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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Map It

It's a quiet and cloudy evening in Brooklyn. The lights on top of the Empire State Building bounce off the fluffy bottoms of the low-hanging clouds above Manhattan.

I'm working on a "graffiti map" for an artist who sells personalized MTA maps on Prince St. near Broadway, which is right outside where I work. I forgot what his name is, but he used to write back in the early '80s and he once mentioned that he "....just got back from doing some work with Stash, Futura, and Daze...." (some of New York's most well-known graffiti artists). He said that If I made a map for him, he'd sell it for about twenty-five to forty bucks, and split the profits with me. I thought that was a fun thing to do, so this week I'm gonna just bust out some wildstyle letters onto a brand new October 2006 MTA subway map and see if he can sell it.

Tonight, I started off with "The Bronx", in blocky mid-80's letters. The letters are done in the style of WEST FC, MED, COPE 2, and SHAME 125. I'm not sure If I'm going to make the styles different for each borough, so we'll see. I might add white highlights to the letters, too.

Watching me from the sidelines are two cuddly bears and a cozy-hearted penguin.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Letter to Paul

This is an email I wrote to one of my friends, who just moved to Pittsburgh. Andy Warhol was born there and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater is also nearby, near Mill Run.


I was just reading about Common's 2nd album, "Resurrection", which I have enjoyed for years. I read the list of songs which were sampled in "Resurrection", the first song on the album. The main piano loop sampled on "Resurrection" is "Dolphin Dance", by Ahmad Jamal, from 1970. I downloaded it tonight.

Ahmad Jamal is my favorite jazz pianist. Miles Davis cites him as an influence. In 1994, I watched WTTW's "Image Union" which featured a song by him, "Poinciana". The video was so good that I taped it on my vcr and watched it over and over. The video was not actually for the song, but was an art video which used the song as a background for various night scenes shot around Chicago.

It took me about a year to find out what the song was. Either WBEZ 91.5 or WNUA 95.5 FM played it by coincidence and the announcer said the name and title of the song. I found out "Poinciana" was one of Jamad's best known works, and that there were two different versions of the song. The live version was the one I was looking for.

Years later, in 2002 or 2003, I went looking for the Pershing Ballroom, where the song was recorded live in the winter of 1957-'58. The Pershing was located somewhere on 64th and Cottage Grove, but had since been either demolished or transformed. I managed to see him play a beautiful set at Grant Park one summer night in 2003. He even played "Poinciana". I think he wore a white suit. His music reminds me of the good things in Chicago.

On Ahmad's website, he mentions that he was born in a wonderful place for artists and creative people...Pittsburgh, PA.


note: "Dolphin Dance" is originally by Herbie Hancock, who is a Chicago native, as Paul and I both are.

Monday, November 06, 2006

new artblog/test entry

Hi, I'm starting this art-blog to record my latest ideas, sketches, and what-not.

Starting off this week is a simple marker drawing of Lou Doillon—no pencilling, just straight marker to paper. I bought a large pack of regular Crayola markers to emulate the type of drawings my older sister and I would make back in the day. I'll write more about my sister in upcoming posts. I'll also put up some of her drawings from the 80's and early 90's. Unfortunately, the Lou sketch is based only on a photo—hence the flat dimensions and lack of detail. The photo is from handbag.com or something like that. I would prefer not to do any drawings from photos, but since I don't usually have time to draw from life during the weekday s (I have a full-time job art-directing and designing stuff at a children's book publisher), it's the best thing to do sometimes. Anyway, Lou is sort of my fashion muse this month. Even though I've known about Jane Birkin, and Serge and Charlotte Gainsbourg for a long time, the first time I saw Lou was in a Gap advertisement a couple of years ago. At the time, I thought "who's that girl?", but now I've noticed she's in more magazines lately, like this month's Paper Magazine.

I'm also working on another t-shirt design for myself—this time based upon the lettering and colours of the awning on a local coffee shop here in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It's Maria's Coffee Shop, where I get donuts and snacks maybe once a week or so. Sometimes I get a smoothie there, too. I like the magenta awning with bold white lettering because it's sorta retro-late-seventies/early eighties. It conjures up thoughts of blockbuster/straight letter style graffiti on a subway train lit up by streetlights and glowy neon nights. There's a cool poster inside of the shop with a totally 80's design which I will photograph and post this week as well.