Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The First Leaf Falls...

Although it is not quite September yet, already the autumn breeze blows in. This morning, before work, I sat by the window and watched an amazing flock of birds flying in spiraling cloud formations. They made their swoops and dives during a minor reprieve from the gusts of wind and heavy rain. I imagine that after the storms pass, they will soon begin their migration south.

Already, the leaves are changing. It is a subtle thing. The greens aren't quite as green as they once were - they are seemingly more dull and less vibrant. Already, autumn rolls in.

I am looking forward to it. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons and I truly enjoy it here in New York. I associate so many positive experiences with this season. It's simple things that really enchant me.

- The first taste of freshly pressed apple cider in the Green Market in Union Square.

- Sitting in Central Park as the leaves swirl down from the canopy and fall gracefully to the color-laden ground.

- The fact that my birthday is in Autumn and each year I feel a little bit older and a little wiser.

- Seeing the electric blue of the sky against the city skyline of Manhattan from a rooftop in Brooklyn.

- Feeling the cool breezes brush against the warmth of your skin in Battery Park.

- Walking down Fifth Avenue and window-shopping all the new Fall Fashions.

- Hot chocolate season begins!

- School starts during this season and with its arrival comes the potential to learn new things and meet new people.

And the Tent Goes Up...

Since I've been working in Bryant Park, I've been privy to certain events and stages of events that I normally wouldn't be involved with. Before now, I hardly ever ventured north of 23rd Street unless it was a special occasion. Now I come up almost every day!

Today they started building the tent for Fashion Week. I was surprised that they were able to begin work since it has been raining pretty much non-stop. But they were out in the rain, cranes and all. I've gone to various Fashion Week events in the past, however, I never was in midtown to see them erect the bones of the beast! It's interesting to be apart of these behind the scenes phases.

Since I've been watching Project Runway, it'll especially be interesting this year to be involved with Fashion Week. Perhaps I can bring Tim Gunn and the designers some coffee!

Art Supply Sale...

Sheila had a really great idea about selling off the art supplies that she no longer used on eBay. So I decided to attempt to do the same. It's a good idea on so many different levels. For one, we clear out and get rid of stuff we no longer use (for example: neither of us paint with oils anymore and we have quite a few). Secondly, it'll enable those who don't want or can't spend a fortune on art supplies to get them at a discounted price. Thirdly, it'll make us some extra cash. Both of us work a lot, but a little padding to our incomes would be GREATLY appreciated and is much needed.

Hopefully this will work out and will be a success for everyone involved.

So here are the links to our eBay auctions:



  • Oil Paint: Winsor Newton, Holbein, and Daler-Rowney

  • Oil Paints: Winsor Newton, Grumbacher, Holbein, Reeves)
  • Monday, August 28, 2006

    Dead Batteries...

    It rained today and it rained yesterday. I feel bad for the DesignStar competitors. They had to work out in the nasty weather!

    Here is the link to their site: http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/dc_design_star_2006

    The actual finale doesn't air until September 10th.

    I was going to take pictures of the last two rooms, but the batteries in my camera were dead. Also, I think they were stopping folks from taking any pictures that might be leaked out.

    Here is what I gathered: The finalist David's room was a stylish, Asian-inspired, modern bedroom. Alice's room was a shared children's bedroom. I liked the former MUCH better. The lines were clean, he incorporated lots of different textures, and gave the room a real elegant and sophisticated personality. It had beautiful pieces and it looked expensive. Alice's room left a little bit to be desired. If she decided to do this room on purpose, I think she failed horribly. My biggest problem begins with a common ideological dilemma with rooms designed for children. Most are designed so that they become a cliche stereotype. If you put lots of bright colors and bad, poorly done art on the walls and repurposed furniture, then it becomes a children's room. It lacked any kind of depth and all of it looked cheap. I could tell that some of the pieces were indeed expensive, HOWEVER, the combination made the room look tacky and filmsy. A lot of the final touches looked like after-thoughts in her room. David's room had these really cool planter boxes filled with riverstone rocks and glass, and two of them were positioned inside the glass room and two of them were put outside and in such a way that it looked as though it was either two giant boxes, or that there was a mirrored effect. Either way, it looked really thought out and GOOD. In Alice's room, she slapped down two baroque potted plants that didn't go with the room.

    I hope that David wins. I haven't seen the show and don't know anything about the folks on it, but on design alone... I definitely know how I'd cast my vote.

