The Corwith Cramer at Brooklyn Bridge Park

This past May, I spent the afternoon with my friend Audrey Hawkins drawing The Corwith Cramer in Brooklyn Bridge Park. (See Audrey's drawings from this day here). The Corwith Cramer is a 134-foot two-masted brigantine owned and operated by the Sea Education Association (SEA) out of Woods Hole, MA, just a few towns over from where I grew up on Cape Cod. 

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Photograph © Etienne Frossard 2015

Photograph © Etienne Frossard 2015

The ship serves as a floating lab, classroom, and office for students and researchers. This particular crew was returning from a five-week voyage studying biodiversity and conservation of the Sargasso Sea region. The ship's arrival in Brooklyn marked the end of the voyage, which began April 20 in San Juan Puerto Rico. 

While we were drawing, Etienne Frossard, photographer for the Brooklyn Bridge Park, snapped our photo.

Independence Day & The Mayflower II

In honor of Independence Day, I'd like to share a few drawings of the Mayflower II done on location in Plymouth MA last weekend.

Although the tradition of Independence Day was born of the Revolutionary War, the seeds of our country's independence were first planted on September 6th 1620 when  the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth England carrying 102 "brave" (or certifiably insane, depending on how you look at it) passengers looking to start a new life.

The Mayflower II docked in Plymouth MA with Plymouth Rock in the foreground. 

The Mayflower II docked in Plymouth MA with Plymouth Rock in the foreground. 

After two agonizing, stormy months at sea, cramped in dank conditions below deck, the colonists arrived in the New World. Five passengers perished at sea, and during the first winter more than half of the colonists died from malnutrition, disease, and harsh weather.

The ship's purser, Master Williamson on the half deck of the Mayflower II.

The ship's purser, Master Williamson on the half deck of the Mayflower II.

Two women gave birth on the Mayflower; Elizabeth Hopkins gave birth to a son, Oceanus during the journey, and Susanna White gave birth to a son Peregrine while the ship was anchored in Cape Cod Harbor. 

Susanna White gave birth to a son Peregrine while the Mayflower was docked in Cape Cod Harbor. Her first husband, Master William White, died during the first winter. Susanna then remarried Edward Winslow; the two were the first to be married in the New World and went on to have two more sons together.

Susanna White gave birth to a son Peregrine while the Mayflower was docked in Cape Cod Harbor. Her first husband, Master William White, died during the first winter. Susanna then remarried Edward Winslow; the two were the first to be married in the New World and went on to have two more sons together.

It's believed that none of the colonists would have survived the first winter without the help of the local Wampanoags, who taught the colonists how to hunt, fish, and grow corn, beans and squash.

A Wampanoag winter home, or "nushwetu," housed 3 generations.

A Wampanoag winter home, or "nushwetu," housed 3 generations.

Devin Newhkuhshan Wixon, a Native American Interpreter at Plimoth Plantation, making a fishing net and canoe.

Devin Newhkuhshan Wixon, a Native American Interpreter at Plimoth Plantation, making a fishing net and canoe.

So today, while we celebrate our independence and recognize the people who risked their lives to found this country, we should really be recognizing and thanking the Native Americans, whose generosity and respect for life helped many of our ancestors survive the first few years here (and who, not long after, faced genocide and were forced out of their homelands at the hands of the colonists, leading to hundreds of years of systemic oppression which continues to be perpetuated to this day). 

No Justice, No Peace: The Millions March for Eric Garner

Last night I attended the Millions March protest for Eric Garner at Foley Square to do some reportage illustration with friends Audrey Hawkins, Evan Turk and Chris Brody. When we arrived there were already hundreds of people gathered; the square was packed and people were spilling into the streets.

The atmosphere was peaceful but charged with a kinetic, positive energy. It was heartening to see how many different people turned out to demonstrate. There were parents with children, teenagers, college students and elderly people of every race and gender. People were chanting "Hands up don't shoot" and  "No justice no peace." I overheard a mother shout out “hands up!" and her toddler yelled "Justice!” I had to laugh.

Protestors in Foley Square in front of the United States Court House.

Protestors in Foley Square in front of the United States Court House.

Soon we began to move toward the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge, with protestors chanting "Eric Garner, Michael Brown, shut it down shut it down!" and "Racist, sexist, anti-gay, NYPD go away!" Once we got to the entrance to the bridge we stopped; I heard that police had blocked entry to the bridge. I was at the very tail end of the group, behind police who had formed a line standing shoulder-to-shoulder. They started to back up as I drew; one bumped into me and apologized.

The crowd moving toward the Brooklyn Bridge

The crowd moving toward the Brooklyn Bridge

There were news crews, photographers and journalists everywhere, as well as a few different helicopters circling overhead shining spotlights down on the crowd. Some other chants I heard were "Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!" and "How do you spell racist? N-Y-P-D!" One guy even had a saxophone that he played the whole time we marched, though as I began drawing him he was lost in the crowd, so unfortunately he doesn't make a cameo here!

Protestors attempting to gain access to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Protestors attempting to gain access to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Some protestors had made large cardboard cutouts of bodies that looked like chalk outlines. Each one had a name of a black person killed by the police. Some people had megaphones, but the crowd chanting in unison seemed to be the most impactful. For a large group, the protestors marched fast. While Audrey and I said goodbye to Chris and Evan, the crowd disappeared down Centre Street. We found them again on Broadway, where they had taken over the street and traffic was at a standstill. Then we turned and marched up Canal Street.

