Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Anaconda Water Tower - Hastings-on-Hudson

This 80' tall, 75,000 gallon water tower overlooks the Hudson River from the east bank in the village of Hastings-On-Hudson, in lower Westchester County. It is one of the only remaining structures of the Anaconda Wire & Cable Company.

In its heyday, the Anaconda Company was a major industry in the area, producing wire for electric cable (and ammunition during World War II) on 27 acres of land from the end of the 19th century until 1975. Unfortunately, in those pre-EPA days, it was one of the worst industrial polluters on the Hudson, and that's saying something. The land and riverbed are severely contaminated with PCBs, copper, lead, and zinc, and is a Superfund site.

Most of the rest of the site was demolished by BP, the current landowner, in 2010, and environmental clean-up began in 2013. There are different ideas of how the site could be redeveloped, although the flooding that occurred during Superstorm Sandy has called a lot of those plans into question. One study recommended that the tower be preserved, but it would have to be disassembled and moved since remediation would involve excavating the soil around and beneath it to a depth of 12 feet to decontaminate it. I rather suspect that sooner or later, it is going to join the rest of the Anaconda Company in industrial Valhalla.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015


It's been a long, long time since I've done any live figure drawing. Spring Street Studios has been my primary spot for many years now, but I haven't been there for many months for various reasons. Recently, I found out via Claudia the model's Museworthy blog that the studio had lost its space. The news made me sad, though I wasn't surprised. It's a daily occurrence these days that some small, long-term business (and many big businesses) loose their leases due to insane rent hikes or planned real estate developments to provide more housing for rich people. Many of the wealthiest areas of Manhattan actually have a form of urban blight, blocks of empty storefronts, not because of failing businesses, but because commercial landlords will rather keep a space vacant, waiting for a bank or high-end retail or something to come along to pay exibortant rents, than keep it occupied by current tenants at a lower rate. So, I was actually surprised that that little drawing studio in SoHo lasted this long.

I had several classes left on my punch card, so I decided I needed to use them before the place was gone by the end of the year. But when I arrived, I heard that they already have another space on Broome St. lined up for the new year. An uncharacteristically happy ending to this type on story.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Martha's Vineyard Ferry

The Vineyard Haven Ferry Dock at Martha's Vineyard.

When I started this drawing, the ferry wasn't there. I drew these huge cubes in the water, not knowing exactly what they were. But when the ferry pulled in, I figured out that they are like big bumpers for if the boat goes off course.

As we pulled out of the dock, a man and a woman sat next to me on the deck and had the following exchange:
Man: You can be married or be happy, and I'm happy!
Woman: You almost got married.
Man: Not really.
Woman: Almost.
Man: No.
Woman: What about Eliza?
Man: Not even close. Not even close.
Woman: You bought her a ring. That's pretty close.
Man: Nah.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Prospect Park Trees

Pair of trees in Prospect Park, overlooking the west side of the lake, clinging to their remaining leaves as winter approaches. The same pair of trees, seen from different angles. I like the crazy corkscrew path of their branches.

Monday, November 9, 2015

BK Navy Yard

Building at the entrance to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I have no idea what that structure on top is . . .

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

DUMBO Archway

Archway under the Manhattan Bridge, on Pearl St. on the Brooklyn side.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Columbus Circle Lamppost

Lamp post at Columbus Circle. Unlike the Type 24M Corvington Longarm, I could find no information about these. They're just cool-looking.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Columbus Circle

Columbus Circle, as viewed from the seventh floor of the Museum of Arts and Design. I didn't draw this with Columbus Day in mind, but seeing it coming up on the calendar motivated me to finish it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Type 24M Corvington Longarm

This is a replica Type 24M Corvington Longarm lamppost at the Northwest corner of Prospect Park. 

When I do these on-site urban sketches, I often do a little Googling to see if there's any interesting history or trivia about the subject. I didn't expect to find so much information of New York City lampposts! There are multiple posts on the cool site Forgotten NY, a very, very comprehensive site run by a guy named Jeff Saltzman, and several others.

Gas streetlights were introduced in New York City in 1823, and electric ones follolwed in 1892. Once the technology stabilized in the late 1800s, lighting companies began to pay attention to the ornamental design. The original "Corvingtons" were cast iron, and the "long arm" style was found on wide avenues and boulevards, to place the fixture further out into the wide expanse. There were many other types of lampposts suited for narrower streets, sidewalks, intersections, et al, with names like the "Bishop's Crook", the "Classic Twin", the "Type G", the "Type F," and the "Reverse-scrolled Type F."

In the 20th Century, they began to be replaced by simpler, cheaper aluminum and steel poles, like the Deskey Cobra and then the Westinghouse MO-8 lampposts, and only a few of the original cast-iron poles still exist. But in the 1980s, a movement started to retrofit lampposts in some areas with retro replicas, like this one in Park Slope.

