Tim Folzenlogen

"We are what we experience. Experience something new and become someone different."

Day Eight - Union Square - 14th Street and Broadway

Union Square is cool.

I’ve walked through it, or by it, hundreds of times on my way to this or that, but I’ve never actually hung-out there before.

I guess I became aware of Union Square as being a distinct kind of a place after 9/11. They had a lot of memorials and related activity there in the months afterwards. I walked through it a couple of times back then, just to check it out.

Union Square is big.

When I first got there to do my project, I spent a lot of time walking through and around it, trying to decide on the best spot.

It’s like, for this project, I want to locate somewhere where there is traffic – but also room to have conversation, should the opportunity arise.

Union Square has all kinds of stuff happening in it, but it’s happening all over the place.

Inside the park, there are lots of people sitting on benches, reading newspapers and books. This is good. There is an intellectual atmosphere about the place that feels like edgy curiosity - kind of a beatnik feeling. Avant-garde.

Lots of people from all different nationalities, many fashionably dressed, many of them ultra thin and very cool. It was a pleasure to watch them.

Kids doing the skateboard thing, others doing the keep the little leather ball aloft by kicking it while standing in a circle thing.

Lots of people on cell phones, sitting on the steps or pacing around having animated conversation, seemingly wanting to be noticed.

I decided to set up in front of the steps to the subway, and do the mass marketing thing.

There was no time for long or deep conversations here. Everything was reduced down to a moment or two’s connection. If they looked at the presentation, if they made eye contact, if there was recognition, something alive between us, I’d flash them a card and try to say the appropriate thing.

One young couple, a guy and a girl, made my day.

Maybe they were on their honeymoon in The Big City, or maybe they just started school here. Very young, very fresh - I don’t think they grew up here.

They were together, but each of them took a card, and seemed thrilled to receive it.

I think they made like they were heading down toward the subway, but they came back up and sat down on the steps to my left. I watched as the woman took both cards, and safely tucked them away into her purse.

Then they came back to talk to me. She was so pretty my heart melted. I felt like I was in a movie. He asked me if I had done that painting? I said yes, and he stuck out his arm and shook my hand. She just smiled. Her eyes twinkled.

I think they were so happy to meet someone who they considered to be a great artist in New York City – but I assure you, there is no way that they could appreciate meeting me as much as I appreciated meeting them under those circumstances.

I’m sure they will read this. Hello young beautiful couple.

I was going to stay for three hours, but the sun got hot and blinding. I took the same stairs down to the subway as I had just spent two hours sitting at the top of. I found a dozen or so of my cards scattered about on the landing just below.

The guy in me who doesn’t appreciate people throwing litter on the street, wanted to pick them up – but there was so much traffic walking over them by this time (approaching rush hour) I thought the obstacle I’d create by picking them up would be more of a nuisance than the litter.

So I wrote it off as good on-going advertising.

I probably gave away four hundred cards to people heading down those stairs.

Three hundred and eighty something were still with the person I gave it to, beyond that landing.

That’s not bad.

September 19, 2003