Protestors march down Canal Street toward the Holland Tunnel.

Protestors march down Canal Street toward the Holland Tunnel.

This adorable little girl riding on her dad's shoulders had made her own sign. It was a bit scribbly and hard to read, but I think it said something about paying reparations to the families of those killed by police. While a few motorists/commuters seemed irritated, most were actually cheering on the protestors. A few cars and trucks beeped their horns to the beat of the chants, some people put their hands up as we walked by, and a few work crews had made signs saying "Ferguson is everywhere" that they hung in the windows of their trucks! As the crowd moved toward the Holland Tunnel, Audrey and I decided to hang back and draw some of the scary-looking cops in riot gear. They were standing shoulder-to-shoulder holding their batons out in front of them, and had economy packs of plastic handcuffs at the ready. The leftmost cop in the drawing below said I made him look fat.

NYPD in riot gear lined up along Canal Street.

NYPD in riot gear lined up along Canal Street.

In addition to the hundreds of cops on the streets, there were hundreds more in vans following the protestors. It seemed like overkill for such a peaceful protest, and I definitely noticed that many of the cops were treating bystanders/commuters (and us, with our sketchbooks) with more respect than they showed the protestors. While we were there, it seemed like the police were, for the most part, standing back and letting the protestors do their thing. However, just after I left I saw photographs and reports of police indiscriminately arresting and pepper-spraying people, including children and elderly women. Not exactly the best PR move for them, considering the protest was for ending police brutality, but I guess they got bored of standing around. In all, it was a wonderful and moving experience. It was so inspiring to see all the different people that came out on such a cold night to demand reform and an end to police violence!

DUMBO Arts Festival

This past weekend was the annual DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn. After 4 years living in Brooklyn and never having gone, I decided it was due time to check it out. 

"Circle Circus" an interactive sculpture by Saul Schisler. © Carly Larsson 2014

"Circle Circus" an interactive sculpture by Saul Schisler. © Carly Larsson 2014

There was so much to look at and so many people everywhere that it was a bit overwhelming at first, and I must admit I spent more time wandering around with my mouth hanging open than actually drawing. One of the first things I stopped to see was "Circle Circus" by Saul Schisler, an interactive sculpture consisting of an oversized spirograph accompanied by giant pencils. Both kids and adults were having a blast trying to operate the mechanism, and I heard a few people say they had a difficult time using the giant pencil. 

"Circle Circus" an interactive sculpture by Saul Schisler. © Carly Larsson 2014

"Circle Circus" an interactive sculpture by Saul Schisler. © Carly Larsson 2014

While I was drawing one guy told me he'd be more impressed if I was using a giant pencil. Unfortunately, I didn't have a large enough sketchbook for that (and also, random man, this may be shocking- but I was not there to impress you). 

The Eat Morris food truck on Water Street, DUMBO. © Carly Larsson 2014

The Eat Morris food truck on Water Street, DUMBO. © Carly Larsson 2014

After watching and drawing the Circle Circus for a while, my friend Betsy was hungry so we decided to check out the many food trucks lining Water Street. The lines were pretty long, so instead of waiting I snacked on some almonds and drew. The drawing above is of the Eat Morris truck which serves fancy grilled cheese. It smelled awesome and I learned later that they do gluten-free too.

Jumbo DUMBO Puppy sculpture by Shinji Murakami. © Carly Larsson 2014

Jumbo DUMBO Puppy sculpture by Shinji Murakami. © Carly Larsson 2014

Next stop was the Jumbo DUMBO Puppy, a huge sculpture by Shinji Murakami made out of cardboard boxes! To be perfectly honest, I wasn't 100% sold on going to the festival until I saw the Jumbo DUMBO Puppy online. It just seemed so goofy, and how can you NOT want to go draw an enormous puppy made out of cardboard boxes!? I was very tempted to draw on it, but alas it was not an interactive sculpture and I figured that would be frowned upon. 

Reflection / Kolonihavehus by Tom Fruin and CoreAct. © Carly Larsson 2014

Reflection / Kolonihavehus by Tom Fruin and CoreAct. © Carly Larsson 2014

Last stop was Reflection / Kolonihavehus by Tom Fruin and CoreAct. This one could be experienced both as a sculpture and a piece of performance art; there were 5 performances inside of it. The audience was invited to wander in and out of the piece as they liked. It drew a lot of attention as it was right on the main walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Overall it was a good time - of all places I've drawn in public, I seemed to attract the least weird looks at the DUMBO Arts Festival :P Can't wait to go back next year!

The Duffield Street Houses

This past March I learned about the case of the Duffield Street homes in downtown Brooklyn and was compelled to honor their history with a drawing before they are eradicated by the city. The whole row of historic wood-frame houses on Duffield Street are believed to have played an integral part in the Underground Railroad, and many of them have already been demolished. 

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Previous owners of 227 Duffield Street, Harriet and Thomas Truesdell, were known abolitionists who worked with the likes of William Lloyd Garrison and Henry Ward Beecher. There is a sealed off tunnel in the basement of 227 Duffield Street which is believed to be a part of the Underground Railroad. Regardless of a plethora of evidence indicating that 227 Duffield Street and the surrounding homes were an integral part of the Underground Railroad, the city denies that the buildings should be landmarked and the Economic Development Plan (EDC) plans to use eminent domain to knock them down and build a park, two luxury hotels and an underground parking garage - just what we need. The fight to save the Duffield Street homes is still ongoing, and you can learn more about it here.