Walk Down Sampsonia Way: Just Be Good
When Silvia Duarte interviewed saxophonist and painter Oliver Lake for our May issue, he had just started sketching out his ideas for the Oliver House, the latest “house publication” of City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. House publications are homes on Sampsonia Way adorned with original artworks and writings. Writers in exile and visiting writers stay in these houses when they visit COA/P. (READ about the first house publication).
Since the interview Lake has been hard at work, creating paintings that will fit in the nooks and crannies inside 320 Sampsonia Way. He has also finalized sketches for the murals that will cover the outside walls of the house.
His inspiration is, in part, a strange character he remembers haunting the neighborhood he grew up in in Marianna, Arkansas. “Every neighborhood has one,” he said.
This man would walk around in a topcoat and hat, even in the sweltering summer. He covered his coat in safety pins and when ever he met a child, he could pin one of their shirt and declare that they are now in the “17 Club.” When young Oliver received his pin, he asked what he had to do to be in the club. The man replied, “just be good.”
Safety pins are a motif in his work as is the phrase “just be good.”
Read Elizabeth’s bio.