Saturday, June 9, 2018

Exhibit: Scenes From The East Village, L.E.S., and Chinatown

A regular gig of mine is working for Clubbed Thumb's annual festival of new plays, Summerworks, and this year they are graciously presenting a show of my works in the lobby of the venue, The Wild Project. As the festival has long had its home in the Lower East Side, the show focuses on drawings from the surrounding area - The Lower East Side, the East Village, and Chinatown. On view through June 30.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

East Village Meat Market

Julian Baczynsky immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine in 1950, and opened the East Village Meat Market in 1970. The area had long been known as Little Ukraine, since a surge in immigration from Russia, Ukraine, and Poland at the end of the 19th century. It's the last of its kind in the neighborhood, and one of just a few remaining Ukrainian institutions in the area. It stocks imported items from Poland and Ukraine, but is known for smoked meats and sausages and hams, which are cured on the premises.

The building was built in 1900 as an "Old Law Tenement." These were tenement buildings hurriedly built by developers before the more stringent, and costly, provisions of the New York State Tenement House Act ("New Law") took effect in 1901. They were also known as "Dumbbell Tenements" because the apartment floor plans resembled a dumb bell, with small airshafts in the middle of the building providing the legal minimum amount of air and light into the rooms.

Dumbbell tenement floor plan, via GVHSP site

Previously, the site had been a branch of the New York Hospital for expectant mothers, established in 1799.

East Village Meat Market

Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation

Wikipedia: Old Law Tenement

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Brooklyn Bridge at 135

I just found out that today is the 135th anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, so that's a good reason to post these drawings I've done of the bridge over the past year.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Navy Yard drawings

Work from my residency at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

This giant water tank (250,000 gallons of demineralized water) is attached to the Brooklyn Navy Yard Cogeneration facility. The plant converts natural gas to 286 megawatts of power for Con Edison electricity, and provides steam to the Navy Yard, ConEd, and NYC's Red Hook Wastewater Treatment Plant.

When I was an undergraduate, I had one art teacher who was pretty terrible; the type of art teacher who wanted to expand your mind, man, but flat-out refused to teach useful techniques and methods. But one assignment she gave us stuck with me. She had us go out and do etchings of manhole covers. The manhole covers in Providence were pretty cool, actually, with Art Deco lightning bolts for the power company and the like. I thought of her when I spotted this personalized Navy Yard manhole cover.

Building 152 drawn from Brooklyn Roasting Company in Building 92. I love that the architects of all these old government-issue buildings still paid attention to architectural elements like this.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Cutler Mail Chute

Defunct mail chute in the Clark Street Station.

One of the most fun things about my sketching is doing some subsequent research and learning things about obscure, but commonplace, things I draw. I've seen mail boxes like this may times over the years, but never really thought about them until I happened to draw this one, which is located in the Clark Street Station in Brooklyn Heights, adjacent to the lobby of the Hotel St George.

As urban office buildings grew vertically in the early 20th century, a problem arose with mail delivery. It was a pain for tenants to descend the the ground to visit a mailbox. The solution came from James Goold Cutler of Rochester, NY. He invented the Cutler Mail Chute in 1884. They were glass fronted chutes that ran the length of the building, with deposit slots on each floor and a receiving box on the ground floor. At first, they were limited to train stations and public buildings, but in 1905, the Postal Service allowed them to be installed in private buildings of a certain height.

The Cutler Co. enjoyed a virtual monopoly on mail chutes for decades. The boxes were all elaborated designed, but not standardized. This example is actually less ornate than many other examples. Cutler were often customize a box to meet the architectural aesthetic of a specific building, executing boxes in Beaux Arts, Art Deco, or Art Nouveau styles.

As the quantity of mail increased, as well as the size of packages, chronic clogged mail chutes became an increasing problem. In the 1980s, an mail chute in the McGraw Hill Building on 42nd St. was unclogged, releasing an avalanche of mail that filled 23 sacks. In 1995, a chute in a Michigan veterans' hospital was cleared. A woman named Marguerite Grisdale Lynch in Brooksville, Florida, received a letter her husband, who had died 19 years prior, had mailed in 1945!

Fire codes in the 1990s prohibited the installation of new chutes, and many buildings switched to dedicated mail rooms. But there are still many active mail chutes, including over 900 in New York City and 360 in Chicago.


Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Atlas Obscura: New York City's Mail Chutes Are Lovely, Ingenious And Almost Entirely Ignored

Friday, May 4, 2018

May The Fourth Be With You 2018

A lot of fans hated Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but I loved it. I even loved when Luke milked the weird cow aliens, which are called Thala Sirens, FYI.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

3 Classics

Three classic cars I came across over the past few months.

I'm not particularly interested in cars. I don't really know anything about various makes or models, how they work, or anything. And I'm not particularly interested in drawing them, either, except if they're vintage cars. There is something cool about old cars. They have a sense of design and style that's missing from most modern vehicles. But I wonder if that's just a misplaced sense of romanticization. Maybe the original owners of these cars didn't see them as super-stylish vehicles. They were just cars. And maybe decades from now, people will see an old car on the street and say, "Check out that cool Toyota Corolla! They sure don't make them like that anymore!"