and every day leaves another scar

chase bank e street, davis
Swanson's Davis

Here are a couple of downtown Davis sketches from the little area of E Street between 4th and 3rd, because I’m checking off every building in Davis now, check check check. One thing I am doing actually, after eleven years in this town, is going through all of my sketches and finding one Davis sketch for each day of the year. The sketch has to have been done on that particular date. So far I’ve gone through ten months of dates and the average is 2-3 dates per month that I never sketched Davis (sketches of Lego or things at home, or other places like Sacramento do not count, has to be Davis). That isn’t bad going. Now then I have a list of dates I need to sketch Davis on, and then I will come out with a big calendar showing what Davis looks like on each day of the year, it’s quite an idea. Problem is, I had the idea in February so the three missing days in January are going to have to be sketched next year, or perhaps I just “alternative-fact” them. So the top one is Chase Bank, I remember when this used to be Washington Mutual, remember them eh, the old WaMu. Funny, nobody says ChaBa. Except Shabba Ranks. Oh now that brings me back to the early 90s! Actually can I come back, I kinda hated the early 90s. Well, love-hate. At least I was young. The one below it is Swanson’s Cleaners, which is closer to F Street so has an F Street address. It’s important to get things right, in this day and age. I drew this because I needed to sketch on my birthday. Aging, slowly aging. Actually can I go back to the early 90s again, at least I was young, I’ll put up with Shabba Ranks and Apache Indian and Ace of Bass, even Spin Doctors (actually, not them). I used to watch that late night show with Terry Christian, The Word, that was how the yoof got their yoof cultcha. Actually I did like watching Gary Crowley on The Beat, that was a good show. Oh nothing against The Word, I enjoyed that too, but The Beat was better. Jools Holland was always great but featured a lot of stuff beyond my musical comprehension, clever music with more than four chords. The ITV Chart Show was alright, for catching up on music videos, i remember seeing Pulp on there for the first time, that song “Lipgloss” which features my favourite lyric ever: “And your stomach looks bigger and your hair is a mess and your eyes are just holes in your face.” Yep, that is me, now. I also recall getting into St. Etienne after seeing one of their videos on TV one Friday night. Fell utterly in love with Sarah Cracknell. I went to Loppylugs, local record shop in Edgware, and bought the 12″ of “Who Do you Think You Are?” I got it home and it was scratched so I took it back. Same thing happened. I took it back again and the third one was ok, though it did jump a little. I still have it. That was the big risk with buying vinyl. But every time I hear the opening of that song I still anticipate the scratch, and I still think of Friday nights watching music shows on telly when I was sixteen or seventeen.

What the bloody-hell all of this has to do with a drawing of a bank and a dry-cleaners though is beyond me, but thanks for listening…

phoenix house

phoenix house f street davis
Here is a building from downtown Davis called Phoenix House. It’s called that because of the Irish word for ‘water’, Uisce (see also whisky), or clear water to be precise, ‘fionn uisce’, anglicized as ‘phoenix’. Actually, no it doesn’t. I’m thinking of Phoenix Park in Dublin. There is a Phoenix Park in Sacramento as well but that isn’t a real park let alone have anything to do with phoenixes or water, clear or otherwise. Ok it might be a real park, I don’t know. Quit with all the sidetracking, this isn’t a Twitter comments thread. Phoenix House in Davis is named after the Order of the Phoenix. No, it’s not that either. Perhaps, and this is the most likely and believable story (with zero evidence, but when does that matter any more eh), it was a house that burned down and was rebuilt, hence Phoenix reborn from the ashes. A bit like La Fenice, the grand opera house in Venice. You know I could look this up and do some actual research, but alternative facts are the order of the day. Reality has become so quantum, we will have to start naming the different Earths soon, like in the Marvel Universe. Perhaps this was named for the famous but under-reported Phoenix Green Massacre. Or it was named after the classical Mesopotamian King Phoen the 9th. Or maybe seven guys whose initials spelled out PHOENIX, Paul, Horace, Oswald, Elliot, Norman, Isaac and Xavier, and they ran an independent pony express (or ‘Pon-ex’ as they sometimes called it) firm from that very spot. You don’t know. I could make it all up. I could have invented the whole building. That car might have been red, those windows might have been triangular. Sad! Anyway none of that is the case, and this is Phoenix House on F Street (or “Ph Street” as I call it), and one day I promise I will learn about its history, but whether I believe it or not is something I cannot tell.

