This is University House, one of the oldest buildings on the UC Davis campus. It was built in 1907/1908 as the house of the farm director when the campus first opened as University Farm, an agricultural research offshoot of UC Berkeley. You can see the sloping roof of South Hall behind it, one of the first dorms. This is near the Quad. Sketched in the Stillman & Birn “Beta” landscape sketchbook. That is a nice book, I’m almost done with it.
This lovely building is the Barovetto House at 209 2nd Street, a few steps from the UC Davis campus. Along with the tank house behind it, this historic building was originally the family home of Giovanni Barovetto, an Italian immigrant and early researcher of Viticulture and Enology here at UC Davis. That is wine-making science. This house was built in 1915 and is on the City of Davis’s list of historic buildings you should see. Giovanni’s grandson John Barovetto was killed in Vietnam aged 28, and has a local park named in his memory. Here is an article from the Davis Enterprise (written by Rich Rifkin) with a bit more history. As of a couple of years ago, this house was threatened with demolition, in favour of new apartments. There was a petition to stop this from going ahead; I don’t know if it succeeded, but the building still stands, for now. I think it would be a sad loss were it to go.
More Star Wars Lego (and this ain’t the last of it). This is the AT-ST, otherwise known as the Scout Walker. Not Scott Walker as my autocorrect would say. “the Twin Suns Ain’t Gonna Shine Any More”. This is the one from Rogue One, seen briefly unless you were looking at your popcorn or literally blinking. It’s the same as the ones seen in Return of the Jedi, the ones famously useless at dealing with rolling logs. This vehicle will always remind me of getting run over at age 7 by a van outside my house.
I was playing with my friends Natasha and Simon in our narrow street, my Star Wars figures all over the doorstep. We crossed over the street to see if our friends Robert and Victoria wanted to come out and play. They couldn’t; they had family visiting. Ok we said and turned to dash back over to our side of the street. My street was narrow, but cars parked on one side meant it was hard to see oncoming traffic. I was first, so I stepped into the street and woke up on the couch, covered in blood with crying and panic all around. I vaguely remember the impact knocking me out, seeing a big white blur. I think the van was white. It was probably going too fast, but it hit me head first so I have no idea. I was lucky. I spent the night in hospital, and all I had was a big beaten-up face and a black eye. But I got a new Star Wars toy as a present, which was the old Kenner AT-ST Scout Walker – Return of the Jedi had come out a few months before and was pretty much my favourite thing in the world. I remember my older sister playing with it with me, creating a terrain on the carpet by putting a blanket over several other items to create hills. There was a button on the back to make it walk. I did have an Ewok with a little glider that dropped boulders on it, as well as the Biker Scout on the Speeder Bike (which would ‘explode’ by pressing a little button on the back). My tortoises had a little brick ‘hut’ in the back garden I would pretend was the Imperial Bunker (the tortoises didn’t mind at all, I think they enjoyed being part of the story). All of this, I think of when I see the AT-ST! Hardly a trauma. I remember people asking for a couple of months afterwards, “who hit you?” It was a van, don’t worry about it. My school photos from 1983 showed a lot of scabbing and a redness in my eye. I did miss a couple of days of school. Ironically, one of my best friends in class, Wayne, also got run over on the exact same day in a separate incident. (Conspiracy theorists of 1983, get on that!). I think he was hit by a taxi. He was out of school for longer than me though, because he had broken his leg. I remember Wayne, we used to play chess and talk about animals and politics; he loved running and was good at football, he supported Everton, we both liked Sampdoria. His family were Jamaican and when he went over to Jamaica when we were 9 or 10 he brought me back this thing called a ‘Jamaican Yo-Yo’ and incredibly I STILL have it. I should find it and sketch it sometime.
This was a fun set to build, and comes with (among others) Baze Malbus, the dude with the massive blaster in Rogue One who is friends with Chirrut Imwe. Those two were cool.
Another bar sketch. It was Saturday evening, I wanted to go downtown, so I popped into University of Beer for a Brother Thelonious and did yet another bar sketch. “Keep Calm and Chive On” says the poster above, sagely. There was a lot of colour reflecting on the surfaces of this bar. I’ve done a lot of pub sketches now; check them out in this Flickr album, “Pubs, Cafes, Bars etc“.
It’s a funny shape, this building. It’s Tercero Dining Commons at UC Davis. Sketched while the rain poured down. This is now the wettest season in these parts since I moved here. The shape of this building reminded me of a ship at first, then I realized it’s actually a giant beached parasaurolophus, not sure if it wants to be rescued. Nothing surprises me any more in 2017.
The rain is back today. Quite heavy as well. It was even rainier a week ago though, when I went out at lunchtime to sketch the rally at the Quad in support of Muslim students, faculty, postdocs and their families affected by the utter chaos of the recent Executive Order; yes, you know the one. The bursting showers had thinned the crowd a bit, but didn’t stop people coming and sharing their stories beneath the safety of their umbrellas, though it was hard to hear their voices over the heavy pounding from above. I stood beneath a large umbrella and captured what I could, adding the paint quickly. I’m very glad I was able to be there.
This is Roessler Hall, UC Davis. Or at least, part of it. Sketched from just outside the Physics Building. After all the big winter storms, destroying trees and swelling rivers, the sun finally came out. Elsewhere, the Oroville dam threatened to burst and large surrounding areas were evacuated; this has ceded a bit now, but it’s only February and there will be a lot of snowmelt later this Spring, so northern California is in for a bit more flooding I think. Feels a bit like the first winter I was here, over 2005-2006, but after years of drought it’s more of a surprise. It’s a worrying situation for a lot of families and I really hope for the best. I recall the storms and floods of early 2006, followed by the searingly hot summer that year, and being so new to California it was an eye-opener for someone like me, from a huge city like London coming to a small city in a vast agricultural valley, to understand the impact of weather on the land. I watched a lot of KCRA3 News and its Chief Meteorologist Mark Finan (Sorry, “KCRA3 Weather Plus Chief Meteorologist Mark Finan”, you have to say the full title otherwise the weather gods are displeased), who quickly became my favourite figure on Californian TV. He got all the exciting weather, and you knew the weather was not going to be interesting when they let Dirk Verdoorn, the reserve keeper, the Michel Vorm to Finan’s Hugo Lloris if you will, take over the reins. I really like Dirk too actually, but Finan with his long unwieldy official title (my wife and I used to joke that it actually just goes on and on, “…Emperor Beyond The Sea, Supreme Mugwump of the Wizengamot, Lord of the High-Slung Bottoms of Zob…”) became an early on-screen hero of mine in those nascent days as a new Californian. Well anyway, on this day at the end of last week the sun was out, the blossom was about to break through, and though the rain is back now, we’re all ready for a bit of Spring colour in this headache of a 2017.