The project’s site, the quirky Andrew Freedman Home, takes up an entire block of the Grand Concourse of the Bronx, and its history is better than fiction. The Home was conceived by Andrew Freedman as a free retirement community for wealthy people who had lost everything. It operated as Freedman intended through the 1960’s. It provided not just food and shelter but also all the other aspects of an upper class lifestyle–white glove dinner service, a wood-paneled library and social committee that provided cultural events!
Work-in-progress shot of Daze’s installation at Andrew Freedman Home. Photo credit: No Longer Empty
After many years of under-use, No Longer Empty, in partnership with the Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council, has taken over the Andrew Freedman Home and is orchestrating a remarkable exhibition with extensive public programming and multiple partnerships with Bronx arts non-profits. Just like all of No Longer Empty’s work, This Side of Paradise is using curatorial principles, education and outreach to engage the communities they work in, and bring a new vitality and relevance to the contemporary art dialogue. But this time they are doing this community-building work at a borough-wide scale.
The exhibition and its extensive public programming and collaborations will draw together the economic and social history of the Home with the present day realities of the Bronx and its residents. The art will respond to the home’s founding purpose, architecture and spirit, and explore a landscape of memory, immigration, storytelling, aging and fantasy that is both universal and specific to the home and its surrounding neighborhood.
In addition to acting as a core supporter of This Side of Paradise, A Blade of Grass will be collaborating with No Longer Empty on a few of the eighty-plus events and programs accompanying the exhibition, including a panel discussion about the role of museums in communities, a financial literacy open-mike night hosted by Mario Bodden of the Morrisania Revitilization Corporation and a free economic sustainability workshop for artists led by Caroline Woolard of Ourgoods.
I am thrilled to see art integrated so grandly into the fabric of everyday life!
Check back for details about these great programs, and join me in the Bronx this spring as I enjoy No Longer Empty’s herculean efforts!