Onto the dimly lit street aside a newly built private middle school, I walked over to the sidewalk where I was greeted by mid-sized homes filled with laughter and living room candIes. it had a sense that it’d not too long been gentrified: old homes turned into cute pubs, a yoga spot, and—a library?
Hands freezing, I checked my phone again to make sure I had the right address (I never wear gloves because I’m boujee like that). I walked a bit further up to the house with the exact address and saw a small group of hipster like 22-30 year olds around a well-built fire drinking LaCroix Sparkling Water. Started to develop the shivers, not only from the night town temperatures, but of intimidation approaching others (anxiety much?)
I reached out to call attention to a guy headed for the home door. Unable to properly form a full question (I had no idea what I was really looking for, I’d just gotten word of a gallery/exhibition and a sketchy address) the guy assured me that this was the place I’d been looking for.
He held the thin, somewhat scrapped mesh screen door open for me as I stepped in, careful not to get my heel caught on the step-up into the house. Taking everything in at once, I was welcomed to bright white, the kind you’d imagine walking into Heaven, or the florescent lights aisle in Lowe’s. Eyes adjusted, I made my way around the fairly small, almost claustrophobic room filled of groups of 2 or 3 conversing as if on break at a convention. The atmosphere was super chatty (is it really a library then?)
Of everything seen, those ingrained into memory were 4 pieces: 1. a piece of broken glass with pix-elated like bits of primary colors. The image of a soothing yet artificial waterfall on the table stand in a spa clinic came to mind. This piece however was not accompanied by a background of ancient-seaside rocks but a blackness like that of the ocean grounds. I stood half-leg cramp-half trying to come off as a professional art connoisseur deep in thought then gave up the facade.
I glided along, moving nothing but my feet, to the next piece which was distanced far enough for someone to make their final thoughts about whether it was liked or disliked before they viewed the next with a newborn view,unbiased.
The second piece then was a photo that I thought might’ve been taken in early India (older model taxis, far distanced Mosque (?) and a currency/”CHANGE” sign with a glimpse of foreign character above it). The word was the beginning to the statement “Change is undesirable (everything is perfect here).” What do you suppose the artist’s meaning was?
3. A rainbow, white framing behind an even whiter background, mounted on a white wall. Brilliant.
4. Rope, hula hoop, giant ring? I stood, brows angled down in confusion. My eyes were pleased with the colors on, after closer inspection was duck tape. The story behind the the piece lay desperate against the wall on the floor I so happened to glance down at. That very story/description is here for you to read and enjoy on your own. (You’re welcome)
I skimmed the room in a rush. Realizing then that I actually had a couple extra hours in this elevator-sized room/library, I decided to retrace my steps for hidden works of art, magazines, and stories. I found myself leaving that night with an anti-Trump pin (maybe it was modernist, maybe it was drawn by a 7 year-old but it looked satisfyingly imperfect) A few extra pamphlets about the 1-room library and it’s history, and some works from former art projects.
I felt like I’d found a Balenciaga jacket at the thrift store for 2 dollars and 3 hours of searching, like a highly spiritual being mindfully going through life and seeing all it’s hidden beauties, like the kid in class who’s mostly silent but has the answer everyone’s been looking for all class and get’s praise, like I’d been a part of some momentous event in history that I had to share with the rest of the world.
And here I am doing so now.
I promise, if you have the time to go to Nicholas Frank Public Library here in Milwaukee (Wisconsin) you will not regret it. That single night spent in a library was filled with enough inspiration to make you wanna write about it. 😉