Lucas comes from Soweto. He dropped out of university due to lack of funds and spent the next five years looking for work. This is his story:
"I studied a six weeks basic computer literacy skills course with ORT SA in 2001. It was during this course that my teacher, Mr Gerry Levy, discovered that I have artistic abilities with a programme called Microsoft Power Point.
In March 2002 I was recalled to study mosaic art in a course presented by an international mosaicist from New York by the name of Joshua Phillip Danzig. Since then I have been doing mosaic with ORT SA and I am now a trainer for CICI (Creative Inner City Initiative) - an empowerment project training young adults in the art of mosaic.
I would like to thank ORT SA for the passage that leads to a role they have opened for me. Because I can now easily transfer the skill to the unemployed so that they can become self-sufficient."
Lucas also creates and markets his mosaics successfully to local shops and has recently signed a contract with a company that will market his works internationally.
To some critics and many local residents, the colorful mosaic tile benches that snake around Grant's Tomb in Riverside Park at 122d Street are a pleasing example of folk art, a cherished expression of community involvement. But to some Civil War buffs and the National Park Service, which maintains the monument, they clash with the site and trivialize its historical significance.
With the 100th anniversary celebration of the monument scheduled for April 27, the Park Service is intent on removing the benches as part of a $1.6 million renovation that began in 1995. Last Monday, workers for the Park Service cut one piece from a bench and hoisted it a few inches to test how difficult the seats would be to move. Then they lowered it back into place. This experiment galvanized local officials, preservationists, artists and others who began writing letters, passing out petitions and vowing to fight the benches' removal.
''We were discussing chaining ourselves to the benches,'' said a member of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, Michael Gotkin, adding that his group may file a lawsuit against the Park Service, on the ground that removing the benches would violate citizens' right to freedom of speech and expression. ''They have no legal right to do this because it is a work of art,'' Mr. Gotkin said. The fate of the benches is to be discussed at a public meeting of Community Board 9 on Thursday.
Commissioned 25 years ago by the Park Service, in part to discourage people from scribbling graffiti on the monument, the benches were designed by the artist Pedro Silva and the architect Phillip Danzig, and were made with the help of hundreds of local adults and children. With references to the Civil War and an undulating, continuous shape, they have been compared to an unfolding comic book. ''The benches gave the community a sense of ownership and belonging,'' said Tsipi Ben-Haim, the executive director of City Arts, a nonprofit group that sponsored the project and other public art projects. ''What brought the people to the tomb are the benches, not the tomb.''
But the Manhattan Superintendent for the National Park Service, Joseph T. Avery, said he thinks that placing the benches around the monument was a mistake. Some descendants of General Grant have also said the benches are inappropriate. ''We've spent a lot of money in the last three years rehabbing the monument and the plaza,'' Mr. Avery said. ''We want to restore it to its original intent.''
He also said that the benches would be reassembled somewhere in the city park system, but Ms. Ben-Haim argued that ''to take them anywhere would be to destroy them.''
''You can't change your mind,'' she said, ''when people put their souls into something.''
The executive director of the Riverside Park Fund, James Dowell, and other local officials said that one alternative proposed is moving the benches to the Claremont section of the park, although this would require a complex and costly approval process because the park is landmarked to 125th Street, ''You can't just pick them up and move them tomorrow,'' Mr. Dowell said. ''The mosaics have been there for 25 years. They have a tradition themselves that can't be ignored.''
By David Kunzle
A book featuring Phil Danzig's Mural in Nicaragua
A book mentioning Phillip Danzig and his community art work.
By ABBY GOODNOUGH
Published: July 20, 1996
NEWARK, July 19 -- More than 600 employees of the state-operated school district here will lose their jobs as part of a plan to move money from the central administration to classrooms, state education officials announced today.
Dr. Beverly L. Hall, the Superintendent appointed by the state when it took control of the district last July, said that the job cuts would save $26.3 million that would instead be used to hire more classroom teachers and school security guards, create more full-day kindergarten programs and provide guidance services to all elementary pupils, among other things. She said the reorganization plan "delivers on the promise to put children first," eliminating unnecessary or duplicated jobs and funneling resources into educational programs and staff.
Of the 634 jobs to be eliminated -- 7 percent of the school system's total work force of 8,300 -- 124 are administrative and supervisory workers in district headquarters and an additional 317 are cafeteria workers, custodians or school bus attendants.
Although no classroom teachers will be affected, 89 speech specialists and members of child study teams, who evaluate children with disabilities and put them in special education programs, will not have jobs in September. The others are mostly school aides and clerks.
The plan calls for 28 new teaching positions and 80 "school staff development" jobs, which cover such duties as teacher training and curriculum planning.
