MyMidwest Magazine article

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER2009 “Many people around me have sacrificed time and energy for me. I will do everything I can to ensure that I FINISH THIS RACE.”

contents [FEATURES]

56 THE GOOD LIFE Meet five individuals who, by lending a helping hand, embody the spirit of the holidays all year long. 64 OUT OF THEIR SHELLS Dance companies around the country are reimagining The Nutcracker for the 21st century, with new characters and moves—but the same timeless story. 68 WET & WILD A kayak tour through the Ten Thousand Islands area of the Everglades reveals a beautiful landscape, where the survival of plants and animals depends on eco-awareness. PHOTOGRAPHS BY SHANE LUITJENS (BADWATER, EVERGLADES); ILLUSTRATION BY TOMMY KANE (KATZ’S)

74 DRAWN TOGETHER By putting their pens to paper, the artists of Urban Sketchers find deeper connections to the places they live and visit. 82 MERCURY RISING Held every July, the Badwater Ultramarathon is one of the world’s most extreme footraces—competitors run for 135 miles through Death Valley. We asked them why.




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SHIHO NAKAZA LOS ANGELES “This is an early summer scene from Malibu, where the mountains meet the Pacific Ocean under a flat, cloudless sky. This is a quiet beach, where people who live nearby go for a walk. “My taste for sketching was piqued when I started studying animation and went on a drawing trip to Italy. Once I started to put pen on paper to record what I saw, I fell in love with being able to see what is happening around me while interpreting the events within me, all the while making lines on paper. “When I came back home to Los Angeles, I continued to sketch while pursuing a career in print production and illustration. In the process, I have learned to appreciate my city with its quirks and beauty—people of multiple cultures, buildings with various architectural styles, nature that thrives despite the city setting, all usually within the same place. The near-perfect weather most of the year also makes Los Angeles my favorite place to sketch!”


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“We are so bombarded by images—especially computer-generated ones—in the media that I think for many, this is a dose of fresh air,” Campanario says. “There’s nothing more than the hand of the artist and the piece of paper. But it’s also interesting because we are drawing in sketchbooks, which is something very old-fashioned and traditional, and we’re putting it on a blog, which is very modern.” Blogging aside, there’s certainly nothing new about the act of depicting environ76

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ments and events on paper. “Newspapers would send artists to the battlefields—and they would do sketches that other artists in the newsroom would develop into more elaborate illustrations,” says Campanario, who is a staff illustrator at the Seattle Times. “Before photography, the only way we were documenting the world as we see it was through the eyes of artists that were drawing it.” For Campanario, who moved to Seattle three years ago (he is originally from Spain and moved to the U.S. 11 years ago), sketching was how he got to know his new home. “It was a way to make a connection with my surroundings,” he says. “I find a lot of satisfaction finding elements in the urban landscape that may seem boring or ordinary at first but, when you draw them, they become special.” But it’s not only the places artists are familiar with that make it on to the pages of these artists’ notebooks—many sketchers relish the chance to draw while they travel. “All of your senses are involved in the experience of drawing,” Campanario says. “And when you go back and open up your sketchbook, it can really transport you to the experience of being in that park in New York or that piazza in Italy. It’s really a fascinating and enriching experience for an artist to travel and draw.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. “Until spring rolls around, I think I may be choosing locations to sketch simply based on what sort of warm deliciousness they can provide me when I finish drawing. I have a lot of respect for all the sketchers in colder climates than mine who are still out there drawing. “Making these urban sketches has become both an act of meditation and exploration for me. It helps me seek out and discover new parts of this city I call home, as well as focus on spaces and places I may have never paid attention to otherwise. “D.C. has an abundance of grand recognizable architecture, and hopefully I can bring some attention to some of the smaller and equally beautiful character of this city as well.”

“Seattle wouldn’t be the same without Pike Place Market, where locals, tourists and street performers can always be found among flower shops, fruit stands, fishmongers and all sorts of specialty shops. A must-see location for any visitor, it is also a mustsketch spot,” says Campanario.

THE URBAN SKETCHERS MANIFESTO “1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation. 2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel. 3. Our drawings are a record of time and place. 4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness. 5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles. 6. We support each other and draw together. 7. We share our drawings online. 8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.”


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FRED LYNCH BOSTON “It was with the intention of drawing swan boats that I entered Boston’s beautiful Public Garden last August, but this sculpture that I had never noticed before captured my attention. It was


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“The Liberty Memorial has the National World War I museum, a beautiful depiction of the complex factors involved in what was once said to be ‘the war to end all wars.’ Sketching it was a moving experience—I had to sit and sketch the challenging French tank in order to stop crying. “I’ve sketched ever since I was a kid—baby-book drawings from age 2 attest to that! And I’ve kept a journal for 25 years or so, dragging it through airports, onto buses and into cars, along with whatever art supplies I absolutely had to have.”

“The great Katz’s Delicatessen on Houston street is where the ‘send a salami to your boy in the Army’ phrase originated [during World War II]. It’s always a great place to get a late-night hot dog. “Everything [in New York] is in constant motion. Nothing will stand still long enough for me to draw it. I start to draw a bike and someone runs out, gets on it and leaves. A vendor selling umbrellas would make a cool drawing. I begin, and suddenly they pack up and move to a new location. That is just how Manhattan operates. Deep down it’s what I love about New York: how hard it is.”

originally titled ‘The Spirit of Giving,’ but is now officially called the George Robert White Memorial in honor of a generous Boston philanthropist. The sculpture stands in a corner of the park and is a peaceful spot contrasting the busy intersection behind it. “I have found there is nothing quite like the challenge of sketching on-site, capturing a witnessed scene or experience, with limited time and materials. It forces me to consider my surroundings and my life, more so, or in a different way, than when I create art in my studio. Each July, I sketch with my travel class in Viterbo, a small city north of Rome. And for the rest of the year, in and around Boston, or on the sidelines of a soccer field, I’m hunched over a sketchbook as my children play.”


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THOMAS THORSPECKEN ORLANDO “I finished the sketch with only a few minutes to go in the game, the sixth in the playoffs between the Magic and the Celtics. The crowd was standing and going wild. I figured it was time to start paying attention to the score. With 3:40 minutes to go the score was 75 to 75. The Magic made a huge final push and ended up winning 83 to 75. The crowd was so loud Terry, my wife, had to cover her ears. There were fireworks and streamers. The guy seated in front of me gave me a high five. That was the most exciting three minutes ever! “I have been using my sketches to discover the real Orlando. Sketching offers me a way to finally put down roots, to become part of a vibrant community that I am uncovering one sketch at a time. People for whatever reason always seem to want to tell me their life story when I am sketching, so my work puts me in contact with a wide variety of people around town. I wake up every day wondering where my pen, watercolors and sketchpad will lead me next. Everyday is a safari, an adventure.”

MARC TARO HOLMES SAN FRANCISCO “This is the statue-encrusted dome of San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts. It was the centerpiece of a 600-acre artificial city built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Expo. Architect Bernard Maybeck planned from the beginning that the structure would fall into disrepair – supposedly he felt the great American cities needed more historic ruins! “I have a short attention span, so sketching and designing has always been my ideal form of expression. I started keeping sketchbooks while traveling, as a way of recording my experiences in foreign cities, while simultaneously focusing my attention. Sketching actually lets me slow down. It’s probably gotten a bit out of hand— often, I won’t even stop drawing during a conversation with friends … oh well, what can you do?”


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