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!"

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

A Memory from Mystic

I've been going through some old drawings I made at Mystic Seaport from the past year plus, when the Charles W. Morgan finally made it into the water. If you're just tuning in, the Charles W. Morgan is the last wooden whaling ship in existence. IN EXISTENCE!! My fellow Dalverans and I had a show at Mystic Seaport a couple of years ago of our reportage of the restoration of the Morgan. In late 2013,  the restoration was completed, and after years of seeing her in drydock, she was (gently!) lowered into the water. So here she is in September 2013, ready for her 38th Voyage!

 

And here's the little thumbnail. As always, truer to my intention and the feeling I was after.

If you want to see more of the Morgan, I have blog posts here and here, and a whole section of my website devoted to her here.