counting acts and clutching thoughts…

putah creek uc davis

It’s February, the birthday month. I don’t really do a lot to celebrate, I don’t have parties or anything, don’t really have enough of a social circle for the sort of nights out I used to have when I was younger, now it’s more a quiet meal with the family, a pint of beer and some cheesecake. Now this sketch, done on the first day of the month at the UCD Arboretum about a minute from my office, was not meant to be metaphorical of  birthdays but in that great way you can retrospectively attach meaning to anything, this is a bridge, signifying crossing from one time to another. Weak I know. On the far side though is the Robert Mondavi Institute of Food and Wine Sciences, which includes the Beer lab, so I supposed that signifies celebratory tipples in some way. There is a STOP sign, which must mean I need to stop and assess myself, and there is a yellow sign for a roundabout, which of course as we all know signifies the Circle of Life, obviously, that one’s obvious. The path, well part of it falls into shadow which of course means the path is not always clear, and then of course there is the Creek, and that one is easy, it signifies my creaking body as I get older each day. I had no idea there was so much semiotic depth to my sketches! I wonder what all the fire hydrants mean? Actually don’t answer that.

the house of glass

UCD Greenhouse
This greenhouse behind Robbins Hall at UC Davis is one I have wanted to draw for ages. I walk past it some days when coming from the bus stop, and in the mornings it’s got that great glow from the inside. The ground was very wet from all the rain we had recently. As a top agricultural university, UC Davis has a thriving Plant Sciences department, within the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. In fact UC Davis is ranked #1 in the world in Plant and Animal Sciences. We really know our stuff. We’re also one of the leading universities studying the effects and causes of climate change (see http://climatechange.ucdavis.edu/), which given the current, ahem, climate, is something to be very proud of. Science, scientific expertise and continued scientific research are of the utmost importance, and worth standing up for.

froggies of an evening

froggies-jan2017-sm

More two-page-spread bar-sketching. I popped into Froggies in downtown Davis one evening, had a couple of beers, and behind me people sang karaoke. I didn’t. I might have if they had the Frog Song by Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus, “We All Stand Together”. I saw Macca in Sacramento recently but he didn’t sing that one. I was a big fan of Rupert the Bear when I was a kid. I planned to make this full colour, watercolour-shaded, surround-sound (well maybe not surround-sound, not with the karaoke and all), but I was tired so left it at this. Another in the many illustrations of Davis.

lazy monday afternoon

De Veres, Davis
I needed to draw something in black and white for submission to an upcoming group show, and so I decided to draw something familiarly Davis. And then I abandoned my sketch of the Hunt-Boyer-Dresbach Mansion (always struggle with that one) and popped into De Vere’s Irish Pub on a President’s Day afternoon (back when we had a president I really liked) and sketched that familiar view instead. I finished off all the hatching and shading at home (just the one quick pint for me). there was Africa Cup of Nations football on the TV. Outside it was sunny, a break from the series of big winter storms we’ve been getting. I haven’t sketched in just black and white for a while (even the ones I draw in pen only are usually, well, very very very dark brown) and it was tempting to add just a tiny little bit of colour, maybe just a little bit of red on the Exit sign or a couple of green bottles, but I stuck to the straight monochrome. The show it’ll be in, “Black and White”, is at the Pence Gallery on D Street, Davis, for the whole of next month with a reception for the ArtAbout on Friday February 10th. This pub is a good place to hang out. I think I’ll go back again sometime.

academic surge

academic surge, uc davis
We have had loads and loads of rain, honestly. Not on the day I sketched this, though. It is the Academic Surge Building at UC Davis, right next to the building where I spend every day working. I did sketch from the inside stairwell of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Building opposite. It is home to, among other things, the Bohart Museum of Entomology (http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/), an awesome museum dedicated to insects. Yes, I know you knew already what Entomology was. I did too, though back when I first came to UC Davis I had an interview with the Enology Department, and I got it wrong, because Enology is wine science. So remember: Entomology = insects, Enology = wine. Drawn in the Stillman and Birn Beta Landscape book, which has a soft blue cover. It’s very nice.