Coffee Sketch Podcast

145 - Monuments and MLK Day

February 14, 2024 Kurt Neiswender/Jamie Crawley Season 6 Episode 145
Coffee Sketch Podcast
145 - Monuments and MLK Day
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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, the hosts engage in a nostalgic conversation about their experiences working at stores during their youth and how it eventually led them into architecture. They talk about the weather, and a humorous debate about sport ensues. Proceeding to a more serious topic, they bring up Martin Luther King Jr. Day and discuss Jamie's sketch of the MLK Memorial in DC, exploring its architectural and symbolic aspects. The episode reveals the significance of context, design, and thought in every sketch and how each version varies with a different approach and style. They wind down the episode by discussing a celebratory birthday sketch for Jamie's 13-year-old canine friend Tink.

00:00 Introduction and Casual Banter
00:10 Discussing Sports Rivalries
01:02 Weather Updates and Climate Change
06:21 Coffee Talk and Donut Cravings
08:41 Memories of New Orleans
10:18 Reminiscing About Past Jobs
16:59 Conclusion and Birthday Wishes for Tink
17:53 Reflecting on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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Kurt Neiswender:

Hey Jamie, how's it going?

Jamie:

How are you? Are you crying yet? Are you crying? Are you crying? Not yet, sir.

Kurt Neiswender:

Games on Sunday. Okay. Lions. Lions to be victors. No. They will be tears of joy. No.

Jamie:

No, it's going to be, I'm sorry, you know, Niners, buddy. So.

Kurt Neiswender:

Well, we'll. We'll still be friends.

Jamie:

Right? Yeah. Yeah. We can still, it's, it's all, it's just, it's the sports. It's

Kurt Neiswender:

okay. It's a classic. It will become a classic rivalry at the end of the day. So what, what else, what else is what's been going on? I

Jamie:

I had, are you wearing the mittens? Are you wearing the mittens? Okay.

Kurt Neiswender:

That was green room stuff, man. We're in the show. It's professional all the way.

Jamie:

Always. We haven't done a weather update in a while on the podcast. This is episode 1 45, folks. Season six, meaning year six, we don't do those. Like let's call 10 episodes in the middle of the year, a season. What's that all about? So we've been doing this for a while. So how, how is it in Flint?

Kurt Neiswender:

You know, actually judging by the. The, the beanie that I'm wearing it would look like it's much colder than it is, but it's actually, it's actually in the upper thirties today with, with rain after a whole week of five degrees. So climate change go figure. So it's warmed up, but you know, honestly, with these, this old house, you know, I got, I got the, this old house thing going on. When it's like in the forties. 30, you know, those it's hard for the furnace doesn't actually know what to do because there's that heat exchange between the indoor and the outdoor, you know, and so these, what they will normally it would be like fall spring, you know, kind of temperature, those shoulder seasons, as they say some people say When, when, you know, the indoor, indoor temperature of the house is still like, makes me want to put a hat on, you

Jamie:

know. What does a shoulder season mean? Is that like a, like a garment thing? Like, I want to reveal my shoulder or not? I'm not sure. I think, I think it

Kurt Neiswender:

has to do with like, those in between, you know, the fall,

Jamie:

spring. Tink is not convinced that this is, that this is all like a colloquial She calls BS. Yeah, exactly. Well, you're just, you are, you are more direct than I.

Kurt Neiswender:

She got me. Yeah. No, I, I She's an old, she's

Jamie:

a little older. I just, I try and be sensitive with the language around her, so

Kurt Neiswender:

Happy birthday, Tink. Thirteen.

Jamie:

Thirteen. She's still, she's still like a puppy,

Kurt Neiswender:

so How's the weather down there? I betcha it's about the same temperature as it is up here.

Jamie:

We actually, we are in, like, we actually warmed up suddenly but it had been awfully cold for a while and, you know, kind of almost, I shouldn't say unseasonably cold, it's Texas, you know, who knows, Texas doesn't know, Texas is a little drunk, like on the weather, you know, this time of year. So I will tell you though, a week ago, so a week ago, yeah, a week ago today I was on the road for work and started my day, it was a day trip, but a really long day trip with my team so started my day here in Austin it was a nice, you know, balmy 32. 33 year, you know, or so and then, you know, we started a really, really early got in the car, started driving went and visited a city Southeast of here. And by the afternoon, when we were done doing our kind of workshop. Lecture portion of the presentations, we did sort of a walking tour and of course it was a nice 72 degrees outside when we were doing our walking tour. Yeah, so like, you know, and then, you know, by the time I got home, it was, you know, starting to drop again. Yeah, like a 40 degree difference and I hadn't really gone anywhere. So crazy.

