I try to make it to at least one free play in Central Park every summer, and this year I decided to join some friends to check out New York Classical Theater‘s plein-air production of Moliere’s super-entertaining 17th century Vaudevillian slapstick classic TheSchool for husbands. Central Park becomes both stage and auditorium for these productions, and the audience follows the actors as they move from scene to scene, and sometimes the action simultaneously takes place in front of and behind the spectators. This is a neat way of keeping everyone engaged, though at an hour it is a mighty quick and high energy production anyway. The following illustrations were all done on location.
Despite thunderstorms earlier that day I found myself seated in the heart of Times Square to attend the premiere of Mad Men season four, an hour ahead of the rest of the country. I was later upgraded from puddle-seat to VIP area (admittedly way comfier than the wet bleachers (thank you V!). The majority of the drawings were done during the pre-show costume contest, and my personal highlight was seeing the “falling man” intro of the show at the bottom of Times Square signage canyon.
The gorgeous 2011 Studio 1482 calendars have just arrived from the printer, and sandwiched between some unusual drawings by yours truly you can let artwork by my fellow Studio 1482 artists accompany you through 2011! To order, please visit the Studio 1482 website today!
Here are a few more recent drawings from the rehearsals of the New York Repertory Orchestra. I used a quill pen and a reed pen with india ink for these, and I am really happy with how these came out. They really capture the feeling of the music and the atmosphere in the church and in my heart that evening.
The first one is of the cello section, which includes the classically beautiful first cello, the old-school “godfather” second cello, as well as the my collegue, whom I usually do not draw for fear of making him feel self-conscious. I adore the sound of celli, perhaps because their pitch is so close to that of the human voice. This last drawing is of the “papa” of the cello section again, his gorgeous face merging with that of his precious instrument…
On a recent trip to California I stayed in a classic Old Hollywood haunt called the Culver City Hotel, an idiosyncratic red brick wedge of a building that towers over the diminuitive Epcotesque Art Deco buildings around it. The hotel lobby greets visitors with august, dark-wooded, faux-Patrician charm complete with piano bar, wooden globe, and enormous furniture, next to which the tiny check-in desk disappears almost completely. I made a few drawings at the farmer’s market, which is held right next door to the hotel, between the mansion from Gone with the Wind (really!) and a Trader Joe’s supermarket, and saw what I am reasonably certain are real hippies, which excited the anthropologist in me quite a bit. I also bought some unbelievably tasty organic apricots there.
Many years ago, decked out in yellow jeans, matching yellow leather tie, and convinced of my sartorial and general superiority, my twelve-year-old self headed to the Olympic stadium in Munich for my first live concert, the band Queen. A few sweaty hours later I was converted to the enduring love of my life: Music (preferably from inside the most intense depths of the pit, not seated and removed from the action). I have attended many hundreds of shows since that first one, often in hopes of having my dented faith in humanity restored, and almost as often finding something lovely to inspire me. Over the years my palate has grown more tolerant, and I am likelier to find a performance tolerable (though less likely to be impressed by it).
A few months ago I attended a shantie music festival at a sleepy New England town. Though that wouldn’t normally be my first choice (my taste usually tends to the more extreme and “high energy” end of the spectrum) I was delighted to find myself surrounded by the jokey and the romantically absurd, which is very much my taste.
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“1791”, named for the year of the Haitian Revolution, which resulted in the abolishment of slavery. This is an ink painting on paper, done with pen and brush. Hand-signed prints of this piece are available for donations of $50 or more to CARE. Please visit our blog Onedrawingaday for more information on how to participate in this fundraiser.
All three images in this post were created for a book about a man who was born a slave on an 18th century plantation in Haiti who grew up to become one of the most admired citizens of the new world. (age 7 and up, fully illustrated). For more information on this project please contact me at email@example.com
above: “Haircare for ladies”, below: “George Washington’s inauguration”, both from “The barber of New York” by K. Nawrocki, copyright 2010 by K. Nawrocki
Summer is now upon us, and that means the joys of iced coffee, kids shrieking in the spray of fire hydrant fountains, and of course the pied-piper melodies of the ice cream truck. Toward the evening, when the heat comes as much from the pavement as from the sky, the humid air vibrates with reggaeton beats (this latinized jamaican rhythm being the perfect soundtrack for this meltingpottest of cities) until about 3am (or until it rains). Kids loiter downstairs, setting off fire crackers in preparation of the spectacles around july 4th (vertical only if you are lucky and followed, inevitably, by the sound of sirens). Tv is suddenly crappy, the better stuff having been wrapped up for now (in excruciating cliffhangers or luke-warm open ends), promising pleasures on the other side of summer or until the release of the dvd box set.
But Summer is also something else, something I could never have dreamed when I was a little girl growing up in the heart of europe– It is a diamond, a leather sphere, a stick, some plates, and… well, time. Lots of time. Summer time, which flows at a different pace than, say, marathon season or holiday madness. A time that has room for parades and picnics and– Baseball.
Baseball is not a game I grew up with– it was so American (and thus, deliciously foreign). I discovered this game of instant nostalgia once I’d decided to do some research into the soul of America (I also sought to understand American humor–which, it turned out, was a tree with many branches, some of them hanging lower than others). It immediately caught my eye with its old fashioned-looking uniforms (pinstripes and stirrups anyone?) and its leisurely pace, a game as slow as summer. I found the colorful lingo and superstitions infinitely more alluring than any football-confusion of helmets and shoulderpads or tangled mess of legs and nets could ever be.