    Sunday, August 27, 2006

    A Little Too Much Information...

    Due to someone going on vacation at the Tribeca store, I was asked to fill in. I was really excited about the opportunity since I've been in the park since I started back and the format is a bit different. I prefer a setting in which you can get to know the customers a little bit better.

    The L train was down again today! It made getting to Tribeca very difficult. The directions that were given to me were a little less than stellar as well, so it made it a bit hard to find. Eventually though I made it over and started working. It reminded me of the old store that I used to work at and made me miss it quite a bit. (The old store is now a luxury condo building.)

    A woman came in with her son, who was maybe a year and a half old. She was blonde and her son had BRIGHT red hair. Fire engine red. We were chatting about various things, mostly about taking care of a small child and I commented on her son's hair, saying, "Does the red hair run on your side? The daddy must have red hair." She said, "No. No. Well... yes, actually he does." I didn't really know she meant and gave her a slightly confused look. The first thing that jumped into my mind was that maybe her husband shaved his head or dyed his hair. But she went on to explain saying, "Yeah, I had an affair and my lover had bright red hair like my son."

    My jaw dropped a little and my eyes got wide.

    At that moment, the door of the restaurant swung open and a balding man with dark brown hair came in. The woman looked at me, raised a finger to her lips and made a "hush" signal, and then winked at me. Apparently the man was her husband. My eyes just got bigger and I found I couldn't really look at him directly in the face. She then went on to say, "I was just telling this nice young man about how my Granny had the most beautiful red hair." The customer winked at me again.

    I don't know what it is, but people seem to want to confess all their darkest secrets to me. I think it's very flattering that this stranger decided to include me in her circle of confidants, but it was an extremely awkward position. It was definitely a smile and nod sort of situation.

    Saturday, August 26, 2006

    Design Star...

    After a harrowing detour of three different trains (the L train is down), I noticed an addition of two glass houses to the park when I finally came in. Apparently they are filming the final challenge for a show called DesignStar on HGTV. It looks like a show that I would probably watch if I had cable. From the few previews I saw, it appears to be pretty good. I absolutely adore home improvement shows, and I am very fond of the reality tv format.

    I snapped a couple of photos of them installing the flooring of the little rooms. It shall be interesting to see what they pull together. I feel bad for them though, as the weather is turning and it'll probably be rainy all weekend long.

    In other news, Sheila is supposed to be returning from Rockville this afternoon.

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    Illustration Friday: Run

    She could claim that she ran from monsters and fiends, but instead she ran onwards, towards the future. Albeit an uncertain future, it was a future nonetheless.

    This week, I drew from several different sources of inspiration. You can see some influences from early Picasso, to Eskimo print-making. I started off building up the background in a band of vertical stripes. Then I drew and painted the central figure, which was later collaged on top of the background that had different colored washes. Afterwards, the twisting shadows and shades were drawn and cut out and they too were incorporated. When the piece was dry, I added some shading with charcoal and some different textural elements with opaque resin.

    Wednesday, August 23, 2006


    I have been focused on my work and not much else. The new series is coming along and I am happy with the progression.

    Earlier today, I was in a strange mood. I felt a sudden anxiety and mild panic. All I could think about was how I wasn't on the right track. It was like I was making all this work and doing my day-job and it all just wasn't meeting up. I felt tired and worn down and like it would only continue to be this way. I reached out for a sign.

    I decided to walk to work. The walk, for me, is a relaxing one and forces me to take time to think. My heart and mind kept reaching out for something. Anything to hold on to. I ended up getting to work a little bit early. I got ready and started to help make the qued drinks. I turned around and saw my friend Nate ordering coffee.

    It was such a nice surprise to see him! I shouted his name and ran out of the kiosk and gave him a big hug. Arnoldo, his partner came around and we all made plans to get together. It's been such a long time since I've seen them. The last time I saw them was my going away/birthday party last year.

    The chance meeting was just what I needed. It was an injection of mirth that I had needed. That and perhaps I will show the new work in Arnoldo's restaurant. It has been about two years since I showed there. It's funny, because had I took the train to work, I would have gotten there ten or fifteen minutes later and would have missed Nate and Arnoldo completely.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Illustration Friday: Match

    For this week's theme, I wanted to do something much more simple and direct. Visually there are a lot fewer elements, so I wanted to focus on the subtle things like texture. I built up a surface of plaster and charcoal and then collaged the central figure of the match. I then took gesso and absorbant ground and created the matching shapes. The shapes remind me of that game small children play with different shaped blocks where they have to try and find a matching hole to put them in. Afterwards I did scratchy drawings with graphite and then covered them with white. I alternated between washes and pencil strokes, broke pieces of charcoal, and even actual matchestick heads.

