Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Louis Valentino Jr. Pump House

This is part of a pump house, located in Bush Terminal Park in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. It's across from this pier and near this abandoned caboose.

My Google-Fu is pretty good, so usually I can draw things and figure out what they are later. Not this time. I know this is the Louis Valentino Jr. Pump House, and is a FDNY facility. But I don't know exactly what it's pumping. I think maybe it's connected to the fire hydrant system, or maybe the sprinkler system of the nearby warehouses? I know from previous sketching that the thing to the left of the large pipe is called a test header. But I don't know what the overall function of the building is.

Louis Valentino Jr. was a firefighter who died in the line of duty in 1996. There are a lot of things in Brooklyn named after him, but Google doesn't turn up any reference to this building. It's a mystery to me.

Friday, August 11, 2017


I've been able to get back to life drawing sessions the past few weeks. It feels like going back to the gym after a long absence. At least, I imagine that's what it feels like. I've never gone to the gym.

This is Jacqueline. She was very good. I've drawn her at least once before.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

LaFarge Brooklyn

The LaFarge Cement plant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. As it happens, this was the second time I've drawn a LaFarge facility. Last year, I drew this one, located in New Jersey, seen from the shore of Staten Island.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Bush Terminal Caboose

An abandoned caboose at Bush Terminal Park. Bush Terminal was once part of the Industry City complex in Sunset Park, and was a major transfer point for freight, with ships unloading at the Bay Ridge Channel onto rail cars. There is now a park hidden away behind the industrial waterfront. Who knows how long this caboose has stood there? And is it actually still in use somehow? There are wires running from a nearby antenna to it. Maybe it's a secret NSA site or something.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Before It's Gone: Kosciuszko Bridge

The old Kosciuszko Bridge, with the new Kosciuszko Bridge behind it. It spans the Newtown Creek between Brooklyn and Queens. The old bridge was built in 1939, and has been over-capacity for decades, no longer meets infrastructure standards, and is generally about to fall down. The new span just opened, and the old one will be replaced by a second span.

Everyone was excited because today was the day that the old bridge was going to be demolished. Lots of people, including myself, planned to go watch them blow it up. Two things, though: 1) It's not being demolished today; the date is still TBD. 2) They're not going to blow it up. They're going to dismantle it and lower the span onto barges. I guess it doesn't make sense that they would blow up a bridge that's right next to a brand-new bridge, and over a body of water. But I would've liked to have seen that.

The bridge was named after Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish volunteer in the American Revolution who served as a general. I wonder if anyone would name a public project after a foreign national in today's climate?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Deutsch-Amerikansche Schützen Gesellschaft

This building on St. Mark's Place is a remnant of Kleindeutschland, or "Little Germany." In the late 19th century, the Lower East Side was home to a huge German immigrant community. At its height, it was the third largest German population center in the world, after Berlin and Vienna.

This building, built in 1888, was one of architect William C. Frohne's first major commissions, and housed the Deutsch-Amerikansche Schützen Gesellschaft, or German-American Shooting Society, an umbrella group for two dozen shooting clubs. There was a shooting range on site, though most of the actual shooting happened in Queens, including the annual shooting contest called Schuetzenfest. It also housed a bowling alley, a saloon, and lodging, and a meeting hall, which was frequently used by unions and labor groups. The slogan at the top - "Einigkeit Macht Stark" - means "Unity Makes Strong." I find it interesting that this facade remained intact through two world wars with Germany, considering how many Americans currently regard immigrant communities.

The German-American Shooting Society owned the building until 1920, by which time Little Germany had largely dissipated. It was subsequently used as a homeless shelter, a Polish community center and then a Ukrainian one, and the original site of St. Mark's Bookshop. Today it houses a vegan Latin restaurant on the ground floor, and a yoga studio above.

For more history of the shooting society and Little Germany, see:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Before It's Gone: S. Beckenstein

I've started to do an ongoing series of drawings of buildings and places around the city that are either about to be torn down or altered, or are in danger of it. First up is the S. Beckenstein building, at 130 Orchard St. in the Lower East Side.

