This Is What America Looks Like!

It's been a busy few weeks since Inauguration Day. Every week brings a barrage of consternating news, and then a protest in reaction. From the Women's March, to the anti-Muslim Ban protests, to Resist Trump Tuesday, to a protest in support of the LGBTQ community, every week offers opportunities to voice our dissent.

This is from the Women's March. Unfortunately I was feeling a bit under the weather—which turned out to be flu later!

I was completely astounded by the size of the Women's March. I was apprehensive that it would be a one-off and then everyone would go back home and move on with their lives. "Oh well, we protested that one time, and it didn't do anything." But the opposite has happened. As the weeks go on, I continue to be impressed by the number of people who come to stand in the cold on a Saturday afternoon, but also the diversity of people and the diversity of issues that they care about. At the Women's March, there were people chanting that black lives matter. At the LGBTQ protest, there were signs in support of Muslim and refugee rights. This is heartening to see. The only way a resurgence of the left will work is if we are all here for each other. 

At JFK Airport the evening the Muslim Ban Executive Order was announced.

At Battery Park in late January.  The Muslim Ban was especially reviled here in New York. As a city made up of immigrants of every stripe, we took the ban personally.

Going to a protest is a great way to be invigorated and to take heart from other people that share your concerns. It's hard to feel scared and alone when you're chanting " No hate! No fear! Refugees are welcome here!" with a few thousand other people.

Also, it's fun! There are clever signs and people drumming and dancing and playing music. The LGBTQ protest was the best for fun signs. (Please note the sign that says "Never underestimate the power of a faggot with a tambourine.") The gay community is a politically active one that is not new to protesting, and it shows. 

For a week or two, I worried that all the protesting, while making me feel better, was just a sop to my feelings and was completely ineffectual outside my liberal New York bubble. But it seems that the protests have gained some traction, forcing the administration to walk back some of its crazier overreaches, hopefully giving comfort to the people that have been targeted by these Executive Orders, and putting our representatives on notice that we are paying attention. I hope that people stay engaged, reach out to others, and organize. We need to get in formation and then we need to VOTE!

I think my favorite chant was "Show me what America looks like! This is what America looks like!"

Debate Night

Monday night, I watched the Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. At first, it seemed like we'd see a different Trump than the "tangerine trash can fire" that won the primaries. He sounded like maybe he had an argument about trade, rather than the word salad strewn with casual lies he usually employs when speaking publicly. For a second, I thought, maybe he did prepare, and I got a smidgen worried. Not for Hillary exactly, because she's had a lot of debate experience, but for America. I thought if he could make himself sound halfway plausible, he might be able to reach some voters that have so far been undecided.

Trump sounding halfway plausible for two seconds.

But then, as the debate went on, and Clinton needled him on some of his past comments, the old Trump emerged, the one who can't let anything pass, the one who keeps smearing people even after it'd be to his advantage to move on. He melted down like a CheezWhiz volcano, and Hillary Clinton got to look at America like the cat that got the cream.

Nevermind, CheezWhiz volcano in full effect.

You may not love our choices, but if you have to cross a chasm, do you go with the bridge that you don't totally trust, or do you just throw yourself off the precipice? The thing that makes me really sad is that even after this election, after Hillary wins (I really hope she wins), Trump and the ugliness he's brought out in our national discourse won't go away. He's legitimized conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, and alt right nuts and made a place for them in the mainstream conversation.

Whatever you think, please do register today, and VOTE on November 8th.

Bryant Park Birthday

I celebrated my birthday last week, and what better way to celebrate than to go out drawing with a friend? Evan Turk and I had a beautiful fall-like day, sunny and bright at Bryant Park. It's a great place to draw because it's a perfect mix of people, greenery, and buildings, and it even has a beautiful fountain and a mini-carousel. That day, I wanted to draw the fountain, and the people taking a little time out of the bustling midtown afternoon to enjoy the sound of the water and the breeze.

