City council captured

By Eric Gordon.

IMAGE: This drawing by Eric Gordon depicts both TPSS Co-op supporters and city library renovation supporters at the July 28 city council meeting.

BY WILLIAM L. BROWN

The people on the dais look down at their desks a lot. They shift position frequently, too

This becomes obvious to anyone trying to draw the city council at one of their weekly meetings, as I and three other cartoonists did Wednesday, July 28.

The “live drawing” art-happening, Politically Inclined, was in conjunction with the Stylized Notions art show ongoing at the community center through September 4.

Artists Eric Gordon, Art Hondros, Steve Loya and I, who all have pieces in the art show, sketched, drew, penned, scratched and markered on various media from a set of council-auditorium reserved seats.

Steve Loya did not have to bother with capturing likenesses. Instead, he captured quotes. Loya uses colorful ink blots as his cartoon figures. He gives them facial features, insect-like limbs, antennae, tails and speech balloons. The speech balloons in this case were quotes or phrases from various sources around him: the council, staff on the dias or citizens at the podium or in the audience.

Art Hondros created caricatures and political cartoons in pencil on the meeting topics. A Takoma Park resident, he was concerned with the Takoma Junction development project and the plastic bag ban. There were several people in the audience there to comment on Takoma Junction and to watch the final vote. Hondros has had a number of graphic-novel type articles published in The Washington Post, including one about Takoma Park’s late animal-rights activist Walt Rave. It was reprinted in the Voice. A page from that article is on display in the community center lobby.

Eric Gordon, another local resident and member of the Takoma Park Arts and Humanities Commission, was right at home with live drawing. He does it all the time with DC Creepers.  Using a mix of markers and pens he creates vibrant portraits of people he observes in public spaces. He knows how to catch a quick candid sketch when his subject might shift position any second. LIke Loya, he included dialog from the meeting. Because the artists were sitting close to Pat Loveless, Takoma Park’s “official peace delegate,” his pronouncements caught the artists’ ears.

On the other hand, I, the creator of Takoma Park’s Citizen Bill cartoon feature, had never tried live-drawing on my medium scratchboard. Scratchboard is a heavy board coated with a white clay surface. Ink is brushed over the entire surface. After it dries, I use a sharp tool to cut into it, creating a crisp white line. A line that cannot be erased! I also brought a sketchpad and pencils, a more forgiving medium for live drawing.

At the break, the artists laid all their drawings on the stage for the council, staff and audience to view. At the end of the meeting, Councilmember Terry Seamens contributed his own sketch.

About the Author

William Brown
William Brown is the creator of Citizen Bill. He is a illustrator, cartoonist, and Morris dancer living in Takoma Park, Maryland. His work appears in such publications as The New York Times, Slate, the Washington Post, the Progressive, Newsday, and the Washington Times.