Airport Stories

You Have Airport Stories. Now, an Airport Will Write a Story for You.
By Alyson Krueger|May. 21st, 2018
New York Times
Miriam’s Well is re-printing an excerpt of the original.

As part of a showcase for artists at La Guardia in New York, writers will create fictional tales for fliers — and finish them before they land.

Terminal A in New York City’s La Guardia Airport can be a disorienting place. It’s a satellite terminal, meaning it isn’t connected to the rest of the airport. Upon entering you find few of the amenities familiar in America’s busiest airports today. There isn’t a Starbucks or a Shake Shack.

The terminal opened in 1939 to launch seaplanes, it has an Art Deco feel. A 235-foot James Brooks mural, “Flight,” adorns one wall. It was done as part of the Works Progress Administration program under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal; during the Cold War it was painted over because critics suspected it carried a hidden Communist message.

The terminal has its share of surprises. And now, passengers arriving or departing there are greeted with one more: a piece of live, performance art.

In a space outside security that used to be a Hudson News kiosk, the writers and close friends Gideon Jacobs and Lexie Smith, who both live in Ridgewood, Queens, have set up a writing nook with stacks of books, wooden furniture, rugs and a vintage typewriter. There they are, writing unique, fictional stories for fliers.

This specific initiative, named Landing Pages, is part of a residency program established by the Queens Council on the Arts and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs La Guardia Airport. Over the coming year Queens-based artists are taking over the airport space for three months at a time to experiment with their mediums. Mr. Jacobs and Ms. Smith are the first (their project began May 2).

There are a few rules. One, customers must approach them. Some visitors see a sign written in chalk on a blackboard that says, “We will write you a story. Ask Us!” More often, people come up looking for the bathroom or rental car facilities. “Some days I feel like I work here,” Mr. Jacobs said. “I even have a parking spot.”

Those who choose to participate provide their flight number and contact details. The writers then draft a story for them while their flights are in the air, and text it to them before they touch down.

“The time constraint is a fun challenge,” Ms. Smith said. “We definitely follow flights to see if they are delayed. There was one that was by two hours. We were happy for the extra time.”

The duo writes an average of six stories a day. They hope to finish 50 by June 30, when their project ends, and compile them in a book. “We’re probably going to self-publish and give it to whoever will take it,” she said.

After Mr. Jacobs and Ms. Smith finish, Sandra Lopez-Monsalve, a multimedia producer, will be up. She will record ambient noises around the airport and make an electronic map with them. Anyone will be able to go online, click on a spot on the map, and play the sounds heard every day in that exact location.

After that Sherwin Banfield, a visual artist, will draw the passengers walking by him and then do a large mural based on the sketches. Finally, Brian Soliwoda, the co-founder of Salt Tree Art, a design firm that focuses on using sustainable and regenerative products, will create a sculpture of a clipper ship in honor of the terminal’s seaplane history.

“A lot of airports have art,” said Lysa Scully, the general manager of La Guardia Airport. “But having active and involved art that customers engage with, that is the unique model. I haven’t seen that anywhere.”

This Is Not A Final Statement by Miriam Sagan

This Is Not A Final Statement

I cut red paper. Then, open the envelope full of bills and accounts preserved from 1975. My father records and saves all the hospital bills of my near death and extensive hospitalization. I have the flu, pleurisy, a collapsed lung, empyema.
He writes down taxi fares: $30.00. Tolls: $3.00. Is this how he is making sense of the situation in which his eldest child is dying?
I add black ink. I’m not trained in the spontaneous gestural way of sumi. But I can slash.
I cut up the hospital bills, the endless listing of X-rays. My father’s absurd ledger.
No doubt this is because—since I will live and not die—he will take me as a tax deduction. I am 21 years old and without health insurance.
Decades later, my therapist has evinced surprise. “ A Jewish family? Middle class? No health insurance? What were they thinking?” Apparently that I was grown up and gone. But I was only the latter. I was gone, but soon I was almost…totally gone. Preserved in the black and white snapshot like someone headed for the Mekong or an overdose. Gone. And not remembered as any sort of real person.
And my father kept everything. In a manila envelope that comes to me after his death, found by my sister going through the file cabinets.
I try adding words to the collages but they don’t really work. “You’re ambivalent about your handwriting,” my daughter says as we work together on adjacent studio tables.
My handwriting.
My scar.
My body.
The fact that I’m alive at all.

Tiny Recycled Dresses For An Imaginary Me

I’ve collected Marci Sednek’s tiny dresses made of recycled materials, but I wan’t aware of Gena Reilly’s work (http://www.weaselandfitz.com/gena-reilly.html) until I stepped into Weasel and Fitz in Madrid. These are even smaller dresses, less embellished than Sednek’s but with a great sense of motion. I bought two, and now of course I wish I’d bought more, but at least I know where to find them. The gallery also carries Sednek’s work–not the dresses–but some wild brooches and other things.

Staycation

Rich and I have often fantasized about trips in an RV. Last night we stayed over at our kids, who happen to live on a ranch with RV Park.
It was cozy:

and compact. The moon shone through the skylight. Spectacular sunset, and nice to see dawn.

Rich made me hot cereal, and actually drove the RV on I-25. I’m afraid I’m more decorative than useful in this situation.

Since we were close by, we headed to funky Madrid.

And enjoyed recycled art at Weasel & Fitz.

Home by lunch.

Have a safe and pleasant holiday.

Childhood of A Good Person: Poem by Miriam Sagan

old fruit tree
propped on a crutch
like a legless veteran

drunk
in a doorway

on the temple grounds
line of stone buddhas
expressions
weathered out

I try
to not just be
a tourist—-offer coins
in the box
but pass the beggar
anyway

I can’t tell
if I had the childhood
of a good person
or a less good one
but please
don’t trouble yourself
too much
after all
I’ve come this far
on my own
already.

And here is my list of extreme things I’ve done or experienced–Miriam Sagan

Extremis

I have been in at least 3 earthquakes.

I have visited a locked ward, seen a baby born, been in the audience for a prison play, and seen three corpses right after death.

I have been to a mariachi mass, in a mikvah, and lived in a Zen monastery.

I have been in a mosque.

I have seen my cervix.

I have been to massage school where we worked naked.

I have been to neo-pagan rituals, Pueblo dances, and the Macy’s Day parade.

I have had my heart broken.

I have stayed at the Plaza Hotel in NYC.

I have been in a union.

I have solved a koan.

I have hallucinated a dead person.

I have shot a gun.

I have been in a rock band.

I have cooked tofu.

I have kept a secret for twenty years.

I have streaked naked at a swimming pool in the Yosemite Valley.

I have spent a week in a trailer in an abandoned air force base at the edge of a bombing range in Great Basin.

I have marched on Washington.

I have seen the northern lights, whales in the ocean, coyotes, wild flamingos, whooping cranes, snow geese, sandhill cranes, bears, glaciers, geysers, sunrise, sunset, meteor showers, Jesus Rays, sun dogs, eclipses of the sun and moon, the rings of Saturn through a telescope.

I have performed in public on the marimbas.

I have carried the torah.

I have caught a bluefish.

I have an enormous scar.

I have been hypnotized.

I have had a magpie pull a mitten out of my hand.