Posts in words
New Artists Statement

When I was last at Arthur’s Studio his table hosted an army of half formed figures in clay.  Each one I examined offered a face or limb of exquisite detail emerging from the clay lumps and blobs.  The beauty of the protrusions was devastating.  “Have you ever finished one of these?” I marveled.  “Never!” crowed Arthur, “Finish and Die!”  Being accustomed to his outbursts, I smiled, preparing my debate, but became distracted by his arrangement of the figures.

A goodly number of hands and arms had gathered in a semicircle near a corner of the table all stretching toward and almost touching a central lump of mud.  Though it was much larger than they, it held no detail I could discern.  I couldn’t decide if the arms were attacking or worshiping the lump.  Their desire to lay hold was palpable.  From here my eye was drawn to another gathering near the center of the table.


This is the beginning.  To read the rest go to my artist's statement.


The mere thought of it makes an artist queasy.
Yet I believe it holds the key to unshackling Art in our minds.
The artist, continually falling in love with his own paint strokes, goes through great pains to appear nonchalant in his application. In reality, every daub is one step closer to the inevitable immobilization when there is nowhere to paint that won't destroy himself. He thoroughly binds his heart to the painting until it is all his. Nobody will love the painting like he does. He is staking his claim to Art. But Art is a spirit and not a painting. Art is not confined to our fantasies nor subject to our arrogant materializations. Art lays hold on us. Art takes us out on a limb in the nude while we sing what has never been sung before. And then we puff out our chests and say "I sang something new, I have the Art" Art just left, and all we need now is a small boy pointing "he doesn't have any clothes on!" This strong desire to possess Art blinds us from seeing her as a person. The same way we forget the earth is conscious. I suggest that the desires of Art herself have not been addressed and our aim is to work with her in order to discover them. This is the first collaboration.

Julian 5

Felix- Part 3

We got to 56th street and I was relieved to see a food cart. This was not any food cart. 10 people stood in line at 2:AM while 3 middle eastern guys worked full tilt facing away from the customers. Felix started signing something about money. I made signs saying I would pay. He made signs saying he forgot his wallet. I signed I would pay. He made signs for good food, rubbing his belly, counted 4 fingers and made the sign for a forgotten wallet, then pointed at the cooks, making a giving sign. The little flag I had in my head started flapping wildly. "Ohhh," I said. "You owe these guys money," signing each word. He nodded looking at me anxiously. "And you want me to bail you out or we can't get food." He was counting 4 fingers and rubbing his belly. "4 meals..." I confirmed, "that would be 20 dollars." I wrote 20 on my palm. He nodded, pulled out a notepad and wrote, 'pay back tomorrow.' I laughed, "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger today!" He looked at me puzzled. I pulled a 20 from my pocket thinking 'here we go, his services HAVE been worth a 20 to me, but if he gets money from me once, he's got my ticket.' I handed him the money determining not to give him any more. He took it and went straight to one of the cooks, boldly tapping him on the shoulder. Sure enough, after surmounting his initial annoyance at having his groove disrupted, he remembered Felix, took the money and turned back to his work, much to the relief of the now 15 people in line. Felix the Persistant grabbed the man's shoulder who turned, annoyed again. Felix began pointing to what food he wanted. The cook made an impatient gesture to get to the back of the line. Felix made two steps that direction and grabbed the shoulder of the next cook, who turned, not as exasperated and took Felix's order. The folks in line started yelling things, but of course, Felix couldn't hear. The first cook leaned to the second and said what I presume was 'make sure he can pay.' The second cook made the sign of money to Felix who then turned and pointed at me. I was then being stared at by two cooks and 15 hungry people. The flag in my head tore off it's pole and plastered itself to the windsheild of my mind. I pulled another 20 from my pocket and held it up nodding my head. This was satisfactory. Felix came to me, got the money, paid the cooks $10 and returned with 2 American pie platters HEAPED with chicken, rice, and salad. An amazing amount of food. I was daunted but not abashed. We kicked our way through a blocks worth of empty pie tins to the tables outside a nearby deli, sat, and inhaled. It was marvelous. A full $30 worth of face stuffing. When we finished, Felix began rooting through his pockets, pulling out wads of paper. Receipts, note pads, flyers, napkins, and the occasional dollar. After 6 or 7 pockets, he had accumulated 8 dollars, including coins, and handed it all to me. Then he patted his belly, his heart, and mouthed 'thank you' many times over. Stopping in between to assure me on paper how much he owed me and linking his index fingers together in the sign of fast friends. Which we were fast becoming. As much as my brain said 'Run Away!' my heart found more and more things to enjoy with Felix, and come 4:30 AM we were still actively waving our arms and laughing our heads off in front of the Deli. His faith in God is refreshingly pure and unpredictable. Finally I divined that my wife's patience was being maxxed out and said I needed to go. He held up his classic 'One more thing' finger and produced a bottle of rubbing alchohol from his backpack. I raised a questioning eyebrow. He poured a little over his hands and began vigorously to scrub them together. "Ahhhh!" I said, taking the bottle. I suddenly could feel the stickiness of Manhattan in every crease and groove of my palms. I am no stranger to the miracles of rubbing alchohol; I use it for aftershave, hand and armpit cleanser, and enjoy it on my cereal (that's a joke). I therefore felt an immediate strengthening of our relationship and a little jealous that I did not have a bottle in my backpack. Noticing that he removed the cap completely to pour, I demonstrated my own expertise by unscrewing the cap half way and squeezing a trickle out, so as not to waste any. His raised eyebrows told me he was impressed and I happily simonized my fingers. Standing up, I shook the excess from my hand, noticing in the edge of my hearing a small 'ding' from the street. I paid it no mind and sat back down to examine our new found commonality, that is the rubbing alchohol. Felix had written me a note: 'does your wife mind you out so late?' . I started to explain. 'My Wife,' I mouthed, grabbing my ring (the night's sign for wife) and I had NO RING! Well. If anything says you're being insensitive to your wife, it's staying out all night AND losing your wedding ring. Now we both knew it was near, because I had grabbed it several times that night. We began to look under the tables and chairs, in my pockets, and on the sidewalk. It started playing through my mind that Felix was an exceptional pick pocket but then I remembered the 'ding' I had heard. Replaying the handshaking and the direction I heard the noise from, we searched the sidewalk, the street, and finally the sidewalk on the far side of the street, where I found it some 40 feet away. Needless to say, I went home.

