Broken Angel House artist gets a stay of eviction
Arthur Wood, the infamous octogenarian artist who is fighting to remain in his iconic Clinton Hill artwork-cum-abode, has been granted an extra two weeks in his home, as a small housing court victory last week pushed his eviction date back to March 31st.
Neighbors and community activists organized two fundraising events for Wood this past Friday: first, a “block party” in his own backyard from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with hot food, a DJ, live musicians and a guest appearance by Reverend Billy; then a late-night dance party a little ways off in Fort Greene.
The block party turnout was impressive, but the party afterward was small, according to organizer Kara Blossom.
Despite that, Blossom said they were able to raise a good amount of money in donations, thanks in large part to Arthur’s decision at the end of the night to auction off some of his art.
“He just sort of climbed up this ladder and was like, ‘does anyone want to buy this?’” Blossom said. “Then Reverend Billy auctioned it off, it was very impromptu and cute.”
The block party appeared to have a strong Occupy Wall Street And Occupy Sandy Relief presence, from a table of Occupy-related pamphlets in the backyard, to a station wagon with “Occupy Sandy Relief” written on the windows parked outside.
Wood’s son, Christopher, could be seen earlier during the event testing a projector aimed out of one of the upper floors of the building against the side of a nearby building. The elder Wood himself stood in front of his building in a red-hooded sweatshirt as reporters hovered around him.
Wood’s son expressed gratitude for the turnout, and said it meant a lot to his father to have the community come out for him in such numbers.
He acknowledged the extension on the eviction date, but maintained the crux of the problem remains: as it stands now, his father will be evicted and the house could be destroyed forever.
A petition against Wood’s eviction was rapidly accumulating signatures, but the younger Wood was not sure what steps were being taken, other than his father’s continuous legal battles.
According to Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokesperson at the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Commission has not received any requests to consider the building for landmark designation.
Wood’s son expressed interest in the idea, gazing at his childhood home on Friday.
“I guess it would just have to stay this way, though, right?” the younger Wood mused. “We couldn’t build it back like it was again?”
According to reports from Gothamist, Wood’s son has expressed ambivalence about continuing to fight for the house, and recounted struggles growing up in the structure.
“Cops were always getting called because they saw a five-year-old kid running around the building,” the younger Wood told Gothamist. “We had to hide every time the fire department responded to our wood stove … We hid in the closet with my sister.”
“At least it’s coming to some type of conclusion,” he added. “At least you have a point to move on from.”
The elder Wood repeated his possible plans to go to China, expanding on some architectural ambitions.
“A building a mile and a quarter tall, It’s the tallest building that’s ever existed,” Wood said. “It has levels at approximately 230 feet up, and those sections are sealed up from each other” so if a fire starts in one section, all the others would be safe.
The note about the fire-proof layout is especially poignant given the building’s history: the majority of Wood’s troubles with the city were set off by a fire in 2006, that resulted in the Department of Buildings demanding he tear down the top half of the structure, which once reached to over 100 feet.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat