In August 1980, Don Leicht and John Fekner collaborated on a project located at the site of the People’s Convention held at Charlotte Street in the South Bronx. This alternative convention coincided with the National Convention of the Democratic Party being held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The six spray painted messages included Decay, Broken Promises, Falsas Promesas, Last Hope, Broken Treaties and Save Our School. This work transversely complemented each other with two different and distinct approaches. Fekner’s stencilled messages were succinct and dramatic in size and Don’s Birdfeeders were small-scaled and intimate painted sculptures for the children of the neighborhood. Local residents, young and old, as well as William Scott from Fashion Moda helped Don and Fekner on their collaboration.
The work identified and drew attention to the existing conditions of the immediate Black and Latino communities, as well as addressing the concerns of Native American Indians who also attended the convention in the Bronx. Presidential Candidate Ronald Reagan stood amidst the rubble and ruins on August 5th, 1980 promising to rebuild the area, as did his predecessor President Jimmy Carter in October 1977. The area has seen improvements through the rebuilding initiatives of Mayor Ed Koch, Ed Logue’s SBDO Charlotte Street Gardens, and the ongoing efforts of MBD Community Housing Corporation, SoBro and other newer partnerships and financial institutions.
All photos by John Fekner except Presidential Candidate Ronald Reagan on Charlotte Street: AP/Photo Wide World Photos (c) 1980