Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Julie in front of the old chicken coop in Carbondale.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Update from Kielbasy

Kielbasy Update April 1, 2010

Things have been exciting. This morning I woke up and went to photograph the owner of a Mexican bakery in downtown Wilkes-Barre. We discussed how he arrived in PA via Nueva York. He is a hard worker with an air of superiority about his success, a trait I think is very American. That's what I am thinking about here: What it means to be an American. At my lowest moments today, I thought that we are competitive and lacking in compassion.

Today we visited Carbondale, a small town where Julie's grandmother grew up. We spoke to a man who blamed the downfall of his neighborhood (and every other one) on "colored people". We also discussed joblessness, hopelessness, drugs and machines taking the jobs of humans.

As I sit here on the porch, I listen to the African American neighbors discuss politics; Obama, Hillary, Palin and I yell over the fence to them in agreement about something. They answer back and we greet each other. I feel the divide between us. The lack of trust. I keep seeing this here. In downtown Wilkes-Barre, I notice how people do not make eye contact. I know this can be overcome.

It is the first warm night. Tomorrow is Good Friday. The night is clear and full of laughter, motorbikes and barking dogs.

How come we don’t look at systems? How come we always look to blame people? I guess that is easier. Our default. How we all got to where we are, on the backs of everyone else. That is the story I am seeing here in Northeaster Pennsylvania. A city of immigrants: Eastern European and now Latino, third and fourth generation Poles, Russians, Lithuanians and African-Americans. There is a church for every ethnicity. No one really seems to get anyone else’s deal, but everyone has a deal. (As Choygam Trungpa says). I am fascinated by everyone’s deal. I want to get all the deals in a room together.

When I photograph people, I find them difficult, I have trouble with the things they say, the way they shape things, but I want to be open. I want to document this experience of being American. This obsession with race and the entrapment of class. I want to create more understanding and my anger (or guilt) has no place in that process.

A dinner we discuss the history of industry here, the patterns of migration, the path of profit.

The mornings are lush with bird song. This evening I saw the sun set over the Lackawanna River. I am going to bed without any resolution about how I can fit my work into these complexities I seem to seek out.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

We are in in cold, rainy Northeast PA.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Next Kielbasy Residency - March 27 - April 4

The Third Kielbasy Residency will take place from March 27 - April 4, 2010.
Meredith Arena and Julie Sengle will be in residence.
There will be no Open Studio for this residency, because of Easter celebrations.

Julie Sengle is an artist and organizer based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work explores slippages in historical memory, the power of ritual, and the shaping of tradition. She received her Master’s degree in 2004 from New York University, where she investigated modes of human interaction in American art since World War II. She has organized projects at Free Store, a pop-up shop in Lower Manhattan, and at Kleio Projects gallery in the Lower East Side. Her writing can be found in “Dear Someone,” an anthology edited by Jaime Shearn Cohen, and on her blog of feminist, queer, and performance art julessengle.blogspot.com.

While at Kielbasy, Sengle will retrace her grandmother’s youth in the nearby coal mining cities of Forest City and Carbondale, Pennsylvania. She hopes to document the Lithuanian legacy left by the city’s early inhabitants in Forest City and to unearth the activities of Lithuanian Communists who were once active in the area.

Meredith Arena is an artist, teacher, writer and sometimes performer. She has curated group exhibitions and regularly facilitates art projects with children. She has exhibited work in New York, California and Mexico. She currently works with children and families in Bushwick, Brooklyn and facilitates the monthly writers group at The Interdependence Project.

She will be continuing her portrait series, begun at her previous Kielbasy residency.

(Alexis Bhagat will be busy driving Julie and Meredith around, and otherwise will be holed away figuring out his Tax Return.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reportback from Kielbasy #2

Better late than never... Here is a report from our second Kielbasy resident, Meredith Arena.

While at Kielbasy I dreamt in abundance--buttery dreams that slid through one another. I walked around exploring the awkward boredom of Wilkes-Barre, PA and lingered in the rooms of 234 and 238 Scott Street.

I photographed cracks in ceilings, cracks in walls, broken statues, a headless gargoyle, an upturned swimming pool, signs at the nursing-home, the owner of a wig shop, curtains, fences, a ballerina sculpture, the manager of a rock venue, a couple with their baby, the Susquehanna, a guy in a Superman costume, ivy on aluminum siding, teenagers, peeling wallpaper, staircases, porches, reflections of decay in shiny glass, signs, old houses with triangle roof tops under dramatic skies, a guy on his porch, metal, parking lots, stuff in piles, the children next door, Alexis, Cynthia, myself, mirrors, train-tracks and doorways.

When it was raining I wrote about my uncomfortable memories: Richard, Tiffany’s debut album: Tiffany, Mr. Blain, Mrs. Levitsky, the male neighbors, Raimond, Lauren, the Puerto Rican girls, Richie, my virginity, the schoolyard at PS23, Egbert IS2, LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts and 101 8th Street. The rain was especially loud in the studio. Cynthia lent me a Russian hat that I didn’t take off until I went to bed at night.

The light in the Wyoming valley is enchanted. On the last day, the sun came out followed by the kids. I let them in on Lex’s secret about importing acorns into the backyard for the squirrels. They anxiously posed for pictures and threw acorns. I told them I would visit in the spring. We drove out in a blazing autumnal sunset.

(Freddy's report arrived by mail and will be posted once someone types it up.)
(Meredith, could you share a link in the comments to the Miraculously Mundane album?)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Kielbasy 2 is coming to a close this weekend.
We invite you to an Open Studio / Reception with this week's guest artists

234 Scott Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA

Saturday, October 17th


Meredith Arena is an artist, teacher, writer and sometimes performer. She has curated group exhibitions and regularly facilitates art projects with children. She has exhibited work in New York, California and Mexico. She currently works with children and families in Bushwick, Brooklyn and facilitates the monthly writers group at The Interdependence Project.

In Wilkes-Barre she is making pictures of decay in everyday life and portraits of willing locals.

Alexis Bhagat is an artist and writer. He is the Paul and Margie's grandson, and is the organizer of the Kielbasy Residency Program.

This week he is producing a new version of "Lecture on Democracy" and a wall text based on "Rather Talk About It"

Freddy Sylvain is a writer and teacher based in Putnamville, Vermont.

This week he has been transcribing interviews, and formatting them into the style of Alexis Bhagat's "Rather Talk About It"

(All photos this page, except Freddy's silhouette, by Meredith Arena.)