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Across the Bridge...

    Today Sheila left with Laura Belkin. She's going to be down there to work a bit before her job starts to raise some cash. It's funny how even though we live together, I hardly see her. Part of me really likes having the apartment to myself and the other part of me misses having someone to come home to. It reminds me of the days when I lived all alone in a little apartment on the 14th floor, seemingly floating in a bubble of isolation.

    Earlier this evening, I walked home from work. I got a bit turned around and I was so much in my thoughts that I ended up in Battery Park before I realized that I had missed my bridge by like 20 or 30 blocks. I thought that the walk would only be a mile or two, but it turns out to be seven. I like it a lot and will do it as often as I can.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006


    Yesterday, Sheila sent in her resume to a gallery in Brooklyn. It's funny because she was looking on Craig's List and was like, "Hey Andrew, do you know about a gallery called, 'Swallow...'" and I cut her off with a "YES!" I don't have many bookmarks, but I showed her the one I had to the gallery. Earlier in the year, I had bought a present for Cynthia of a cast iron wing box from the gallery. Funny how things come full-circle.

    In any event, she went in for an interview and got the job! It sounds like a really great opportunity and it seems perfectly tailored to Sheila's strengths and recent professional experiences.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006


    On our walk back to the apartment from the bridge, Laura Belkin, Sheila and I found a bus stop where the advertisement had fallen out and had a little fun posing in front of it. We took some really dramatically lit silhouette photos!

    Walking and Shopping (a.k.a. the Pack-O-Fun Gang)...

    Today Laura Belkin came to visit Sheila and I. She had went down to Asheville not too long ago and had taken with her, in her SUV, some of Sheila's stuff. She and her mother also embarked on a mission of retro-fitting our apartment with all that was missing. So it was very much like Christmas! Lots and lots of much needed presents.

    After we had gotten everything in order, we had decided to go for a walk. We didn't really have a plan of where we were going, just that we were going to go for a walk. Half way down the block, we discovered an old dresser which I removed the hardware and put in a basket I found next to the dresser. Laura found a computer screen. Another block and we found a table, which Sheila and I snatched up! It needs a little love, but it's beautiful and perfect for our apartment.

    The rest of the night we had a new purpose: Find treasure in the curb-side trash!

    We ended up finding lamps, books, tables, hinges, door pulls... all sorts of goodies. Laura Belkin even found a piece of wood which she carried with her during our walk over the Williamsburg bridge.


    Candice Wakumoto, an amazing jewelry artist, and I have been writing to one another for the past year. She asked me when my birthday was and I wrote back when it was. She sent me a horoscope from a local paper there, which just happened to be the one that Sheila had shown me earlier! The very same that I posted to this blog.

    Could the Fates wave it in my face and hammer the message home a little harder? I think not.

    Friday, August 18, 2006

    Determined to be Happy...

    Sheila got back from her meditation retreat today. It sounds so relaxing and so very insightful. Maybe I'll go next time when I'm not working. Later, she was checking her horoscope and read mine to me. I think it is almost disturbingly apt. Here's what it said:

    Novelist Jeanette Winterson told a TV interviewer about her mother's strongest belief: "You can be happy, or else you can be like normal people." This idea applies to you right now, Libra--maybe more than you realize. From what I can tell, you're at a crossroads in your relationship with happiness. You could go either way, and it's mostly up to you: Will you tame your urges for wild joy, repress your instincts to follow your lyrically crazy heart, and surrender to the dull insanity of the maddening crowd? Or would you prefer the scarier, more eccentric and action-packed route that will constantly push you to enlarge your capacity to feel good?

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006


    Today I haven't left the apartment. I've been working on my collages since last night when I got home from work. I'm satisfied with the work that I'm putting into my pieces. It feels good to be completely consumed with my art for a little while.

    What started out as a small series of 12 pieces, doubled into a little larger series of 24, and now they've multiplied into a series of 48 pieces. They keep growing exponentially. The floor is covered with collages! Right now, in their infant stages, there are probably a hundred layers each, already.

