Tagged: Sulzer Library

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My father had been a very active and physically imposing man before marrying at age 30 and settling into a routine of child rearing, and long days behind a desk. Not one to complain much, he did admit to me when he was in his late 50’s and way over weight, that he hated his sedentary lifestyle. I am now in my late 50’s and have found myself years from any type of physically vigorous activity.  I spend scads of hours each week sitting in cafes, on trains and buses, in parks and libraries and any number of public spaces drawing throngs of folks who are working on their spreads. Gyms have cropped up over the years and I now am about to break down and join one because I just don’t seem to incorporate a vigorous lifestyle with my practice of sitting about noodling in notebooks. Chicago has garnered a reputation as a city sporting one of this country’s most overweight populations. My friends in San Francisco walk all over that city, and often, and having joined them, I can attest to the demands of those hills. And though I do hike about this town a bit, the pancake terrain never seems to really put me through the gears.

I spend loads of hours each week drawing and many hours on a computer have continually inched up to the point where I’m seriously looking to raise my tables and work stations so I at least stand while drawing and working at the computer. I keep looking to see what it is I’m documenting with all the urban sketching that I do. Certainly I capture many, many people who are simultaneously connected while disconnected through the obsession of keeping tabs with their computers. I also see lots of consuming while hanging about. Guilty myself there. Since moving to Chicago, I have logged thousands of hours in cafes where I not only draw but where I made use of the available newspapers to get my news because I have such an aversion to just sitting on my ass at home and watching t.v. And during those months of Sundays spent in cafes I have washed down a congo line of wheel barrels filled with donuts, cinnamon buns, almond croissants, chocolate covered graham crackers, carrot cake, chocolate chess pies, chocolate cream pies, apple pies, coffee cake, chocolate cookies, shortbread cookies, peanut butter cookies, blueberry muffins, banana nut muffins, ( there hasn’t been a baked food item made that my tonsils haven’t wanted to meet) with a a tsunami of hot chocolate, mocha lattes, iced cappuccinos, way too many of them dolled up with bouffants of whipped cream. As much as I’ve been witness to flock behavior, I’ve borne witness and documented my lard ass life style. Now the internet has brought much to me in the way of information and imagery, as well as helping me keep touch with a network of friends scattered all over this hemisphere. One such person, who could been a virtual denizen of the matrix for all I know asI haven’t actually met him yet, is the fine artist Clive Powsey, whose life is anything but sedentary. Often when he paints and draws, he is standing to do so have sometimes hauled an easel out to capture part of the majestic Northwest where he lives. Many times each year he treks into the Canadian wilds to scale mountains. I’m finally looking to get the lead out and follow the healthier examples being set by some of my friends.

How do I get more time away from the damned computer though. At least while out drawing in public, I felt like I was one who had lifted his chin and was taking stock of what was around him. When I get home I bear more than a little likeness to the junkie in how I glide willingly or otherwise to the nouveau boob tube. Given the amount of porn on the internet it’s even more of an appropriate moniker. Having skipped the t.v. for a great many years, never watched “Happy Days,” “Laverne and Shirley”, “Magnum P.I.”,”Jersey Shore”, “The Wheel of Fortune”, “WKRP in Cincinnati”, “Fraser”, “30 something”, “Mork and Mindy”, “Housewives…”, “The Weakest Link”, “Cheers”, “2 and 1 1/2 Men”, “Dynasty”, “Dallas”, “Six Feet Under”, “Family Ties”, “Lost”, “The Bachelor”, I do know that I’m somewhat culturally retarded. I did see an episode of the Sopranos and Seinfeld, and a few others just to get a sense of what I was missing but I just never took the bait. Not that some of them aren’t terrifically entertaining and some offer biting social commentary. It’s largely due to knowing I’m very visual with latent addictive tendencies and a teenage history of couch potatoism.

As a kid who lived in Turkey from the age of 12-14, I experienced a period of creative activity where I drew, built models, read stacks of books, and comics that later informed some of my drawing skills, and was out and about exploring the city with friends, finding no shortage of ways to direct  pent up energy. All because I wasn’t glued to the tube. And while I love going to movies, no commercials, larger scale and a more intense experience, it’s over after the feature and away you go. Plus it gets one out into the city to take in the event.. And I love the city. I like drawing as I’m out and about. It does many things for me to sketch while observing. It prolongs the act of looking and it slows me down to focus, much more so than the honey bee like flitting about from one thing to the next. Plus I’m getting more adept at drawing as I take in my surroundings. I got to be very impatient with watching sports on t.v. Especially if I had nothing invested in the game, i.e. were my alma mata  Longhorns of UT at war with a rival such as the Oklahoma Sooners? Even more so if it was professional sports. Here I was watching someone get good at what they did, plus make a ton of money, while I worked on the dent in my couch.

OK, so I have gotten better at a craft I very dearly love, and while I ain’t rich from it, it has put some food on the table. I guess you could say it has paid for some of the pastries and cocoa I’ve scarfed, but I lament that somehow, I’ve still managed to earn the fitness of a couch potato. Hence the halter monitor drawing of the previous post. You might ask, if I was to put myself in among my fellow citizens to document the way a significant portion of them spend their energies, was it necessary for me to blend in so much?

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