//Ad libs: They're talking, but are you listening?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

They're talking, but are you listening?

The rotunda at Mountain View City Hall is currently filled with plastic torsos. This looks better than you’d expect.

The torsos are the plastic molds that Costco uses to display swimsuits. Each has been painted in acrylic by students from
Tehila Eisenstat’s “Creative Expressions” painting class. The students are all cancer patients at El Camino Hospital.

One person turned a torso into a purple aquarium, with fish and plants across chest and waist. Another cut slits in the breasts and wove in ribbons. That one made me shiver.

A powerful painting had the torso bound with thorns. I thought about how you feel trapped in your body when you’re sick; you’d be all right, if only you could get up and leave it behind in the feverish sheets. The artistic talent varied, but that wasn’t really the point. On a sign nearby, Eisenstat gave kudos to her students and “their powerful message: ‘I am here and I have something to say.’”

Not many listeners when I was there, though. People kept clipping importantly through the rotunda like they had a meeting with the Queen. No one stopped to look at the art. One guy did pause and I thought, “Hey,” but he was just answering his cell phone.

The rotunda is lovely, with tall windows and light streaming down. It could be like a piazza. Maybe in a less busy country.

I got more curious looks than the paintings did. Probably because I had the audacity to be
standing still when there was so much to do.

Big thanks to The Almanac's David Boyce for the terrific "Improv Everywhere" link.