Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fool for the City

I spent the rest of my stay in New York City working on a rather large illustration assignment, exploring the city, and enjoying the overall experience. One of the coolest things I've ever done came on the Tuesday following the conference.

The Society of Illustrators, located on 63rd street, holds a jazz and sketch night every Tuesday. I had read about it some time ago, and lamented that I was unable to participate in such a wonderful event, until now. I hopped the train to 59th and Lexington, hiked my way 4 blocks north to 63rd, hung a left and a few doors west, walked right in -- sweaty from the short but sweltering walk. I got there at 6:30pm, just as it was starting. Big mistake. The room, adjacent to the bar, located up the stairs of the older house-like building, with an open gallery space at ground level, and various secretive, roped-off rooms up several flights of stairs, was packed with about 30-40 people. One of the non-roped-off rooms had a young woman at a circular white table taking my $15 for the privilege of drawing 2 outstanding models while gentle jazz played from live musicians, and a bartender served drinks to those who wished for one (or two). Several 2 minute poses followed with 5-minute poses, followed by 10's, and finally 20 minute poses. I gladly made due with either my lap or the back of a chair as an easel to hold my drawing pad, and my free hand to hold vine charcoal twigs and a kneaded eraser.

The room was packed with artists of all ages with all matter of medium, wet and dry, drawing and painting...perhaps with charcoal, like me, or with brilliant indigo ink washes, or pencil, or conte crayon, or you name it.

The final 20-minute pose ended at 9:30pm, which came too soon. I walked the 18 blocks south, back to my hotel in the sticky evening air. The unmissable art-deco Chrysler building, illuminated in white, stayed in front of me as the steam forcefully rose from the orange and white barber shop-striped exhausts on the street, as well as the ever-present steam streaming from the manholes and captured in the white, yellow-orange, and red taxicab lights. Totally beautiful.

My birthday happened to be the next day, Wednesday, the 9th, so how cool to spend it in the the city at the Museum of Modern Art, marveling at the special Dali exhibit on the 6th floor. Aside from the walls and walls of originals, always smaller that you think they'll be, were his film projects. The exhibit included his artistic-inspired scene from the Twilight Zone-flavored Hitchcock film, Spellbound (with his 20 ft. x 40 ft. black and white background mural to the dream scene on display), to his 7-minute Fantasia-inspired Disney-animated collaboration, Destino. Amazing, I thought. Check out the on-line exhibit for a taste.


I grabbed the express train downtown to hit one more restaurant recommendation before I left. Teany's is the name: tea + ny = Teany. It's a vegetarian restaurant built by Moby, the techno artist and music licensing afficianado. I took the stairs down from the sidewalk and grabbed a seat on the couch, at a round, silver table. The space was small with about 12-15 two-seat tables packed together in three rows of four or five, and Moby music softly wafting in the air. I had a faux turkey club with a red cooler (raspberry and mint tea with a splash of cranberry juice). I'm not yet a vegetarian, but I love trying new things, and I loved trying this eatery. If you are vegetarian, and you like tea, and you like Moby, you should certainly place Teany on your must-visit list. I have some other vegetarian recommendations that deserve places on that same list. Let me know if you are interested, and I'll gladly share (thanks so much to the individual who shared with me).

Before the day started, though, I did the mandatory standing outside at the Today show -- oohing and ahhing when Matt Lauer, Merideth Vierra, Al Roker, and Natalie Morales came out. Tiki Barber rode in on a Harley. On the vegetarian theme, I also watched Martha Stewart and Matt cook meatless burgers. There was a lot of cooking going on out there, and it sure did smell good. There are plenty of people doing prep work and moving lights and cameras in advance of the segments shot outside. If you happened to watch that day, you did see me on-camera. As Al Roker was coming back from what it's going to be like in my neck of the woods, at about 9am, he stood in front of a group of people, myself being one. I was toward the back, allowing the kids, families, and folks who really, really wanted to be on T.V. to be up front. I kept an eye on the monitor to see if I could spot me. Waving my arms would do no good as that was the position of everyone directly behind Al. So, I suavely shifted my body from left to right. On the monitor, behind Al's right shoulder, I spied a dark-haired fellow, in a red shirt, carrying a black shoulder strap bag, suavely shifting himself from left to right.

Check "appear on the Today show" off my life's list of things to accomplish.

It's back to the art next week. I have a newsletter starting up very soon and a revamped website set to launch even sooner -- so keep your eyes open for some new and exciting stuff just around the bend.

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