Richard III. Round I...

Last June I went with friends to check out Shakespeare's "Richard III" staged
by New York Classical Theatre in the under visited scenic northwest corner of Central Park. You never know what to expect with free theatre so my expectations were sorta low but I was pleasantly surprised. I should mention that this production was a "traveling" play, with the audience following the action. Or, in their words... "New York Classical Theatre's hallmark is accessibility and a panoramic staging approach to performance. Site-specific productions are adapted to showcase the unique visual components of each venue through innovative design and choreographic elements. Throughout the performance, the audience follows the actors from place to place, as the plot unfolds from scene to scene. In this way, the spectators become active participants in the drama itself." This was pretty awesome, the constant moving to a new location created a bit of an agitation that added to the plot. While this production is currently over I want to put out a spoiler alert, these captions may give a few things away...

Opening scene, with Richard probably saying some dastardly aside to the audience...

Hey Lady Ann, I just killed your husband, wanna marry me? it's your fault I killed him by the way, you were way too good lookin!

Poor Clarence! he was my favorite..

The crazy looking guy who was supposed to kill Clarence but chickened out. He did manage to kill little Edward later in the play, although he felt really bad about it.

Lady Ann not too excited about the marriage...

Marrying her brothers murderer.

Now for the honeymoon.

The haunting of Richard "kill everyone I know" III

I went back for round II a few days later, so stay tuned for another RIII post! Also keep an eye out for their next production, Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" coming your way July 2010 in Battery Park.


Lil' portrait...

This is not me, but Jeanette said it looks like me so I'll go with it. Portrait of April Kelly with giant pigeon;)

Pigeon in foliage, check out the weirdo with the painted green beard in the background, unfortunately I didn't have neon green on me!

Awesome headband!

Long time no blog, I'm a little backed up!

Here's a few drawings that I did a few weeks ago while waiting for free comedy in Union Square! there is no end to the fun NYC provides in the summer! check them out As you can see I've still got pigeons on the brain, somethings percolating there... also there was a drunk girl with an amazing feather headband, I'm guessing they weren't pigeon feathers though.

Go Virginian Mediterranean??

Last August I met my friend Jennifer for a lovely drawing afternoon at Union Square when we noticed we had lucked out and stumbled into the magical Sabra Mediterranean Village set up in honor of their new line of Yogurt dips which is certainly a reason to celebrate. Free samples with various dipp-ables, tables set up so you can enjoy the unexpected treats at your leisure, and later on came the entertainment, a belly dancer and band, now there's a real treat!

A few weeks ago while listening to the radio I learned that Sabra Dipping Co. had been based in Astoria Queens and was now relocating to Virginia. I hadn't realized they were here but it made sense, New Yorkers are a hummus loving people, we have restaurants devoted to hummus, I think there is one even called "Hummus", somehow in the south I imagine people as less hummus savvy, perhaps asking themselves "what's a hummus?", there I go with my Yankee chickpea elitism. Everyone deserves hummus, it's good and good for you, and it's brought to you in part by Pepsi Co. (which I got a kick out of).

So here are a few studies of the beautiful Sabra belly dancer, some of the musicians and spectators!

Happy Earth Day Earthlings!

Today at work the girl next to me was cleaning off the empty desk between us, she asked me if the stack of printouts was mine? "No they aren't" I said. Swoosh-sh-sh , a stack of printouts 2 inches high right in the trashcan... the little black trashcan, not the big BLUE trashcan (that's the recycling one), I cringed, muttering something about "isn't there a recycling bin somewhere?..." she said she didn't know, there are, about 3 on the way to her desk, it was Earth Day, and she has two kids who will inherit the earth, or that she is borrowing it from or something. Anyway, many of us are on board the green revolution, a lot of people are brimming with good intentions but needing clear directives, we want to make things better but what exactly do we do again...? It can be hard to know what to do next and cleaning up the mess we've made in the last century feels like trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube, but many people are more aware now and it feels like a shift is coming. The "green" lifestyle is here/back, we are being reacquainted with simplicity and it feels right and that might be the motivation we've been needing.