Felix part 2

Ah, yes, Felix had a soft spot for pretty ladies and spent the next 45 minutes talking to 2 girls and their mother who were already being drawn. Anyone passing, who looked at me drawing, had pictures of Scarface and Bruce Lee shoved under their noses and hurried past before I could turn around. Felix brought the girls over when their drawing was finished. They said they wanted to see the baby pictures. I looked at Felix. He was cradling a baby of air then pointing at my sketch pad. I hauled out my pad with 6 pictures of Douglas I'd made from photos.

"Ohhhh.... that's so sweet," they tried to leave for 15 minutes, turning to go and having Felix grab their arm to say one last thing. They did escape and Felix began to tell me about a great place to get food. we were both starving, so biding a half hour more with no customers, I packed up and we left.

After many pantomimes, I accertained that we were headed toward a food cart vendor on 56th. It was about 2:am. I determined I would pay for Felix's meal, which he said was 5 dollars. It then occured to me how strange it was to be helped all night by a stranger in Times Square. 'Matter of fact,' I said to myself, 'he watched me make $145 and now he's taking me through a part of town where no one will hear if I scream. ' I looked at Felix; he was holding out his arm to stop me from crossing the empty street, earnestly looking both directions, then waving me forward. No, all my instincts said I could trust him. I left a flag up in my head to be wary and kept walking. Felix elaborated on the dangers of not hearing traffic.

By this point, I was a fluent charader and enjoying it.

Felix never stopped talking. He is 43, deaf from birth, and always throws his trash in the trash can. I asked him about this, sweeping my arm about at the trash plastered sidewalk as he walked 30 paces to drop a candy wrapper in a can. He poked his finger at the sky and mimicked someone looking down, shielding his eyes. "Ohh...," I said, "God's watching you." He went on to tell me how important it is not to peeve the Big Guy in the sky. In my mind I was replaying the video of him entertaining 3 artists with an animated display of how he would treat some rather voluptuous and thinly clad beauties who passed, pointing to the Double Tree Hotel, licking the back of his wrists and washing his ears. I concluded his theology was that God likes us to pick up trash.

FELIX part 1

Wednesday I started in Times Square, 48th st. around 6:30. After making one portrait I was approached by an officer who told me I couldn't draw where I was till after 11:PM when the theatre crowds started thinning. I told him I had been told this spot was legal, the side streets were good, the avenues were off limits.

"who told you that?" He demanded.

