Sunday, August 10, 2008
Empower Jim Power! The Mosaic Man of the East Village
Yesterday, John and I spent most of the day in the East Village, just exploring. As is my ritual, I read up on the area by finding a ton of articles about the neighborhood on the NY Times' excellent and easily searchable online database. So I guess it shouldn't be totally surprising that I spotted what appeared to be a homeless man, doing something not-so-legal to a public light post, accompanied by his trusty companion, and knew exactly what was going on: this was Jim Power, the famous "Mosaic Man" of the East Village!
Spend 10 minutes walking around the East Village and you cannot help but start to notice explosions of mosaic artwork affixed to things like walls, bus benches, sidewalks, light posts, you name it- Jim Power is the homeless/Vietnam Vet/artist who has been beautifying the East Village for twenty years. He is something of a celebrity in the neighborhood, and even has a memorably-named website: empowerjimpower.com.
My life appears to have become so uneventful that this sighting was my closest brush-with-fame in a long time. Pushing that sad thought aside, I vowed to blog about Jim Power (who looks remarkably like Garth from Wayne's World) because it seems that he is especially upset lately: his mosaics are falling into disrepair and are even being destroyed by city forces that don't respect the artistry and effort behind them. He's apparently so fed up that he's even destroying some of his own work.
P.S. What does it say about me that my husband was completely unfazed by the fact that I walked up to a homeless-looking guy, chiseling away at a lamp post with tools in his hand, and said "Is this Jessie Jane?" It's weird enough that I know the names and personal histories of tons of homeless people in Downtown LA, but why in the world should I know such intimate details about people in cities where I don't even live?