Kurt Neiswender:

That's yeah. That's, that's extreme. In one day planning for planning for winter. Ending in summer.

Jamie:

Yeah. Yeah. So no, it's, I think it's like mid fifties today. And you know, I think we're going to hover around here, you know in the forties to sixties for the next couple of days. So, I, you know, like, which is a pretty typical, like Texas wintertime, you know you know, moving into spring, but, you know, we certainly could drop again and do all the craziness and whatever, but last week on Thursday, that was, that was You know, pure Texas drunk weather. So,

Kurt Neiswender:

well, that's, that's chalk, chalk it up to climate change and, you know, the un, un, I don't know how to even describe it. It's just, yeah. Unpredictable, unpredictable weather. So, yeah, I mean, it's, you know. For a week that was in, I mean, last thing I'll say on weather, I mean, it, it just to, to, I guess, illustrate climate change, you know, for Michigan to go from 2, 4, 6, you know, degrees, you know, yeah. To 40, it was like almost 40 today. And like, that's that's not normal. You know, 40 is not normal for, January in Michigan, you know, it should be around 25, 30, you know, 40 degrees too much. Anyway, I can't explain it. So all that

Jamie:

to say is that you got to pay attention

Kurt Neiswender:

to the thermostat. So what's in the cup, Jamie? It's the Timmies.

Jamie:

We've gone back to the Timmies.

Kurt Neiswender:

I, I, I passed by Tim Hortons the other day after, I guess the last time we, we recorded

Jamie:

Maple. Glazed. That's all I got to say.

Kurt Neiswender:

Hey, I can agree with that on you, or I can agree with you on that as the you know, we can't agree on football, but we can agree on,

Jamie:

we can agree on the maple glaze. I mean that, I don't, I think like you could, you can have your eye on anything else in that location. You could be like, I need a cup of coffee. Or I need like a breakfast sandwich or whatever, whatever you, I just need a restaurant. Like, I'm like, I'm stopping at the Timmy's for, to go, you know, whatever. Get in that door. And you know, those maple glazed donuts are just talking to you. Just, just one, just one, just one.

Kurt Neiswender:

What about the 10 bits, you know,

Jamie:

a little, I know, I know, I know, I know

Kurt Neiswender:

where we are. So you can get a 10, a 10, a 10 in a box, 20.

Jamie:

I'm just saying, like someone, you know, put the rumor. In my feed of something, I don't remember which channel, maybe it was the actual news, but they said that Tim Hortons was planning a location in, in Texas and in Austin and, you know, lo and behold, we don't have it yet, or I'm not aware of it. So someone was lying to me.

Kurt Neiswender:

Was it? No, I'm not a liar,

Jamie:

but, but I will tell you my first thing I get when I go to that Tim's is going to be.

Kurt Neiswender:

Maple glaze. Yes, I wouldn't blame you, you know, I love a donut. Love. Good donut.

Jamie:

Me too. I mean, I'm not a sweets person, but you know, there's a couple of things that are just sort of, you know, there, you gotta, you gotta, you gotta have something.

Kurt Neiswender:

So, you know, speaking of sweets, this, this guy, Jamie shared an old picture. Of us in New Orleans at Café Du Monde. Oh, yes. Having one of the most fantastic beignets ever. Oh, my God. There was so much powdered sugar. It looked like a mountain of snow. Did it make you

Jamie:

just smile just seeing that?

Kurt Neiswender:

Like, yeah, as messy as that snack was. I mean, you pick that thing up and it's just powdered sugars all over your everywhere.