Corpse Flower 2016

This summer saw the blooming of the New York Botanical Garden's Corpse Flower! I went up to the garden with Evan Turk and Chris Brody, hoping to get a noseful of the infamous stinky flower, which only blooms once every ten years for about 24 hours, and is supposed to smell like rotting flesh (hence the name). The spike of the flower is supposed to reach around body temperature, both to help the scent travel, and to further mimic a decaying corpse. Eww! This is all in hopes of attracting carrion-eating flies and beetles which are the flower's main pollinators. The news of the flower's blooming had been well-publicized, so we had to wait in a long line of other corpse flower gawkers snaking outside the conservatory. Once we got in, we were a little underwhelmed by the smell. It was a bit garbagey, but maybe living so close to Chinatown—where the gutter in high summer develops a stench not for the faint of heart—has inured me to funkiness? In any case, while the smell was discernible here and there, we did not walk into the wall of stink we'd anticipated. I was surprised by the size of the flower's inflorescence (that big yellow spike that sticks up). It was about a foot and a half or two feet tall, with a giant cabbagey petal that wrapped around it. I went for some long, creepy shapes to further the deliciously grossed out feeling I got when I saw it.

Alas, it was hardly possible to view the flower like this. With as many enthusiasts as there were, my view was a little more like this:

So many Corpse Flower fans!
If your botanical garden doesn't have one, I highly recommend checking out this time lapse video of one blooming. You get to see the triumphant rise of the spike, and then the sad, sad wilting. Of course, you won't get the smell, but if you just watch it hovering over your kitchen trash, I think you'll get the idea. One last fun fact, the Bronx's official flower was the corpse flower, inspired by the garden's 1939 blooming. It was changed in 2000 to the day lily, which is much less exciting, to me.

Planting Seeds

Reading around on the internet, I read that if you're a gardener (which I'm not), you have to plant bulbs before the winter if you want a nice display of flowers in the spring. It reminded me how much advance work goes into making things. How many drawings have I made to get to the drawings I make now? Last summer, a friend of mine said that it took him about half an hour to make a drawing, and I half-joked, "well, twenty years and half an hour," because every drawing is a direct result of all the drawings that came before. All those years, planting seeds!

I made this drawing last fall, from one of the beautiful reliefs on the staircase between Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. Each relief, sculpted by Jacob Wrey Mould, depicts a different season, and I think must be spring because the tulip is blooming, but the lotus isn't yet.

The GOP Debate...and the Donald

Last night was the GOP debate, and as promised, here's a drawing I made while watching. The stage was still pretty crowded, with seven candidates debating, which made for a much more crowded picture than the Democratic Town Hall. Cruz and Rubio are doing the best, so they're the biggest, with Christie, Paul, and Jeb still there, all trying to stay relevant. Fading into the background are Kasich and Carson. More prominent are the moderators, especially Megyn Kelly. Her profile's a lot higher thanks to this kerfuffle with the Donald—who takes the center, because even in his absence, he's doing the best in the polls, a black hole sucking all the sense and most of the air out of this race.

Happy Thanksgiving

Last summer, I visited Plymouth with the Dalvero Academy to do some research around the Mayflower. Thanksgiving seems like a good time to dust these drawings off and post them here. The ship was in back in Plymouth after spending some time at Mystic Seaport in drydock for repairs.

The Mayflower II in drydock at Mystic Seaport, undergoing repairs.

In fact, this Mayflower is only a replica, since the real one sank off the coast of England not too long after it brought the Pilgrims here. If the replica captures the spirit of the real Mayflower, you couldn't get me on it to go 200 feet, let alone cross the ocean. Really, the Pilgrims had to be desperate or crazy, or possibly both.

The Mayflower II on the water in Plymouth.

Plimoth Plantation features a 17th century English village (since the Pilgrims still very much saw themselves as English), and the Wampanoag Homesite. Both sites have interpreters to guide visitors through a rich and complicated history.

A Pilgrim garden, and a couple of Pilgrim chickens!

