Thursday, September 30, 2010

NurtureArt Auction October 12, 2010

Click on above link to preview the works at auction. Please consider donating to this wonderful cause!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Brooklyn Tornado path

Photos by Yiwen Chow.

Yiwen arrived Thursday in the late afternoon; around 5.30 we headed from Bed-Stuy to Tribeca for an errand before openings and the aborted attempt to attend a wine tasting on the LES. Upon disembarking the C train at Canal, we noticed it had rained. But the city's energy felt dense and congested beyond the usual sensory feast; traffic was stalled on Broome, gridlock everywhere and not a cab to be found. Small surprise: a tornado had just blown through while we were underground!

These images were taken Saturday on State St. in Brooklyn Heights.

The scale of the tornado effortlessly shifts perceptions of the landscape. Space reconfigures: the skyline is cropped of tree canopies, the streets shape a new flow of traffic to accommodate felled trees so that cars that once barreled down straight streets now carefully zig zag through leafy green barriers.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ode to Lefferts Street

Enter Lefferts St. one block south of Fulton at Classon, where you'll find an old hotel with an awning that looks like an over sized bronze tongue. From there Lefferts runs three blocks and ends at St. Marks Place, which faces into it. Biking down the quiet lane, I imagine the London of Mary Poppins, with lives conducted behind dignified facades. The brownstones share the street with old, wooden houses and low-slung, renegade churches. Sycamores arch above, creating respite from the concrete, car shops and traffic on Fulton and Atlantic Avenues.

The transition from being in a place to drawing it--or tracing it, from sketchbooks, scrolls and photos, as I have been doing in the studio, adds a layer of experience upon returning. Brush pens drain images of color, leaving only line and contour to define them. Line simplifies and equates information, reducing image toward gesture. There is great pleasure slowly retracing images of a location, reliving memories and combining them with others. Multiple connections evolve densely layered constructions, rendering landscape just one element in a larger often abstract situation. Yet returning to a place I've drawn, I see it differently, after visually absorbing it.  Meaning returns, not through metaphor, but in the heightened awareness, the new and more familiar relationship. It's a little uncanny.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Goodbye, Summer Days of Bedford-Stuyvesant

As summer wanes, these images conjure the imaginary relief from heat on concrete experienced on sweaty tromps through the neighborhood. One thing that stands out overall is how alcohol-related businesses beckon customers with nostalgic touches of days gone by. An example is the Tip-Top Bar + Grill, which comes alive at nights when its signage alights. Red and green lights -- hybrid lantern and subway stop globe shapes-- twirl above the entrance; when lit, the beer sign allures as a pirate chest would. Such touches make the mundane magical, as do the cardboard displays in liquor store windows that juxtapose faded, corrugated cardboard backdrops with images of cruise ships and martinis.   

Beyond my front door heading to Fulton Street (I'm three doors in) is the unused construction shed that surrounds a building with wood-covered windows. No construction in sight. This same building was where the Claver Place Mens Club used to be. At night, the neighborhood men would gather (with some guest women on occasion) to play pool, drink beer and congregate under low-hanging lamps. Now, homeless folk argue and sometimes sleep under the construction shed.  I miss the men with the aviator glasses, who pulled up chairs outside of the club and chatted in the late afternooons before heading in to their pool game.  

I often look at the willow above Family Dollar and wonder where it grows from - an empty lot? Someone's back yard? It reminds me of Chinese scrolls that have been suddenly transported to another time and place.