Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who Has Time to Stop and Look at Art?


I start each day in my window studio by sitting, drinking a hot drink and watching life flow like a river on the other side of the plate glass. I know if I sit here looking out or lift my camera, people won't stop. Still, I study them. Who will even turn their head? I perceive patterns and keep a lookout from the corner of my eye once I start to draw.

 Cup of the day #80, by Gwyneth Leech
India in on upcycled white paper coffee cup
Drawn in the window studio at 215 West 38th Street

By the end of my drawing session today I have it nailed. First there is my posse - the street sweepers, security guards, postal workers and office workers who I see every day. They stop to see what is new, or wave to me as they go by. Then there are delivery and messenger folk, walking purposefully.  Pushing a cart, they look ahead for obstructions, no time for me,  but if they carry envelopes they turn and engage. Cigarette smokers are furtive and preoccupied, seeking doorways to smoke in. They jump if the haven't seen see me at first and move quickly away from the window.

 Cup of the day #80, view #2, by Gwyneth Leech
India in on upcycled white paper coffee cup
Drawn in the window studio at 215 West 38th Street

Tourists pulling wheeled luggage are intent and anxious, walking quickly up the street. Later, strolling with heads up, they are happy and excited to see the window, stopping for group photos, sometimes with their backs to me. Successful shoppers carrying their purchases stop and study the window, as do pairs or small groups walking and conversing. They exclaim to each other and to me, interact and linger. Young people, students I would guess, usually walk with their heads up looking at the city. They invariably take time to examine the cup drawings.

View of the Hypergraphia window, March 23, 2011

The happiest viewers are office workers carrying their lunches. They have their food, they are looking forward to eating it, but they are not in a big rush to get back to their desks. They stroll by daily and we wave.

But the strangest of all are the cellphone zombies - they walk as if possessed, moving their mouths, completely unaware of their surroundings. A man stood with his back to the window today talking on his cellphone for a good 10 minutes before finally wandering off. He never noticed I was there.

 View from the Hypergraphia window, March 29, 2011

Truly, the best thing about the window studio is that I am disconnected. My phone is off, I have no laptop or I-Pad. I sit, think, look and draw. I try to stay like that as I walk through the streets of the city, eyes and ears open, finding stories everywhere. Once while talking on my cellphone, I walked the length of Central Park without noticing or remembering anything I saw.  I too was a cellphone zombie!
Now I know what it looks like.

View of the Hypergraphia window, March 23, 2011

Today I draw the people walking by, a frieze around my cup, some with heads turned looking in at me. Before I leave I put the cups in the window and go outside to consider the effect.
Now they are looking out at me as I look in. A pleasantly circular touch.

Cups in progress in the window studio
India ink on white cups, March 29, 2011 

The exhibition has been extended until April 8th and I will continue to draw in the window Monday - Friday 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM through Wednesday, April 6th.


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