There Will Be TrIP and Other Stories #TrIP_Orlando #publictransportation

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There Will be TrIP took place last night at the Gallery at Avalon Island – the latest installment of There Will Be Words hosted by local, prose enthusiast and writer Jesse Bradley. A podcast of the TrIP prose reading should eventually be available on the There Will Be Words website. Photograph courtesy of David Thomas Moran.

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Chapbooks from There Will Be TrIP are on sale for $8. Thank you to Jesse Bradley for organizing the event and to Laura Cole for designing the chapbooks. Also, thank you to Pat Greene, TrIP’s curator and the director of the Gallery at Avalon Island, for providing the space for the event. Photograph courtesy of the There Will Be Words website.

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LYNX CEO John Lewis (far left) and There Will Be Words‘ host Jesse Bradley (front) pose for a picture with There Will Be TrIP‘s readers Patrick Greene, Julian Chambliss, Dina Mack and Moriah Lorraine Russo (back from left to right). Photo courtesy of Patrick Greene.  

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Yesterday’s edition of the Orlando Sentinel (Tuesday, Jan. 14) featured a story on TrIP (Lynx bus rides move artists to tell city’s stories) in which John Lewis was interviewed.  He expressed his support for the project and its portrayal of the LYNX bus system.

“I’m quite frankly moved by it,” said Lewis. “They have found a way to creatively express the reality about the perception of public transit in the southeast … They don’t seem to have an agenda and they’re showing the good, bad and the ugly of what public transit is.”

~John Lewis, LYNX CEO

TrIP was also covered by the Orlando Weekly on Nov. 27 (Artists take a trip in the Transit Interpretation Project).

The full text of both stories is below:

Lynx bus rides move artists to tell city’s stories
Orlando Sentinel | Published online January 13, 2014| By Tod Caviness

When schoolteacher and photographer Delila Smalley took her camera aboard Lynx’s route 25, a bus that travels from Lynx Central Station to its Operations Center on John Young Parkway, she wasn’t just a passenger.

She was the latest artist to join the Transit Interpretation Project, a local “experiment” by art curator Patrick Greene.

The agenda is simple: Greene invites artists in a variety of disciplines to ride the bus and create a work of art based on their experience. TrIP, as Greene abbreviates the project, has resulted in short stories, poems, sketches and even a bus-bound modern dance performance since its inception in November.

Smalley chose to photograph the auto-repair shops and warehouses on Mercy Drive, and occasionally the silent faces of those who sat with her. It was her first ride aboard the 25 bus, which travels near Evans High School where Smalley teaches English.

“I knew I wanted to come to this side of town, because I drive through it every day for work but I never really get to stop and look around,” said Smalley. “I mean, I teach the students but I don’t get to see a lot of the people in the community.”

Greene, who curates at Orlando’s Gallery at Avalon Island, is no stranger to the idea of art in the public sphere. In 2012, he organized the Corridor Project, which brought pop-up music, dance and performance art shows to unexpected outdoor spaces along Mills Avenue in Orlando. For TrIP, he gave his participating artists a simple mandate: Ride the bus and create, but ride it as a fellow passenger.

“You could ride for 15 minutes, but I wanted everybody to have a destination,” said Greene. “You’re going to lunch, going to work, or something.”

He also wanted to cast a wide net, and hopes to have works of art created for each of the 71 routes in the Lynx bus system. So far, Greene says TrIP artists have ridden more than 50, and many have chronicled their experiences on the project’s blog at transitinterpretationproject.tumblr.com.

Greene deliberately did not seek permission or partnership from Lynx.

“I figured if they don’t know about it, they can’t stop me,” he joked.

So far, Greene has little to worry about. He has a fan in none other than John Lewis, Lynx’s chief executive officer.

“I’m quite frankly moved by it,” said Lewis. “They have found a way to creatively express the reality about the perception of public transit in the southeast … They don’t seem to have an agenda and they’re showing the good, bad and the ugly of what public transit is.”

The variety of art in the project matches the variety of the artists’ experience with public transit. Before she took the route 8 bus for TrIP, fashion designer and textile artist Bethany Mikell had never boarded a Lynx bus despite living in Orlando all her life. Along for the ride were sketch artists Kelly Berry and Megan Steward, and Mikell is embroidering their drawings from the ride onto a dress. Following its completion, she plans to have a model wear the outfit and return to the scene of inspiration for a fashion shoot along the route.

On the other side of the coin is Jesse Bradley, 34, a Casselberry resident who has used the bus system regularly since he was 17. His ride aboard route 434 in November resulted in “Welcome to Lion Country,” a poem whose title is inspired by a sign in front of Oviedo High School — one of many small details “a (car) driver would miss that someone who rides the bus wouldn’t.”

On Tuesday, Bradley will host a special installment of his monthly short-fiction reading series “There Will Be Words” at the Gallery at Avalon Island. The night will feature writers whose works have been inspired by their participation in TrIP. Greene himself will be one of the readers, all of whom will strive to translate the transit experience.

