Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Kirkin' and Brexit

Kirkin' o the Tartan this past Sunday. Thoughts on the meaning of the garish plaids, and feeling a bit of solidarity with the Scots.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Los Angeles

Eames House

Bel Air Bay Club

Lifeguard station at Venice Beach


Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day Weekend

The kids decided to put up their first lemonade stand. Below are brother and sister creating the sign:

A moderate success, $25 in 2 hours. 50 cents a cup.

Labor Day, walked down to our local cafe where our dog could join us on the sidewalk. My daughter painted the red tongue, lampost, and a few other additions:

Saturday, July 23, 2016

RNC 2016

An attempt at polemics from the RNC:

The flatulent king, like a bad smell throughout the whole thing.

Luttrell, hero or not, this guy's nuts.

Rudy Giuliani, shillin' for a job.

D:  "Just this one speech, that'll be it. You won't have to do anything else."
M:  "Ok, I'll do it."

(Of all these, this one reminds me the most of a sidewalk caricature artist.)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Cashiers, NC

At the High Hampton Inn, 14 adults and 18 children in our group, in the Blue Ridge Mountains escaping the heat of Carolina summers.

A rambling lodge built in 1932, replacing a similar structure from 1922. 

The view from the lawn overlooking the lake and the face of Rock Mountain.

Sketch on a postcard. First one I've sent in probably 20 years.The front desk clerk commented that she couldn't remember ever selling stamps during her entire time there.


I've finally gotten around to scanning a few quick sketches done in June in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Below are a few from a Rodeo.

Looking on, and one in the barrel.

This horse prowled the paddock with his teeth bared, all the other horses lowered their heads and cleared out of his way. He looked pretty beat up as well, and not in a good mood. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Philadelphia - AIA National Convention

Independence Hall
A mob scene even on a rainy day, buses and carriage tours steadily stomped by with loud 80's rock blaring from street vendor booths. I'm not sure what I expected, but it wasn't what I expected.

I sat in on a figure drawing session at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. Founded in 1860, it claims to be the oldest artists' club in America. It is housed in three adjoining brick townhouses from the 1820's on Camac Street near Washington Square. The attic space of the three houses is a sky-lit studio. Model ships hang from the ceiling and rest on a large window sill, unmoved for over one hundred years. The group was a mix of young design students and retirees, all of whom were extremely talented. In this sketch the seated man in the red shirt is Charles Dougherty, an accomplished graphic novel illustrator.  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Budapest 2006

In 2006 after Paris and before Scotland, some friends and I went to Budapest for a few days. I'm lucky to have a connection to that city through my sister, whose husband's family is from there. We stayed in an apartment that her in-laws keep, a Beaux-Arts relic beautifully restored and only a block from the Danube River on the Pest side. 

St. Stephen's Basilica

The country had shaken off the Iron Curtain in 1990, but it had only just joined the European Union in 2004. Shopkeepers transacted business with a lack of engagement that betrayed a lack of faith in the free market, or what version of it they had been allowed. At corner grocery stores dour checkout clerks were hard to amuse. But the food was wonderful nonetheless.

The first day I stumbled upon the Central Market just a few blocks from our apartment. It is an incredible hall. Stalls are crammed with Old World foods. Red was the pervading color, from cured meats, sausages, and paprika. The red of the paprika was reflected everywhere in the building; in the stone, tile, brick, signs, exciting the appetite by design.

The Central Market 

The pall of Communism still hung heavy over the city, though restoration efforts suggested investment in a brighter day.

The pall was swept away with introductions to my brother-in-law's family. His aunt met us at the door of the apartment and made sure the place was well stocked. She was a striking lady with a glamorous urbanity maintained even while riding her bicycle. A practical woman, she was candid about the economy of her country.

She explained that she was in the process of negotiating the sale of an apartment. The state would only allow her to sell to another family member. She had been renting to a man in his twenties who was eager to buy. Though in her sixties, she and he determined to marry to facilitate the transaction. It was a marriage of convenience. While applying for the marriage license, the couple could hardly contain themselves when the knowing official asked what name they intended to give their first child. 

The first night we met up with the aunt's son. He had gone to college in the U.S. and his English was better than ours. He took us to the then new Szimpla Kert nightclub. The bar was the first in a trend of "ruin pubs." It was located in a dilapidated apartment building in the seventh district of the city, formerly the Jewish district before World War II. The building had been abandoned during the communist takeover but not yet restored since the return of speculative development. 

During the day, Haussmann inspired streetscapes reinforced imagery from the Belle Époque. Streets crowded with buildings and trees, if not people, gave way to plazas; here an opera house, there a cathedral, here a park. Relieving this rhythm were contemporary projects of smooth materials, well proportioned to all we passed. I could have walked forever and never gotten tired. One of the plazas contained Saint Stephen's Basilica. My sister and her husband were married there a few years before my visit.  

The last night I went out with our host and two of his friends, an art dealer and a carpenter. We went to a more conventional bar and through our host/ interpreter shared stories of what we hoped to do in life. The art dealer hoped to one day open a gallery in New York City. Though not entirely unrealistic (he was pretty successful) his vision echoed that of almost every young European I met - to do something someday in New York City. There's a map somewhere that illustrates a European understanding of America. It is essentially a large shape labeled "New York City" with peripheral crumbs for the rest of the United States. The carpenter just laughed at his friend, possibly, or at my trying to speak French and thinking that somehow it was close enough to Hungarian.  

It's not.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Biltmore, New Year's Eve 2015

George Washington Vanderbilt II spent five years and his entire fortune creating the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Though the third son of William K. Vanderbilt, and not the inheritor of the bulk of the family fortune, in Biltmore he constructed the largest private residence in America.  

30 servants lived in the basement and tucked into the rafters of the adjacent stables (far right in sketch).  All this for George, his wife, and daughter. 

From Vanderbilt's estate came 85,000 acres of Pisgah National Forest. Guifford Pinchot was hired early on to manage the forest and there established the first forestry school in America. The house remains a well run tourist attraction, and the estate a very popular resort. The hotels on the grounds were completely booked, and a steady flow of traffic kept up well into both nights we were there.