that it’s just chance, that I get to be a human being, while other people are considered sub-human.
I’m so crazy–homelessness is almost my birthright, or destiny. What keeps me from that fate? My mom taught me how to love and connect, my only saving grace. And I fell in love with Ming, who fell in love back, and gives his life to me, inter-dependently.
Together, we can stay housed and functional. We figured it out. And we never got addicted to the drugs that would destroy us. And we have community, and sew our own safety nets as best we can, out of dental floss and weeds.
I cried as Ming drove, and a cop followed us home, as I mentioned at the beginning. We turned, and the cop continued down MLK.
“Was the cop following us because of where we had just been?” Ming asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” I said. “But in a way, it doesn’t matter. They will follow whoever they want. Whether it’s because of that, or just because they can.”
The menace is painful, living in an environment of fear, where cops are sanctioned predators who are supposed to protect us from unsanctioned predators. I wish it wasn’t like that. Understatement.
I hope you enjoyed this art and commentary. Thank you for the love. These murals are near Bonanza and H, Ming tells me. Maybe you could check them out, while they’re still there.