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THEN and NOW; White City, Blue Streets, Bullets Red, Broken Hearts

Henry Hildebrandt's avatar Henry Hildebrandt

Narrative & description under final edits: Then and Now; White City, Blue Streets, Bullets Red, Broken Hearts 2021 Then and Now; White City, Blue Streets, Bullets Red, Broken Hearts is dedicated to the memory of Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood race massacre of 1921. The massacre of 300 Black residences and destruction of 40 square blocks of the flourishing Greenwood neighborhood in two days by white law enforcement and Tulsa’s citizens was Then. Now, ten decades after Greenwood, America’s racial injustice and racial violence continue. The countless racial struggles of these decades since and in decades before 1921has produced little socioeconomic progress and atonement for the gross racial inequalities. White City power structures and mega-corporate power structures – Then and Now - have combined with skewed political structures and the white elite class who have built skyscrapers of wealth at the expense of marginalized neighborhoods of color and class Then as Now. Then still is Now. A daily fabric of ugly prejudice and political facades of false equality is a mask in the populous rhetoric of media personalities and social media masters. White City was Then and is Now. Then and Now; White City, Blue Streets, Bullets Red, Broken Hearts translates the memory of 1921 Greenwood in physical form with symbols and materials to bring us to Now. In plan and in image symbolic White iconic skyscrapers type buildings aggressively point outward secured on a palette lumber grid, utilitarian timber – the symbol of common laborers building the elite’s real estate empires. The composition is layered on a white grid of blue light to recall the sad city streets void of a now-destroyed neighborhood. Red neon is tracings like bullets in the night on a dark soapstone fragment gives the dull red of death’s pain of night of 31 May 21. This armature is set on a foundation of rough cut 2 x 4s – the building material of house construction from a hundred years ago. Their ancient growth rings in yellow pine from virgin timber layer on a backbone of white oak timber to give us the families linkages and the close-knit fabric of neighbors, families, friends of Main streets and homes before strip malls and quick marts, the Greenwood Then. This assembly represents a City, a Neighborhood, a Community we all know and value. The structural system of common materials, like the social structures of communities, supports the reference to the classical entablature of white limestone – symbolic of a democratic Roman / Greek ideal as a reference but now seen as only a fragment, a minimized fragment turned upside down under the massive technology board of a twentieth-century circuitry matrix: corporate media’s influential power and wealth - dominate Then as Now. In the near distance sets the ghost of an abstracted oil derrick of white ash; Then as Now a source of power and wealth. Absorbed within the technologies of modern life are the broken hearts of Greenwood. Beating in pain, suspended in time as beacons of hope only to be engulfed by the technologies of promises Now. Our reading of Then will give us the understanding now not to repeat what was then. Materials: Salvaged palette lumber Salvaged white oak timber Salvaged yellow pine 2x4s (1910) Salvaged circuit board Salvaged red neon tube & gas Bromo Blue glass & argon gas LED lighting White Ash & Popular Size: 48”L x 24’W x 108”T Henry Hildebrandt, Professor School of Architecture and Interior Design, University of Cincinnati

Entry Details
  • Art form: 3-D
  • Depth: 24 inches
  • Medium: wood neon metal
  • Width: 48 inches
  • Year created: 2021
  • Height: 108 - 109 inches