Jamie:

And hella good coffee, hella good

Kurt Neiswender:

coffee. So that was fun. Yeah, it was fun. Too bad we can't go back under the same committee work. We'll have to find another excuse to go back. Yeah, that would be

Jamie:

worth

Kurt Neiswender:

it for sure. It was a nice walk, especially in February. It was like a February trip. So it wasn't too bad. Yeah. Nice and warm. Anyway, there was something else I was going to bring up and I kind of forgot, but I guess for me, I am still working through the French roast bag of coffee that I had, but I just picked up another rootless bag of damn fine cup of coffee. The OG, cause you can never go wrong. With the the original, so it's probably going to happen tomorrow. First in, first out. Gotta, gotta finish what I've started, so.

Jamie:

I don't know what that meant, but it sounded, it

Kurt Neiswender:

sounded pretty good for anyone who's ever worked in a supermarket. First in first out. It means the you know, it's how you keep the, the, the dates in line. Right.

Jamie:

You worked in a

Kurt Neiswender:

supermarket. Oh, yeah. As a, as a, as a high schooler. Yeah. I've worked at Target. Running the cash register and all

Jamie:

that. Same, but Target. So before never

Kurt Neiswender:

taught you the first in, first out? The FIFO? I didn't know

Jamie:

that. No, no. I just remember the guy that like was working there and had been there for a few years and like to sleep in the. In the stock room, he had sort of made his own little nest amidst

Kurt Neiswender:

There's a movie that they, they like live in the, in the racks. I didn't,

Jamie:

I didn't ask, you know, I didn't, I didn't ask, you know, other employees, like whether or not they, this was a, like a, like a, like a trend. Like a constant thing or a new thing, or like just a really bad Thursday or what, but

Kurt Neiswender:

wow, that was a strange tangent that we just went on, but always,

Jamie:

always with us. Like, it was funny. It was, you know, we, we were talking with a friend and, and they were asking us I don't know if it was you or, you know, I think it was the prompt to me, but it's like. Jamie, you know, what's, what's something that Kurt doesn't know about you? And, and I was like, Ooh, you know but yeah, so there's, there's one that you can know about me, target. Yeah.

Kurt Neiswender:

Yeah. Is that, is that the universal

Jamie:

pronunciation? Oh, it totally is. I mean, yeah. I mean, and it's, what's fun is that like, when I go back and see my folks I, I've, I've. You know, at Christmas time, I took my dad over there because like we were we had to get some stuff like last minute. And as we're driving over, I was like, dad, you remember when I used to work here? He's like, Oh, yeah. Like, you had some weird experiences. And I'm like, yeah, he's like, so

Kurt Neiswender:

yeah, did they were they union? Well, I don't I mean, I did all my. All my supermarket work in Connecticut, and I, and I, that's

Jamie:

the point, Kurt, right? So there's like a thing, right, in the U. S., like, there's like a line, right? And all the things that, a lot of, yes, there are a lot of lines, and a lot of the things that you're talking about. Don't exist in a certain part of the country south of that line. Yeah, it's yeah, it, it is kind of different worlds. And even for this Canadian I was saying, even for this Canadian, you know, those

Kurt Neiswender:

weird lines you cross.

Jamie:

Oh boy. Yeah,

Kurt Neiswender:

you know, well, well, we don't need to, we don't need to get into labor relations and all

Jamie:

that stuff because now, but okay. So back to your supermarket though. Did you also have like those couple people on the staff who were like also the designated, like plant security people, like who were like, they were plain clothed, but they were in the store, you know? And they, you know, those were always the sketchiest people though. Yeah. Like, you know, when you

Kurt Neiswender:

have like some sort of tactical flashlight or something, and it's like, no, you're giving yourself away, even though you were in like a, a beige polo and blue jeans.

Jamie:

Cause I mean, like you're like 16 years old, you're working at this store and you're like, you're going through all the training stuff and they're like, Oh, and Joe and Jill and Bob over here. Yeah. They're going to be around. And you're like, Are they security because they look like security. No, no, no. But they're wearing jeans and whatever. And but then they've got that, like you said, like that tactical lamp, like stuck in their back pocket. They're ready. I don't know what they're doing with it. But

Kurt Neiswender:

yeah, that I totally forgot. What a funny we're hitting all kinds of highlights from the way back. Yeah. So what's yeah.