So my Earth Day offerings are a few tree portraits. Trees have character like people do, some feel old and wise, some elegant, some really stylish, others stooped and deformed, they have scars and fingerprints and wrinkles, they've seen it all.

The heartbroken can go to Hartsdale.

When I was about 10 my teenage stepbrother Johnny (who rarely let me into his room...) told me he wanted to read me a story about a cat. Church? that's a strange name for a cat... Years later, despite nightmares from my earlier exposure, it was my idea to go and see the movie Pet Cemetery with my Mom and 2 friends for my birthday, after that I slept with closet shut, bedroom door open, hallway light on for weeks.

Today myself and two very good friends went to the pet cemetery in Hartsdale New York and it was a really soothing place . My dog Lulu had died very unexpectedly last weekend from a neurological disease and we were there to view the remains and have her cremated. Sounds almost like a funeral doesn't it? It felt like one. When I called Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and Crematory to arrange the private cremation I was surprised when they offered a viewing, a wake for dogs. The woman added that at the viewing you could bring toys and blankets, essentially your dogs treasures and maybe a few useful items to be cremated along with them, you could also witness them being placed in the crematorium and take the ashes home that same day. So much like an ancient ritual, kings buried in tombs with food and servants and everything needed for the afterlife. After you have your animal euthanized they are taken away somewhere in the back, and if you have asked for a private cremation you are trusting a series of people to respect your animal and yourself and return the remains of YOUR animal, and you can only hope and trust they will do it. When my cat died it happened like that, it was unsettling, it felt too abrupt, I wanted to be involved. But today at the cemetery we went into a little room to say our goodbyes, Lulu looked like she was sleeping (they are furry and don't look as unfamiliar as people can), we had brought her favorite toys, pictures, goodbye letters, bones and collar, as well as my black scarf which she loved to steal and sleep on. We saw her and her things placed in the furnace and the door went down... We were told to come back in an hour and half for the ashes.

There are animal people, and for lack of a better term non-animal people, you know what I am talking about right? If you are a "non-animal person" you will not be troubled by what happens to the remains of a pet, they are not people after all, and you can always get a new one, but if you are an animal person it might bother you, you want to give them dignity and respect, they may not be people but they are family, you had a significant love between you, a special friendship, history and you will want to acknowledge that somehow. The Hartsdale Canine Cemetery begun accidentally in 1896 by Samuel Johnson, a veterinarian who offered room in his apple orchard to grieving pet owners with no place to bury their furry loved ones "It was almost as if he had found a cure for a dreaded disease; this was something people deeply wanted and needed - and greeted with great relief." this place came to be known as Peaceable Kingdom, and walking the grounds you can agree. The pet cemetery is on a hillside, beautiful flowering trees, terraced with crooked staircases, toys, bones, and holiday decorations on many graves, there is personality here, pictures of pets with their names and nicknames, respect and humor, this is a place where people have said in so many different ways that you are my special friend and I love you, you matter. Rituals are important to people, a real need, and when you can't have it things don't feel right. I'm heartbroken over loosing my dog, she was only 6, I had big plans for us. This place allowed me and so many other pet owners to say goodbye in a way that felt proper, at a place where this is perfectly understood.

Feel better Lulu!

On an average day I may have a moment of fleeting curiosity about what any of my 6 animals might be thinking, but when somebody is sick you really wish they could communicate. My dog Lulu is a little under the weather, clearly something is bothering her, but she's been to the vet twice this week and they can't find a thing (maybe she's faking it to get better treats, could she be that clever?). Oh I wish she could talk, I'd love to know where it hurts and maybe also what she sounds like.

Feel better tiny friend!

Talk about timing...

