This is Davis Arts Center, which is really close to where I live in north Davis. I popped over to the park at lunchtime and drew it from a high grassy verge, underneath a tree, while listening to a podcast about the car industry in Coventry. I’ve drawn a two-page panorama of the Davis Arts Center before, quite a long time ago, when the leaves were different colours and the building was painted differently too. I need a sketching vacation, one like where I’d go to a city for a few days by myself and just wander about drawing everything. It’s been too long. This is also the longest period I have ever had without going home to London. That is tough, I miss London. It’s still not easy to go there from the US, with quarantine and expensive testing when you get there, plus long waits to get through Heathrow. I’m feeling very unrelaxed right now. Drawing helps, though even drawing feels a little stressful at times, if I’m short on time or if I’m running out of things I want to draw; sorry Davis, I need to draw somewhere else for a bit. I finished this at home after drawing all the penwork, I can’t see it from my house but it’s close enough.
Last Friday, at the end of a ridiculously busy week, I went over to the Davis Art Center (helpfully located a few minutes from my house) for their latest “Arty Party”, organized by Shelly Gilbride and Ariana Rundqvist. It’s the second one, and there will be more so check out the Davis Art Center’s website (http://www.davisartcenter.org) for details. I sat down and started sketching people (something I enjoy more and more), starting with this couple Alex and Jon Bieda. While I sketched, well-known Davis artist Heidi Bekebrede, who was also sat at the table, sang the “Davis song”, a song about Davis which I think anyone who has lived here will certainly get (you can see a video of the song here on Youtube). Very cool to have it sung in person by its singer. I was going to sketch more people, but they all started drifting off, and Friday night was catching up with me, so I spent the rest of the evening talking urban sketching, Boal and art projects.
This weekend is the Davis Art Center’s annual Holiday Sale, a big and popular event at the DAC featuring art, crafts, jewelry and many other lovely hand-made products. They are also selling cards with a selection of my Davis sketches on them, which look great! I came by this afternoon during a lull in the stormy weather (having spent the morning getting very muddy chopping down a Christmas tree), and after watching Beckham’s last game for LA Galaxy (they won the MLS Cup). After perusing the stalls, I whipped out the sketchbook and drew a scene in the main atrium. It was bustling with people, a friendly family atmosphere. If you are in Davis, tomorrow (Sunday Dec 2) is the last day of the Holiday Sale, so why not pop by and check it out? The Davis Art Center is on the corner of F St and Covell, by Community Park.
Last Sunday was the November “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawl, in the conveniently-located-across-the-street-from-me Community Park. Since it had been prophesied to be a cold day, only a few of us showed up, greeted by crisp autumn sunshine and blazing fall colours. after a very quick ‘people’ sketch or two I set to work on a panorama. The previous Friday evening I had attended a fun event at the Davis Art Center called the ‘Arty Party’, in which there was lots of drawing, some drinking and eating, and I even won a game of Pictionary, a game I’ve not played in a couple of decades, surprisingly. It was nice to get out and be social and talk to people about art, and in fact they will be selling some cards of my drawings in their annual Holiday Sale (Nov 30-Dec 2), including a recent one of the Art Center. I was talking about how I’d never drawn the building before, because it wasn’t an easy one to draw – trees in the way, lots of angles, it had always seemed very difficult. And then almost as soon as I had said it, I said to myself, difficult, huh? Really? So I determined to give it another go. I liked my first version – it says ‘Davis Art Center’ on it – but really wanted the panoramic version in my Moleskine sketchbook. I stood in the sunshine for just over two hours (my wife even came by and brought me a sandwich!) and sketched away. I started in the middle and worked my way outwards.
I didn’t end up doing any more sketches on the sketchcrawl (I popped back home to call my Mum in England and have a cup of tea), but met with the group at the library afterwards, where we all showed off our sketches. In the end I think about eight people came, which was pretty good for a cold day (though it wasn’t cold, really California, really..). Next one will be in mid-December, when it might really be cold…let’s keep drawing Davis!
Finally, here is the drawing of Davis Art Center I started on location before I went to Portland (and finished when I got back), showing the main entrance and part of a sculpture in the foreground. I love this place, they do a lot of good for our artistic community in Davis, and long may they do so.
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…