Inspired by Mother Teresa and the fabulous "I Have a Name" mural by Brian Boner and cohorts in Phoenix, Arizona my heart was bursting to somehow connect with the homeless population in downtown Phoenix. I forged what I thought was a fabulous last minute plan for a Street Art + Feeding the Homeless venture with family and friends. Fortunately...yes I do mean fortunately, I had no takers and decided to make my way to the RoRo Arts District by myself...no food in hand, just myself. The end result was more meaningful than I had imagined.
I arrived around 9:00am. Still unsure of exactly what I was going to do, I figured that getting out of my truck was a good start, so that's what I did. The streets were quiet and clean. It was as if I had the entire city to myself...
but not for long. Around 9:30am I noticed someone making themselves comfortable just outside PSA Art Awakenings. He had a bike, a briefcase, and a yellow blanket. He looked approachable...so I approached.
"Hi, do you live around here?" I blurted out. "Yeah...not too far from here." He responded, paused and then added, "M'am, I'm homeless". An enlightening 30 minute encouter ensued. "I used to have a job," he told me, " but they let me go, so now I have time to do my artwork." He opened his briefcase chock full of colorful sketches of animals and classic cars. "I do this for the children. I love children. They get it.", he said repeatedly and then pulled out an obviously cherished picture a little girl had drawn for him.
Returning to his briefcase he pulled out his collection of artwork. "Do you want a picture? I'll give you one. Which one do you want?", he asked. "Isn't this your work?", I asked, "Isn't this how you make your money? I will pay you for one." I insisted. "No, I do this from my heart. I don't want you to pay me." he said, "Tell you what, you can buy one and then I'll give you another one, then we'll both be happy." And so it was.
By the time we were done I had two sketches of green Hudsons, a Roger Penske Corvette, the sketch in the photo above and a new friend. His name is Ken. You can see his proud signature on each one of his art pieces. During our time together he shared with me his plight and personal perspective of the homeless dilemma. While the solution to homelessness is complex and varied, on that day how to begin became perfectly clear. Mural artist Brian Bonner, Mother Teresa, and a little girl had it right. Recognizing each individual as a person with a name, a face, and a life worthy of dignity is something we can all do with or without a peanut butter sandwich. I look forward to starting this New Year getting to know the names, the faces and the stories of ALL those with whom we share spaces.
Hi, I'm Lori Ann. After being in love with Arizona for more than three decades my heart has been drawn to connect with the people, places and all those with whom we share this fabulous space we call home!