I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
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Saturday, April 6, 2013


I used to walk past The City Mission every day.  Scary homeless guys hung around outside, smoking cigarettes and catcalling.  I put my head down and kept my periphery vision on high alert for sudden movements.  Past that gauntlet, I waded through the monthly line at the Welfare office.  Sometimes fat women with too many kids would yell at me about how I didn’t deserve the luck of having a job.  That was the price I paid for 50 cents/day parking in the big city.  If I had been more lucky, I would’ve paid $15/day and avoided seeing that side of life.

Once I was at work, I looked out my 13th floor window at the ornate capitals of the columns on the next building over.  I listened to my old guys talking about the good old days, and I ate lunch at the Old Arcade  or Terminal Tower.  It was a time of urban renewal, and I enjoyed watching craftspeople restoring long-neglected architecture.  When my work was done, I often drank with my coworkers in The Flats.  It was mostly a good time in life.

Given the opportunity, I jumped ship and took a job in the boonies which is my natural environment.  Whenever I had to wait for geese to cross the road so I could get to work, I thanked God I wasn’t driving in the big city any more.  If a goose made a mess on my windshield, I turned on the windshield wipers and felt grateful I wasn’t watching a homeless guy taking a leak on the street – but sometimes I missed the fun of the city.

Years went by and I ended up working at another urban place, but without the charms or entertainment.  The drive was longer, the traffic was meaner, and the roads were in worse shape.  I didn’t want to go out drinking with my coworkers.  I wanted to get home where I could listen to birds sing.  Sometimes I felt nostalgic for street festivals and eating at the Old Arcade.

My boss gave me a project for graduation.  I gave him a graduation cap.  No, no, no… something more personal.  Why don’t you paint a building?  I screwed up my face.  Why I would draw a building for graduation?  My originally from NYC boss started talking about buildings like they were people.  In fact, I’m pretty sure Manny loved New York buildings more than he loved any humans.  I was pretty sure he was crazy, but okay, I painted buildings.  I guess the client thought he was crazy too because we didn’t sell that job.

Sometimes I think of Manny when I just don’t understand another person’s point of view.  What I think is obviously the only right way to think about certain things.  For instance, my heart bleeds when somebody cuts down a tree.  I had another boss who thought Ohioans are way too fond of trees, which he thought should be clear cut so you could have a better view of houses.

It isn’t just trees vs. buildings.  Sometimes I have to think of Manny when confronted with any foreign thought which runs opposite to my understanding of the universe.  Of course they’re still wrong, and I’m still right, but sometimes I can slow down a little and appreciate some of the things they value.  All that remains is for me to figure out a way to make these people value trees.


  1. Only minutes ago, my daughter was telling me about the home schooled children who came to her high school office for information concerning AP testing. She smiled as she told me how they were dressed: turtlenecks, loose khakis, etc. I told her that it's all relative. They probably look at you like you're dressed immorally with your tight jeans and shirts, like you look at so-called ghetto and redneck kids. Something you said made me think of that conversation - now I can't exactly relate it to your post. :) Anyway, life is very colorful and it seems that you've experienced a variation of it, which I think helps in knowing who you are.
    I will always like trees; but buildings are nice to see, too.
    My husband would love to take your column and zap it into a real thing. He loves architecture.

  2. Your ornate column makes me think of trees Linda. I really love the city especially London, but even there I love to see the trees both in the streets and in the parks. They really are the lungs of any great city. Your fab drawing also reminds me of the architecture in Rome....perhaps the original city ;0) Jane x

  3. I live in the boring suburbs - between city and boonies - and I find I like to get a little dose of urban and rural (feral) now and then to keep me balanced.
    Your beautiful column reminds me of government buildings. What you doing at the courthouse?

  4. Houses are good because they make all trees look beautiful :)

    Did you know that I have a theory that architects are putting too many windows in houses? If there were less windows there would be more wall spaces and more room for paintings. And that means more work for us painters : see houses are good :)

    I have a Forest in my yard that I planted 30 years ago. My then neighbours all laughed - hah, nothing will ever grow there, they said. The salt winds from the sea will kill all the trees. Now most of those neighbourse are dead and the trees are all thriving.

    Must mean something.

    I guess it means when I'm dead some of those trees will be still around - salt air or not.

    see you

    thanks for the contemplative post - as always :)

  5. I suddenly feel an urge to wear khakis :) I have not been to the courthouse recently, and am really hoping that I won't have to go again since that usually means somebody else has gotten into trouble.

    It's hard to argue with your logic Andrew. More walls does mean more paintings, and there can never be enough walls to hang paintings!

    Thanks for the the comments everybody!

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  7. I love weekends in the country. The slow lane is nice as long as I get back in time to order a good pizza.

  8. But, Linda, your Corinthian capital IS botany (and therefore a bit of countryside) in marble, stone, and brought to the heart of the city. The roof of all these solid buildings rests on opening flowers, curvy plants, and flowering trees. That is what Corinthian capitals suggest to us. Yes, the ancient Greek were marvellous architects.
    So, the choice between city and countryside is made a bit less hard by getting our city look more green.
    Your Corinthian capital is totally charming.

  9. Beautiful illustration and a great tale, too.

  10. I hadn't thought about how I made trees and plants in the city, but I guess that makes perfect sense for me. Thanks for pointing it out and for your comments!

  11. I find there is energy anywhere you are, if you look at it. Having grown up in the city and found energy in the constant traffic racing by my window as I worked, I moved for a while to the country and raised dogs and horses. Anyone that tells you country is quiet hasn't sat up late at night listening to the crickets and animals and the wind in the trees... nice post kiddo. Got me thinking and that's not an easy thing these days! :)

  12. I think the noisiness of the country is a good thing. Well, sometimes frogs can really get out of hand, but other than that... You're too modest Rand. You're thinking all the time, but anything I can do to help your process, even better :)

  13. I love my trees, but sometimes I love to observe the "wildlife" in the city, too. ;o) Beautiful elegance in your choice of architectural detail to illustrate this week's challenge!

  14. Thanks Michele! Seems like your post shows we were on the same wavelength this week :)

  15. Wow, that column is spectacular! And I love that beautiful delicate color. I have never worked in a bit city, but my boyfriend works in Chicago and is always full of interesting tales from the train! Seems like there's a long list on the pros side, and a long list on the cons side, for big city living.