Tuesday, November 9, 2010

City Heights is not sexy

Last Friday night I stumbled upon an awesome exhibition by Photographer John Thurston. As part of Liberty Station's "First Friday" events (happening the first Friday of every month, duh) Barracks 19 is open extended hours as part of an art walkabout that encourages the community to come see what's brewing inside. Upstairs at Bravo School of Art John is part of the various rotating instructors, photography being his specialty. His collection titled City Heights: Primary Colors will be up for the month of November.

A resident of City Heights for over 30 years, his images of surrounding homes and storefronts are colorful and comedic. Some of the images I recognized instantly from my own experiences in the city, which I have called my home for nearly 3 years now. What I really adore about his photographs, and about City heights in general, is the lack of pretentiousness the homes hold, the warmth of sensible family dwelling that is within the utilitarian means of decorating. There are no standards present, no censorship or reasoning past a fundamental desire to make one's home their own, on very little funds. This conjures memories of my youth, where our mismatched furniture was clean, and cozy, mostly disguised under a blanket until company came.

In an article published earlier in the year in the Reader, one resident states "City Heights is not beautiful or sexy… or even all that clean. It has no fancy boutiques or wine bars. Its residents are not trendy or famous. The library is loud and crowded, the traffic annoying, and the number of 99-cent stores exceeds the acceptable limit for any one neighborhood. Then, too, there’s the dog poo, which pedestrians in City Heights have to step around way too often. Despite these minor quirks and inconveniences, the neighborhood has enough flavor, culture, and comforts to hang on to its long-time residents and to draw in the new."

My particular street has been under construction for almost a year now, where an entire "Urban Village" is being built as part of the cities Redevelopment Plan. I think it's beneficial that the area is being developed further, especially if that truly includes affordable housing as projected, and I have no doubt that in a few years it will be the new "North Park," I just hope that all the raw charm about the unassuming streets will not be lost in this process.
It's those unique deviations from the neighboring Kensington homes that make being young and poor, worth celebrating.

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