Statues of The Cradle of Liberty

I just spent seven days in one of the most historic cities in the United States. A city that birthed a revolution, and a nation. A city that is now full of contrasts. That city is Boston, Massachusetts.

I knew that Boston would provide many sketching opportunities and I was never without my sketching kit. On this trip I used much sepia, quinacridone gold, and olive green to color the historic statues and monuments of “The Cradle of Liberty”. Washington, Franklin, Revere,  Sam Adams, Poe and a duck with her ducklings.

Early one morning I walked from my hotel on Washington Street the five blocks to Boston Public Garden. First opened in 1869 (relatively new by Boston standards) the lagoon was added two years later followed by swan boats in 1877. The lagoon (and perhaps the swan boats) attracted ducks and more ducks. This inspired Robert McClokey to illustrate and write the Caldecott award winning children’s book Make Way For Ducklings (1941). This classic has sold over two million copies and is a staple in any primary classroom. In 1987,  a Nancy Schön sculpture was installed in the garden. I sketched this sculpture before the hordes of children arrived, who, over the years, have worn the duck heads from bronze to gold.

On another morning I walked down Washington Street to sketch Boston’s oldest standing public building, the Old State House (1713). In my mind, no other building represents the contrast of old and new that this brick building that is now dwarfed by glassy skyscrapers. It was the center of British government and on March 7, 1770, the Boston Massacre occurred in front of the east facade. The Declaration of Independence was first read in Boston from the balcony of the Old State House on July 18, 1776. This early American history is contrasted by the subway station in the basement on the eastern side of the building. The Declaration of Independence is still read from the balcony every Fourth of July.

Old State House

A spread from two other statues of Boston: Sam Adams and Edgar Allan Poe. The Adams statue stands boldly in front of Faneuil Hall. Adams was a son of the Revolution and a signer of The Declaration of Independence.  Faneuil Hall has hosted speeches as diverse as Frederick Douglass and JFK. The Poe statue stands in Edgar Allan Poe Square near Boston Common and features a raven and a tell-tale heart. At first, the statue seems out of place because Poe is more closely associated with Baltimore than Boston. The master of the macabre was born in Boston on January 19, 1809 to his actor parents while there were on tour. He may have been named after a character in King Lear, a play they were performing in 1809. The two statues are contrasted by time and style. The Adams statue was erected in 1880, but the Poe statue is modern and was unveiled in October of 2014.

Poe Adams


UC Santa Cruz

This year, in 2015, the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) celebrates it’s 50th birthday.

I graduated from The City on the Hill in 1995, not with a degree in Art but in Literature with a pathway of Pre and Early Modern Studies in Literature. What does this degree really mean? And “what is pre and early modern studies?” you might ask. Well it’s just the study of dead white, and sometimes blind, poets: Milton, Donne, Marlowe, and of course Shakespeare.

The first time I encountered the Bard was an old leather bound copy of Shakespeare’s Complete Works that was kept in a cabinet in the front room of my childhood home (it was a wedding gift for my parents). I would occasionally thumb through the onion-skin pages of tiny words, arranged in two narrow columns. I never read the words but I somehow thought that this must be some sort of sacred text that came out from time to time during some of my parents many cocktail parties (this was the 70’s after all), not that anyone would open the book but it sat on the coffee table, looking cryptic and important. To one of the valley’s engineers, it might have even appeared to be an over-sized coaster.

I later encountered Shakespeare in high school, reading Romeo and Juliet and watching a grainy VHS copy of the  iconic Zeffiirelli production. I was hooked! From there I made a pilgrimage to Ashland and it’s Shakespeare Festival.

And then, when attending UC Santa Cruz, while taking a Shakespeare course, I saw my first Shakespeare Santa Cruz production. It was The Merry Wives of Windsor, re-imaged in a 1970’s trailer park, and it all somehow worked. The text was not altered but the setting and concept was very, well, Santa Cruz. Since that time I have seen many Shakespeare Santa Cruz productions until it’s last season in 2013 (it’s 32nd season), a victim of state budget cuts to the universities.

The beautiful campus has provided many sketching opportunities and the sketch above was completed on one recent Sunday, June morning, while seated on stage, looking out to the Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen. My only audience was a feeding doe and her spotted fawn.

College 5

A sketch done from another hike on the UCSC campus and Porter College, formerly College Five. My hiking companion had attended College Five in the early 1970’s. To the left, and out of frame was the the Porter Darkroom Guild, where I spend many hours learning how to print black and white prints.


A detail from one of the most interesting colleges from an architectural standpoint, Kresge College. When I was there, it was rumored that a college course in Japan was taught, just about the architectural innovations of this college.