Jamie:

What's what's fun for me now is like when I'm shopping by myself and I have no schedule like I have I don't need to be anywhere like I will admit in my old age that where I'm reminiscing in my own brain, I'll be in that target or a similar store here in Austin. And I'll be like, you know, that's a plane. I started trying to pick them up. I'm going to

Kurt Neiswender:

do that now because I,

Jamie:

it's, it's like it's like your own video game in your brain, although,

Kurt Neiswender:

You know, you know, Danielle used to do some retail work and, and they used to, she used to watch people put stuff in their purses, you know, cause she did Sephora. You know, and, and they were like, just let him go, just let him go. So they were just, maybe the policy might have changed in certain, you know.

Jamie:

Yeah, I bet at that supermarket or that Target, if somebody made it out the door with like, and that buzzer went off, those, those planes, they were waiting. They've been waiting. They were dashing.

Kurt Neiswender:

They also had like those tactical boots too. That's how you also knew. So they had traction. They were

Jamie:

waiting for weeks for that one moment, like their one

Kurt Neiswender:

moment in the sun. I, I, I remember working one time, one, at least once Where I saw them chase somebody out the door, you know, and then call the cops and all that, you know, anyway, that's a, it's like a, a very old memory that Jamie just, yeah, it's

Jamie:

totally, it's

Kurt Neiswender:

totally dumb. It has nothing to do with the sketch that we're going to talk about today. No, not necessarily. We, we, or the coffee

Jamie:

or anything else

Kurt Neiswender:

of, of maintaining a thread of, of thought, but that's okay.

Jamie:

And there is absolutely no transition at this point.

Kurt Neiswender:

So, yeah, so that's what you're saying is like, maybe we should just move on. Yeah. Well, we're, we're going to focus on just one sketch here, but it is worth noting that our friend Tink, friend of the podcast, friend of the podcast, furry friend of the podcast. Yes. Has been memorialized in a sketch because it is her birthday. Yeah. Happy birthday Tink. She's probably dying for the episode to be over.

Jamie:

Yeah. She's, she's a pretty girl. She's very good. Very good girl. So she's also ready, ready for this to be over so we can go

Kurt Neiswender:

do other stuff. Yeah. A little, a little Jamie and Tinkerbell time. So, so to support the birthday of Tinkerbell and, you know, and all of those wishes, we can dive into, so, so we're. We're on, we're just after Martin Luther King day. You know, timing wise, you know, it's not our forte, but we're always, you know, there's always a sketch from Jamie around the MLK holiday. Or could it be, is it called a holiday? I don't want to sound insane. I mean, it's a, cause you know, all the national holidays.

Jamie:

I mean, it's a federal holiday. Yeah.

Kurt Neiswender:

Yeah. But you know, like holiday. I mean,

Jamie:

it's memorializing, you know, yeah, it's memorializing like an individual of extreme note.

Kurt Neiswender:

Yeah. So anyway, yeah. Regardless of forget what Kurt said, but so Jamie, Jamie recreated, well, not recreated necessarily, but, you know, hasn't a new sketch of the, the MLK statue, which is in, this is the one in. DC, right? The newer one.

Jamie:

Yeah, this is in DC. On the, on the right. And it's really, it's, so this is sort of two sketches. You know, and I think, you know, we, we talk about process a lot and, and this was a situation where I, I, I've done the one on the right before. And I tried to do this one in a, in a different mode and different style than I have done before for it. So if this is the actual memorial on the right and, you know, it's, it's one that I visited multiple times. I love but I think that I was thinking about that day or thinking of, you know, on that day, and this was drawn on that day, but, I was thinking about it also in relationship to our words and sort of our, you know, sort of discussion of things, you know, related to, you know, kind of where we are, what we've been thinking about what we've been thinking about projecting into the, you know, into the new year and, you know, for those who, you know, want to go down the rabbit hole on you know, art, architecture, controversy in a previous podcast, we've talked about the Martin Luther King statue the most recent one the one in Boston, which I think is, I think honestly is, is, is a remarkable statue. And, and I, I got to, got to visit it last year. Felt very fortunate to be able to kind of, you know, spend and appropriately spend some time in that space. And there was a lot of criticism of it because of its abstraction and the way it was sort of rendered. But a lot of folks don't realize is that also this. Monument in D. C. Washington, D. C. on the mall also had some controversy associated with it, and I think it's, it, I bring it up from the standpoint of this particular sketch renders the profile of Dr. King kind of coming out of the mountain and, or a part of that mountain and sort of very stoic and stately and strong and, you know, but, you It's a really, really interesting rendering of him and on the side of it, there's these striations. And every time I draw this, I try and draw the striations differently, trying to render them in a different kind of way. This time I was really deliberate about trying to render the whole image with some striations, you know, kind of leaning on that idea of the sky and the ground and how I do those in a very sort of stylized way. Buffered the two sky versus ground with this kind of scribble of the environment that surrounds this memorial on the mall. So like there's these, you know, beautiful outcroppings and trees and vegetation that sort of almost sort of, you know, you have to go and find it. You know, it's not hard to find, but you kind of go on a little path to go find it. And, and part of it is that they wanted you to enter this space in a very particular way. And that's a very architecture y type thing, to be talking about architecture y. I haven't done, I haven't used that word in a while. But it's, but it's because of this quote. And it's, you know, out of the mountain despair, a stone of hope. It's this cut, you know. You know, that's rendered in the monument itself and, and that pathway is really, really deliberate and really important, both to the, the monument itself and the memory and sort of the things that's supposed to evoke, but also the space itself. And so every time I draw this, I try and do it a little different, trying to think about what it means to be in that space. I've drawn it in person before, you know, these, this one in particular was done by from a photo that I had, but,

