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.

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