Sunday, January 14, 2018


Life drawing at Minerva Studio last week. The model was named Theresa.

Friday, January 12, 2018


My first sketch of 2018. New York had two solid weeks of below-freezing temperatures, but it finally warmed up. Which was still in the 30's, but it felt downright balmy. Zoltar has been on my To-Draw list for a while.

This Zoltar Fortune Teller stands in front of Gem Spa at the corner of Second Ave. and St Mark's Place. Despite its name, the store has nothing to do with gems or spas. "Gem" supposedly is an anagram of Gladys, Etta, and Miriam, the wives of the store's previous owners. I don't know why it's called "Spa." It's a corner store/newsstand known for its egg creams, and was a counter-culture center for the Beats and then the hippies in the 50s and 60s.

Zoltar is probably most famous today from his appearance in the movie Big, but I was surprised to learn that there's been a long line of Zoltar (or Zoltan) machines. This is the last one in New York City. There used to be one at FAO Schwarz, and there was one at Coney Island that was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. The store has been there since the 1920s, but Zoltar has only been there since 2012. He continually spouts those four phrases, beckoning the East Village passerby. I didn't spend the two dollars to get my fortune. From what I've read, Zoltar just spits out a ticket with a fortune cookie-type saying on it. People seem disappointed by this, but really, what were they expecting?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Broome & Eldridge St.

Drew this over multiple sittings, usually after attending life drawing classes at the nearby Minerva's Studio.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Providence and Portsmouth

I spent the last two weekends touring with the Bang Group dance company to Providence and New Hampshire/Maine. I've been lighting their holiday show Nut/Cracked for the last couple of years. They're in Boston this week and you can catch it in New York City at the new Flea Theatre.


Sheperd Company Builidng. This building in downtown Providence used to be Sheperd Stores, which was once one of the largest department stores in New England. The pillar seen in the window is covered with fashion advertisements. It currently housed state offices and local colleges.

Turks Head Building. I went to college in Providence, and always wondered what the deal was with this building. This giant, somewhat racist Ottoman head certainly makes it one of the most WTF subjects I've drawn. (What you can't see in this sketch is that the Turk has fangs.) When it was completed in 1913, it was the tallest building in Providence. A shopkeeper on the ground floor installed a figurehead from the ship Sultan above the entrance. It was later destroyed in a storm, and this stone replica was installed. I was pleased that I finally got the curved architecture almost right; I always struggle with that.

One of the interesting things about Providence is the remaining defunct street furniture, ghosts of the city's past. This tower on Weybosset Street is the remnants of a comfort station that was torn down in 2011. Now it's just a sort of traffic divider. The old night deposit box is outside the Union Trust Company Building on Westminster and Dorrance. The bank is long gone; now it's a restaurant and residences. But this night deposit box remains. Do businesses even use night deposit boxes any more?

Portsmouth, NH

We performed in Kittery, Maine, but stayed across the river in Portsmouth, NH. The World War I Memorial Bridge spans the Piscataqua River between the states. It is a vertical-lift bridge. The center span rises up to allow boat traffic through.

The North Church. The church, constructed in 1854, is one of the main landmarks in Portsmouth, visible from across the city. A winter storm was coming in as I sketched it. I completed it later with photo reference I took. I got the corbels, the protruding support structures, on the lower part, all wrong.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Windsor Terrace House

A house in Windsor Terrace. I was happy with the drawing, but got the color and values of the light and shadow wrong. Too heavy. Oh well.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Echeverri's Palace

For the past several years, I've spent a few summer weeks in the Lower East Side working on a festival for Clubbed Thumb theater company. Around the corner, at Avenue B and East 4th St., stands this distinctive building. I finally got around to drawing it this summer, and then discovered the great story behind it.

This Village Voice article by Jess McHugh from 2016 tells the story. The building is owned by Antonio Echeverri, a Colombian immigrant who worked numerous jobs including maintaining buildings and saved for 20 years before purchasing this property in 1992. It was dilapidated, infested with vermin and drug dealers, and close to being condemned. Echeverri rehabilitated the building himself. "Now it's a palace. It's a paradise," he says in the article. Echeverri repaints the facade every five years, and is continually working on the building. Even the tree encasements on the sidewalk are in this distinctive style. “Every mind is its own world. I like to see things that are different from my everyday surroundings. I don’t like plain brick.”

Not only did he do the renovation himself, but he even mixes the paint himself, and casts the concrete ornamental sculptures himself, as seen on the East 4th Street entrance.

This creative attention to detail extends to the interior, a bit of which you can see in that Voice article. I'd love to get a look inside someday. 

“It gives me joy to see that people come by to admire the building, especially the door,” Echeverri says. “The door has stars, the sun and moons on it. We’re all part of the same universe, and the door is where I capture mine.”