"The officer on duty at the precinct" I said.

"See these stripes?" he pointed to his shoulder, "these mean I'm a sergeant. I've been in times Square for fifteen years, and I'm telling you to move. What officer told you this was legal?"

"I didn't get her name, sir"

"Well I'm telling you to move." I started packing my things. "You need to be east of 7th Ave." he pointed.

"Officer," I said, "since you're the one who knows, where exactly CAN I set up North to South, East to West?" He Seemed quite put out to have to talk any further, but answered nonetheless.

"Nowhere between 7th and 8th Ave including Broadway from 42nd to 57th street." (streets in NY go E. and W., Avenues go N. and S.)

"Thank you sir, it's very good to know that."

I finished Packing and took a walk down to 41st and set up just East of 7th Ave. I immediately got one customer and then sat for an hour as people hurried by to the subway. In an attempt to attract attention, I found a picture of Douglas in my wallet and began to draw it. It wasn't long before I felt someone watching over my shoulder. I turned. It was a short man in a baseball cap. He seemed quite enthralled. He smiled and gave me a thumbs up. I pointed at him, "you want one?" He shook his head no. I went back to drawing. I could feel him watching just as intently, so I drew very confidently for another 30 seconds and turned again. He nodded and frowned with one eyebrow raised, pointed at the drawing, and gave me another thumbs up. "you like?" I rhetorically asked, waving toward the drawing (which wasn't good enough to show here). He stepped back and did the Italian Perfecto fingertip kiss. I was just starting to think 'this guy sure doesn't like to talk' when he pointed to his ear and mouth and ear and mouth. "Ohhh, you're deaf" I said. He made a small noise and pointed at his mouth. "And you can't speak" I said, repeating his motions. He nodded. He pointed at my drawing again and then pointed with an 'over there' point in the direction I had moved from. "Yeah, I got kicked out," I said, and then asked "Do you read lips?" He looked at me puzzled. "Do you read lips?" I pointed at my lips. He nodded energetically and mouthed the word 'Mute', rubbing his throat. Mute. "No, no" I shook my head, "do you" pointing at him, "read" pointing at my eye "lips?" My lips. OHHH! he mouthed, and held up his fingers to show a little. Again he pointed at my easel and then did the 'over there' sign and made a questioning gesture. I was getting it. He wondered why I wasn't over where all the people were. I tried to say I'd been moved but my charades were not working. He closed his hands like a book and made the follow me sign. I pointed to my wrist where a watch would be then held up my fingers, 10 and one. He closed his hands like a book and did the 'come, I know where, follow me over there' signs. I said "Not until 11:00" He pointed at my easel, closed his hands like a book, and did the 'I know a spot, this spot no good, come follow me, over there' signs. There was a charm in his persistance. I said "OK, why not, I'll pack up." As I broke down and packed my setup he made grand gestures at my art and poked fun at the trend of militant salesmanship of the chinese artists, pulling back the corners of his eyes and stomping around with a pretend portrait to see if I knew their crowd. I nodded and laughed and tried to sign that I preferred to work alone. After 3 attempts he got it and made the sign for no money. I laughed again, it was certainly true. The most money I had made in a night was working with Habib (who I still haven't told you about). I got my stuff together and we began to walk. I stopped him and mouthed 'What's your name?' He pulled out his wallet and showed me his ID. Felix. I gave him mine and then we continued walking. At every street corner, regardless of the lights, Felix put out a hand and stopped me while he intently looked for traffic left and right, explaining every time that he couldn't hear and needed to look. We walked past many artists, a lot of whom he knew, tapping them on the shoulder, interrupting their drawing, giving them the thumbs up and praising the beauty of their clients. The charm of his signing seemed to dispel their annoyance at having their concentration broken, and we proceeded happily from one acquaintance to the next. A few of the artists I knew already by sight, and all of them were set up on the forbidden avenues. Reaching 47th and Broadway where the artists thin out, and where I'd set up twice before, he motioned that this was the spot. I was happy; it was right in front of a Starbucks whose coffee I can palate with enough half and half. So I set up again, while Felix signed with the hot dog vendor. I then went into Starbucks and ordered a 'large' coffee with an extra cup. They call it a 'Vente', but I like my own language for coffee.I poured half the coffee into the second cup and proceeded to fill both to the brim with half and half. Giving new meaning to the term. Coming back outside I found Felix in animated discussion with a father and two girls, pointing at my portrait. On seeing me, he lit up like 'Ah, here he is.' I couldn't help smiling. "You want a portrait done?" I asked. "We don't know, how much does it cost?" The girls smiled tentatively. Felix interjected drawing on the air, pointing from me to them, gesturing invitationally at the seat. They smiled politely at him and I grinned. "Thirty dollars a person" I said. "How about for two on a page?" the father asked. "45" I pulled out of the air, "You two?" I looked at the girls. "Yes" they looked hopefully at Dad. "Go ahead" he nodded. I sat one down and began to draw, while Felix chatted up the other two. The girls were about 18 and 19. I did a fine job and by the end another couple had been pulled in by Felix who often drew their atttention to the fine quality of my drawing. So much so they began to call him my advocate. The picture I made was for the girls' grandparents. When I finished the father said "Now let's see if you can repeat the performance" I looked at him quizzically. "We need a picture for the other grandparents" he explained. So I drew the girls again, with smiles this time, while Felix kept the onlookers from boredom. The girls both in turn asked me if Felix always helped me. "I just met him tonight," I admitted. "He's very nice" was their rejoinder. The father and the second couple had become fast friends when I finished the girls and being so well entertained it took hardly a raised eyebrow to convince the couple to be drawn as well. They asked in turn if Felix always worked with me. "I just met him tonight" I said. "Oh!" they each exclaimed "He seems really nice!"

