Crunch Time

Our exhibition opens this week, so we're stepping up our efforts.

[This is my work space at the studio on Tin Pan Alley]

[Detail of a painting I'm working on]

[Cameron Bunce developed this photo in the darkroom]

[Krissy, an architecture student, is designing a structure that will be part of our exhibiton]

[We all walked to the lumber store to get wood for the structure that Krissy is designing]

Life on Tin Pan Alley

This weekend, we worked a lot in the studio toward finishing up our pieces for the exhibition this week. Saturday afternoon we had a critique to discuss what we saw in each other's work that needed to be improved before being finished. There are going to be a lot of pieces in the show...

[Sarah detailing my shirt]

[Caitlyn working on her piece]

We have a friend who brings food to the studio late at night pretty regularly. His name is John, and he works at Starbucks, where they serve fresh sandwiches and baked goods daily. He brings us the stuff they would otherwise have to toss - which means every couple of days we get to stock the fridge with $6 sandwiches and have Starbucks brownies to snack on. One night, he brought a lot of sandwiches and we split up to find homeless folks outside. Some of my friends and I met a lady named Estelle who was happy to have some food. We talked into the morning about all kinds of things. She was very interested in what we were doing, and she enjoyed talking about folk music too. I had my banjo, so we sang a few tunes.

[This is our friend John, who brings free food at the end of his shift at Starbucks!]

Also this weekend, I found out that our studio is on what used to be called "Tin Pan Alley". This section of street, W. 28th between 6th Ave and Broadway, was once the center of the music industry. From the late 19th century until around the Depression, this street was where many songs were written and deals were made. As it turns out, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin are among the many musicians who once worked on this street. The name comes from someone who noted while walking down the street that the sound of all the pianos was like a bunch of tin pans clanging. The music publishing business moved uptown later, and now the street doesn't show any evidence of its rich musical past.

[Firetrucks lined up to put out some flames on Tin Pan Alley this weekend]

Saturday night I worked on my painting until the morning with some friends. We saw the sun coming up as we walked back to Herald Square for bed. After sleeping all morning, I went to a church that meets in the evening.

Tonight, I met my friend Katie for Korean food. The food was cooked over little grill built into the table, where they brought hot coals. Our meal was called Samgyupsal, which was pork with many small side dishes. It was one of the more exciting culinary experiences I've had here.


At the Society of Illustrators...

On our project, we partner students with professional artists who seek to integrate their faith with their art. The idea is that everyone gets to know an artist who is working in the field they want to pursue.

This year, one of our mentors is a professor at a well known art school in the city. She has done a few art workshops with us. She has stressed the biblical ideas of excellence and purpose with our work. It has been good to get to know someone like her, because she has become respected and successful because she has not compromised what she knows to be true.

She is also a member at the Society of Illustrators. A couple of weeks ago, she asked if I would like to join her for lunch there. I don't think she expected the enthusiasm of my response. I have wanted to do that for some time, and was quite excited to have the opportunity just come up in conversation.

Friday, we met at the legendary member's only bar & lounge at the Society. Even the stairway is lined with original pieces by famous illustrators. We were treated to a stellar lunch, where there was plenty to choose from - steak, shrimp, salmon, ribs, lobster tail... (that's just the meat!) Also, there was a salad bar, fried plantains, and various vegetables. Since there was no limit, I sampled a few of the meat selections. We had good conversation, surrounded by great art - like a huge Norman Rockwell painting. I finished lunch off with pumpkin pie a la mode (one of my favorites).

[The Member's Only lunchroom]

After lunch, we rested and thumbed through some amazing old books in the Society's library. It was pretty surreal just hanging out in that place where the leaders of my field have conversed and met for decades. I didn't even have to ask for it!

Exaltation, Joyfulness, and Happiness from Korea

Since our artwork is heavily focused on collaboration, many of the students have brought in people they've met on campuses to work in the studio. Thursday, we went out to campuses to do image surveys and invite people to join the creative process with us. We all took some kind of materials which we could work with around the city. My group prepared a large piece of paper with different areas of color mixing into one another. We spread it out on a large stone surface at Columbia University, and asked people to choose a color to describe their present spiritual life. We shared markers to draw or write our thoughts on the sheet. One tourist wrote, "Exaltation, Joyfulness, Happiness. From Korea" Other people drew symbols to describe where they were or what they hoped for. We took the conversation further with some, and all were invited to our exhibition.

[At Columbia University]

I got a call the other day from a high school friend named Katie. I didn't know that she lived here, but she found out I was here and called. A couple of hours later she was at our studio. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a major in illustration, so it was good to hear her thoughts on our work. It was another unexpected pleasant surprise.

[Ice Cream with Katie]