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The homeless woman who made photo-booth art
12.28.2016
08:46 am

Topics:
Art
Kooks
Unorthodox

Tags:
photography
homelessness
Lee Godie

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Lee Godie (1908-1994) was an outsider artist who spent three decades living rough on the streets of Chicago—with the occasional respite in a flophouse when she had cash.

When you read about Godie there’s always the sentence that states she “spent almost 30-years homeless” or “lived on the streets for nearly thirty years.” The “nearly” and “almost” make it sound cosy—make it all sound like an heroic failure—as if she didn’t quite succeed in living rough for the full thirty years—as in the way we say—she nearly came first in the race or she almost won the lottery. One night sleeping rough on the streets is hell enough for anyone—especially in those cold Chicago winters where the temperature can drop to -30 in the windchill and the radio broadcasts give advice on breathing in through the mouth and out through the nose to prevent nosebleeds.

Somehow Godie managed to live and work while she was homeless between the 1960s and 1990s. She made drawings and paintings with whatever materials she had to hand. She then sold them to commuters on their way to work—but only if she liked the look of you. If she didn’t—then Godie rolled up her portfolio of pictures, put them under her arm, bid you “Good day” and moved on to the next potential buyer. That’s an enviable, if bloody-minded determination.

For Godie chose to live on the streets. She had money—enough to keep her dry, warm and snug. But she preferred living rough. Why? No one seems to be quite sure. At night, in sub-zero temperatures Godie slept on “a concrete bench…clutching her large black portfolio” of artworks. How Godie ended up homeless is open to conjecture. What is known she was married twice and had four children. After the deaths of two of her children, Godie began her life living on the streets in the 1960s.
 
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The drawings and paintings were usually done while sitting on a park bench or on the steps of the Arts Institute. But perhaps her biggest and best known artworks was a series of selfies she made using a photo-booth as her studio.

For these self-portraits Godie dressed-up in her thrift store clothes and posed with props bought from Woolworth’s with the money she made selling her paintings. A Godie painting that was sold for $30 bucks back in the 1980s can fetch over $15,000 today. Godie’s photographs show her playing different roles—the child, the muse, the rich sophisticate like those 1920s Daisy Buchanan flappers she seemed so enamored by in her paintings.

When a newspaper story about Godie—the eccentric homeless artist—appeared in 1988—her daughter Bonnie Blank made contact. One day she was seen sitting beside her mother drawing pictures. On one occasion even sleeping rough with her. Eventually the daughter introduced herself to her long lost mother. Not long after this, Godie was admitted to hospital suffering from dementia. On her release, she went to stay with Bonnie where she remained until her death in 1994.
 
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More of the Lee Godie’s photobooth art, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Photographs of homeless people and their childhood dreams

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Tammy is a star on Height Street in San Francisco. If she can’t bring a smile on your face, then nobody will. Her biggest pain is that her grandmother and her first husband took the kids away from her.

 
No one chooses to be homeless. No one wants to be without a home to call their own. A string of bad luck, a few wrong turns, a few bad choices, and then wham—you’re flat out on your ass. I ended-up that way after the apartment I lived was destroyed by fire. Escaped with my life and little else. No insurance. No income. No nothing. Quickly found there was only so long I could kip on friends’ floors or sofas before there was nowhere left to go. But I was lucky. I got back to where I’d been.

Horia Manolache photographs homeless people in and around San Francisco. He does more than just take their pictures. He creates portraits of each of these homeless men or women as they are today and who they once imagined they would become when they were children.

Horia is an award-winning photographer. His intention in taking these photographs was to make these homeless people’s stories heard. He photographed them in a hotel, garages, building sites and out on the streets. He met “people with guns and people with golden hearts.” He ultimately made a mobile studio, where he could create these unique portraits.

His wife was his helper—cutting hair and beards, applying make-up. Horia spent time getting to know each of his sitters. He listened to their stories, heard about their dreams. Then he sourced the clothes and materials to create a portrait for each person. Imagining them as they once dreamed they would become—a chef, policewoman, clown, parent. Horia plans to make a book of his photographs called The Prince and the Pauper—more details here. In the meantime, here are Horia’s photographs and the stories behind each picture.
 
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Mike was the first to be in this project. He comes from Ohio, he had to run from there because he used to smoke weed and the police caught him so he was arrested. He is now rebuilding his life, he has a place to stay and he started to work, thanks to an organisation from San Francisco.

 
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Honey run away from home because of her violent husband. She had a car in which she slept but it broke and the police took it so she had to sleep in the park. She learned how to play ukulele by herself and she knows how to sing with spoons. She is called Honey because of her sweet voice.

 
More of Horia’s photographs of the homeless and their childhood dreams, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Poverty Chic: $20 zippered change purse makes you look like a homeless beggar
01.08.2015
06:48 pm

Topics:
Class War
Fashion

Tags:
poverty
homelessness


 
We here at Dangerous Minds are big fans of tacky, tasteless and kitsch, but there are pink flamingos (classic, respectable, fun), and then there is Poverty Chic (boo, we’re socialists!) These change purses are designed to look like the generic coffee cups that the homeless use to beg. If that isn’t enough, they go for $20 a pop. Don’t believe me? The designer dubs the accessory, “The Lucky Beggar.”  (At least the Museum of Modern Art had the good sense to rename the thing “New York Coffee Cup Pouch”!)

Check out the description:

George Skelcher was inspired to design the Lucky Beggar coin purse after seeing people using typical New York coffee cups to panhandle on the Bowery. This supple stitched faux leather purse mimics those cups and in turn helps the people who inspired them. Part of the proceeds of each purse sold is donated to HELP USA, an organization that has helped the homeless since 1986.

The Bowery is an area of downtown NY known for its homeless shelters and flophouses

Note the the vague allusion to charity to alleviate their obliviousness—though they’re not quite clear exactly what portion of the proceeds go to the homeless. Convenient. I can respect tacky crap, but when you start charging $20 for it, you clearly suck. And when the novelty of your ostensibly luxury product is “tee-hee, poverty,” you suck even more.
 

 

 

 
Via Aisha Keller

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Moving 1960s short interviews the ‘Bowery Bums’ of old New York
08.28.2014
04:34 pm

Topics:
Class War
History

Tags:
1960s
NYC
homelessness


 
Despite former Mayor Giuliani’s highly successful war on the homeless, the destitute faces of “Old New York” remain some of our most recognizable mascots. One of the misconceptions about present-day NYC is that the streets are now “scrubbed” of the homeless, but nothing could be further from the truth. The post-Giuliani policing of the poor was however, an unmitigated success when it came to dispersing indigent bodies—in other words, busting up homeless communities. Simply put, it’s not illegal to die in the street, it’s just illegal to fraternize with your fellow undesirables.

The video below, shot in 1960 and 1961, doesn’t dig deep—it doesn’t have to. Men are quick and open about their lives. The tragically predictable culprits of addiction, prison, disability and the lack of work brought them to the Bowery, and they’re rightfully resentful of their grim sanctuary. Still, it’s an odd thing to be wistful for a time when the homeless were at least able to commiserate fraternally in New York City. Like the gentlemen say, “misery loves company.”
 

 
Via Bowery Boogie

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment