Friday, February 11, 2011

The Chalkboard Exercises

It was six in the morning and I was standing in my driveway waiting for Brian Feldman to pick me up with a U-Haul he had rented. It was still pitch black outside and a deep wet fog made the orange glow of the streetlights quickly fade away as they marched away down the street toward the horizon. I heard the roar of the truck before I saw it. I pulled out my iPhone and flashed it at the oncoming headlights. I had my tablet to sketch with since it is the best option when sketching in low light. Brian had asked me to bring me video camera and tripod as well, so I piled them into the cab. In the back of the U-Haul was a large portable chalkboard. Brian had labored for days to find one since most classrooms have whileboards these days.

I directed Brian on how to get from my place to Universal Studios. There was going to be a Principal's Appreciation Breakfast at Hard Rock Live. The event began at 7am and Brian wanted to be set up at the entrance writing "I WILL SUPPORT ARTS EDUCATION." over and over again. When we arrived at the Universal Studios security gate the guards asked us both for our drivers licenses. Brian was asked to open the back of the truck. While he was doing that I was asked who our contact was since our names were not on the list. I told him to ask Brian. Britt Daley, who works for the Orange County Arts Education Center which was the host if the event, was our contact. Brian called her and she scrambled to find out why we were not on the list. It turns out Brian's name was on a list, just not the one the guard looked at.

We parked behind Hard Rock Live and unloaded the chalkboard which was surprisingly heavy. We wheeled it around to the entrance and set up. CityWalk across the lagoon looked gorgeous in the misty morning fog. I set up the tripod and asked Brian if he had the tapes. He had forgotten to get them. The event guests slowly arrived. Brian started writing and I began sketching. I rather liked the clacking sound the chalk made as it struck the board. Some teachers laughed out loud. But mostly there was the clacking of the chalk and the tapping of my stylus on the tablet. The moist air was making my hand stick to the tablet making it hard to let long lines flow.

When everyone was inside, I went in and stood at the back of the room to listen. The keynote speaker, John Ceschini, spoke about the importance of arts in education. He began with a quote from Yeats, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the building of a fire." On the table in front of me there were boxes of crayons and a single tile mosaic with gorgeous blue tiles and several clear spherical tiles. I thought back to a mosaic I had made for my mothers when I was 10 years old. On stage John quoted some more famous minds like Einstein who said,"Imagination is more important than knowledge." A video was shown of a little girl talking about an abstract painting by Wassily Kandinsky. In it she saw birds, a bridge, a plane, rainbow and a black hole which was beginning to suck all light and color from the imaginary world. Here was a mind ignited by limitless possibilities of the imagination.

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

1 comment:

PM said...

Most vibrant piece this year.