The building was featured in the film Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, which follows the comedian as he puts together a free hip-hop concert in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn in 2004. “It’s a monument to Brooklyn, my dear,” Cynthia Wood, Arthur’s wife, explains to Chappelle.
Chappelle is invited in by the couple, who look like time travelers from the Age of Aquarius. They named their home after a figurine they discovered broken and scattered in the street. Arthur put the pieces back together.
The Woods bought the property in 1979 for $2,100 in cash. They gradually transformed the 19th-century brick building into what’s been hailed as a work of 21st-century art.
“He took a tenement and he transformed it with a lot of materials people have classified as discards and tossed away into dumps,” says Carl Zimring, who teaches at the renowned Pratt Institute art school a few blocks away. “And turned that into a coherent form of art — a folk art, an art that very much relied on the materials that Brooklyn had to offer.”
In its heyday, Broken Angel towered nine stories over the street. Arthur took out most of the floors, creating a soaring open space with stained glass windows.
“This is all made from stuff collected from automobile accidents, and broken glass, and whatever,” Arthur says. “These are very pretty when the light hits, and it spreads all around.”
Thanks to Joel Rose for telling Arthur’s story. Here is hoping that because more people get to hear it that it helps Arthur in his fight.