Strange Folk Festival

View from 2323

What do you get when you put Dumpster Diving…..History and a lot of weirdness into space and purposefully mix it together? Strange Art!!!

In 2015 festival founder, Autumn Wiggins, moved Strange Folk from O’Fallon, IL to St. Louis. In 2016 the theme was “Belle Epoque,” French for “Beautiful Era.” and was held in Lafayette Square, originally a French Colonial neighborhood. Strange Folk is meant to be a positive jolt for the city of St. Louis and a basis for creative engineering.  Featuring 200 curated makers from 14 states, 10 live local bands, whimsical installations, and hands-on activities.

Editor note* There I was in early 2016, with the biggest story of my life. A haunted mansion, a psychic, ghosts and history dumpster diving. Dumpster Archeology had done only one event and that was based around the folders, now I had psychic audio tapes and a rich history of the house at 2323. Presenting the material was a challenge attempted only on my website. My muse was a haunted mansion so compelling it spoke for itself. <<link>>

There was no plan when I saw Strange Folk Festival was coming to Lafayette square in the local paper, yet I immediately reached out to the organizer Autumn, hoping for something, a tiny spot to spin my tale. We met in person for coffee on Park avenue blocks from the House. An excited amateur Dumpster Archeologist showed her the Seib clipping folders, outlined the story, played the chilling audio and came up with an idea. My Pop-up Museum built from found-material got the green light, I was making strange art!

Autumn showed me an old iron fence around the park where I could work my magic. I was in the Art installation business… so to speak, as no money was ever spent or made. I volunteered my Art for free.

Still jacked from the coffee, I was excited and inspired to make the greatest Art Installation the world had ever seen. Then I spotted a dumpster near my car and found an old wooden arch, 100 years old but not cool enough to make the rehab cut. With a bit of crafting, some creative font graphic design and the burning of wood, my epic center-piece was found the same night as the View from 2323 became a public experience.

The Dumpster Gods had spoken.

Project guidelines were writing themselves with radical punk overtones. Dumpster Diving is anti-consumer in nature and thrives on what is free. Dumpster Archeology attempts to spend no money and nothing is ever for sale. I spent months finding wood, carpet, frames, windows in alleyways, but I also had a lot of luck as I stumbled on the French styled glass doors, the Baptist Church pews and also ….a Collaborator.

Cullen Curtis is a South City artist who was inspired by the project and spent time sitting in front of the House at 2323 sketching it’s contours for a wood print. Four Prints total were made for the View from 2323, one based on the house, one was a gravestone with the name Fink, one for the cyclone that half destroyed 2323 and one for the fire that almost bankrupted the family.

the house at 2323 wood print

The original four prints sat in windows surrounded by the lives of my main 4 characters.Carrie Seib, Dr George Seib, August Nasse and Civil War hero Conrad Fink. Four windows suspended in frames with wrought iron fence peeking through the light of Lafayette Park. Poetic history was the intent.

The four windows suspended in frames elbowed sideways out attached to light weight doors which had double sided art glued to a wooden expansive space. Odd titles were created reflecting themes of motherhood, commerce, anthropology and collectibles. The clippings used were taken from the folders of Edna Seib, the daughter of the Psychic, whose artistic eye is easily seen in her vision “swap files”. Edna’s art lived again to tell her family and house stories. Branching along the fence was the graphic history of America from 1923 to 1980, all hung in frames. Bonus Art on the sidewalk.

The View from 2323 was a mock living room, a space filled with history, mystery and the audio sounds of a psychic woman speaking in 1956 about psychic powers. It was a place for stories, for the community to hear and speak their local truths. I still get excited talking about it, but me in 2016 was on a whole different level, I’ll let him/myself tell you via the Facebook posts from the time.

These are the original Facebook Posts from the Strange Folk Event!

September 14, 2016 ·Lew Blink. – The View from 2323 is getting real close to being done. Cullen delivered his prints and two can be seen in the window frame. Mike B helped me with final construction using his mighty mind. An additional 4 short stories have been written and are available on both the website and our personal WiFi network at Strange Folk Festival where PDFs, Audio tracks, and information can be directly downloaded at the art exhibit. How’s that for Modern Tech meets Dumpster History?