Now it's been a week since this all happened and I've been writing the story on the back of my business cards. I would stop due to the sheer length but it gets more interesting.

Felix to this point had not left my side for about an hour and a half. We stayed in that spot for another 1/2 hour with no customers. He suggested we move and I didn't hesitate. We re-established outside the theater playing Aida (music by Elton John) where about 7 other chinese artists were holding court. I began drawing the picture of Deborah Cox who plays Aida while Felix drummed the crowd. Only two artists had customers and the rest swarmed like flies on anyone who flicked an eyelash toward the drawings. Felix, it turned out, had a soft spot for pretty ladies.

Drawing in times square is insane.

When I first got there, I found a street with three chinese portrait artists set up, no one I had met before. They greeted me with big smiles.

"You portrait artist?" the english speaking one asked.

"Yes" I nodded "Where are we allowed to set up?"

"Anywhere, all street" he gestured in a way that included the whole city.

"Here?" I pointed to the spot beside him, "by you?"

"Yes, yes" he said."come"

So I set up. This was my set up: in my right hand I carried my easel, a wooden fold-away Jullian Plein Air that weighs 9 pounds; on my back I had a pack with my Litho Crayons (grease pencils), a folding aluminum 12" easel, a sweater, a mini portfolio, scissors, business cards, tape, rubberbands, pastels, a palette knife, binder clips, a mini sketchpad, and backup china markers; over my left shoulder a large portfolio case holding two 14" x 17" sketchpads (one for portraits, one for drawing in while I wait for bites), one 18" x 24" pad (for drawings of more than one person), two 18" x 18" masonite boards (weighing about 2.5 lbs each, one for my easel backboard reading 'be drawn' and one with a self portrait to be set in the aluminum 12" easel for an example of my work), six 8.5" x 11" other examples in clear plastic sleeves, and one wooden folding stool weighin 3-4 pounds. The total weight of all this equipment was approximately 35 lbs.


As I'm setting up, the other artists buzzed around me with great curiosity. My self-portrait had a speech bubble that said '$10'. Upon seeing this the english speaking one came up to me and said "No ten dollar." I looked at him quizzically. "come, look." he said, and he showed me the back of one of his samples. There in print was his price chart:

black and white......$60


and some other slight discounts for doubles and triples beneath these.

"no ten dollar," he said "sixty dollar, then come down, fifty, forty, thirty five. Maybe thirty. no more." he grinned at me and bobbed his head for my understanding.

I looked at him in disbelief for a second then reached down and pulled the '$10' bubble off exposing a '$5' bubble underneath. "No, No, No five dollar" he distressed. "Wait," I held up a finger and grabbed a pencil and wrote a '0' in to make it say $50. "Aha!" he laughed.

Well, that was wrong too, though he didn't say anything. Putting the price in the open is a no-no in Times Square. Especially anything over $10. I immediately attracted the attention of an African vendor of some kind who kindly came up and whispered in my ear "You know these guys only charge $20" "Yeah, I know" I said feeling my chance of not becoming the Great Beacon of Inexperience expire. "Just, trying to help" he said and walked to the corner where he stood and continued to stare at me. Meanwhile 5 more artists blew in and set up beside me and they all began aggressively cajoling the passers-by to get a portrait made.

