Thursday, September 26, 2019

Take an Architectural Tour with Me

Did you know that you can trace the history of Western Architecture in the buildings in New York City?  You can, and I’ll show you.  This is a combination of some of my favorite things; New York City. long walks, and houses-really, buildings of any kind.  

My reference here is Paul Goldberger's
The City Observed; A Guide to the Architecture of Manhattan
This has been my Bible as I draw my favorite places in my favorite city and all quotes come from him unless otherwise noted.

So put on your walking shoes, grab your metro card and let’s go. I promise you'll make your ten thousand steps.

Let's start with the Egyptians.  If you want to see a pyramid you can go to Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn but this is a Manhattan tour.


 Borough of Manhattan Community College-originally Pythian Temple.
135 West 70th Street,
Thomas W. Lamb, 1927
This building is full of Egyptian references and embellishments, including a set of Kings on the roof, shown here.  I asked nicely of the doorman across the street and he allowed me to go up on his roof for a good view.  


the Village Community Church
145 West 13th Street, 
Samuel Thomson, 1846 
A doric Temple set into a row of brownstones.
“A pleasant benign surprise"    


The American Museum of Natural History
77th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould 1877
An immense sprawling set of fortresses


The First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York
Fifth Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets
Joseph Wells, 1846
Based on Saint Magdalen College in Oxford. 
This complex covers a wide swath of history all by itself.  The church house on the left, or south side of the sanctuary, is the only gothic revival building by the firm of McKim, Meade and White, 1894. The church house on the right, or north side, which houses the church offices and two schools, was designed by Edgar Tafel, a  student of Frank Lloyd Wright. It won awards for the way it blends the gothic style with mid-century modern.


Engine Company 31
Napolean le Brun 1895
“Great scale in detailing, lovely scale-and fine massing…a gem by any standard. That was a time when first-class architecture for civic purposes was considered as much of a necessity as fire protection itself.”


Jefferson Market Courthouse-now Library 
Sixth Avenue at Tenth Street
Frederick Clarke Withers and Calvert Vaux1876

“The epitome of what a local landmark should be … it laughs and jokes with you as you walk up Sixth Avenue.” 
 I’m sorry I had to truncate the tower to fit it into this format.


The Public Baths
East 23rd Street at Asser Levy Place
Arnold W. Brunner and William Martin Aiken 1906                                             
Mr. Goldberger calls this 'a lovely pretentious little pile." I think it's adorable.

The New York Public Library 
Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets
Carrere and Hastings 1911

"Both awe-inspiring and gracious, dignified and cheerful."


Four Skyscrapers-each in its time the tallest building in the world.

From left to right;

The Flatiron Building
175 Fifth Avenue at Broadway and 23rd Street 
D.H. Burnham & Co., 1901

The Woolworth Building 
233 Broadway Between Barclay Street and Park Place
Cass Gilbert, 1913

“the Mozart of Skyscrapers; a lyrical tower that weds Gothic ornamentation with exquisite massing.

The Chrysler Building
405 Lexington Avenue 
William Van Alen 1930

"It expresses the romantic longings of an era...romantic and irrational and yet not quite so foolish as to be laughable."

The Empire State Building
350 fifth Avenue at 34th Street
Shreve, Lamb and Harmon 1931

"Famous for being tall but good enough to be famous for being good. Graceful setbacks in perfect balance to sheer rise."

That's my thoroughly unscholarly review of New York City's wonderful variety of architectural delights.   Manhattan provides a surprise around every corner. I've left out plenty of treasures as I tried to stick to a timeline but they're there for the looking.  To name a few:

The Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street
Frank Lloyd Wright

 Old Police Headquarters
240 Center Street between Grand and Broom Streets
Hoppin and Koen, 1909

The Seagram Building
375 Park Avenue at 42nd Street
Mies Van der Rohe, Phillip Johnson
    The most elegant Christmas decorations in the city

The Art Students League
215 West 57th Street
Henry J. Hardenburgh, 1892  

Central Park
Frederick aw Olmstead, Calvert Vaux

the Brooklyn Bridge

What's your favorite?                                                                                                                                                                              

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Another Anniversary

One year ago I posted this on Facebook'
"You may have heard me say I intended to start posting on my blog. You’re probably tired of hearing me say it--but here it is."  
I started with The Pelican. Remember him?

Well, I've kept it up!  I've hit send every Thursday night, on a post to be delivered Friday morning. That is,  except for July fourth, which fell on a Thursday, and August ninth, when I forgot.

And now, to celebrate, I have an announcement!
I have, with the help of the wonderful Izzy Nova, tech teacher extraordinaire, built a brand new site with more of my drawings, an easier way to find things, and all my past posts, right there at your fingertips.  Just click here.

I want to thank you all for reading my posts, especially if you took the time to respond.  It means SO much to hear from you. You are life's encouragers, and I think there's no more valuable friend than one who listens and responds, who keeps you going when you feel discouraged, one who makes you glad to get up in the morning
Like my beloved Aunt, Jan, whose birthday was yesterday.  She's the closest I had to a big sister.
You can see here how I looked up to her.

