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Lost mittens become an art installation on lost love in Baltimore


If you've walked through Baltimore, Md., over the last few days, you might have come across a curious sight - around 50 lost gloves popped up on fence posts, waving in the wind, with little notes attached to their sleeves.

BRUCE WILLEN: You know, I've always just, you know, found these gloves really beautiful and fascinating and also, like, really poignant, as well. I mean, it has this - you know, it's missing its other half.

GONYEA: Artist Bruce Willen started taking long walks in the winter of 2020. Since then, he's been pocketing these lost gloves.

WILLEN: They have this kind of poetic quality, and they all really have a lot of personality to them, whether it's this, like, really well-used work glove or this kind of fancy fashion mitten. And I kind of can't help but sort of start to invent these stories in my mind about, like, maybe, who's the person who lost this or, like, who are the people in their lives?

GONYEA: To Willen, there was a heartbroken quality to the gloves. Last week, Willen and his wife brought the gloves to Druid Hill Park and, guerrilla-style, created their own installation called "The Library Of Lost Gloves And Lost Loves." They attached a little love note to each lost glove.

WILLEN: I was kind of imagining each of these notes as almost, like, the first sentence to a short story or, like, a short love story.

GONYEA: Some of the notes are sweet and funny...

WILLEN: His arm fit around my shoulder like the warmest coat.

He was too much of a Gemini.

Find a girl who beats you at Mario Kart.

GONYEA: ...Others regretful, nostalgic.

WILLEN: Sharp words, soft lips.

She faded into another skyline.

GONYEA: These gloves, to Willen, are open-ended stories of lost love.

WILLEN: What are all these different reasons that relationships might end or people drift apart or drift together? And, you know, how does it kind of leave its mark on us?

GONYEA: Willen hopes that visitors who stumble across the installation don't just walk by.

WILLEN: I hope that more people, if they find out about this, maybe would come and leave some gloves or add a note if they feel like it, or maybe someone might find that lost mitten that they've been looking for for a couple months.


GONYEA: That was Bruce Willen of Public Mechanics, an art studio focused on public art. His installation in that Baltimore park - "The Library Of Lost Gloves And Lost Loves." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.
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