Now that’s art

by Julie Frayn on July 8, 2013 in  Adventures in New York City

Adventures in New York City – part four

After our less than satisfying streak through the Museum of Modern Art, my baby girl and I decided to skip the culture and tour the streets of New York City.

We hopped the subway (more on that in a later post) and rode it all the way out of Manhattan and into Brooklyn. Not far, just the first stop. If ever we make our way to NYC again, we’re going to check out the other four boroughs (you know, see more of Queens than just the view from a speeding taxi).

Our biggest goal that day was to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. It was cool, and a bit windy — perfect for us prairie gals who seek indoor refuge from the burning sun. We loved the bridge, no real surprise there. But we were surprised by the artists we encountered. We didn’t think to snap pics of them, dagnabbit, but did pick up one piece of street art from each of them.

The first fellow was working on a detailed and beautiful charcoal sketch. Baby girl wanted one, and chose a spectacular New York street scene. He was selling prints (the charcoal would have been a mess and smudged when rolled) for $10. Good deal!

street sketch

A bit further down the bridge, another fellow was selling original pen and inks of the bridge itself. Also$10, also great deal. I had just snapped this pic of the bridge:

BBridge like art

And bought this piece from “MiliBaski” (if I am reading his signature correctly):

BBridge art

Eric AjamaAnother day, we walked through the Village, Soho, Noho, Chinatown and more. At a street fair in Little Italy we met Eric Ajama. I asked him to write it down as I would never remember. Like pajama, he told me, but without the p. I can now never forget him.

Eric’s art is all done on burlap, kraft paper, and muslin canvas. All loose, and rolled and stored and transported in cardboard boxes. He hangs them in a small tent by big clips. Nothing fancy, no museum, no admission fee. But the best art we’d seen on our whole trip (Van Gogh and Monet notwithstanding).

My Eric artHe does his streetscapes and city scenes this way, he told us, to show the industrial aspects of the city. This transplant from Togo, West Africa, joined the New York melting pot in 2002. I bet New Yorkers are glad he did. His art is honest and heartfelt, free and fluid. This is the piece that hangs in my living room, chosen because we stayed just a block from the street corner it represents.

my eric art inset

Biggest regret of our NYC trip is that I didn’t buy more of Eric’s work. Especially the piece behind him in the picture of him holding the rolled up print that I bought. Called “Last stop” (I learned a lot about him thanks to Google, and no, I’m not stalking him), it captures the feel of the subway, the grime and the sometimes dankness of the underground tunnels. It even conveys the smells and the bustle and the often overwhelming buzz of human traffic, without making a noise or having any odor itself. And it captures the essence of the well-oiled machine that the entire subway system proved to be.

Now that’s art…

Stay tuned for part five.

 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mitch July 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Great stuff. I like to collect “original” art pieces from local artisans when I travel as well. It helps them to pay the bills while providing a wonderful memory every time you look at the piece.

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Julie July 14, 2013 at 9:34 am

I agree. I have a lot of pieces from Bangladesh and Indonesia as well. Memories and beauty all in one!

J Timothy Quirk July 12, 2013 at 6:09 pm

That charcoal artwork is fantastic. Really love it.

Reply

Julie July 14, 2013 at 9:35 am

Even better in person, Joe. My camera sucketh… That is just a bit of the whole piece. It lost all its detail when I tried to capture the entire drawing.

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