Zina Saunders - New York Artist

(Bill Gurstelle is guest blogging here on Boing Boing. He is the author of books including Backyard Ballistics, and the recently-published Absinthe and Flamethrowers)

I had a chance to converse with artist Zina Saunders at the GEL 2009 conference in New York City last month. (GEL stands for Good Experience Live, which is something like an East Coast mini-TED conference. Basically, the organizer, Mark Hurst, invites schedules a day of 20-minute talks given by interesting people with unusual experience. Each presenter speaks about what makes up good experience.)

Saunders does a lot of work for the magazines and newspapers,(the political stuff is wickedly funny depending on your outlook) but she may be best known for her delightful collection of New York City slice-of-life portraits called Overlooked New York. It's a huge and creatively rendered look at New Yorkers do interesting things below the radar. They raise pigeons on the rooftops of their flats and long distance swim in the East River. If you visit the site, be sure to check out the story of the Puerto Rican Bike Men.

pigeon man with net.jpg


Also as it turns out, both Zina and I find the fire plugs and sprinkler connections on New York City sidewalks unexpectedly interesting. They reflect, albeit imperfectly, the neighborhood in which they reside. The ones on the upper west side are all shiny and new, while the ones in the grittier parts of town are beaten up and covered with unfriendly looking spikes.

fire plug.jpg