In many ways the first chapters in my As-Built: Architectural Portraits series are the story of my coming to NY and how my early experiences have shaped me as an artist. I kept pace with the city as it grew and changed, from the SOHO neighborhood where I had my first apartment on my own, in the late 70s ---at 16--- to Park Slope, Brooklyn, where I launched myself as a self-employed artist, all of 20. It took money to build in NY and that has never been easy on those, on me, starting from nothing. But it is the lure of NY that great, enduring things can be built.
A constant for all New Yorkers is the sturdy presence of the Empire State Building, a familiar figure, a beacon visible from all over the city, often in surprising ways. It remains the King of NY skyscrapers. It was the first place my father took me when I arrived. My sense of the grandeur of place had been formed by the rolling hills of the Central Coast of California. Here was a very different landscape, the city carpet one thousand feet below. Here was the center of Manhattan and to many, the world. The message is that here there is always higher ground, wherever you are you can catch a glimpse of progress, of rising up, of the triumph of empire. This building points the way with its beautiful, staged taper, each new set of massing a refined focus.
This drawing is the last of the Manhattan Bridge series, and was a 'found view' when I was on-site sketching for other pictures. The end of the bridge became a place to see what will be my next subject. Even as NY is ever-changing, there is always a view to the collective bedrock of the city, from the faces of diverse communities to the hard-won built achievements of bridges, parks and the Empire State Building.