After learning some history with the help of Ken Burns and watching people play in the park (Bad News Bears style), I felt I was ready to go to my first real game, and decided that if I was gonna go, I might as well do it right, and make it a Subway series game (Yankees @ Mets)…
Shea stadium’s sprawling 80ies ugliness disppointed me a little, but I was soon excitely drawing the face-painted mobs; some were torturing effigies of the enemy’s most feared players, banging on cowbells, while others blocked my view with their more comical than menacing drunkesn, sunburned embraces, and for once the ladies’ room was empty, while the line to the men’s room went on forever…
I ate my first hot dog at that game (it was edible but overpriced), and because it was too much fun watching the vendors toss their wares into the crowd, I also had a box of crackerjacks, pretzels, a soda, cotton candy, and a plastic souvenir-cup full of beer. Needless to say I had to recover a little after the game, which ended up being moderately disappointing for someone rooting for the underdog (5:0 yankees).
That weekend, I followed up with a visit to the Bronx, where the Mets were trying (unsuccessfully) to even the score with their cross-town rivals; Yankee stadium with its cake-icing bleachers and steep seating immediately appealed more to me than Shea, and I was torn between bearing reference by drawing and becoming one with the deafening roars erupting around me; in the end, i put away my drawing pad, and joined the crowd, defeated by the sheer momentum of the moment.
Though this was years ago, I still have the plastic mug from the first game, and try to go to a few games every season, though still more for the experience than the actual game. I will sorely miss the old Yankee stadium (Shea, not so much). And if any New York team ever wins the World series again, you will find me at the parade, not drawing, but cheering with the fans!
America, woven of so many colors and cultures,
with your Coca Cola,
your philosophy of “yes”–
America, my heart is yours.
But as any profound thing,
my love for you is complicated
(traiterously Un-American, this ambiguity):
While I enjoy my slice of apple pie
in this Babel of Ever-Upward,
I also worry about the self-destructive power
of this sleepwalking giant.
I hold these truths to be self-evident:
That it is better to have a flawed dream,
than no dream at all
That it is important to question the powers that be,
lest they become tyrants
That life is a crapshoot,
so you may as well put your money on the long shot.
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When I was a little girl growing up in Germany I remember staying up long past my bed time to join my mom to watch “the Reportage”, a weekly television program dedicated to stories from around the world. I loved the show because I never knew whom I was going to encounter next, yurt-dwelling nomads of the Tian Shan steppes perhaps, or maybe Andean feminists?
I remember my constant hunger for these stories, devouring them wherever I could find them: In the pages of my tattered collection of National Geographic magazines, in the nuances of schoolyard gossip, and of course there were always the stories of my well-traveled grandfather, who insisted on driving his red 1949 Porsche around town until well into his semi-blind seventies, a hat on his head, and his chow chow in the back seat, the enormous dog almost entirely blocking the back window.
Reportage IS stories. It’s tales of heightened intensity, it’s indulging in the details and embellishments that separate the gifted storyteller from the one who keeps messing up the punch-line. It can be chatty and witty and snarky and sad and uplifting and lighthearted and humane and heartbreaking, and the way you judge it is if it makes you come back for more (and more and more).
I love reportage–Can you tell? I am both an avid listener and an enthusiastic talker, and that goes for words as well as visuals.
Below are two samples of my drawings from travels around the world (for I also enjoy traveling, surprise!):
I did this drawing series in the Tuileries Garden in Paris last summer, it was very hot, and I was very happy, because I was surrounded by the most idyllically bizzarre landscape: August marble statues towering over flabby sunbathers and pigeons, battallions of geometrically shaped trees spilling green shade onto the dusty paths teeming with Parisiens and tourists who got lost on their way to the Louvre, fountains with duckling-chains at swim practice, and placed in perfectly balanced intervals, black sunflowers accenting the herbal and vegetable arrangements, and in the background (OF COURSE) the Eiffel tower…
This is a drawing from a series I did at Rockefeller Center last december; you can see the skaters crowding the miniscule rink below Prometheus delivering fire and, more importantly, the gigantic Christmas tree (both on the left).
From the first time I visited it, I’ve been in love with Rockefeller Center, this strange art deco city-within-a-city, entranced by its subterranean gold, its machine-like Rockettes, its heavy-bodied sculptures and murals, and, of course, its ever-present symbols of 1930’s modern (ie lots of gears and rays and pulleys).
During the holidays, the center turns into a zoo, a magnet for everyone who’s ever seen Miracle on 34th Street or yearns for a 1950’s style White Christmas or who (like me) loves the hustle and bustle of shoppers and the not-always-so-wholesome-looking Salvation Army bell-ringers, and just the whole atmosphere of anicipation and chaos. They decorate the center with sparkling reindeer and oversized paper maché nutcrackers and drummer boys for the holidays (seen in the foreground of the drawing). Ice skaters pay exorbitant fees and wait for hours for their fleeting turn on the ice, but you’re also likely to witness many first dates and marriage proposals there, indicators of the strange romance of the place.
The key to loving it is not to be in a hurry (if you are, you’re better off taking a six-mile detour, at least in december).
Talk to you soon, Kati
Greetings! My name is Kati, and I am a New York based artist and storyteller, and one eigths of Studio 1482, where we do everything from Illustration, Advertising and Graphic Design to Publishing, Web Design, Multimedia, Photography, Storyboards, Film/Video, Fashion, Packaging, and Sculpture (you can check us out at www.studio1482.com)
I hope you’ll enjoy reading about some of my thoughts here, and I’d love to hear from you, too, so don’t be shy. If you are interested in music, you can also visit my music blog, where I review all manner of live shows, opine about the state of music, and post drawings and photos I create on location.