Yeah, it's powerful. But it's not thought of as powerful in a good way. It's a place where people who own Philly steak joints get shot. Or where people trying to go to the post office with their kids end up with kids who know what it looks like to get shot.
But that's not all of it, right? That's not its entire past, present, and future. A new public art project gets into the fray:
The Corner: 23rd and Union is an interactive public radio documentary about, for, and created with the people who make the corner part of their lives.
From mid-June through August 2009 an art installation, featuring larger-than-life photographs of neighbors, will revitalize an empty lot on 23rd and Union. The artwork will invite viewers to call a phone number, where an automated voicemail system plays neighbors' impressions, memories and stories, and invites you to share your own.
Custom software integrates all the listener voice mail responses and posts them to http://23rdandunion.org. Some stories will air on KUOW 94.9 Public Radio and Hollow Earth Radio.
"It's a powerful corner" — Saviour Knowledge, a guardian of 23rd and Union.
Today, 23rd and Union is a ghost corner — filled with weeds, parking lots and sporadic violence. It used to be a bustling commercial center, crammed with grocery stores, pharmacies, bars, restaurants, and professional offices.
"I'm a relative newcomer to the neighborhood," says project creator Jenny Asarnow, a KUOW 94.9 Public Radio and Hollow Earth Radio producer. "I wanted to find a way to create a rich portrait of the neighborhood’s past, present and future - one that goes beyond the headlines of development, drugs and violence - and invite everyone to collaborate in the process."
Photojournalist Inye Wokoma, a lifelong Central District resident, has created a series of stunning portraits of neighbors standing on the corner of 23rd and Union.
NKO of the Free Sheep Foundation has designed a series of monumental structures that feature larger-than-life prints of Inye's photos. These site-specific works will be built from found materials with “Scratchmaster” Joe Martinez of Handsome Murals, along with collaborators No Touching Ground and David Rauschenberg.
The voicemail is hosted by Yirim Seck, hip hop artist and Central District resident and features “East Union Street Hustlers” by Moorpheus (of dRED.i).
The Corner is made possible by Public Radio Maker's Quest 2.0, an initiative of AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio, with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (http://www.mq2.org).