Archive for the ‘Philadelphia’ Category

Friday February 20th, 2009 Philadelphia International Airport

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Friday February 20th, 2009
Philadelphia International Airport


I’m in the terminal waiting for Lucie Du Bois and her 2 boys to arrive on Air France Flight 252 from Paris. Scrawled high on the wall in bold, black bas relief of this terminal are these words from the Declaration of Independence, “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, among them Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” This is the title I have been looking for this daily blog.

I scrawl them with sharpie on the front of my new journal and realize I am beginning the first page of a bold new chapter of my life, right from Philadelphia where I began working as an illustrator in 1981.

I have rented a huge black 2009 Altima town car from enterprise to take Lucie, Jules age 14, myself and Melchiore age 12, around Philly and Delaware County where I grew up. The car is so new that you don’t use a key to start it actually you push a button on the dashboard. This used to be my dream car. The next car I was going to buy. No more. It is way too big and unwieldy for me to drive. I call it the bat mobile. These are the two things the boys and Lucie comment on while in America for the first time; just how much bigger our cars are compared to the French and how everyone drinks Coca Cola.


Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Charles Burchfield

I haven’t been to the Academy since 1990 when I saw the Bay Area Figurative Art show. They always encourage, never discourage you from drawing in their galleries and I distinctly remember the guards offering me a stool to work with while I was in the galleries those 2 days in ’90. Once again the security guards smile with encouragement as I stand and draw a copy of Burchfields’ work in my sketchbook. He had ‘a deep, spiritual relationship with nature’ the tag under his work reads. I think to myself, I wish I knew more about clouds.

Outside on the street, Broad and Cherry, with William Penn and Philly’s huge, grand City Hall towering over me I think back to my first days doing covers and illustration for the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer just up the Street at 4oo North Broad Street. I’d take the local train in from Ridley Park come up the stairs by Claes Oldenberg’s clothespin sculpture and walk up Broad to meet my deadlines with my portfolio and/or my finished illustrations under my arm.


This is my favorite Fairfield Porter painting, ‘Under the Elms’. I remember now why I love it so much. It is a nice moment to be in front of it drawing it alone. It’s always bigger and fresher than I remember it.