Street artist Pigeon
Getting to the heart of Maine
Seemingly out of nowhere, a Pigeon appeared, and it's speaking for many Mainers that may not have a voice. A simple set of charcoal portraits is getting statewide media attention because of the broader, and very important message that is attached…ideas that desperately need to be understood by every Mainer…and an artist we REALLY need to stay here!
Maine residents have been bombarded with loud and bullying messages from the LePage administration and it's supporters. Our own media represents Mainers (via some of our politicians) to outsiders as immigrant hating, uncultured, gun-toting hicks that look down on the poor and see "them" as the reason for state failures. I'd like to imagine this is an exaggeration, but it's not. One only has to have watched The Daily Show in the last few years and have heard the laughter at our expense to understand how uncomfortable it makes so many of us that do not see the world the way we are being represented. Pigeon's work becomes even more important to understand and experience with the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, as some publicly call out to close our borders and deport people from other cultures; targeting what they perceive as outsiders with hate without reason.
…as soon as we start judging a culture from the actions of a few...
Pigeon's recent installation in Farmington Maine was welcomed by many in the community. It was also greeted with some heated responses - one woman even stating she will boycott Java Joe's in Farmington for supporting Pigeon's vision. She states that each person depicted in these "MAINER" portraits were transplants and not "regular" Mainer's.
Fearless and calm, Orson Horchler (Pigeon's given name) speaks through his art in not-so-subtle whisper, he responds to the negative with intelligence and truth. His fans posted responses to the above comment, not in defense of him, but in defense of the work he is doing and the message it's sending. They are standing up for the rights of the many Mainers that come from all over the world - a testament that the message he is sending is being received loud and clear. Pigeon's candor and honesty in interviews is refreshing and desperately needed, in both the current politically charged climate and the warped economy everyone is feeling, especially in the arts and culture markets. He's been asked to contribute to local politics from time to time, but he confidently knows his current path and at this time will remain an artist, a humble hardworking carpenter, musician, father and friend…and frankly, we need Orson just as he is.
Pigeon's work is from the heart of an activist, but his style has natural artistic merit and skill behind it, and real-life experience that injects true honesty. He was born in Philly, a child of a Morrocan-born French mother and a Hungarian refugee father; they landed in Maine near Ellsworth when he was a boy. After she got a case of cabin fever his mother took him to France, where Pigeon ended up growing up from ages 4 to 18 in a less-than-desirable suburb of Paris where gangs, racial tensions and fights were part of a normal day. Pigeon swears there was less to do there than in Lincoln, Maine, and he even tells a story about how they opened a movie theater near to him, but it was burned down within a week by an angry local. He came back to Maine to meet his father and avoid the French draft, and he spent time living in both New Orleans and NYC before landed back in Maine to raise his son. He has been here for just over 10 years now. He says he felt most at home in NYC (as many artists do), but Maine seems to have sucked him in and grown him some roots. (like it does to many of us)
Orson felt like an outsider after moving to Bangor. He saw how depressed the city was, and it dawned on him that he had spent most of his life living in places where he did not fit in. That "ah-ha" moment came when he realized he could go out and change the environment to look like he wanted it, and make the environment fit him, and build a community in the process. Street art came to Bangor, and Pigeon got his passion.
What seems to have surprised Pigeon is how most of the Maine people have fully embraced what he does. He's become a symbol of local pride for Bangor, and he's finding that community of his own in the process. He mentions how calmly the Police Departments have handle his inspired moments: the closest to an arrest coming while he was drawing on the wall at the Penobscot County Jail which ended with an agreement with the PD to wash it off by the end of the day. Pigeon said, "The cops were cute about it." … see the video below … and he followed through, finished the work and then washed it off.
if you have ever visited Bangor PD Facebook page, then you know, these are some of the coolest cops in the country. There is a reason they have 66,971 LIKES.
Art, Culture, Unity and Soul