Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Urban Sketching Symposium Day 1

Upon landing in Santo Domingo I had to get a $10 Tourist card and then navigate through customs. Orling "Arty" Dominguez had arranged for a ride to the hotel which was a blessing since I don't know a lick of Spanish. This was the first time I've ever hoped to find someone holding a sign with my name on it. There was quite a crowd lining the entry to the airport. After much hunting and a quick call to Orling, I found a young woman with a sign that said, "Thor."

The road from the airport to the hotel snaked along the black lava rock coastline.  There were occasional water blow holes.  The cinder block roadside shacks and bodegas reminded me of Panama. The local driver wasn't that familiar with the one way roads throughout the historic district, so we got quite a tour as he drove a Nautilus shell pattern towards the hotel. Within an hour of getting settled in the air conditioned hotel room, I had to find my way to Centro Cultural de EspaƱa for an instructors meeting.

There was a swag bag full of donated sketchbooks from Strathmore, Canson and Stillman & Birn. A map showing where each of the workshops would be held, was a major help. People would meet at the Centro Cultural and then hike out to the workshop locations.

After the meeting, Lapin pulled me aside and asked if he could draw me. I was surprised with how close he wanted to sit as he sketched. We sketched each other and I was surprised that he finished before me. Getting to watch him work was a major thrill. Later that evening there was a Portrait Party, Ice-breaker at Quintana Bar, (C/ Atarazana #13, Zona Colonial, In front of Plaza Espana.) We all sat in an outdoor courtyard, adding more chairs and tables as artists arrived. The waitress did a good job with the first round of drinks, but soon she couldn't keep up with the demand. About one hundred artists were signed up for the Symposium and I swear they all tried to squeeze into that small courtyard. It was incredibly exciting to be around artists whose work I have admired for so long.

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