Willets Point, also known as the Iron Triangle, is New York City’s cheap autoparts and service supermarket. Its a surreal landscape, as autoshops line a pothole peppered road that make you feel like you are in an abandoned city. Yet across the street lies the brand new CITI Field for the Mets Baseball team, and overhead planes are constantly buzzing to and from Laguardia. More investigation reveals an ethnically diverse business community, in which many individuals have invested 10, 15 even 20 years of their lives. It’s a phenomenon of a local economy that is bizarre in many ways, and where auto parts merge with urban identity. With an imminent incoming redevelopment looking to displace this community, Artefacting launches a timely initiative to not only document what may soon be displaced, but also to further stimulate and encourage the community cohesion and lift people amidst increasing challenges. Willets Point Champions is the culminating event of this project and will be held on October 30 and November 6. This project was covered by the New York Times. To read the full article and to see their photos and a short video click here
Blog week 1, “Willets Point Champions” festival is born!
Oct 4, 2011. We’ve spent a part of the Spring and the last week in familiarizing ourselves with the people that are Willets Point; predominantly latin-American but mixed in are workers from Africa, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. Together this business community provides a wealth of places to service one’s car at discount prices… relief for many that can’t afford to pay premium rates. The workers make due out of a landscape of pothole-ridden roads and streaming challenges of eminent domain from the city.
- Eminent Domain meet Willets Point
- Citi Field and Willets Point potholes
- Rear view mirrors for sale
Yet amidst this they manage to not only make a living but support one another. Today Tony Jilberto from Chile commented on the beauty of Willets Point… how one day out of cash, a sandwich appeared gracias to his Argentinian friend. Quite the contrary to the bad blood typically thought to exist between these two countries. But according to Tony, this is what happens here.
And so in light of what this community has achieved, Artefacting decided to document and celebrate what is not blight but life and community. Marcos, Arne and I walked from shop to shop to gauge interest for an event. We were uncertain how we would be received but were met by enthusiasm and appreciation. Teams are being signed up for what we are happy to present as “Willets Point Champions”.
- Marcos & Arne gauge interest
- The sign up sheets
- Willets Point Field site
- Arne working on Willets Point Field
On the 29th and 30th of October a Soccer tournament will play out on a makeshift field at the crux of this business community…pitting workshops up against each other. And a muffler man sculpture competition will see the creativity, rivalry and fun of WP celebrated via a team of rival mascots that will surround the pitch.
Local singers and music will be playing popular songs and video projections will voice what and who is Willets Point through the eyes and mouths of those that have made their living in WP for years.
Blog 1, Introducing the Willets Point Festival
June 2, 2011. On October 29 and 30, a community celebration and arts festival will see the people and landscape of Willets Point documented, expressed and transformed into an art form. A tribe of muffler men sculptures will greet visitors as they arrive. The infamous potholes will be turned into “stepping stones” of color and memorabilia that reflecting those that have given life to these roads. Local singers will echo the tunes and music of their native Ecuador, India, Colombia, Afghanistan or countless other country of origin. Short films will be projected in the “drive thru” and photos & artwork exhibited in a handful of spots. Just a taste of what is to come when Artefacting teams up with the Queen’s Museum of Art in an immersion, exploration and celebration of Willet Point’s Iron Triangle. Visit Artefacting Willets Point Festival & Public tours for more info