Underneath Boston

By: pbcmedia

Sep 22 2008

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Art, Creativity, Culture, Life, Personal, Photography


Focal Length:21mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 5D

The same day of the scenic shots of Boston’s waterfront, I walked underneath a bridge less than 200 yards away from the Harborwalk that many pedestrians use during the day to go to Fan Pier, to the Courthouse,  to the Barking Crab restaurant or to and from Congress Street.

On this day there were the remnants of a coat or what appeared to have been a coat at least at one time.  From a distance, I thought it might have been someone sleeping.  When I got closer I realized whoever had once worn this coat appeared to have simply disintegrated within the coat itself.  It did not appear abandoned as much as just no longer inhabited.

Contrast this coat with one painted by the Spanish painter, Antonio Lopez Garcia, called “The Clothes Rack” that I had seen in an exhibit in Spring at the Museum of Fine Arts. (YOU NEED TO LOOK AT IT, PEOPLE!)   It bears striking resemblance to the grey coat in the right, and yet, what struck me, standing under this bridge, was despite this empty coat being similar in color, even very similar in shape– how lived in, vibrant and useful Garcia’s coat appears, despite being without his form beneath it. (The artist said it was his own clothing)

I stood for several minutes before I took the photograph.  Almost as if I was at a wake and in front of a casket.  This found coat, probably like its past owner, simply appears to no longer have a place or use in life.

A survey conducted in 2007 indicated that on one winter’s evening there were over 7000 homeless men, women and children in the city of Boston.

©Pat Coakley 2008


7 comments on “Underneath Boston”

  1. You had wondered if an appropriate title for what you are is Photographic Narrator, I think. Or words close to that.

    How ably you convey a social reflection of so many sides, fronts and underbellies of life as others might just continue walking past only seeing the next restaurant or clothing store.

    I like the similarity of your photo and the essence of Garcias’ coat rack.

    The ghosts of the unfortunate haunt all of us.

  2. The ghosts of the unfortunate is such an apt phrase. Don’t you love Garcia’s painting? I am going to write more about him tomorrow or the next day. Photo Illustrator was the term but actually they usually don’t require any words at all unless they are used in the image somehow, i.e. a collage of some sort. They are usually hired to do work for an article written by someone else. So, I don’t think I fit that too well. Ah, search for identity at 63. PS. in reference to your other comment to access to museums of this caliber–I am not kidding when I tell you I could not live without having access to such resources. Perhaps it is how I have adapted to single for a reason, but I depend on these institutions and exposure to new and old artists to give me ideas for living life, surviving this or that, and forms and colors that I need to think about my life. Like having a person in your life who explains things, perhaps, or beckons you to do better work? Don’t exactly know but it is v. important. I also don’t like to go to museums with people who are art snobs…”Oh, I love this BUT hate this”. I just like to wander around without prejudice and see what I see and let it all percolate. End of Longest Answer to shortest comment.

  3. Firstly PAT – I just received the card you sent me. Thank you so much. It brought tears to my eyes because I am truly dealing with hell here and you took time to say hey, honey, I’m here. That is exactly why I love our blog community. Everyone – Pat sent me a card of the elephant twirling hula hoops with a kind word inside to tell me she knows how rough it is. I hate the fact I can’t find the words for my own blog at the moment, but Pat made me realise that it’s okay; my blog friends will still be there. Then Bonnie left a comment on something I posted a week ago. Bonnie – Thank you! Right now I have a list my arm’s length of things to write but I just can’t settle. Making people redundant in a tough market has made me concentrate on them and blog just has to wait for a day or two more. Even so, Pat, THANK YOU!!! You are kinder and more knowing than I can express. Lots of love, Epic. xxxxx
    PS I have comments on the empty coat. In the UK a terrifying percentage of the homeless are ex-armed services These people need more help.

  4. Epic, the profile of US homeless also includes a large percentage of veterans, a shockingly high number. Totally get the “I just can’t settle”. You will, I will, the world will– but we are gonna be different beings, that I know. Perhaps, this difference we’ll be grateful for down the line, but right now? Yikes.

  5. Excuse the pun but haunting image, sent chills down my spine and strangely I thought of it as you had in your last line. So very sad if I could build a home for all of them and teach them how to cook better than me I think I would in a heart beat.

    It is always incredible how a single image can evoke such emotion and thought, beautiful!

  6. Well put, and disturbing. So sad there are so many homeless. I’m counting my blessings.

  7. SF, I love the idea of teaching people to cook better than you suggesting the skills lay dormant within, just waiting for the muse!
    S.Le: You said it. Counting my blessings. It really is how I feel as well.

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