Hart Hall has a new sign. I have sketched this building many times, so this is a bit like telling an older joke that I have told before but with a slightly new twist. I’m all for that as you know. Maybe new people heard that joke for the first time and laughed. Maybe the same people heard it again and laughed again. Maybe nobody laughed at all, either because it wasn’t funny or because they just didn’t get it? Maybe I need to tell it again and again until people do get it. Well it’s the same with drawing Hart Hall (sort of), but this time there is an added detail, the new sign, coloured in to show it off. I like these new signs on campus. It took more than three years to get our new sign and it looks nice, nicer than the old plain orange one. Hart Hall. I used to have a drama teacher called Mr. Hart, he was not a fan of my jokes let me tell you. Once he angrily stopped a performance I was doing in class, in which I played a pretty spot-on and (I felt) serious performance as a down-and-out, just because when another character asked me my name I had said it was “Freddy Reddy”. I know people called Reddy! And Treddy! Ok maybe not Freddy Reddy but it’s not an entirely inconceivable name for a real person. It’s not like “Fredo Play-doh” or something, that would be ridiculous. Honestly, he just shut the whole thing down because I said my name was Freddy Reddy, because he assumed I wasn’t being serious. Not my fault everyone laughed inappropriately, including me. Poor old Freddy Reddy. I wonder what would have happened to Freddy Reddy if his character had been allowed to grow and develop, he might have made something of himself, picked himself out of the gutter, turned the laughter into nods of respect, but alas his life was cut short by an angry drama teacher in a purple top. So when I see Hart Hall, among the many many other things I think of (I have known much better Harts since then), I do think of Mr. Hart, and of good ol’ Freddy Reddy.
Hart Hall, UC Davis. That is George Hart, not the guy who invented Morph, was named after three different body parts and who regularly asked kids all over Britain to send him drawings they would never get back for a gallery they would see only briefly. I suppose there are a lot of Harts. Miranda Hart, Joe Hart, White Hart Lane, and my old drama teacher at Edgware School, Mr Hart. Actually I used to work for a Hart called Mike who owned a bookstore, a top bloke by the way. But this is Hart Hall, a nationally recognized historic building no less. Many years ago it was called ‘Animal Sciences’ (which would be a good name for a bad 80s film) and glows a nice colour in the sunshine, though you’ll have to take my word for it, as I didn’t really fancy painting it that day. Sketched in brown uni-ball signo um-151 pen in a stillman & birn alpha book.
Here is another lunchtime sketch with my lovely brown pen. This is Hart Hall, UC Davis, one of the more historic buildings on campus. Many years ago it was the Animal Sciences Building. To me, it looks very Mediterranean, and with its cypress trees lining the entrance it reminds me of Rome, which was appropriate as I listened to an episode of the History of Rome podcast while sketching it (this sketch took about 20-25 minutes). I am getting very close to the end of that podcast series now, and I can heartily recommend it. Which one did I listen to while sketching this? The one about the Sack of Rome by Alaric and his Visigoths. There is a name for a classic album and a long-haired metal band if ever I heard one. Learning about Rome this past month or so has been very enlightening. When I first started working at UC Davis my former department chair told me that the organization of UC was modeled on the Roman Empire, and I can certainly understand what he meant. Now though, my desire to see Rome is greater than ever. You see, like Barcelona, it’s one city in Europe I have always yearned for but never actually went to, and now we live in the US it is, you know, quite a bit further away. Now though I would certainly sketch Rome a lot more than in the past, and when I think of sketching Rome I think of fellow Urban Sketcher Matthew Brehm, who travels to Rome each summer to teach location drawing to his students, check out his excellent work. As for the Rome podcast, at the time of writing Alaric is long dead, Rome has been sacked again, Attila and his Huns have come and gone, but Rome’s Western Empire still limps on, like a massive rock band (Augustus and his Caesars) that has long had its day but still plays in the odd pub and makes embarrassing appearances on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here”, while the guitarist who left on creative differences (Constantinople and his Byzantines) continues to sell album after hit album for another thousand years. Rome, the city itself long irrelevant to the Empire, is nearly done with. Sure, one day the Pope will hold an audition for a new tribute band, eventually crowning Charlemagne (of ‘Charlemagne and his Franks’ fame) as lead singer. For me though, there are just a few podcasts left until the end, and I’ll miss it. So check out the History of Rome podcast, by Mike Duncan, available for free download on iTunes.