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NYC Part 7 Finale: Bethesda Fountain, Yoko Ono, Verdi Monument, and Library Lion

Bethesda Fountain Angel, ink and watercolor, 7.5 x5.5 in
Bethesda Fountain Angel, ink and watercolor, 7.5 x 5.5 in

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Walking back to Central Park on Sunday, Micaela and I stopped at The Dakota, a spectacular architectural landmark where Beatle John Lennon was killed and Yoko Ono still lives. The building was so well-guarded we were afraid to stop and draw.

But later, while sketching Bethesda Fountain (above), I looked up and saw Yoko Ono walking by a few feet away, on the arm of a tall, distinguished gentleman, apparently on her way home to the Dakota. Micaela didn’t see her and maybe didn’t believe me…you might not either…but I do.

Here are some images from nearby the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park:

Carol had shown us the tunnel by the fountain and pointed out the restrooms that are the best (or at least have the most stalls) in the park. Inside the tunnel we stopped to watch and listen to this amazing performance:

After our Central Park visit Micaela wanted to sketch another Upper West Side architectural landmark, The Ansonia. We sat in the Giuseppe Verdi Square where she had a view of the building and I sketched the monument (below).

Guiseppe Verdi Statue, NY, ink and watercolor, 7.5 x 5.5 in
Guiseppe Verdi Statue, NY, ink and watercolor, 7.5 x 5.5 in

As you can see from my comments on the sketch, I got really lost when it came to the sizes of the other figures on the monument. The guy in front looked like a baker to me but according to Wikipedia, the monument “depicts Verdi flanked by four of his most popular characters: Falstaff, Leonora, Aida, and Otello.” So I guess my chubby little baker is actually Falstaff in costume.

That’s a live pigeon on Verdi’s foot, not part of the statue. I wonder if statue sculptors ever think about the pigeons that will eventually sit on their subjects?

NY Public Library Lion, ink and watercolor, 5.5 x 7.5 in
NY Public Library Lion and Whole Foods Heads, ink and watercolor, 5.5 x 7.5 in

Soon it was time to meet Micaela’s daughter for dinner in Union Square. Along the way the bus stopped at the NYC Public Library so we hopped off to sketch the lions and then hopped back on the next bus.

We sat in the café upstairs at Whole Foods Union Square to wait for Juliette, where I had an odd experience. I was sketching a guy (second from the right above) and got his face totally wrong: no likeness at all. He left and another man sat down in his place. The new guy had the exact face I’d just drawn: perfect likeness. All I had to do was add hair because the first guy was bald.

After a late dinner in an Italian restaurant, we returned home to our cozy apartment.

The next morning, my last one in NYC, we went back to the Metropolitan Museum where we visited the “Balthus: Cats and Girls” exhibition. My favorite part of the show were the 40 small ink drawings he made when he was 11 of his adventures with his cat Mitsou. His mentor, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who at the time was his mother’s lover, wrote the preface and got the little book, Mitsou, published.

Then we explored the rest of the second floor, “European Paintings from 1250 to 1800.” It was exciting to see the Dutch and Flemish paintings since I’d spent my summer studying Flemish painting technique. But the biggest thrill of all was rediscovering Rembrandt portraits. Despite period clothing, the people in the paintings, even Rembrandt in his self-portrait below, looked so contemporary and authentic, like people you might see on the street.

Rembrandt self-portrait
Rembrandt self-portrait (detail)

After a week of visiting museums and seeing modern art that while ground-breaking when it created, often seems intentionally unskillfully rendered, it was so inspiring to see work full of passion and beautifully painted.

Then it was back to the apartment to pack and my trip home. A much more confident transit rider than when I arrived, I took the subway to Penn Station, transferred to the Long Island Railroad, then caught the Airtrain which was partially shut down for repairs, and then a shuttle bus to JFK. My Jet Blue flight home was very comfortable and went smoothly, so much better than the Southwest nightmare flight to New York.