I wait in my car, on Mercer and Grand, in front of a big glass storefront window. Inside, Chris is building another temporary gallery space. We’re supposed to be having dinner, but he’s still screwing screws. I don’t mind being in my car, though. For the moment, anyhow. It’s like a little house. And through my window, I can watch all the people walk by.

Here’s what I see:

A homeless guy crab-walking, his money cup wrapped in a Sephora cosmetic bag, a bag that may have once held an expensive lipstick bought by someone who was trying to look prettier than she was feeling.

Behind him, a very skinny, anorexic-looking girl wearing a shirt that says, ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’

Behind her, two really fashionable hippy girls walking a dog in a muzzle.

The scene gives me an idea for a dog shirt:

It would say, ‘My mommy might believe in world peace, but I’ll bite your fucking face off!’

Behind them, three tourists carry shopping bags, one, a young woman, smiling slightly, like she’s thinking of something that happened yesterday that pleased her, and the two men in suits, serious looking, both carrying large shopping bags.


All of these people have only one thing in common that I can see. Every single one of them has peered inside, to see what is going on in this soon-to-be temporary gallery space. It must be the manikins. There are lots of them in there, hanging out, their fashionably clothed bodies still and poised. People must really like manikins, because everyone has stopped to double take them. They do not double take the regular moving beings, just these still people. Perhaps in their unconscious mind, they have never seen a still human, and they are wondering what is going on. And then, when they get it, they say, ‘Oh, of course. They’re not real.’ And they continue moving onwards.


Now, there is an attractive blonde lady in gold flats. A few paces behind her, two adorable blonde boys shuffle in Crocs. They must be three and six. The 3-year-old is so small, it’s amazing he can even walk. He just pushed his sleeve up to show his older bother his fake tattoo. Now, the older one catches something by the window, where the manikins are. He gets all excited. ‘Look, mommy!’ The mom has walked over to look. I can see that she doesn’t really want to stop moving, but she has, to be kind, and she looks at the manikins and nods with fake enthusiasm until the boy says, ‘No! No! Down here!’ The lady looks perplexed, and the two boys have now squatted down in the corner, where the two buildings meet. The mother has now squatted down as well. And the three of them are looking intently at something. I can't tell what it is. Passersby are getting overwhelmed. Not only are there manikins to look at, but now, there are these three blonde people squatted on the ground, seemingly interested in something better, but what?? The mother has now stood up into a half squat. She takes the edge of her closed umbrella and sticks it deep into the corner, and right before my eyes, a giant, almost robotic looking cockroach scurries off. The boys are delighted! They clap their hands and jump up and down and try to follow this magnificent silvery creature down the street. The mother is trying to gather her boys. She tells them, ‘Let him go. He’s probably got a family, he’s probably late for dinner.’ Now, she sees me staring. In fact, I am smiling, and laughing. She scrunches her face, in one of those ‘euch!’ expressions, and I nod in agreement. And the three of them waddle off. Leaving me, waiting once again for Chris to be done screwing screws. How long does it take to screw a god damn manikin into the wall!


And now I hear someone singing. A girl. Silently singing, as she passes by. It’s a nice self-contained peaceful sound, amidst all these shopping bags. It sounds to me like someone giving of themselves, instead of taking for themselves. 

Jessica Kane