    I'll post some pictures once they've been completed. And in a little bit, I think I might go for a walk for a breath of fresh air.

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Monday Movie Night...

    Bryant Park hosts movie nights during the summer. Thousands of people come out to watch the big screen in the park. As it is my job to sling coffee in the park, we see much of that traffic. Tonight was no exception. I dealt with customer after customer. And now I'm exhausted.

    Luckily one of my coworkers had to go to a wedding on the weekend, and I switched with her so that I have tomorrow off. I need a break to create.

    Sunday, August 13, 2006

    View from Above...

    I was sitting at one of Sheila's windows enjoying the breeze and the view. Her room has a Manhattan skyline to look out over.

    If you sit and look at the Empire State Building, every now and then, you'll see a momentary sparkle from the observation deck. Each of those is a flash in the dark, trying to capture the cityscape below. Seeing this, I remembered a conversation I had with one of my photographer friends. He had told me that most of those flashes were from cheap disposable cameras and that most of those pictures would never come out. That probably thousands of rolls of film were wasted every year at the top of the building.

    It made me think of when I went up to the top of the Empire State Building and took my own picture with my own cheap throw-away camera and how I waited for the pictures to come back, never to see photographic evidence of my mini-adventure to the top of the world.

    Furniture Shopping NYC Style...

    I had brunch with Ope earlier today. As we were walking back to her apartment, we came across a couple moving furniture out onto the curb. The young woman asked her partner, as he was descending the stairs, how long he thought it would take for someone to pick up the table.

    I said hello and asked them if they would like me to take the table off their hands, which they happily said yes. I thanked them and Ope and I walked away - table in tow.

    As we were walking away, I overheard him saying, "So, I think that was like 15 seconds."

    So now I have a cute little Ikea table to add to our apartment which is woefully devoid of furniture.

    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    Illustration Friday: Play

    In dealing with this week's theme, I tried to come at it from several different points of view. I visualized play as the noun, such as in a theater production. I also wanted to illustrate the verb of playing. On a lesser note, I wanted to find a way to translate, playing a game and pushing play to start the movie.

    It was interesting working on this theme, because I tried to play a little myself. A lot of the drawings are more cartoonish and more childish. I used crayons and colored pencils to go back to my roots.

    Technical Bugs...

    Apparently my voicemail did one of those, save up and dump all my messages at once things. I missed about 24 different calls and received 12 different voicemails. Some of them were important. One of them was from my childhood best friend who I haven't seen in ages (who was briefly in town) and probably won't see for some time now since I missed her call. I also got all these messages from friends of mine. So all the while I was thinking that I was abandoned, they were actually trying to get in contact with me. I am so not pleased. Thanks Sprint! :-/

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Illustration Friday: Capture

    My submission is a little late due to the fact that I haven't had internet access for the past week.

    I was reading some Nabokov. In particular, Lolita. I thought that this theme went very well what was being mentally digested at the time. When I first approached the project, I thought of doing something very literal. Perhaps a little girl trapped behind prison-bars of human flesh? But the more I thought about the writing and my inspiration for the theme, it became clear to me that to do so, would weaken it. To steal a line from Reading Lolita in Tehran, Nabokov is a very "painterly writer." He often times uses leaden symbolic imagery to convey his point.

    Here is a quote from Lolita: "Let me retain for a moment that scene in all its trivial and fateful detail: hag Holmes writing out a receipt, scratching her head, pulling a drawer out of her desk, pouring change into my impatient palm, then neatly spreading a banknote over it with a bright '...and five!'; photographs of girl-children; some gaudy moth or butterfly, still alive, safely pinned to the wall ('nature study')...."

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006


    It was about two years ago that I stopped working at 'Wichcraft. I started there because the place I had been working before was cheating me out of money and was abusing me as an employee (also silently killing me, but that's another story). So, I worked at 'Wichcraft and did my art on the side. They were good to me there and I enjoyed the people that I came in contact with.

    Eventually I was making a pretty good living on my paintings alone and working at 'Wichcraft became a chore. I didn't need to work there... but I stayed anyway. I stayed until I finally reached a point where I had to decide what was most important to me: working as a barista or being an artist.

    It's funny because I would hire artist assistants to help me out with my work, while I was serving sandwichs and coffee. I liked working for them that much!

    So, I ended up leaving 'Wichcraft and working on my art for awhile. I missed the people I worked with and the friends I had made in customers, but I was content that I was building my career. I eventually moved to North Carolina and spent a year there.

