Trying new feature writing technique on masking tape artist Kayt Hester and West Side Avenue stories

I recently finished my gig at Sports Illustrated, which was an amazing experience and helped me learn a lot. It actually helped me approach features in a new way and in the past couple of weeks I put out some of my favorite/best pieces yet, in my humble opinion. Here are a couple of my favorites from the Jersey City Independent. I have another piece that I am also very proud of but since I took the pictures for it, I’m going to put it in a separate post. Woot.

Making it Stick: Masking Tape Artist Kayt Hester Explores ‘The Elegant Science of a Memory’

Memory can be a funny thing. It’s impossible to forget scenes from The Human Centipede and equally impossible to remember where you put your keys. Certain things just seem to stay, while others take an extra ounce of effort to retain.

Some of Jersey City masking tape artist Kayt Hester’s particularly sticky memories include seeing two men playing chess on the hood of a car in Serbia, while the ones that sometimes peel off her brain include where she last put that darn umbrella.

“People are always forgetting umbrellas… in taxis, at work, in restaurants, in buses — they forget them all over the place! They work so hard to protect you from the weather and keep you dry, which is more than what human friends can do for you, and they get so disrespected,” says Hester, 38. “An old acquaintance of mine had a theory — if you name your umbrella, you’re less likely to forget it. It’s a good concept and it works!”

Some of Hester’s trusty umbrellas include Gusty, Nicholas, Violet and a giant golf umbrella named The Captain, which Hester immortalized in tape (pictured below). Assigning a name — especially one with personality or impact like “Gusty” and “The Captain” — apparently humanizes the object and endears it to its owner. Hester isn’t a loony who curls up with her umbrellas and invites her friends’ umbrellas over for crumpets and tea or anything, but she definitely knows the power of non-humans to make an impact in humans’ lives. Recently, JCI interviewed her about her “klepto-kitty” Harold, who was recently featured on Animal Planet’s “Bad Dog” for his tendency to drive Hester and her boyfriend, Alex Heitzenrater of local band Aminal, crazy by stealing their things.

Read the full article on JCI.

A Different West Side Story: Big Changes Coming for Neighborhood Looking to Make a Comeback

With its empty storefronts, littered streets and nightfall transformation from small shopping district to desert town, it’s easy to see that West Side Avenue is a shell of its former self. Recently, however, several people and organizations have set out to steer the neighborhood — which is home to Lincoln Park, Hudson Mall, the West Side Theater and two of Jersey City’s higher education facilities — in a different direction.

In early June, the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation (JCEDC) sent out surveys and put up signs advertising WestSideSurvey.com, asking people across Jersey City, especially those who live, work, or shop in or near the area, to tell them what they wanted for the often-overlooked commercial district. The survey was paid for with Urban Enterprise Zone funding and is part of a $100,000 study that could determine if a Special Improvement District should be created for West Side.

Dawn Niles of the West Side Community Alliance says the community has a lot to gain if it were an SID. “A beautiful streetscape, safety and the hope to revitalize this once-busy corridor with art-inspired districts,” she says. “(Becoming an SID could) make it walkable and bring and support shops the community truly needs.”

Read the full article on JCI.

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About Summer Dawn Hortillosa

Summer Dawn Hortillosa is a journalist specializing in arts and entertainment. Among other things, she is also an award-winning playwright, director, singer-songwriter and actress. Her work has been seen in The Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal and other publications.
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