Doubleday St. art installation fascinates

“…and to think that I saw it on Doubleday Street”: An art installation
on the history of Doubleday Street in Binghamton by Judy Salton

Submitted by Margaret Johnston

If Dr. Seuss himself had been on Doubleday Street last weekend, I could not have been more amazed. The outdoor art installation by Judy Salton works on so many levels. Salton is exploring the concept of place in a very intimate and profound way. She started with historical photos of the neighborhood from several families and then painted them life size and placed them exactly in front of the space where the photos were taken. We see a procession of little children from St. Paul’s that might be a communion or a May Day celebration and a small child cooling off in a tub of water in the exact driveway where it happened 50 years ago.

The neighborhood has changed — deteriorated, really — since then, plagued with a drug trade and a lack of upkeep to the old houses on the street. Salton captured the current residents in life sized portraits. One especially endearing one is of two brothers; nearby is their sister who clearly loves to pose. Another is a woman walking her two dogs, the hound raising his leg, all captured on wood panels in front of the houses they live in.

The art and the concept are amazing enough but the really miraculous happening on Doubleday Street is the transformation of the neighborhood. As Judy painted the large panels outside, neighbors came up to see what was happening. The children brought her their art work. When I was there on Saturday (June 18) at least 10 children wanted their portraits painted. People who grew up on Doubleday Street stopped by and told stories about the old neighborhood to current residents. There was a sense of place, of history, of community, of hope on Doubleday Street.

It is hard to explain, but you can get a preview with this short video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAKV9ZOLtJs

MORE on the art from press release:

An exploration of the changing complexion of Doubleday Street since the 1950s and 1960s is presented in graphic form through an outdoor installation of paintings by current resident and artist Judy Salton. The earlier neighborhood is represented by large grisaille paintings up to 16 feet in length, based on black and white photographs from that time when the largely Irish Catholic neighborhood centered on St Paul’s Roman Catholic School and Church. The flavor of the street today as the neighborhood begins to coalesce is shown through various free-standing wooden cut-outs of full color, life-size paintings inspired by today’s residents.

Paintings will be displayed at various locations on lawns and sidewalks. Take a stroll through this old neighborhood, wander among the current residents, take a look at what went before and hear stories old and new. Doubleday Street has been a neighborhood for most of its 150 years. Affluent in its infancy, blue-collar church- and school-centered by its centennial birthday, its greatest evolution took place after  1960. The economic decline of the last 25-plus years has seen the area survive through its less inviting years. Judy Salton comments, “Understand that change is inevitable and should not be feared. It may open paths to wonderful opportunities. …we are creating a new neighborhood of diverse possibilities.”

You can see it on Doubleday Street from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays, July 2 and 9, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays, June 26, July 3 and 10. New portraits and paintings are still being added.

Editor’s Note:  “and to think that I saw it on Doubleday Street” is funded in part by a project grant from the United Cultural Fund, a program of the Broome County Arts Council.

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