Last night after posting my baby elephant stuff I sent the link along to the folks at the Elephantstay. The very next day I got an email telling me a brand new little baby elephant was born at 5:00 am Thai time! No way! This doesn't happen every day you know, I'm pretty sure my baby elephant vibes had a hand in this, April would be a great name for an elephant and I threw out the suggestion, we'll see what happens.

Another Aries, very good...

I'll post pics if I can get them!

Punk to the third power!

Being sweet.

Hiding. On the right is the old Kraal!

Checking in with Mom.

Up to no good... Watch out!

Last month I was able to cross a biiig big item off my wish list, playing with baby elephants! BABY ELEPHANTS!! ! ! !!! I have seen them from afar many times on "safari" at Animal Kingdom and always felt a little cheated having been born in a country with no elephants of its own, certainly none that I'd ever be able to touch much less mingle with... but one day while planning my trip to Thailand Lonely Planet blew my mind - you can volunteer with elephants - what did they mean?? what did this include???? could I touch one? certainly you could never ride one, wait, you can ride one???!!! REALLY???!

During my month in Thailand I had a series of elephant encounters, the first was volunteering 2 weeks at an amazing program called the Elephant Mahout Project (which I will feature in a future post, I rode an elephant, it was great!, the last was accidentally wandering into the Prakochaban Foundation/ElephantStay (not for profit). I had read about this place also, they do excellent work with retired and rescued elephants, as well as rehabilitating killer elephants, and they are home to an impressive breeding program, but it was not open to visitors, so I didn't try to go. But I totally lucked out... I went to see the Royal Elephant Kraal, just the old structure according to the map, no elephants anymore, none nearby, but I smelled elephants, there were turds in the Kraal! there was an elephant camp right next door (it was a very bad map)! missing my own elephant I couldn't resist taking a peek, and I am so glad I did! the first person I met was Paul Hayden, a British volunteer who'd been working there on and off for years, finally an elephant person who speaks English! the questions poured out and he was so generous with the information (Cheers Paul, keep up the good work!).

The whole camp was impressive but the highlight for me were the 3 babies! little ones running around free, playing in the kiddie pool, running up to people, nursing a few feet from me, loving being loved up! my favorite baby was named Pocket Elephant (English translation) so tiny and shy, her poor mother was rescued from neglect and the stress may have caused Pocket's smallness, hopefully Mom will soon realize she is with friends. I'm aware I may be anthropomorphizing but baby elephants are exactly like children! Putting everything in their mouth, occasional brattiness, fighting sleep and staggering around, hiding behind mom when scared, testing limits, aware of their unbelievable cuteness, using cuteness to get away with naughtiness! After coming home I found out baby elephants are called punks, totally fits, the little boy elephant had tried to knock me off the fence, little Opal had pulled my hair and had to be corralled because she thought breaking windows was super fun, hundreds of pounds of fuzzy lovable mischief!

The Prakochaban Foundation is responsible for 1% of the baby elephants born in Thailand, and are working hard to boost Thailand's declining elephant population, on their website under RESCUE AND REHAB are ways in which you can contribute financially to help the Foundation keep up the good work, you can also go there yourself and do a volunteer stay (where you will ride elephants and go swimming with them in the river, it's true!)! The elephants in this camp are well cared for and treated with kindness, help these guys out! You can also buy paintings from some of the resident elephant artists on (look under the elephants from Thailand and see who works out of the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal!).

Come on Spring!

I'm back!  I haven't been neglecting my brand new blog for no good reason, I have been in Thailand (drawing away but no scanner... some of those drawings will be posted shortly). When I came back from my extended trip to the equator the weather was perfect 60 degrees and warmer, tank top on, winter jacket banished, what amazing timing (hate hate hate being cold)!  but nope, faked out, really chilly again, any day now though right spring, RIGHT??! March can be temperamental, but April will come through!

These drawings were done at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx one day last year, while enjoying the springtime sunshine with my friend Jen, and I'm posting them now to encourage the weather to warm up already!

Unemployed pigeons...