Her name was Janet Thomas Swanson but I, finding that a mouthful as I learned to speak, named her JoyJoy and it stuck.  It fit her perfectly. She always brought Joy into the room. She was more fun, more generous, more exacting, more appreciative than anyone.  She had all that in abundance, along with integrity and an awesome work ethic.  Plus she always smelled great.  I'd say, what's that perfume? and she'd say, "It's not perfume, it's cologne," and then not tell. 
I miss her every day and think of her with love, but I'm also really mad. When I visited her in the hospital she said,
"This is what colon cancer looks like. Now you get that test [a colonoscopy] and make sure your brothers and cousins do the same."
I wish she'd told herself that, so now I say to you,  Button up your overcoat. Eat an apple every day. Get to bed by three. Be careful crossing streets. Don't eat meats. Cut out sweets. 
Keep away from college boys when they're on a spree. Take good care of yourself.  You may not belong to me, but you certainly matter to me and I want you to stick around for a good long time.

Now go and check out my new website and let me know what you think!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Cut and Paste: Fun with Robert Mitchum

Has this ever happened to you?  You're looking for something, something important to you.  You know it has to be somewhere but where?  At last, it turns up and you realize that you had put it away carefully but then forgot.  You're happy to have it back but wonder what's happened to your brain.

My precious objects that were lost and then found are books of collage.

Collage is another side of my work. After hours of painstakingly making tiny dots or crosshatches with a fine pen it's a joy to just let 'er rip, and I do mean rip.  Tearing through magazines and newspapers, looking through the mail for interesting brochures, I let loose.  I put things together for no other reason than that I feel like it. It's fun, it's freeing, and it inspires me to push myself in my drawings.

Here's a series I did with Robert Mitchum as my subject.  I always thought he was very sexy---and a little scary, which may be what made him sexy. He walked like a big cat.
I loved this shot of him so much I made a bunch of copies and went to town.

Here he is with Degas's little dancer and a perfume bottle.  I like to play with scale.

Look at the way the shepherd on the left is looking at him.

In the midst of Rousseau's jungle with Rodin's Thinker.

Two Mitchums and a cow.

With the Princesse de Brolige by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.  Nice dress, huh?

Truly a man outstanding in his field.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Let's Sit Down and Read

I hope you had a great summer, with plenty of reading.  

Henry James said, 
“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; the two most beautiful words in the English language.”  
That had to include a book don’t you think?

In July I said to Molly, “Here’s what we’ll do for your birthday.  We’ll go to a book store and you can pick out as many books as you like—well, five or six.  Then we’ll go out for lunch.  
We’ll be the Ladies who Lunch.”  
We had a wonderful time at Books of Wonder, on Eighteenth Street, where the staff is well versed in children’s literature.  Molly made her choices and also asked if we could get something for Teddy. I led her to The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and said, “This is a great series, all about a magical place.”
She looked at it and said, “Then I want to start with the first one—this says number two.”
Wait, what? I went to the desk and asked what was up.  
“Isn’t The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe the first of the Narnia Books?  That’s where the adventure begins, right? Why does it say number two?”
The woman in charge of the store took a breath and said, 
“You’re not wrong. The Magician’s Nephew, originally number six, explains everything and sets up the story, so in this edition they moved it to number one. I think it’s a mistake.  It robs The Lion of its magic and surprise. C.S. Lewis wanted to make the M.N. number one as well, but his editors persuaded him against it.  That’s why good writers need good editors.”  
As I said, this staff knows their stuff.
Lunch didn't turn out as I had planned.  I thought we’d have a nice chat but Molly picked up one of those new books and she was gone.  I’m not complaining.  I think one of the loveliest sights in this world is the face of a child immersed in a book.
Next year we’ll have lunch first.  
Now it’s September.  The Jewish calendar has it right; this is when the year begins.  We’re rested from the summer, the air is crisp, the trees are bright with color—we’re ready to get busy.

On the first day of school my thoughts always turn to reading.  I can remember the time before I learned to read, I looked at those letters and said, "Pretty soon, I'll know what they mean." 

Who opens that magic door for us?

My friend, Jim, told me about an event where Mr. Rogers was given an award. He, that is, Mr. R, spoke, as he often did, about how we see the people around us.  
He said, “Think about a teacher who inspired you, who helped you, who meant something to you.  Let’s take a quiet moment to say thank you.” 
 Jim said it was a sacred moment.

Who were your inspiring teachers?

I can name all my teachers from nursery school up to the seventh grade, and many in Junior High and High School.  What I remember about the great ones is not what they taught me as much as how they lived their lives-how they approached their work.
Like Mrs. Brilliant-yes that was really her name as she liked to remind us.  Algebra was way over my head until she made me stay after school for extra help. All my life I’ve remembered the look on her face when I got the bonus question right, for an A+.  I knew I’d never be a math teacher, but I knew I had to look for something that would give me that joy.
So, Thank you, Mrs. Brilliant. 

This painting by Winslow Homer is one of my favorites.  I think it's blissful.  There are so many paintings of women reading books I think the models must have said to the artists, "If you want me to sit still for hours you'd better give me a book."


There's more than one way to enjoy a book.
Have a wonderful fall, full of happy reading.

Christmas in July

I've been feeling a little uninspired and overwhelmed by papers and stuff, torn by needing to clear the decks and get rid of everything ...