Joseph DelGrosso, the president of the Newark Teachers' Union, called the plan "unfair and illogical," saying that the people who would be out of work were not the ones who had caused the widespread problems in the school system. He also expressed anger that Dr. Hall had created three new positions, with combined salaries of $210,000, in her own office.
"The vast majority of these people losing work are minority women living here in Newark," Mr. DelGrosso said. "Newark is economically devastated as it is, and now we are putting all these people out on the street with no hope."
Dr. Hall expressed regret about the job losses, but called the streamlining crucial, saying that the Newark district spent far more on cafeteria, custodial and pupil transportation services than was needed.
"It was a difficult decision, but I had to ask what was the mission of this organization," she said in an interview. "The mission is to educate children, and the resources must be directed toward the children and the schools."
The reorganization comes one year after the state seized control of the troubled Newark district, evicting top administrators and the elected school board. State law requires that superintendents in state-operated districts must produce a plan to reorganize the central adminstration within one year of the takeover.
During the last 12 months, Dr. Hall, a former deputy schools chancellor for New York City, has been working with outside consultants to pinpoint areas of waste and develop plans to improve class instruction. In announcing the plan today, she described the system she joined last summer as one in which board members and administrators profited and school children suffered.
"Prior to state intervention, the opulent and excessive world of the adults sharply constrasted with the deprived world of the children," Dr. Hall wrote in a description of the reorganization. She portrayed a system with "abysmally low" test scores, decrepit buildings and an administration that spent lavishly on restaurant meals and conference trips.
The State Education Commissioner, Leo F. Klagholz, said he supported the plan, noting that although Newark spends well above the state average per pupil, it ranks near the bottom in the proportion of money that reaches the classroom.
"One reason the Newark school district experienced decades of failure is that too much of the available resources were spent on a bloated central office bureaucracy," Dr. Klagholz said in a statement.
Dr. Hall said that several top administrative officials, including some on loan from the State Treasury and Education departments, had worked closely with her on the plan. Also, teams of outside consultants studied where money could be saved, and Dr. Hall's plan was based in part on their reports, she said.
Although no classroom teachers will lose their jobs under the plan, Dr. Hall left open the possibility of future cuts. Principals have recommended that certain programs in their schools be added or eliminated, she said, and those suggestions might eventually lead to the loss of classroom jobs. An evaluation of every principal in the district is almost complete, and at least 17 principals who have chosen to retire will be replaced in September, she said.
Phillip Danzig, a senior architect whose job will be eliminated under the plan, said that although some of the cuts sounded reasonable, he was upset that Dr. Hall and her staff had not discussed their strategies with district employees.
"Although on paper they make a lot of sense, they've neglected the human factor of morale," he said.
Dr. Hall said the district was creating a career center to help displaced employees file for unemployment benefits and look for new jobs. Training and counseling will be provided, Dr. Hall said. Although she expected the mood in various school offices to be somber in the coming weeks, she said she did not think it would prevent progress.
"Yes, morale is going to be low and people are going to be sorry this is happening," she said. "But there are people here who knew this had to happen. Our staff will work through it with them, yet set high expectations for them because we still have a big job to do."
By Phillip Danzig
Village Voice Nov 27 , 1969
from Commentary Magazine
To the Editor:
It was more with dismay than anger that I read William Barrett's "Frank Lloyd Wright's Pictorama" [March]. . . .
Mr. Barrett is simply mistaken when he asserts what he takes to be "the key to the whole structure. He [Wright] imagined a great crown continuously and slowly flowing past the pictures"
In reality, of course, Mr. Wright planned the museum for 350 persons and the occupancy requirements were only subsequently enlarged.
Mention is made of the artificial light within the museum. . . . Mr. Wright in fact provided an ingenious lighting scheme, relying upon sunlight, which (rightly or wrongly) was abandoned in favor of artificial light by the director of the museum.
Basic confusion between what Mr. Wright designed and what Mr. Sweeney (the director) altered has resulted in criticism of the lack of seating, or the lack of smaller spaces where "individual works of art could be isolated and looked at." Even a cursory investigation of Mr. Wright's presentation drawings would reveal the flexible partition system he designed for this purpose. . . .
But the most disappointing feature about the article is its lack of sympathy [and of the] respect and tolerance for the "spiritual and individual personality of the modern artist" which Mr. Barrett eloquently supports, unless, apparently, that artist happens to be an architect.
Phillip I. Danzig
New York City
(1) phillip danzig, July 21, 2001 Historical article clear and informative The whole first century cultural scene is important, but foreign to those educated in secular institutions. This article makes clear some of the important events, in an understandable way, with emphasis on how attitudes and events related to each other and what their signifince to today might be. Cool water for a thirsty mind !
The mid-block playground here has Mexican-inspired murals by Arnold Belkin that go back to 1973, and mosaics from 1974 by Philip Danzig. The park saw the beginnings the Capeman Murders incident in 1959-- see across the street.