© Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen-Record
Judith Bauer and Harvey Lev, along with their dog Darwin, are excited about several upcoming initiatives they are working on in Parrsboro, including "A town with history," which encourages local seniors to share stories and have photographic portraits of themselves included in a resulting public art display.
PARRSBORO – Are you a Parrsboro-area resident, aged 70 or over, ready to bare your soul and maybe more? The folks at Main & Station are looking for you.
The initiative is one of of several creating a buzz around town thanks to the efforts of Judith Bauer and Harvey Lev, owners of the town’s “old post office,” which is becoming newer again by the day.
Titled “A town with history,” the project will invite participants to share stories and recollections, and have a photographic portrait done for display in various locations around town.
“We wanted to do some kind of public art project, whether it involves installations or interventions, and we wanted it to have a definite focus on the older community, because that’s a lot of Parrsboro,” said Bauer.
One of the inspirations from the idea was a local gathering of storytellers that draws regular large turnouts, and seeing how much people have to say and share, according to Bauer, who said they have also been involved with a lot of different projects in Montreal, and drew some inspiration from that.
A website will be created with a page for each participant, including audio clips from their interviews, and possibly old photos, bios, poems, etc. The portraits will be printed in large format and installed in various locations around town, ideally life-size and in a spot that bears a connection to that person, e.g. where they had their first kiss, where they once worked, etc.
How revealing the portrait is will depend on the person, Bauer explained.
“What I would really like is for the portraits to be nude,” she said. “There are a few who seem willing so far.”
The project is also inspired by the extraordinary efforts Parrsboro residents have made to preserve their history, with archives, the Ottawa House museum, and historian Conrad Byers.
To focus on the older population and actually put in place the age limit of 70 and over has attracted a lot of attention to the project.
“Most of the time, elderly people feel they are being pushed out of the picture,” said Lev. “This is an attempt to draw them back in, so they feel like they mean something, and they matter.”