Kurt Neiswender:

well, you know, It's nice because it's a little more zoomed out, like some of the older, the earlier or previous sketches of this monument that you've done that we've talked about are a little more zoomed in detail or a sort of a vignette in a way, which would just sort of push in a little closer. So getting gathering the context and the way you described, like, the scribbling of the trees and the landscape beyond in between, you know, the layers of the sky and the ground and, and the, the nature of the stone and, you know, your point on the approach is, is. Something that got my attention because I am always trying to explain to my students about the, the buildings they design don't sit, you know, well, they don't sit on a generic rectangle of land. You know, there's always a context and then your design shouldn't stop at the edge of the property line or the edge of the building from interior to exterior. It has to it needs to show how you're addressing. You know, the properties or roads or, you know, the adjacent parts, you know, things that are adjacent to the building and and choreographing the approach is, is that's your chance if you don't, if you don't think through those things, you know, then there, there's really no, you have no chance to prescribe a path and not that you always, you have full control, but you at least have an opportunity to, like, identify a particular you know, approach to, to the building. Well, and this is a sculpture,

Jamie:

but right. I like that. I like that you use the word choreograph because I think that that's, you know, it, to me, when someone uses the word choreograph and the fact that you just did, the minute I hear that, I think about movement, you know, cause it, to me, it's, it's going to like my penchant for ballet and dance and music and things like that. And I'm trying to understand that you know how that works and how that's an inspiration for things but like you're like you're describing it it's it's an opportunity to choreograph you know this experience for folks in a particular space you're creating a place arguably. You know, you've been hired, you know, tasked, whatever, with this particular building, space, monument, in this location. Okay, here's my parameters. This is where I'm, I'm setting this thing. But, you're doing yourself a disservice, like you're describing, if you don't think about how does someone get there. You know, which way are they coming to this place? What am I giving them glimpses of? And, and are there, there's extra things that I can impart in that experience to them? Or try to, you know, and I think that that's the whole thing. We're all sort of seeking that as, as designers, creatives, whatever. And I, I think this This in particular is really successful. What I didn't say in my sort of lead up to this was the controversy associated with this monument was that there was another quote that ended up being removed and and it was removed because it was a partial quote. And it really didn't gather the full context it wasn't that it was, it wasn't that the meaning was off, but it didn't convey and didn't really associate itself at the end of the day with this, this one that I'm rendering here, where it has the power of the words, working with the sculpture, working with the choreographing of the spaces that you're talking about, and I think in the end, you know, wiser eyes said, maybe, maybe we need to, you know, not just recarve the quote in its entirety or something like that, but maybe we just need to remove it altogether.

Kurt Neiswender:

Wow. Did they chisel it off or something?

Jamie:

The, the artist chiseled it off. It ended up coming back and, and, and,

Kurt Neiswender:

and removing it. Oh, that's pretty interesting. You know, that's a other, I mean, aside from the controversy, like the, just the tectonic you know, the technical task of, of of editing, editing a finished product, which normally as architects, you know, as a building, you know, you don't, We don't get into that level of revision in real in real space or the real thing, but kind of interesting. I mean, you know, it's a sculpture, right? So there's differences and things like that. But yeah.