The Pilgrims had a lot to be thankful for. Without the friendship of the Wampanoags (and Massasoit, their leader), they wouldn't have survived those first years. Of course, the history is a lot more complicated than the myth, and if you're Native American, that myth can be painful. My next visit to Plimoth Plantation will focus on the Wampanoag Homesite, and I can't wait for that. For now, I'll be reading up on why Thanksgiving is a National Day of Mourning as well as a time to give thanks.

The High Line

I went to the High Line a few weeks ago to spend some time drawing the unique combination of people, city views, and flora. I really don't know of anywhere else where the three come together in quite the same way. I think it's one of the nicest places in the city to spend an afternoon, and judging from the crowds, a lot of people agree with me!

Below the High Line, the new Whitney Museum offers bright green chairs for people to hang out, check their phones, and take a break. It's a pretty stylish crowd.

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And when I saw this crowd of servers from the Whitney's restaurant Untitled having a meeting, I couldn't resist trying to capture the rhythm of their black pants, grey aprons, and red straps.

Summer in the City

You would think most people would head somewhere cooler in the summertime, but Times Square is packed at all times, all seasons, wall to wall! I went up there and made a few drawings last week and found everyone and their mother sitting at those red tables. Introduced a few years ago as a traffic calming feature, they've proven a popular place to sit and rest those aching tourist feet.

These two looked more like natives than tourists, but there's no reason locals can't enjoy the amenities too!

These two looked more like natives than tourists, but there's no reason locals can't enjoy the amenities too!

This family had a stripes/solids thing going on. Pool-lovers or just a coincidence?

This family had a stripes/solids thing going on. Pool-lovers or just a coincidence?

The Corwith Cramer

A few weeks ago, Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5 had a visit from the Sea Education Association's (SEA) ship, the Corwith Cramer, from Woods Hole, MA. SEA is an educational institution that takes undergraduates to sea for a semester to study and explore the ocean alongside professional researchers. What an opportunity! The ship was only in Brooklyn for the day, so I made sure not to miss it. I took the afternoon to get down there to make a few drawings!

Life Drawing, Finally! Part 1

Last weekend, I finally had the opportunity to do some life drawing at Dalvero Academy. It felt great to be drawing the model at long last! I have a lot of drawings, so I'll be posting them in parts (although those of you who follow me on Instagram got a preview). Today, I'm posting drawings from May 15th's drawing social, of Sailor Moon, and from the morning of the 16th, of Patrick.

Tulips!

Spring has finally sprung for real, and I know because the cherry blossoms have come and gone, and the tulips are finally here. New Yorkers love cherry blossoms, but I think we must have a soft spot for tulips too because they're all over the city. I found these at Madison Square Park.

And what is this, you ask? Beats me! It's from the Eternal Flagstaff Memorial in the park, which "...honors those victorious forces of the United States Army and Navy who were officially received at this site following the armistice and the conclusion of World War I." According to the NYC Park website, it was designed by Thomas Hastings (1860-1929), from a famous architectural firm that also did the New York Public Library. The website goes on to say that this is one of four "rams heads, and was sculpted by Paul Wayland Bartlett (1865-1925). " A ram's head with wings? I love it!  It's always fun when scupltors let loose with grotesques and chimeras. It's a treasure hunt to see if you can find them on even the most serious buildings and monuments.

Life Drawing

A few weeks ago, I decided that my studio needed a clean out. I pulled absolutely everything out of the space and tried to put things back very deliberately, if I really felt like they needed to be there. It's a tough process, and it's really no surprise that I stalled. Just when I'd resigned myself to having art and art supplies strewn all over the apartment, Ronnie asked me for a couple of drawings. I pulled out an old, giant roll of drawings from life drawing classes past. And I was agog. I'd forgotten how much I loved life drawing, how much I surprise myself when I'm forced to work so fast and dirty. So, I'm sharing a few from that giant, old roll, with a hope that I'll be in the studio again soon. And determined to finish my studio clean-up soon too!

If you're feeling that same life drawing itch that I am, my school, the Dalvero Academy, is having a Drawing Social on May 15th! Email them at dalveroinfo@mac.com. for more info and maybe I'll see you there!