The Rapidian

Heartside goes to London, part 3

The third part of our Museum of Everything series has us drawing at the Marble Arch and meeting artists from other studios around the world.
Underwriting support from:
Willie in a new room at The Museum of Everything

Willie in a new room at The Museum of Everything /Heartside Gallery and Studio

drawing of Willie drawing

drawing of Willie drawing /Heartside Gallery and Studio

new MOE signage?

new MOE signage? /Heartside Gallery and Studio

There is a routine we've established here, even in a few short days: we head down four flights of narrow stairs, and watch the old charming cabs roll by as Willie finishes his morning cigarette on the front stoop. We pass the grocer, then head around the tiny park, and as soon as we know it we're walking three people thick down Oxford Street toward Selfridges so that Willie can draw and play his harmonica. The Museum volunteers greet us every day with, "Ah Willie, right on time again."

On Wednesday's walk, we collect some scrap wood that we find on the ground along the way, and stop at the Marble Arch so Willie can draw a double-decker bus. 45 minutes later, we're in the Museum and Willie is drawing at a table that's been set up just for him in a small room. A tiny sea of high school students are taking in the exhibit, asking Willie questions, and making their own hot rod sketches while gossiping about girlfriends. After the students leave, we snag the main table in the center room again. Here we gain the company of Frankie Burton and Ailbhe Barrett, who are from the Mayfield Arts Centre in Ireland. They've flown in with their studio leaders for just a few hours to see their work in the exhibition, and in a short time they steal my heart. Ailbhe tells me to eat a pack of tic-tacs on the plane so that I can finally learn to enjoy flying, and then she's off to see her work. Frankie is less mobile, so he sits with us for quite a while, drawing on some paper that Willie has passed to him across the table. I try to draw them both while they create tractors and cars across from one another, black sharpies turning gray by the time they finish their drawings.

On Thursday, a group of artists from a tiny studio in North London sit down with Willie and I at the main table where he's drawing, and suddenly we have an impromptu workshop! An older blue-eyed man named Steven starts drawing faces in my sketchbook, starry-eyed Zarina is drawing repetitive box shapes with the stubs from Willie's well-worn colored pencils. A very serious Michael says he's never drawn before, but he fills an entire page with a fantastic rendering of the house he lives in. Their studio leaders take a dozen or so photos and comment on how lovely it is to see live drawing in the middle of this busy show.

Willie and I head to our first Museum Talk at the old hotel, where we get to hear Joyce Scott (Judith's sister), Tom di Maria (Director of Creative Growth Center in Oakland) and James Brett (wizard of Museum of Everything) talk about Judith's works. After the talk, Willie gives James a drawing he's made on the scrap wood, which features two hot rods and 'THE MUSEUM OF EVERYTHING 1971' in sharpie. Willie only stops drawing today in order to nap for a bit during the lecture, and then he's back at it, drawing everything in red and blue because he says it's about time to head back to the states. We take our normal walk back to the hotel, and call it an early night (though I can hear the harmonica in the next room).

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This gets my vote for the best "Art Story" in Grand Rapids this fall. Thanks for the ongoing travelogue.

steven, thank you so much for saying this!  i am a nervous and unsure writer, but still i am up in the middle of the night adding notes.  so much more to say...

Sarah-- don't be unsure. You are a splendid writer. And I would not say that if I didn't mean it, after many years as a writer and editor. Not only is your copy clean (not filled with technical errors), your style is forthright and filled with evocative descriptions. I enjoyed this series very much.