Continuing my series of sketches showing the Ann E Pitzer Center going up on the site of the old Boiler Building. Two different angles a week apart, you can see that the front frames have gone up now, rising like a musical crescendo (is that the word? I don’t do musical terms). Exciting work this summer…
Another Egghead, this one is called “Bookhead”, by Robert Arneson (1991). It is located outside the Shields Library at UC Davis. There is a legend that students touch it for good luck. Really. I think that is one of those things that people just say, and then people do because people just say, “it’s a tradition”. It’s one of those things that people say because there are no other interesting stories to tell about it. Yes, I know this old trope, I used to be a tour guide too. “Legend has it the lions in Trafalgar Square will get up and dance if Big Ben strikes thirteen,” that sort of thing. Nonsense with no evidence at all. Or “Charles Dickens used to drink here, even the plaque outside says so,” when he may have popped in for a pint on his way to his next bar; he drank in pretty much every pub in London, it’s amazing he wrote any books at all. Ok, so here’s what I would like someone at UC Davis to do. Have someone stand next to this Egghead and every time someone touches it for luck, have them give their name, and then have them come back with their mid-term results or final term grades, perhaps include their grades prior to touching the Egghead for a comparison, and then do some sort of statistical analysis to see whether touching the Egghead gave them any particular advantage over those who did not, or if it signaled a shift in their general academic progress, and maybe have them indicate if they had won any competitions or survived an accident, or if they had bad luck, like, well the opposite of those things. Then perhaps we will know the truth. In the meantime I am willing to hazard a guess that it does not give any magical gift of luck, and I might even have a sign posted next to it warning people that touching it will not give any guarantee of an upturn in your fortunes, and that UC Davis is not held responsible should your luck be not quite as good as you expected. In fact, just move the whole thing completely, put it somewhere else, on the roof maybe , somewhere nobody will be able to touch it. Then there could be a story behind it, “too many students were using ‘Luck’ to affect their grades that the UC Regents voted to have it moved to ensure academic integrity”.
Or perhaps tour guides could just not mention this obviously misleading legend at all, let it die a death, and perhaps use this opportunity to tell perhaps the most appropriate joke there is to tell when faced with a big egg in a book. What did the chicken say in the library? “Book-book-book-book…”
No? Alright, keep telling the silly ‘good luck’ story. Doesn’t make it true.
The Shrem Museum of Art (under construction) now has some walls, covering the skeletal framework that has been going up these past few months. This building is bigger than the Pitzer Center (the new Music Recital Hall whose construction I am also sketching, see previous posts) but it also had a head start – but the race is on! Which will be finished first? It’s exciting. It’s exciting because it means more ART and MUSIC. More Sciences are great, UC Davis is cutting edge in so many fields but we are also great at art. I’m not talking about me and my little drawings of things, but the bigger art world of Davis and UC Davis, which is substantial and world-renowned, encompassing not only fine art and music but also the dramatic arts. I sketched the scene above on an overcast day earlier this week, meaning I didn’t have to find some shade and could sketch the front without getting too hot in the sun. The lamp-post in the foreground carries the image of Maria Manetti Shrem and Jan Shrem, the donors for whom this museum is named. Wait hang on, an OVERCAST DAY IN DAVIS IN AUGUST? I never thought it would happen again (and unlike last week, it was overcast with clouds and not smoke from all the wildfires, though that was probably mixed in). Yes, actual clouds. For those of you who live in Davis and aren’t sure what clouds are, them being so rare here, they are made up of moisture and float in the sky. Moisture, for those of us in Davis who aren’t sure what that is, it’s made of water. Again, for those not sure what water is, it’s what happens when – look I can’t keep this up. It’s a long-winded way of saying this unending drought we are having in California seems to have no end in sight, so to see actual clouds is encouraging. Last night it even rained a few heavy glops, though it all seemed to evaporate upon impact. We’ll take what we can get in this state.
