“I was a man on a mission.” No, no I wasn’t, I really had no plan to my day, just aimlessly following my nose. I always end up on Valencia Street though, wherever I happen to be. Despite running parallel just a block or so over, it’s quite enormously different from Mission Street. I’m not sure of the history, but I believe that when the hipsters first arrived in America as refugees from the terrible Third Fashion War they set up a safe enclave here, where they could wear ironic hats and ‘shave’ and live free to worship organic coffee without fear of percolation. I do love Valencia though, it is full of little stores packed with kitsch nonsense nobody in their right mind would ever need to buy (but then I feel that way about Target). It certainly has cool bookstores, and as a devout bookstore lover I feel right at home there. This is one place I always stop at, Dog-Eared Books, on the corner of Valencia and 20th. There is so much to find in here, and they are well aware of the importance of a bookstore – scrolling through lists of ebook suggestions on your Kindle or iPad is nowhere near as good for your soul as being physically surrounded in real, tangible books, books to surprise you, to pique your interest, to capture you forever. I completely lost myself in libraries and bookshops for years of my life. Dog-Eared is decorated on the outside with painitings of books, and in the window they have an eye-catching display of hand-drawn obituaries of well-known people who have died recently. I’ve meant to draw this bookstore for a while. I stood outside for an amazingly brief 35 minutes, doing all the linework in explosive speed while stood by a parking meter, and added the colour later on (it was starting to get cold).
the obituaries window at dog-eared books
Dog-Eared Books was the last sketch I did on my sketching day in the City. I hadn’t intended it to be, I had wanted to close out the last pages of Moleskine 11, but when you’re done you’re done, and I left it on a high. I popped by the excellent Mission Comics for a while for a mooch, picking up a Thanos comic to read on the train home. They had in their rear gallery an exhibit of art called “Batman on Robin”, and yes it was exactly what you are imagining, and a lot more than that too. ‘Graphic’ is putting it mildy. I finished up in the Mission with, of course, a burrito – but this one was different. It was a chicken tikka masala burrito. I will say that again in case you didn’t quite catch the importance of that statement. It was a Chicken Tikka Masala Burrito. Je ne vous merde pas, as they say. What a combination; for me, that’s like going to the San Francisco Giants stadium and watching Tottenham beat Arsenal. It was at a place on Valencia (where else) called “Curry Up Now”, and oh yeah, baby. And so that was it. I considered going to North Beach for a beer and a sketch at Vesuvio’s or Spec’s, but forgot that this was the day of the big Chinese New Year parade; we had gotten caught trying to get up that stretch of Columbus on the same day last year and it was rather difficult to say the least. So I just went home. My feet were weary enough.
Powell’s City of Books in Portland is one of the most well known bookstores in America. It covers a whole block downtown, and I went in there on my first night in Portland and nearly never came out again. Books books books, everything you could think of, I was lost in a literary world (well, in my case more of the non-fiction world, and specifically the language section) as soon as I walked through the door. It’s the sort of place I would probably have spent every day of my teenage years (by the way, I spent almost every day of my teeneage years in bookshops, whenever at all possible). The map of the store is incredible, but in my case I still got hopelessly lost. I just kept seeing things I wanted to read. when I reached the section on languages and found the books on philology I nearly started crying. There were titles I have never seen in a bookshop, just sitting there on a shelf in front of me, saying “Go on, Pete, you know you want to spend the rest of the evening reading about Old English and its Closest Relatives”. I didn’t give into book-buying temptation (mostly because I didn’t want to carry loads of books to the pub with me), so I got a Powell’s pint glass and a couple of t-shirts instead. I did find myself getting sucked into their Star Wars section, got a little sidetracked looking through the maps and travel books, and I passed a good deal of time in their zine and small-press section too. I came back on my last day there to sketch the outside, but ended up getting sucked back in and wandering about its colour-coded sections like a mouse in a cheese shop.
This is the Avid Reader bookstore on 2nd Street in Davis. I used to work here, as the bookkeeper, for a couple of years after I first moved to Davis. It’s a real community anchor, and holds lots of events such as author signings and book clubs, and tonight it will be where I will display my sketchbooks and prints as part of the 2nd Friday ArtAbout. I’ll be there between 5-ish and 7-ish, there will be refreshments, and I will even be drawing stuff as well. I drew this one lunchtime this week, and finished it off this morning (it’s 11-11-11, and I have a day off! Staying in, framing pictures, listening to history and football podcasts and oasis, emptying dishwasher, eating noodles – it’s cold out). Anyway, I hope to see you at the bookstore tonight! My prints will be up until December 6th.
Mark your diaries! It’s eleven-eleven-eleven next week, whichever date system you use. If you’re in Davis, it’s the 2nd Friday Art About, an evening of art events downtown with music, food, activities and of course lots of art. And (for the second time this year!) I will be exhibiting some sketchbooks and prints at the Avid Reader bookstore on 2nd St. The prints will be exhibited until Dec 6, while the reception on the 11th will be from about 5:30 to 7:00 (after that there is some author event, not sure what). I will be sketching live (a ‘sketching demo’ I guess – code for, ‘i’ll be sketching anyway!’), and there will be sandwiches and wine. If you can’t make it, the sketchbooks will be at the Davis public library until the end of the month, and the prints will be at the Avid Reader. But there will also be an event at the Pence Gallery in December…
See you there!
Did this almost a month ago (#catchingupwithallmyscanningtakesforever). I sat in the warmth (and it was warmth not heat, there is a big difference, and I hate that living in Davis means you think 90 degrees isn’t that hot) outside the UCD bookstore, which is where I buy most of my art materials, interestingly enough. Seemed a good place to sit and paint in primary colours. As I did, a summer student came and asked me lots of questions about wine for some survey he was doing. He was from Japan. I told him I was British, and he said, ah yes, Britain is a famous wine producer! No, not really, I said (I doubted he was very far into his enology course to think so). We make good trifle though. Completely unrelated but thought I should point it out. He even wrote it down.
Moo. Sorry, I mean MU; cowtown is getting in my head. This the MU (Memorial Union), a kind of equivalent to our student unions in England, but notably without any naked drunk rugby players. I don’t know what it is memorising. And this is where I get my art materials, there in the UCD bookstore. All my microns, copics, what-not. I hang about in there looking at them, they must think I obsess (well I do). When I was a kid I would go into Tonibell’s (local burnt oak sweetshop, long gone) and stand there for about half an hour, trying to decide between a Mars or a Marathon. I haven’t changed, only now it’s between a purple Micron 005 or a cobalt Copic 03 (and sometimes between a Milky Way or a Snickers).
After drawing this (in high heat) I bumped into fellow cycling sketcher Pica, who had just bought art materials at this very store. I also bumped into a fellow Spurs fan from London, which was cool. Small world.