Today was an unseasonably warm day, one of those times when January throws you a bone so you don't give up on spring.  Soooo sunny!  the pigeons in my neighborhood thought so too. The Jersey City pigeons seem to clump up and sun themselves in the small park near my house and today they were really in heaven!  what, you hate pigeons?  they are flying rats who spread disease and sh*t everywhere?  well yeah, sometimes it seems that way (and under overpasses and on top of statues is that way), but how much do you really know about them?  They have quite a history, and it seems they may have kinda been the first internet...

Check it out:

Famous pigeons
During the First World War a pigeon named Cher Ami (Dear friend) saved the lives of many French soldiers by carrying a message across enemy lines in the heat of battle.  Cher Ami was shot in the chest and the leg, loosing most of the leg to which the message was attached, but continued the 25 minute flight avoiding shrapnel and poison gas to get the message home.  Cher Ami was awarded the French ‘Croix de Guerre’ for heroic service.  Another heroic pigeon named G.I. Joe saved the lives of a thousand soldiers in World War 2 after British troops had established a position within an Italian town that was due to be bombed by allied planes. Communication equipment was down and the only means of stopping the raid was to attach a hastily written message to G.I. Joe and send him to the HQ.  G.I. Joe flew 20 miles in 20 minutes arriving at the air base whilst the planes were taxiing on the runway.  Disaster was averted with 5 minutes to spare.  G.I. Joe received the ‘Dickin’ medal for his bravery.

Pigeons in Wall Street
One of the richest and most famous families in the world amassed its wealth, certainly in part, as a result of exploiting the pigeon.  In the early 1800’s the Rothschild family set up a network of pigeon lofts throughout Europe and used homing pigeons to carry information between its financial houses.  This method proved to be quicker and more efficient than any other means of communication available at the time.  The speed of the service combined with the ability to send and receive information ahead of the competition helped the Rothschild family amass a fortune which still exists today.

Pigeons in the news
One of the world’s most famous news agencies, Reuters, started its European business by using trained homing pigeons.  The service was started in 1850 with 45 pigeons carrying the latest news and stock prices from Aachen in Germany to Brussels in Belgium.  Although a telegraph service between the two countries existed, numerous gaps in the transmission lines made communication difficult and slow. The birds travelled the 76 miles in a record-breaking two hours beating the railway by four hours.

Are pigeons intelligent?
Pigeons are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds on the planet with pigeons being able to undertake tasks previously thought to be the sole preserve of humans and primates.  The pigeon has also been found to pass the ‘mirror test’ (being able to recognise its reflection in a mirror) and is one of only 6 species, and the only non-mammal, that has this ability.  The pigeon can also recognise all 26 letters of the English language as well as being able to conceptualise. In scientific tests pigeons have been found to be able to differentiate between photographs and even differentiate between two different human beings in a photograph when rewarded with food for doing so.

and that's not all, there's lots more pigeon facts at

So pigeons... Brave heroes, amazing work ethic, extreme navigators, mans other best friend, "one of the most intelligent birds on the PLANET", and good enough for the Queen of England! although now that we know all this the next time we get "bombed" we may have to take it personally...

First post ever!

Welcome to my illustration blog, I am very very excited!  aspiring to be as faithful a blogger as Doogie Howser with his diary.

So subject of first post.  Factory Farming is bad.   Reading "Eating Animals" at the moment and the gross-out has started anew, first read "Fast Food Nation", then watched "Food Inc." then "King Corn" and now this... Why? because I love meat, hoping to make that loved meat, and so when weaning yourself off the meaty goodness the more disturbing the reading material the greater chance for success right?  here's hoping!  

These drawings are of the resident cows at Bergen County Zoological Park in New Jersey, they are heirloom breeds, very rare, and increasingly so in the age of frankestein-ing everything.

So here are my cows, they are really very beautiful, big brown eyes, long long lashes.  One is a deep red color and super glossy, they call her Ruby, and the other reminds me of cookies and cream ice cream!