Jamie:

I was curious, what did you think about these 2 sketches when you saw them sort of side by side? Because the other one is drastically different. I haven't done one like this in a long time or at least posted one like this in a long time. What. Sort of thoughts, musings, my co host curator.

Kurt Neiswender:

Well, the pencil, the pencil, the line weight work of the sketch on the right, which is the sculpture It's just great. Actually, I did, you know, like we talked about my doing this sketch thing with my system students and they are, I actually challenged them to do a contour line last week. So it was a lot, a lot of fun. So there's some contour going on. I mean, you've got some nuance and finesse to it. But the left my, my dog Ellie is being annoying and actually scratching at the door, which never is a thing. So do I ignore or do I power on?

Jamie:

I think you power through this quick analysis and then yeah,

Kurt Neiswender:

we're so close. We're yeah. We're close to close to tying, tying a nice bow on it. Thank you, Ellie. So. But, yeah, when I, I noticed that the, the drawing on the left is a lot more rendered and I zoomed in a little bit, but down below, you can see, you know, which is always fun. You always post show your tools implements it within the sketch to. So, you know, they get some pastel or content crayon on top of a pencil. And you know, just the, the texture. In the left sketch is just really bold and it's, it's actually not something like you said, you know, not something you've done recent, but actually doesn't look a lot like you're sketching your normal sketches because it has this extra layer of, of of material or. I guess the you know, the various colored, colored pastels or crayon. Is it Conte?

Jamie:

Conte. Yeah. Well, I love that you say it doesn't like that you're sort of struggling to say, like, I haven't seen you do this in a long time. Because it's true. I think what I had a moment moving between, and then both of these are done in the same setting. So, or the same sitting. So I did the, I did the one on the right first and had thought to myself, if I'm up for it I'm going to try and do a portrait profile of King, but render it with completely different implements. And, you know, the, the, the monument itself has this, you know, stylized. It's all one, it's all one material, you know, the, the, the mountain, the man, all of it is carved in stone. So it's all one material. So everything that you're seeing in terms of the, the rendering techniques in pencil is it's, it's intended to evoke shade and shadow. It's it's not about actual texture or or anything else. And what I thought to myself was like, okay, I can do that. And that's sort of, you know, figure field, you know, monument idea. Can I in in the same breath sort of switch gears? And say, let me try and render it this more like a portrait and try and get real hues, you know, highlights on the skin highlights on his eyelids and his nose and, you know, all these things that you see that when you see a portrait rendered in sort of a Conte crayon or a pastel there's a multitude of layers to those colors that we, you know, Associate with a portrait and kind of the, you know, that make it feel like it's jumping off the page that there's some life behind that and where it's not where it's not a memorial where it's not a monument. It's definitely

Kurt Neiswender:

more for I don't know if it lack of a better term, but it's. Painterly, right? It has a lot more of a painted painted layered effect. And like you said, yeah, pops or jumps off the page a little bit more because of the, so did you take, is that how long did that one take?

Jamie:

Oh, the one on the left was probably, that was probably me sitting with it for another. So the one on the one on the right is that's 15 minutes. The one on the left is another half an hour and where, and some of that is, is me just sort of sitting there staring at it to honestly pain early, that's, I think you, you hit the term on the head. I mean, that's that's better than I was able to describe it a minute ago. So I like that.

Kurt Neiswender:

Oh, that's why that's why we're here. But I didn't I mean, to me, it didn't seem like exactly, but but at least it's the best term I could come up with that kind of describes the difference between, say, the sketch sketch form that you're that we, we see a little more regularly. And so it's, it's, it's beautiful. Portrait, I guess as you described it a lot of energy in it. And so a lot of saturation, I guess, but light and dark and things like that. So, yeah, it's just both great for for the year of, or this year's version of the MLK sketch, which yeah, thanks. I, I, I got nothing else to render.

Jamie:

I painterly stop on pain early and that's it. We're good. Thanks buddy.

Kurt Neiswender:

Well, that's the good part. We can edit that part out. All right. So let me find the right button there.