Wasn’t sure what to sketch at lunchtime the other day so I took out that calligraphy pen at the UC Davis Silo and sketched in my S&B gamma book. I had to stay inside to sketch though. The outdoor sketching is unavoidable sometimes but my allergies are at their worst right now so on this day, inside I stayed.
If you’re in downtown Davis tomorrow at about 6:15pm, keep a look out – there will be dancers!
“Dance Dance Davis”, a community based dance project led by Shelly Gilbride, will take place as a flashmob, a very large flashmob, tomorrow May 9th at 6:15pm, somewhere in downtown Davis. Shelly, who is coordinating the project with her own PDA: Public Dance Acts along with the UC Davis Institute for Exploration in Theater, Dance and Performance, invited me to document the event with some sketches, and so this past week I attended a couple of rehearsals with sketchbooks in hand, and though I wasn’t dancing myself, wow what a workout!
The first one I attended was at the Davis Art Center (now only five minutes from my house!). Most of those in attendance had no experience of dancing, but had plenty of enthusiasm. Shelly eased them into it painlessly with some simple warm-ups, before moving into the pre-prepared dance choreography. Now when I say pre-prepared, this is the fun part – every single move was ‘crowd-sourced’, that is, not just inspired by but actually created by the people of Davis. Going around town, Shelly would stop people and ask them to strike a pose, a gesture, perhaps one that reminded them of Davis. Each was noted and woven together, and as she taught the attendees at rehearsal she reminded them, this dance is written by the people of Davis, by you.
Everybody was made to feel comfortable, to feel part of something. This is exactly what I like to see in community based art projects – dance is not only the realm of your Barishnikovs and your Swan Lakes, it’s something everyone can have fun with. Like I say, I wasn’t dancing because I was sketching, but with all that energy around me I was as good as dancing. Using the smoother paper of my large Moleskine (the ‘Paul Wang’ one, my ‘big ideas’ book) I let my pens do the dancing and sketched as quickly as I could. I am used to things standing still (fire hydrants, etc) so it was nice to let myself go.
The final rehearsal was on Monday evening at the Mondavi Center. There must have been 200 people there, dancers of all ages from the quite young to the nearly old. There were cupcakes and cookies and this time the band, Jenny Lynn and her Real Gone Daddies, who played live. One young girl said to them, “you sound just like the CD!” The song they play for the dance piece is upbeat, bouncy, and very catchy, I could draw to it all day.
The rehearsal went quickly, and abounded with enthusiasm. Perhaps some will feel nervous when dancing at the flashmob around unsuspecting members of the public, but with so many others doing the same I wouldn’t be surprised if people just started joining in. The flashmob location was revealed (I think a lot of people had guessed it), and everyone went home, to reconvene at that ‘secret location’ by 6:15 on Wednesday…
On Saturday we popped into the Russian River Brewing Co in Santa Rosa. I drank a couple of Perditions, while my wife’s father, visiting from southern CA, tried the full sampler set. Their beer is very famous and very well respected among beer afficionados. We spoke to some fellow beerophiles visiting all the way from Michigan, and I drew this on the astrology page of a local free paper.
Yesterday was Cinqo de Mayo (Happy Cinqo de Mayo!), being May the 5th. We were in Santa Rosa, and went to a garden party at my mother-in-law’s house. I took the opportunity to sketch, to practise my garden sketching before today’s Garden Tour, and to try out the Stillman & Birn Delta series book. Nice paper! Being thicker and great for watercolours. I may still have the same issues with the pens ultimately of course but this felt pretty nice, so I’m going to bring that with me today. I only got as far as this garden ornament, and I started a larger piece showing the whole garden but gave up early, and went for a beer. Met a nice bloke originally from Glasgow.
This Sunday, the Pence Gallery in Davis is organizing the 21st annual Garden Tour, in which people can visit eight artistic private gardens in Davis. In each garden there will also be a local artist, painting or drawing away, and I am honoured to be one of those artists. I will be drawing pictures in a garden on 8th street. The other artists are Andrew Dorn, Debbie Gualco, Deborah Hill, Milton Kalish, Michael Mikolon, Patris, Marti Walker and Beth Winfield. tickets are $28 on the day ($20 for Pence members). The paintings made and drawings drawn will later be displayed for sale at the Pence. It should be fun! (If my allergies dont make me sneeze all afternoon…)
For more information, please visit: http://www.pencegallery.org/gardentour.html
Another lunchtime sketch; taking a risk with my allergies flaring up like 70’s trousers, so kept it quick, a drawing of a digger outside work. I used the hi-tec c in the stillman & birn gamma book. The workmen came along as I was getting near the end, and were kind enough to let me finish before driving the digger away.
Another lunchtime sketch, braving the pollen (allergies are really bad this week) but more importantly, braving the squirrel. I sat beneath a tree besides the bike racks to draw Kleiber Hall (or half of it; I must master that trick of turning the page sideways to fit more in) when along came a squirrel. Nothing unusual about that, but this one seemed, I don’t know, determined. I thought it might be after my mint M&Ms (which are, I must confess, bloody amazing), but it wasn’t aftre food. It kept creeping right up to me from every angle, a look of indignance and annoyance on its face, like an Englishman who has been rudely queue-jumped but won’t actually say anything. No amount of shooing, chasing, stamping my feet, making vague threats was going to get this squirrel away. I was worried it might have rabies, except it was obviously competely sane, even if I appeared not to be. This furry thing was fearless. It took me a while to realise it was just territorial and that it owned the tree I was sat near (it had a Monopoly card to prove it, and I think the rent included nuts), so despite informing this squirrel about my rights to sit and sketch beneath any public tree I damn well please, I gave in and moved to the shade of a different tree. The squirrel, all pleased with himself, immediately leapt into his tree and sat on a branch like a little lord. Like he couldn’t have done that anyway!!
Next time I’ll draw the squirrel. If I’m brave enough.