I did sketch the side of the Shrem museum last week on a far hotter and sunnier day. I found the shade of a tree and listened to the X-Men podcast “Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men”. I have mentioned it before. It’s a really great podcast going through the history of the X-line of Marvel Comics, the “ins, outs and retcons of your favourite superhero soap opera.” Since I started listening to the show certain phrases they like to use have become stuck in my head, such as “Angry Claremontian Narrator” (the voice used by Chris Claremont when narrating comic panels, often berating the characters), “Ah’m Nigh Invulnerable When Blastin'”, a phrase uttered by Cannonball (Sam Guthrie), “The Eternal Moppets of the Marvel Universe”, a reference to two mutants who never seem to age beyond childhood, and “Charles Xavier is a Dick”. If you’re not listening to it, even if you are not an X-Men fan, even if you don’t listen to podcasts or human voices or read anything, I still highly recommend it. Here’s their website. Anyway back to the sketch: so yeah, the Shrem Museum of Art, under construction still.
Previously on ‘Constructing the Shrem’:
To be continued!
The Pitzer Center, which is the new Music Recital Hall, still under construction on the UC Davis campus. I wanted to sketch from this angle, on the corner of Hutchison and Cushing; you may remember that I recently sketched the initial stages of construction. To be continued…
Last month I decided to get out one evening to downtown Davis and sketch. I haven’t sketched in the G St Wunderbar for a few years so I wanted to give it another go. It wasn’t very busy (because it was early), and I sipped a beer at the back of the bar and ran down the black Pitt pen I’d bought in Aix (I don’t use them very often, the nibs wear down too much after like one or two drawings), but I wanted to do some crosshatching, and play with sketching light in dark interiors. I’d thought about sketching the room at the other side of the bar, full of pool tables, but there’s never a good vantage point for an urban bar sketcher, so I stuck to the main bar which had plenty of table space. “G St Wunderbar”… I first sketched this view when it was the plain old G St Pub. There it is on the right, a sketch from six years ago; I even sat in the same seat.
As I drew, it got later (funny how that happens) and more people started coming in. The music started getting louder and more dancier, and the people younger (funny how that happens), and so rather than stretch this to a panorama, I called it an evening and went home for a cup of tea. Another one for the ‘then-and-now’ section of the bar sketch series.
We interrupt the London sketches (actually I am off to France in the next batch) to bring you an update on the construction of the new Shrem Art Museum at UC Davis. But first, the weather. It is bloody hot. A hundred and six they say today, but it’ll be more, knowing Davis. July in the Central Valley. The Shrem Art Museum has been under construction for a few months now and I first did a sketch of its progress back in February. I did a couple more sketches in April from the side, and this week did an updated sketch while standing in the shade of the Mondavi Center on a hundred degree day. In short, it is coming along nicely. It reminded me that I need to get over to the former location of the Boiler Building, where at last construction has begun on the new Music Recital Hall. If this heat calms down a bit I might get over there next week. The sketches below were done in the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook #2, while the one above was done in the Stillman and Birn Alpha landscape book #2.
The corner of 4th and G Streets, Davis. “Scuse me mate, you’re in the way. Scuse me! Mate! Oi, Mate! Can you move a sec, I’m drawing? Mate do you have to stand right there? Mate you’ve been there for ages, just move along a little? Are you listening? Mate can you move?” I said over and over, but he didn’t move, he just stood there, like a statue. Well he wasn’t a statue, he was a sculpture. I didn’t really say any of that, not aloud anyway. This is one of the many pieces of urban art you can find dotted around downtown Davis, and since I was drawing this corner, with that funky looking wooden building next to where Little Prague used to be, I decided it would be more interesting to add him in. I think it’s a him. He’s lovely, covered in colourful mosaic-y bits. I’m all into that. He’s located next to Jack in the Box, which may possibly be the worst fast food chain restaurant in Davis. By the way if it were a real person standing there I wouldn’t be yelling at them to move. I would just move slightly myself, or draw them (but I’d prefer to move, as you know I don’t like drawing real people). The thing about drawing on location is that people and vehicles tend to move around, and if you’re drawing the permanent things then it’s not really a big deal. You can always look around them, fill in the gaps. This isn’t possible when drawing from a photo. In this sketch, the sculpture allowed me a sense of depth, a sense largely absent from my own thought processes (which mostly consisted of me pretending to yell “oi mate, can you move?” to an unmoveable piece of public art I have chosen to stand behind). Sunday afternoon in Davis, it doesn’t get better than this.