On April 4, 2012, the gates of the Andrew Freedman Home will open to the public. The Home was once built to be a haven, a paradise, for the rich elderly who had lost their fortunes. Bequeathed by millionaire Andrew Freedman, the Home provided not only food and shelter but all the accoutrements of a rich and civilized life style – white glove dinner service, a grand ball room, a wood-paneled library, billiard room and a social committee who organized concerts, opera performances and the like.

Referencing this quixotic history, This Side of Paradise will reference the past and reconnect the vision of Andrew Freedman to today’s Bronx and its realities. The exhibition and its extensive public programming onsite and offsite will draw together the economic and social history of the Home with the present day realities of the Bronx and its residents.

The selected artists’ will work in a site-specific manner and will respond to such issues as memory, immigration, storytelling, aging and the creation of fantasy that the original concept of the Home “being poor in style” suggests. This Side of Paradise will celebrate human ingenuity, the strength of the human spirit and the resilience needed to fashion beauty, hope and rejoicing.

Sofia Maldonado (Puerto Rico) has painted a site-specific mural in the kitchen to breathe new life into this section of the building. The painting reveals her urban sensibility and is inspired by aspects of pop art and modern design. A highly stylized-minimalist cast of cloud-like forms in remembrance of the Caribbean sunsets often populates her pop-abstract murals installations. Here, a huge fancy female cook observes the kitchen and its visitors from above, offering a new point of view of an industrial kitchen and inviting the people that work on it to consider it as a living environment. Clouds, spots and wings made of bright and flashy colors add a taste of Maldonado’s world to this working space. The mural is one part of Maldonado’s larger project, La Cocina. which will educate and bring together the community members through Latin- cuisine, with a healthy vegetarian twist in traditional and cultural dishes. The project will feature a live cooking workshop, bringing art from outside to inside and involving the whole community.

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