    When Sheila and I decided to come back, I knew that I would need to get a job to get back up on my feet. I emailed a friend from 'Wichcraft and he arranged it so that I could come back.

    Today was my first day of work. I work at the Bryant Park 'Wichcraft in the coffee hut. It was very hot today and very busy. They were having a Pokeman festival in the park, so it was crowded with children and dutiful parents chasing after their little ones. I thought that I was going to be there for only a little bit as a brief introduction, but was instead thrown into trenches. A lot of my counter skills came back to me, but this was new territory and still foreign.

    I ended up getting out of work pretty late and am very tired now. It's been a long first day. The upside is that if I continue to work here, I can cater Fashion Week and see the season finale of Project Runway live. Of course I'll be sporting the very fashionable orange shirt and white apron with my branded baseball cap, but it'll still be fun. I'll try to get the models to eat a bunch of cookies.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006


    After only a few hours of sleep, Sheila and I got up early to start unpacking the car. We had to return the rental before noon. At first, we attempted to do a tag-team technique. One of us would run up the stairs with a load and the other would unpack the car a little more. This was slow going.

    We decided that we wouldn't be able to finish at that rate. So we moved everything out of the car and out onto the sidewalk. Then we moved everything into the hallway and entry of our building just in case it rained. Once we emptied out the SUV, we then took additional loads up the stairs.

    Sheila had to take the car back and I was left with a small mountain of stuff piled in the hallway. Luckily my friend Ope came over and helped me. We were a good team. Very fast. Very efficient. I pretended to get my third or fourth wind, so I wouldn't look bad in front of Ope, lifting the heaviest of the boxes as quickly as possible.

    After we finished, both Ope and I collapsed on the box-strewn floor and rested. We talked about old times and about our new plans. I've missed her quite a bit.

    Now it's all a matter of unpacking the boxes and sorting through a life stored away.


    Yesterday, Sheila and I packed up the rental SUV and made our way up to New York. I don't think that we could have packed the vehicle as fast or as well without the help of our friend, TJ. Even with his help, I had a heavy bucket in my lap and my legs in a yoga position to fit as much of our stuff in the rental as possible.

    Most of the trip flew by the window, blurs in a sit-still-motion.

    We made pretty good time until we got to the New Jersey Turnpike and Staten Island. A few of the exits were closed as well as some of the bridges. We ended up taking a detour all around Woodbridge and Perth, which is home to 3% Sale Tax as their welcome sign proudly displays.

    With all the delays, we got in around 4:30 AM. We quickly untethered our foam mattress beds and went fast to sleep.

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    Eleventh Hour...

    Thursday evening, I returned to Asheville to pack up the last of my things. The process has been very humbling and these past few days have been a rollercoaster of emotions. A lot of problems that were left hanging in the air were resolved and I think we're all happier for it. I know I am. I can leave Asheville knowing that my year was truly rewarding and worthwhile.

    It's early in the morning and Sheila is about to get the rental car. I'm not quite yet finished with my packing, but shall be done very soon. Yes, the garbage bag with large sweeping motions technique will be utilized.

    Off I go, to do just that.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Illustration Friday: Clean

    Since I've been in New York, I really haven't had a chance to work on this particular theme. Too busy apartment hunting and without my own supplies. Imagine: a collage artist without a pair of scissors or a bottle of glue!

    So this is new territory for me.

    In dealing with this theme, I wanted to use iconographic images associated with being clean. I think in our culture today, we are surrounded constantly by logos and company branding. The Pop artists were influenced by this, but with our lives so interconnected to the Internet and the instant gratification it provides, it seem as though it's even more pertinent now than ever. I've tried to incorporated some of these images. I also wanted to give a sense of ritual and repetition. I attempted to convey that with the word, "clean" written in rote fashion. The other thing that I tried to show was that cleanliness is often times a subjective state. The idea of clean is a contrast to dirty. If there was no dirty, there would be no clean, and vice versa.

    Without fail, there's always a speck of dust or a crumble that was missed.

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Stories from the City...

    Today, I signed the lease for our new apartment! It's in East Williamsburg and not too far from where I used to live. The neighborhood is great. It's up and coming and the bodega on the corner carries my favorite gourmet cookies! Right next door is a community garden and across the street is a playground. It's a five flight walk up, but it's got great views. It's fairly big and is completely empty, which makes it the perfect blank canvas.