November 26, 2006

The Mansion

When Rochambeaux and I went to Brasil we ended up staying with a scultor named Wanderlay Fiueiredo. He had a modest home with an influx of tourists, which we were, that he gave cama e cafe (bed and breakfast). Across from his home was a huge and decrepit house. All the houses in the Santa Teresa neighborhood were like that, except this house had twenty-something shouting kids on the stoop at all times of the day and night. After hearing gunfire from the nearby Favela throughout, what seemed like an entire night, Wanderlay told us not to go out at night with our cameras because neighbor-
hood kids would mug us. Somehow everyone we met had a mugging story and it seemed like our turn was right around the corner. Or maybe across the street.

Throughout the week as I painted Wanderlay's wall I befriended a few of the mansions inhabitants. The frist group were just some young rufians who seemed to never have school, work, or a family to go home to for dinner. After a few more days I was invited inside-which I accepted hesitantly. I quickly learned that this house was an apartment complex where the owner had died. Without a landlord, the tenants invited the rest of their families over to live and slowly turned the place into a commune of sorts. Except for some reason it was almost entirely over-run with kids. 49 kids to 3 adults. I learned about this when one of the kids told me I could paint there house. The graff side of me accepted on the spot, bu the strangely-new mature side of me decided I better run it by the owner or parents first. This is when I learned that the only parents were a woman who sold black shrimp out her window, a drunk older uncle who seemed to only have teenage friends, and a woman who sat in her window smoking all day.

Within the next few days I made friends with the kids. Showed them how to take photos with my Rollei. Drank beer with them. And even provided a design which quickly reintroduced itself as a tattoo the next day. The Foster and Imaginary Friend Mansion became my asylum during the last week of my Brasil trip.

Now I daydream of going back to stay at the Mansion and work with the kids. I can't say why but I felt complete those days amid the chaos of crying babies and weighted clothelines.

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