Dragon Boat Festival

A drummer at the bow of a participating dragon boat. © Carly Larsson 2014 

A drummer at the bow of a participating dragon boat. © Carly Larsson 2014 

In August I met up with NYC Urban Sketchers to draw the Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. The Dragon Boat Festival is an annual event which originated in China. The festival is based off a legend about the poet Qu Yuan who was a court minister & advocate for reform in his home of Chu. He was disliked by the emperor for his outspoken ways and was banished. During his exile, after hearing that his home was invaded, he jumped into the Ni Lo River and drowned himself. Local fishermen tried to save him but were unsuccessful. To prevent his body from being eaten by fish and as an offering to his spirit,  they threw rice dumplings into the water. Today rice dumplings are traditionally eaten on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival which is held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. After the races, it is customary to spend the remainder of the day observing street theatre, martial arts, Chinese dance performances, and other cultural festivities (all while eating rice dumplings, of course).

Dragon boats racing while spectators look on. © Carly Larsson 2014.

Dragon boats racing while spectators look on. © Carly Larsson 2014.

A giant dragon costume worn by about 20 people winds by during the parade. © Carly Larsson 2014 

A giant dragon costume worn by about 20 people winds by during the parade. © Carly Larsson 2014 

Drawing this event was certainly a challenge, as it was about 95 degrees and there was nary an ounce of shade. Regardless, it was a great experience and I'm glad I went. 

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!