“To me, it’s another way of being a storyteller,” said Greene. “Kind of telling the story of our city.”

tcaviness@tribune.com or 407-420-5677

There Will Be Words: TrIP Readings
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14
Where: Gallery at Avalon Island, 39 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando
Cost: Free
Online: therewillbewords.com

Artists take a trip in the Transit Interpretation Project
They’ll create responses to the commuter system in the form of dance, photographs, poetry and even fashion
Orlando Weekly | Published November 27, 2013 | By Christopher Belt

If you’ve traveled on I-4 through Orlando in the last decade, you’ve seen the neon-decked LYNX Central Station, the downtown hub of the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority. (You know, the building with the undulating roof that in an alternate universe would just be a huge Miami Subs.) If you’ve never been there or never been on a bus in Central Florida, you’re not alone. “Not many people ride it, and part of their argument for not riding it is because they’ve already decided that it’s of no use to them,” says Patrick Greene, curator of the Gallery at Avalon Island and the visionary behind the Corridor Project, “a site-specific contemporary art museum” whose conceptual works appear in ever-shifting venues throughout the I-4 corridor. “Maybe if everybody checked it out, at least then we might come up with more insight.” To that end, Greene launched the Transit Interpretation Project (TrIP) under the umbrella of the Corridor Project, enlisting a cadre of artists and creatives from across the disciplines, challenging each of them to ride a different route and create an artistic response.

The most visible service of the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority is the LYNX bus system, consisting of 280 air-conditioned, biodiesel-powered coaches running 71 fixed routes which weave through Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. For the 1.8 million people residing therein, a one-way fare costs $2 and transfers are free if made within 90 minutes. A monthly pass costs $50, and in Phase 1 of the Transit Interpretation Project, artists are handing off the bus pass to each other after completing their chosen route. Contemporary dance group Voci Dance sent three dancers along Link 13, improvising movements for a planned larger work. Other contributors to TrIP include Cirque du Soleil music director (and Timucua Arts White House host) Benoit Glazer, local bike-share pioneer Sarah Elbadri, and algorithmic artist Nathan Selikoff.

David Moran, a graduate student focusing on game design in UCF’s Center for Emerging Media, was the first to complete his route. A daily user of the LYNX system for the past two years, he took a bus from UCF to Rollins, then another to the downtown bus station, then another to Parliament House, taking photos and video along the way and posting 194 of them on Instagram (search for the hashtag #trip_orlando). He then walked for six hours the entire way back to his home near UCF, reflecting on the reality that some commuters face when their own schedule doesn’t quite line up with the bus schedule.

“People can be kind of stranded places because of the fact that [the bus system] goes dark at a certain time,” says Moran. “What does that mean for people that still need to get around? Not everybody operates 9-5, Monday through Friday.” Moran hopes that his photographs communicate these issues, as well as the sense of isolation and marginalization that come with not participating in the dominant commuter culture.

Fashion designer Bethany Mikell completed her trip Nov. 10, along with friends and fellow artists Kelly Berry and Megan Steward. Berry and Steward sketched many of the passengers who came and went along Link 8, which goes from the downtown LYNX Central Station to International Drive. The sketches will be embroidered on a dress Mikell is designing, which will feature a macramé detail of the shape of the route itself. She plans to have the dress modeled and photographed at locations along the route.

Artistic concerns aside, Mikell says their interactions with other passengers were very positive, with curious riders asking about the sketches and the project. One man, however, was extremely anxious at the beginning of their trip when the bus arrived five minutes late. If he missed the transfer to his next bus – the last one of the day – he would have had to walk two hours from the bus stop to his home.

Interactions between artists and the community are one part of why Greene started the project to begin with. The diverse group he has recruited includes established, emerging and amateur artists. Every piece created, every story told is an opportunity to see the city and the region from another perspective.

“If you’re using mass transit in the South, there’s a socioeconomic overlay to the perception of your presence there,” says Dr. Julian Chambliss, associate professor of history at Rollins College and another TrIP participant. Chambliss, whose research has focused on early urban planning and urban history, is interested in the “real and perceived” urban experience, and he plans to explore how the perception policymakers have of the people who use mass transit affects their decision-making. “Perception is very important to the urban experience … If you perceive things to be a certain way, that enforces or supports policy to be a certain way. If you change perception, arguably you can change policy.”

Greene encourages the artists to focus on the creative aspect without concern for where the works will be shown. While he hasn’t dismissed the possibility of an exhibition of the work, he says the works will be documented on a website, and that the idea is more in line with site-specific art – performances and installations created for a specific location. Artists are free to display or publish or sell their work as they see fit, without confining their creativity to the parameters of a gallery space.

Statistics bear out Greene’s assertion that the LYNX routes are underutilized. In 2012 the total average ridership was 85,000 passenger rides (one-way trips) per weekday, meaning between 95 and 97 percent of the population finds some other way to navigate Central Florida’s sprawling expanse of asphalt. For contrast, the area served by New York City’s Metro Transit Authority (which includes both the bus and subway system) has a population 8.5 times greater than that served by LYNX, but has a ridership 100 times greater. Public transit in Orlando, like many Southern metro areas with low population densities, isn’t ingrained in everyday life for most of the population.

Greene hopes that the multiplicity of experiences and perspectives documented in the Transit Interpretation Project will encourage dialogue about the benefits and drawbacks of using public transit, while documenting “stories about the bus, Orlando and the people who live here.”

Email: arts@orlandoweekly.com

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