Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chess in Dupont Circle:

It was a crisp clear fall day in D.C. and everywhere we went it seemed, couples were getting married. Our intrepid group of sketch crawlers continued down Massachusetts Avenue and stopped at the Islamic Center. I once again had to use a bathroom so I made my way downstairs. The room had a large area dedicated to bathing and then two rest rooms. I was surprised to find the toilet was srmply a hole in the floor with two foot shaped indentations on either side. I was tempted to sketch but without someone using it, I didn't see the point. Instead I went outside and started drawing the Islamic Center from across the street. As I worked a tall black man in a flowing blue robe walked by. A limousine pulled up and people piled out dressed in gorgeous robes. They were from Sierra Leone and there was going to be a wedding. I cursed myself for being so far away but soon the fluttering crowd of robes and head dresses disappeared inside.

After I finished my sketch, I walked up to the ornate entrance to take a peak inside. As I did, Meredith Nelson, one of the urban sketchers, walked out with her scarf wrapped over her head. I was impressed with how she respected and honored the traditions. Before I could start a second sketch, our group gathered and we all started down Massachusetts Avenue once again. Passing a handsome brownstone, a crowd of people gathered on the steps caught my eye. A more traditionally dressed couple, she in a flowing white dress and he in a tuxedo, exited the building with cheers and a shower of rice. I realized I had lost my group of sketchers so I jogged to catch up.

The last stop on the Crawl was DuPont Circle. Most of the remaining sketchers gathered around the center fountain but I was immediately drawn to the group of men gathered to play chess. Spectators contemplated the game with as much seriousness as the players. As I sketched a brass band started playing on a street behind me. A group of college students were lounging in the grass beside me playing with an awkward large pawed puppy. The puppy kept testing the confines of his leash, bounding forward happily until the leash snapped taught choking him back. The chess game grew serious and a player cursed the stupidity of a move he had made. Check mate. I returned to the fountain and the remaining artists shared their work. So much artistic variety is always refreshing.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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