By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
front-page story of last week’s PRESS of Southeast Queens
brought to light a local controversy concerning insensitive art. The Daily
News, CBS-TV news and others, have picked up the Press
story about artist Sharon Paz’s work on display at the Jamaica
Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL).
presstime, that artwork had been removed from the windows, and there goes
the chance for discussion, thought and healthy debate.
view outside of JCAL
by Shams Tarek
of Southeast Queens
a Sept. 11 memorial, consisted of paper cutouts of “falling people”
and was affixed to JCAL’s windows.
While the artist described her work as, “my therapy … my own
way of dealing with my fear,” Queens Beep Helen Marshall claimed:
“this is insensitive. We need healing now, and this opens wounds.”
Leroy Comrie: “They [JCAL] do wonderful work in the arts; they just
dropped the ball with this.”
Director of Programs Alan Lynes : “It’s the kind of piece that elicits
a strong response … Some people were very supportive and some people
were very offended. We thought it was done gracefully. Yes, it’s
breathtaking, but we shouldn’t forget the loss of life.
Chaney, claimed this is not “shock art,” many disagreed.
recent years, we’ve seen a religious group’s attempt to cover naked
statues at the Queens Museum, a Mayor objecting to a feces covered
depiction of the Virgin Mary, and just last week, a public outcry against
an artist sculpture of a 9-11 splattered woman caused its removal from
week’s PRESS editorial insisted, “Regardless of what
your opinion of the piece is, there is one thing that is clear.
makes you think, and thinking improves our dialogue, our minds, and our
art is the impetus for discussion and debate, only learning and
understanding can come out of it.
this instance, it has opened up a dialogue on an important piece of
history and brought the discussion to street level. It’s gotten people
looking at the Center, thinking about that day, and expanding their
are pleased that the artist did not have to be afraid and used her freedom
of speech to its fullest.
we encourage our readers to do the same.”
will still be hosting a public Q&A session with the artist on Oct. 1
at 7 p.m. but our borough has already lost a chance to grow from this free
art and controversy share a canvas, discussions of culture come to the
kitchen table. People get involved and interested and begin to think.
art is beautiful for a whole different set of reasons.
am shocked that you have not commented with regards to Councilmember
Charles Barron’s invitation to Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s dictator, who
addressed the entire Council in City Hall’s Chambers.
well documented, Mugabe’s irrational land-seizure program could
potentially cause the starvation of millions in his nation. Even
has criticized him for this.
is outrageous to think
that this man was an honored guest at the citizens of New York’s
City Hall! And to add to this, not one of Barron’s colleagues had
the backbone to step up and publicly rebuke him
are the same council-members that you have glowingly referred to in
several of your prior columns. I am also
disappointed that – as a loyal reader and admirer of your work
– you did not use your column to comment on this story.
I am a strong believer in free speech, I also believe the
councilmembers of New York should not have be held captive to the rantings
of an ideologue,
when they should be working on
behalf of the taxpaying public. I also believe that
councilmembers and journalists who work hard to protect and
encourage these rights, have a responsibility to exercise them on behalf
of the public.
while I am disappointed, I will still read. It’s only strike one!
Keith Walsh, Maspeth
You’ve done the job well for both of us. Thanx, Mike
an on-going debate whether political lines should be drawn to group people
of the same ethnicity in the same district. It certainly makes sense if we
believe needs and desires are ethnically based. It also can enable an
ethnic minority to have elected representation.
last year’s Council election, we saw the first Asian-American and
Hispanic-American elected to office from Queens. Flushing’s John Liu and
Corona’s Hiram Monserratte indeed ethnically mirror the communities they
represent. District lines were compact, contiguous and resulted in
years earlier, a tri-county, badly gerrymandered district
– known as the “Bullwinkle” district because of it’s
boundaries roughly mimicked the shape of the cartoon character’s head
– was drawn to elect a Latino to Congress. Nydia Velazquez won the
Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan seat with the smallest turnout in a hotly
contested Congressional Primary that this writer recalls. Several years
later, the Supreme Court struck down the “Bullwinkle” District and two
others in the country that were gerrymandered just because of ethnicity.
Although ethnic makeup was valid to be considered, the court refused to
allow it to be the overriding consideration.
district was redrawn in a manner to comply with the court’s vague
directives and enable incumbent Velazquez to retain the seat.
year, redistricting created three Queens seats drawn to enable minority
representation: Flushing’s 22nd Assembly District drawn for an Asian,
and drawn for Latinos, Jackson Heights 39th A.D. and Elmhurst’s 13th
Senate District. The lines apparently comply with court mandates.
these three districts, winning the Democratic Primary usually assures an
election night victory. Jose Peralta was the only ethnic minority
candidate to win. Peralta beat two other Latino candidates and will be
Queens’ first Hispanic in Albany.
Grodenchik a white Jewish Democratic district leader won the 22nd AD over
two Chinese and a south Asian candidate. Grodenchik had only 36.85 percent
of the vote. The two Chinese candidates – Jimmy Meng and Ethel Chen –
had a combined total of 55 percent. Although no one can be sure, it seems
likely, that had only one of the two Chinese candidates been in the race,
they would have won. Grodenchik now has two years of incumbency to win
overthe Asian voters.
seems likely that even with the advantages of incumbency, should
Grodenchik, at any tine in the future, have to run head-on against a
single strong Asian candidate, the seat could change hands.
to the west, longtime District Leader and former Councilman John Sabini
won the 13th Senate District with 44.5 percent of the vote. The remaining
55.5 percent was split between two Latino candidates. Although the future
is not as ominous for Sabini as it maybe for Grodenchik, Sabini may not
have been the victor had he faced one Latino candidate with united
and national differences may prevent the Chinese in the 22nd A.D. from
unifying, while political and national differences may prevent the Latinos
in the 13 S.D. from uniting behind a single candidate in the future.
However, we would expect that with the changing population, the
registration of more minority voters and the maturation of new Americans
entering the political process, that when this decade ends, the number of
members of ethnic minorities in elected positions and positions of power,
a good thing.
of you who read this column regularly are aware that the New York State
Legislature is not one of my favorite deliberative or legislative bodies.
The gang that can’t pass a budget on time is an embarrassment to the
people of this State. Decisions on anything that matters in the
legislature are made by two people – Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno
and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. They’ll consult the Guv, if they
have to. But it seems that all they care about is preserving their own
don’t know what goes on in the other 49 states, but I’d be surprised
if there are any worse. Yeah, New York is at the bottom.
so, I was not the least bit surprised when I emailed an inquiry to an old
Queens list of Assembly members and quickly got back an auto-response from
Assemblywoman Pauline Cummings representing the 31st
District of southeast Queens.
you can see from the email, Cummings comments about the volume of email
she receives and gives her Albany and Far Rockaway office addresses and
phone numbers in case more than an automatic email response is needed.
we really don’t need anything else. We were in fact rather surprised
that Cummings responded to us at all. You see, she died nine months ago.
it’s not the least bit surprising that no one has bothered to update the
mail server of the NYS Assembly.
seen how quickly they pass a budget; they’ll get around to it someday.
by Dom Nunziato