From Mama Snail, Nov. 19, 1999
“Best thing–I saw the George Washington Bridge + it looked just like Tar Beach”
–one of my favorite picture books when I was a wee hatchling, by perhaps the U.S.’s most famous black female artist, Faith Ringgold. In Tar Beach, the imaginative heroine takes flight over Harlem one night, dawning the lit suspension lines of the George Washington Bridge like a giant diamond necklace!
This iridescent, vintage style postcard is one of my favorites!
From Mama Snail’s first book tour, “New York is very fun and noisy, lots of taxis + horns honking, bright lights, my reading went well–I opened my book + your drawing of flowers fell out!”
Found this postcard at Grandma Snail’s that summer we were all helping her move out. It’s quite a vintage shot, as the Savoy Plaza hotel–the bulkier building with the twin chimneys–was demolished in 1964.
March 20, 2001 “Daddy + I stayed where we spent our honeymoon 15 years ago. Very romantic.”
Bob Dylan, New York City, 1965
By pop culture portrait photographer Richard Avedon (1923-2004)
From Grandma & Grandpa Snail
(Gruen is an acclaimed rock ‘n’ roll photographer.)
Among the most famous modern print artists, Robert “Bob” Blackburn (1920-2003) was a Harlem native who grew up in the bloom of the Harlem Renaissance. (His elementary school English teacher was Countee Cullen!) Blackburn studied lithography at the WPA funded Harlem Art Center, and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and Jacob Lawrence at the Uptown Community Workshop. But moving from print art student to working print artist was maddening–nearly all of New York’s artist-printshops barred him because he was Black. So, in 1948, he established his own printshop with the principle that it was open to all.
Today, the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop offers all levels of classes for adults as well as children, workspace to print artists, and collaborates residency-style with professional artists from other disciplines. For instance, when I visited a year ago, guess who just happened to be there? Challenging herself with two-dimensions was world class, large scale sculptor Chakaia Booker!
As a non-profit, the Workshop staff earn funds by taking in contract work. A super positive, inspiring place.
118 10th Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets
Jill Gill is a commissioned artist specializing in brownstones and other grand old buildings. For more postcards of illustrated real places, check out my July 10 post.
Just think of all the novels and short stories, poems and plays inspired by New York City! Whew!