Me posting in Strange Folk Festival. Sep 18, 2016 12:05pm On Jan 1 st 1956, Carrie Seib, a spiritualist and automatic poetry channeler gave this talk in her living room at 2323 Lafayette Ave. It was recorded by her son, George A Seib. The Independent Church of Truth met every Sunday from 1933 to 1964 and is lost in the history of Lafayette Square. Her poetry was posthumously published. These recording were found in October 2015 in a dumpster and have been digitally recorded for a project for Strange Folk Festival called:. The View from 2323. They have never been heard. The history and recordings will be available to explore over the weekend event. Look for …
The View From 2323 – Dumpster Archeology at Strange Folk Festival

Sep 23, 2016 11:28am Lew Blink shared a link to the event: Strange Folk Festival.
Got a little press for the event. Real excited to share this story with the People of Strange Folk and Lafayette Square.

September 22, 2016 · When the View from 2323 was just starting to happen and I started planning the project I really wanted to work with other Artists. I always do, I think collaboration is awesome. So i remembered a young artist print maker i knew who did really amazing work. He did the cover of a Zine i put out. He appreciated the project and loved the idea of working with real buildings and subjects. So he browsed the research for things that inspired him and those works have been added to the Soul Windows for added effect. I want to thank Cullen and show off his work early. He will be on hand with copies of these prints as well as his other wonderful work. check out his work on etsy.

September 24, 2016 The Dumpster Archeology experience is up and running. Stop on by the old living room off Lafayette park and experience a historical art project unlike anything the world has seen.

*editor note. The first day was a monumental event and a cap on the experience was meeting the Owners of the house at 2323 and doing a late night tour of the unfinished house before the restoration. These are those photos…..

September 25, 2016 · One of the questions i have been asked is, How did this stuff get thrown away? The answer is simple, the house has damage and George was a mighty collector. The same family owned the house for 80 years, imagine the leftover stuff. When i met the awesome owners of 2323 i learned they care as much about this history as i do and are even more invested. So I got a late night tour of the house and I was able to take these photos. It needs to be restored as well as the history and that will happen slowly. The house is an amazing place with nothing but positive loving energy. Sure there are ghosts but not all ghosts are bad. I want to thank Todd and George for being so cool with the project and allowing me to see this house on such an amazing day. This story just goes deeper.

September 26, 2016 · It was a wonderful experience to do Dumpster Archeology at Strange Folk Festival. The goal as is the work I have done the last few years is too create space, vortexes as I call them, where conversation and magic can happen. I talked to hundreds of people and the stories told back to me are epic.
1. The Square people who came and talked about their experiences with the house, including a book collector who took home a copy of history, a man who visited Dr. Seib’s Carriage house in the 70’s as a 17 year old and has lived in the area ever since. A woman who came and shared her own ghosts stories, another woman whose friend lived in the neighborhood and decided to reach out to her estranged friend after seeing the project. People who talked about history in their basements and their kids who may or may not remember their stories. A woman who owned Carrie’s book and always wondered what they said and got a terrible translation of a couple of the poems and also knew Edna, and George and related her stories.
2. The Family of the house who saw the exhibit and filled in gaps, left bombshell information on the nature of the story.
3. Owners of the house who want this story told and to honor the history.
4. People of all ages shivered at the ghost stories or walked away touched by devotion, mystical ideas and obsessively driven historic presidents.

Sharing space and having these conversations was the goal of the entire experience. I often lament that the “fire-side chats” of the past were how our stories and cultural narrative were created and few people talk anymore. Talking and sharing is the most powerful art there is. Within the framework of Dumpster Archeology are the built-in parameters for a retelling of our shared history. I hope to be able to do it again. Thank you Strange Folk, and the strange people who shared in this experience. Aho!

September 27, 2016 · Tales from 2323: The first ghost story
This tale comes directly from Carrie Seib’s Granddaughter Jeanette.
In 1923 the house was for sale and the realtor was showing the house to the Seib family. While Edmund and George M were on the ground floor talking business with the realtor, Carrie and her son a soon to be college student at Wash U walked the upstairs rooms. They came upon a woman sitting in a chair knitting. A ball of yarn fell from her lap and she looked up at the two intruders who politely left. Rejoining the ground floor conversation Carrie told them she accidentally disturbed an old woman above. The realtor was confused and exclaimed that no one was home or lived at the house. What would your response be too seeing a ghost while looking at a house? Carrie of course told the men of the family this was the house for them. This story illustrates her character and drive towards the unusual and that George remained a believer in the paranormal from an early age. His descent into anthropology rather than a pure medical career would have been peaked by these experiences. Who was the woman? Perhaps Barbra Fink, who died in the house or maybe our notions of what ghosts are, is trapped in a modern cultural viewpoint brought to us by Hollywood. Either way 2323 Lafayette Ave. has a long history of odd occurrences well before Lafayette Square’s psychic moved in.

*editor note After 2 days of stories and madness. After meeting the family, touring the house and telling ghost tales. the Festival came to an end and much of the project ended up back next to a Dumpster.