I first took notice of this building last winter, but it was too cold for me to sit out there and draw it, so I filed it away in my mental "to draw" list. A few months ago, I saw a posting that construction was beginning on it, so I rushed out to get it down. The building had been purchased years ago by a developer for $28 million. When I got there, the ground floor had been turned into a high-end art gallery. What had been old-school garment shops had been replaced by a totally blank, black facade; so I skipped sketching the ground floor. I'm unclear if the gallery is going to occupy the entire building, or if they plan on retaining the old facade on the upper floors.

Samuel Beckenstein was a Polish immigrant who arrived in New York City in 1910. He began his business selling rags from a pushcart and eventually built a retail store for clothing, draperies and upholstery. The business survived the Great Depression by providing custom trousers "matched and made to order." People who could not afford new suits could purchase pants that matched their suits to replace their worn-out trousers. Beckenstein occupied this building, which was originally a telephone company switch exchange, from 1945 to 1999.

The business is still owned by the fourth generation of the family. It relocated to the Garment District. Fabric businesses there have been being displaced in recent years, and there is a "Save The Garment District" campaign underway. Hopefully this historic business is able to survive.

More history of S. Beckenstein can be found here and here.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Star Wars at 40

Today is the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars. I actually don't remember the first time I saw that movie, or how many times I've seen it since, but I can pretty much recite it line for line. I think Empire Strikes Back is better than Star Wars, and Rogue One is probably a better movie, too. But the original will always have a special place in my heart.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

USS Intrepid

I didn't draw this specifically for Fleet Week, but since it is Fleet Week, I figured this is a good time to post this one.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Water Street Pipes

A pair of pipes in front of a building on Water Street in DUMBO. I don't know what these pipes are for; pumping something in or pumping something out? They reminded me of a pair of drunk buddies, staggering home.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

May The Fourth Be With You 2017

It's Star Wars Day, and the 40th anniversary of the first Star Wars movie.

Luke dreams of joining the Rebellion, or at least going to Tosche Station for some power converters.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Brooklyn Back Yard

The view from my bathroom window. I'd been planning on drawing this view for awhile, but I suddenly realized I had a deadline. There's a big tree between the window and these buildings, and one morning I noticed buds on the branches. I drew this in a morning, and a few days later, the tree was covered in leaves. This view is now a big wall of green.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fire Sprinkler Thingamaging

I had an art professor in college who was terrible. But one project she had us do was drawings of water pipes and etchings of manhole covers. She was interested in the ways people control water. I have to admit, the project stuck with me, and I continue to be fascinated with pipes and plumbing systems. This fire sprinkler system is in the theater building at Long Island University in downtown Brooklyn.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

This one at the corner of the LIU campus on Flatbush Ave. and Fleet St., in Downtown Brooklyn.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Rebecca and Jacqueline

I've been back to figure drawing for the first time in, like, two years. My usual drawing studio, Minerva Durham's Spring Street Studio, which has relocated to Broome St. and is now known as Minerva's Studio. It was good to get back to doing this sort of work.



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Concrete Scraper

This machine is apparently a concrete floor scraper. For when you need to scrape a concrete floor. Outside the Empire Stores development in DUMBO.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Test Header

This fixture is called a test header. It's used to test the water flow in a building's fire sprinkler system. This one is located on the back of a Home Depot in Gowanus.

Friday, March 31, 2017


A 1970's era Itasca motorhome. At first I thought it was 'Xtasca' because of the funky '70s font, but it's 'Itasca,' a division of Winnebago. This RV is a mystery to me. It's in my neighborhood, and has been parked in the same spot for the near-three years I've lived here without being ticketed or towed. It is right by a big church, so maybe it belongs to them and the local cops know and so leave it alone? But that church has a huge parking lot, so why wouldn't it be parked in there? Strange.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Big Door, Little Door

Old loading dock door in Times Square, on W. 41st St., between 7th and 8th Ave.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Plaza Bear

A giant stuffed bear-doorman outside one of the shops at the Plaza Hotel. I'm not sure what the story of the bear is. Is it a character from the Eloise books, which are set in the Plaza, or just something fun?

Monday, February 27, 2017


Vespa in DUMBO. I always see this bike parked at the same spot on Water St., and it always has a parking ticket.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017