Now, right on the corner were three black guys selling crystal fiber-optically lit thingys for $5. They sat and stood behind a table and continuously Barked, "FIVE DOLLARS, NEW YORK, FIVE DOLLARS! COME AND SEE IT! FIVE DOLLARS" On the opposite corner a saxophonist played a continuous stream of milky lukewarm jazz. Cars were pulling up to the curb letting passengers out to squeeze between the artists. About 3 artists had customers when a drunk irishman (wow) points to me from a hole in the wall and calls "Are you a Christian?" feeling rather naked, I asked "do I look like one?" undeterred, he repeated "ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?" "yeah" I said getting up and walking over to him "why do you ask?" "You're a slave," he ranted, "you're bowing down to these chinese blankety blankers. You've bought into the system. You're hoodwinked. You can't think for yourself. What are you doing here?" "I'm trying to earn a living" I said, "by using the talent I was given"

"No you're not." he said "you're just like the rest of 'em and you can't even see yourself. You can't get a girl to save your life, you were born in Ohio, and you might as well blanken go back there."

"Actually, I'm married."

"No, you're not" he said

"What are you drinking?" I asked

"Can you smell that?" he sounded worried.

"And I'm not like these guys. Their bottom line is money."

"And what makes you different?"

"My bottom line is enjoyment. If there's no joy in what I do, money won't fix it."

"Yeah, right, that's hogwash." he spat.

"You know if you're going to deny everything I say, you might as well sit down and let me draw you while we argue."

"No way, you just want my money."

"Not at all, I'll draw you free."


"Free. All I require is good conversation."

To make a long story shorter he denied and berated me for the next half hour and I drew him as best I could, which wasn't really that bad and it was certainly scrutinized by all the other artists who thought I had gotten him to pay. He ended up saying "I like you, your a real person" and gave me five bucks and a box of little debbie german chocolate cookies (remember I hadn't eaten yet, and it was about 10:30pm)which I took as high compliment, even from a drunk guy.

About halfway through his portrait (throughout which he berated everyone who looked, even policemen) the other artists, seeing people crowded on the other side of the street, packed up and moved there in about 30 seconds. My setup being more kloogy than theirs I stuck around my side for 30 min. and decided to go home and eat having my toe wet enough.

Since then I have been back twice and have met Habib from Tunisia. But that's a story for another day.


Having made a fair dollop o'dough yesterday, a Monday in Central Park, I strode out today (Tuesday) with the confidence that 2 dollars, enough for one subway ride, was all I needed.

Well, that was dumb. If Tuesdays were ever thought of as slow for business today was the day. I spent all day working on Monday's Oil Pastel (which you must see)without drawing anyone. By the time 8:PM rolled around I was alone with no money to go home. Did I mention that today I also decided to skip breakfast? and forget my water bottle?

So, as I contemplated my options, a little chinese artist (I thought they were all gone) wanders up with his suitcase packed and asks me "how business". I gave him the big thumbs down and he asks "how many?" I give him the big fat zero and ask him "how many did you draw?" He shakes his head and says "I no portraits". "Oh" I say " You don't do portraits, what do you do, paint names?" "No no" he says "I no portraits" I got it.He didn't do any portraits either. Then he says "Go tomsquare" "Thompkins Square Park?" I asked. "No, toms square" "Oohh, Times Square" I divined. He nodded energetically. "very...very people, toms square" He gesticulated. So I went to times square. And I'm too tired right now to tell you about it but I will tomorrow.

Here's a picture of my brother Nathan observing the clouds


I've been at my new home in Brooklyn since October 1st.

I've been at my new home in Brooklyn since October 1st. I love it.

I'm 4 blocks from Pratt, my old stomping grounds of '92, in a two bedroom spacious brownstone.

The reality is still sinking in that I'm back in New York.

For that matter it's still sinking in that I'm married and have a 19 month old son.

My plan is to make money through portraits/caricatures using entertainment agencies in winter and hitting the streets in summer.

For those who don't know, I've just come from the black hole of Mechanicsburg, PA, where I was running my brothers custom hardwood switchplate manufacturing business. See and order some. They're gorgeous.

As head of the business for 2 years I learned some very important things like an office job at the most enjoyable company in the world is still an office job, and I was right about going to art school to avoid getting one.