The term "Corvington" was apparently coined by Mr. Saltzman after a similar model he'd seen in a catalog, and it was adopted by other "street mavens," of whom there are apparently many. "Type 24M" is from a code number given to every type of streetlamp in use by the NYC Bureau Of Gas and Electricity in The System Electric Companies: Photographs of Street Lighting Equipment As Of November 1, 1934. This is what I love about the internet. There are nerds for everything. No matter how particular or esoteric the subject, there is someone out there who is fiercely passionate about it, and they will build a website about it.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Happy Batman Day

Today is apparently "International Batman Day." There is also a "Wonder Woman Day," dedicated to raising money and awareness for domestic violence programs. It would be awesome if "Batman Day" was for victims of gun violence, but as far as I can tell, it's just a day for DC Comics to remind everyone how awesome Batman is.

The illustration above is a recreation of the cover to Batman Family Number 4. This comic is dear to my heart because it's the first comic book I can remember. I have the distinct memory of my father coming home with this comic for me. It was 1976. I was 4 1/2 years old. I don't think it was the first comic book I ever saw because I remember thinking "Cool! A new comic!" rather than "what's this?"

Somewhere in my mother's house I still have it, now tattered, missing its cover and several pages. A few years ago, I came across an intact copy at some comics show. I bought it, but didn't actually re-read it, because I'm sure the contents are not great. I remember bits and pieces of the stories. The Batgirl story had criminals after a guy who was going into witness re-location program and at the end he had plastic surgery to get a new face, a concept which blew my four-year-old mind. In the Robin story, he was running around in the snow at Christmas time, and at one point mentioned how cold he was in those short sleeves and green hot pants. Fatman was clown who spoofed Batman. I don't remember the Phantom General story, but the internet tells me that he was a Nazi war criminal with a hypnotic monolcle.

There was also a truly awesome spread of fan costume redesigns for Robin.

Unfortunately, the scene on the cover - three rogue Santas in a toboggan cold-cocking Robin and shooting at Batgirl on her Bat-sled - does not actually occur inside. This comic is dated April, so would have been on the stands in Spring or early summer. I have no idea why it would have had a Christmas theme.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Max and Zoe

My twin babies turned three months old yesterday. But they were born three months early, so they are now technically one day old? Coming home soon, hopefully. Easily my best creation yet.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Bush Terminal Piers Park

Go to Sunset Park in Brooklyn. Walk past the auto body shops and the Halal live poultry shops and dash across the traffic underneath the Gowanus Expressway. Go past the old industrial factories and warehouses that have been renovated into studios for artists and craftsmen. Keep going past the old industrial factories and warehouses on First Ave. that have not been gentrified. Businesses like United Store Fixtures and Aviv Judaica Imports. You'll see a sign on a gate for Bush Terminal Piers Park. Go through the gate and down the road past yet more old industrial buildings, and there you'll find a park. It's not the world's greatest park, but it's nice because no one's there and there are great views of Lower Manhattan, including the new World Trade Center Building and the Statue of Liberty. On the other side of the fence, you'll see the ruins of old piers, like this one.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


My wife and I took a quick vacation to New Orleans recently. I didn't have a lot of time to sketch, but here's some . . .

Tujague's Restaurant, near Jackson Square.

We went to a music club called The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street and heard a bunch of jazz. This guy's name was Andy Forest, I think.

Washboard Chaz. This guy and his band were great.

Warren Battiste, a jazz legend who played with Fats Domino, just stopping by to watch.

The U.S.S. Wasp, docked on the Mississippi River.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Happy Birthday FDNY

I saw on the news this morning that today marks the 150th Anniversary of the New York Fire Department (abbreviated FDNY instead of NYFD, for some reason). I've been doing a series of drawings of firehouses for almost two years, so it seemed like a good day to post them. I've been meaning to put color on them, so in my eyes they're unfinished. But if I've been procrastinating for two years in coloring them, it's not going to happen today.

Engine Company 33, Great Jones St.

There were, of course, firefighters in New York prior to 1865, but they were various types of volunteer companies. One of the perks of being a volunteer fireman in 1737 was that you were exempt from jury duty. We'd probably have an even bigger fire department today if that was still the case!

Engine Company 240, Windsor Terrace

The two sketches above are of the local firehouse where I live now, in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.

Engine 55, SoHo

This one in particular would look a lot better in color.

When I was a child, I loved firetrucks. I would get so excited when I saw them racing down the street, too young to realize that they might be heading to some scene of terrible disaster and tragedy. My mother says when I would see the trucks, I'd yell "Fire Truck! Fire Truck!" Except I couldn't pronounce the "tr", so it would come out "Fire Fuck! Fire Fuck!"

Engine 258 and Ladder Company 115, Hunter's Point, Queens

This is the firehouse they used in that show "Third Watch." That thing in front is a stuffed dog of some sort.

I hope to finish these and do some more. I have one of the Ghostbusters firehouse that's in a state too unfinished to post. Maybe this summer ...

Monday, April 6, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Vadim and Kason

I've been out of the figure drawing habit for a long while. I went to Spring Street Studio a few weeks ago and last weekend. Both sessions featured a pair of models, which is a lot harder than a single model, so it was a heckuva way to return to figure drawing. The first session didn't yield any good drawings; these are all from Saturday. The models were Vadim and Kason (I think).

Some of the poses brought to mind old Steve Reeves Hercules movies. I kept hearing the Star Trek fight theme while drawing these . . .

This one was tough. I couldn't get the forced perspective of Kason's right leg right, and his left leg is wonky, too. The little quick sketch in the corner is more correct, but I didn't have time to start completely over.