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…
France was fun, but you have to come home. I do actually have a few more sketches from London but they were kind of shoehorned in to the end of the trip, I’ll post those soon. So aftre all those lovely picturesque canals and timber-framed buildings, you get the interior of the UC Davis Silo, where I often eat lunch. this was sketched while waiting for (and subsequently eating) my Carl’s Jr. It was typically tasty, but incredibly greasy. Outside the mercury was rising fast to those unbearable Davis Summer levels. Welcome back to America! When’s my next trip to France?
And now for a short break from France sketches to see a sketch from July 13th, which of course is the day before the French national holiday, Bastille Day. This is the UC Davis Bike Barn, yes, even looking like this. Regular tuners-in will remember I have drawn several times since taking up Davis sketching, but now it appears to be undergoing some reconstruction. It looks sad with the windows boarded up, but signposts indicate the Bike Barn is still operating during the building work. So much building work on campus right now…
Below are most of the sketches I have done of the Bike Barn over the past nine years, not including the ones of the other side of the building (which looks very similar). I wouldn’t mind, but I hate drawing bikes.
Above: September 2006, October 2006, January 2007.
Above: August 2007, January 2008, March 2009, April 2010
Above: January 2011, February 2011, August 2011, October 2013
Above: October 2013, March 2014 (x2)
More construction on the UC Davis campus, while I slowly scan (and finish in some cases) my French sketches. Long-memoried observers of my UC Davis sketch adventures (really, that sentence) will recall that I spent a lot of time a couple of years ago or so sketching the demise of the old Boiler Building. You can see those posts at petescully.com/tag/boiler-building. The space was assigned as the location of the brand new Music Recital Hall, which (thanks to a generous donation by the late alumna Ann Pitzer) will officially be called the Ann E. Pitzer Center. When complete, it will be a 399 seat concert venue (why 399? Definitely no room for 400? Bet there’s a bureaucracy reason, oh I love the bureaucracy. No, I actually do). It will also be a classroom space, which will have course schedulers gleefully rubbing their hands with their 400-capacity classes (ah, I see why it’s 399 seats now…). Anyway, I got back from Europe and saw that construction had finally begun, with the first concrete panels going up (top sketch). A week later (yesterday) the large concrete box was already sealed. I don’ know what the vertical lines around the edges signify, but they add a touch of interest into what currently looks like some sort of military installation. It won’t always look like that. Once the shiny glass and steel are added this will be one of the most attractive buildings on campus, and one of the first you see when you enter on Shields Avenue, in what will be known as the campus ‘Arts District’.
On the right, you can see how this spot used to look, in 2011. I miss the old Boiler Building, with its rusty pipes and sun-burnt tiles. You can find out more about the Pitzer Center here at arts.ucdavis.edu/pitzercenter. Here is how it will eventually look (pictures from the Davis Enterprise). I’ll be sketching its progress, so watch this space…