Oct 29, 2006
I took the bus downtown to the Brooklyn Bridge to do a little drawing. I'd seen this view out of the bus window once before and always wanted to do it. Turns out it's a real tourist stop. The street corner I chose is in the middle of nowhere. The many tourists who stopped by to take photos asked me the same question. "How do I get onto the pathway to walk across the bridge?" So not only was I an artist but I also acted as an information booth for the tourists in New York City. I was glad to be of assistance.
Oct 26, 2006
A while ago I received an e-mail from an artist with a proposition for me. He said he liked my style of portraiture and wanted to know if I would draw him. In return he would do a portrait of me. His name was Rama Hughes. I went to his website and looked at his work. I loved what I saw so I quickly took up his offer. An interesting fact about Rama is that he is the son of poet, Lanston Hughes. When I received Rama's drawing, I was thrilled with the result. I'm very glad Rama contacted me. I told him it would be a great idea for a website, to get other artists to draw each other.
Oct 23, 2006
One day drawing in Korea, a girl stopped by to see what I was doing. She introduced herself as Ester and said she worked at the Unity Realty company. She pointed out where it was. She wanted me to stop by when I was finished. She wanted to show everyone in her office what I was doing. When I was done I stopped by. There were a bunch of girls working there. They were very excited to have a distraction. They made me green tea, then began to pour through the drawing books I had with me. One girl was named Soda. She asked if I would draw her. I said sure. It came out pretty good if I must say so myself. I gave them my card which has my website so they could check out my other work. On my card is one of the Steve Madden girls holding a tommy kane logo. One girl looked at my card and said, "Steve Madden." I was shocked. How did she know that ad. We only advertised in america. She said years ago she went on a trip to Las Vegas and saw one of my billboards. But the fact that she remembered the name steve madden blew my mind. After that they thought I was some kind of celebrity. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I'm just some jackass who sketches on the street.
I was always telling Yun how people would crowd around when I draw. We went to the forbidden city in Beijing. I was drawing a temple in the gardens and of course the people started coming over. Yun was smart enough to capture a few moments of what it can be like. The people also want to see my other drawings. So I always have to stop what I am doing and go through all the pages for everyone to see. I end up over the course of my drawing having to do it like ten times. It takes a lot of effort but I don't mind it at all. I am really a street performer and that is just part of the show. I can't say enough how nice the people are to me. I could do it all day long. Wait a minute I was doing it all day long. Meeting so many people who love what I do is great for the old ego I must say.
I was drawing in a little alleyway in Seoul and of course there was the usual commotion. Tons of people sitting next to me. Talking away the whole time. A woman stopped by who could speak english. She asked if I wanted a job. Koreans love people who can draw. She said there was a cafe where an artist would sit and sketch people for $20 bucks a pop. The artist got too old and won't do it anymore. She wanted to know if I could start work tomorrow, even part time if that was better. She gave me her phone number and left. It is amazing what can happen to someone who is just sitting minding their own business.
One day in Hong Kong I saw this little eatery and wanted to draw it. I set up my stool and got down to business. There were a lot of tiny little shops in the area so of course everyone came over. At one point there was a lot of laughing and jabbering in chinese. I think what was happening was they were all commenting on the lady's butt I had drawn. It looked exactly like her. They all seemed to be teasing her about it. Then the lady from the little newsstand would come over and she would be yelling loudly in chinese at the lady in my drawing. Then some other person would come over and do it. This went on and on. Then a very old lady stood in front of me and started wagging her finger at me and yelling. She was upset about something. Someone came over and tried to translate. Turns out she wanted me to move back a few feet into the shade. I was drawing in the sun and she felt I was getting my head sunburned. I moved back and she was delighted. Someone gave me a free soda to drink. Finally the lady who owned the Thai massage place came down and offered me a free massage because I looked all tangled up drawing. I said I had to get on to my next drawing.
The first thing you notice about Korea is wires. There are electrical wires going everywhere. There never seems to be a rhyme or reason. It seems like the people in charge didn't have a clue of what they were doing. It's amazing that the electricity works in the city at all. In Hong Kong the first thing you notice is air conditioners and television antennas. Each building seems to have a thousand small air conditioning units sticking out. Every rooftop is jammed with hundreds of crazy antennas. How the hell does all this stuff work? Visually I love it, and it does make for very interesting drawings. Another thing I discovered about Korea is that the buildings are not numbered in order on each block like the rest of the civilized world. The buildings are numbered in the order in which they are built. Therefore on every street the house numbers are all over the place and in no particular order. Even the locals can't find addresses. The world is very interesting indeed.
Oct 16, 2006
Took a stroll on St. Mark's place in the east village of manhattan and saw this sign outside of a haircutting place. There were many shots of guys with weird haircuts. I chose a few to draw. The owner came out and asked if I would make him a print. I replied, of course I will. Hope it hangs in the joint. He was russian. I showed him some of my other drawings from around the world. He wanted to know if I'd been to russia. I said, not yet. He said I should go to Brighton Beach in Coney Island. He said it was basically like being in russia. I told him I knew all about it. Twenty years ago St. Mark's had many hair cutting shops. Now there is only one.
Oct 11, 2006
I get to hang out in places most people don't. My friend Jun is the queen of the New York nightclubs. It was her birthday the other night so i went. It was held in a gay bar in the east village called, The Boys Room. I was a little out of place but I did have a blast. The drag queens are the funniest most interesting people around. And man can they party. The clothes and makeup they wear are so incredible. They really do have the courage to live exactly as they choose. They aren't worried about being judged by anyone. I know the world famous drag queen, Amanda Lapore pretty well. We took a photo together. She is the blonde in the photos. Check out her website if you have some time and want to have your mind blown. Tell her Tommy Kane sent you.
I hopped off the train near the Sumo stadium in Tokyo. I wanted to draw something that was very typical looking of Japanese cities. I noticed this little restaurant. I set up shop and began to sketch. After a bit of time people started to come and see what I was doing. Some people from the restaurant next door came over and gave me a coffee. I took it and drank it even though I don't drink coffee. They began to tell me the restaurant I was drawing was one that served the famous blowfish. That's right, the same poisonous fish that if not prepared right can kill you. Wow, what a stroke of luck. I couldn't read any of the signs. I thought I was just picking any old place to draw. They told me that It was made famous because it is the sumo wrestlers favorite food. No I didn't try it.
Check out a little feature about one of my paintings at Artheads.
Oct 10, 2006
I had one of my dreams come true in Tokyo. I got to go to the Sumo matches. There is a big arena in Ryogoku. I saw on television that it was the time of the year when the matches are held. I was doing some drawings near the stadium and noticed people were going in. I bought a ticket for the afternoon matches. There are not so many people there at that time because it is not the big important matches but I was still excited. I also took a few photos of the wrestlers working out in the street in front of their live-in training facility. There is a certain smell in the air which I found out was their hair gel. The world is a very interesting place.
Drawing on the streets of Seoul was pretty nutty. Just like in China people would mob me. They love to watch people draw for some reason. I sat on a little street corner and set up my stuff. Soon the old ladies are coming out of the wood work. They bring little stools or milk crates to sit on. And I mean they sit right next to me, like one foot away. They best part is that they talk to me the entire time, but only in Korean. I never know what anyone is saying but that doesn't seem to stop anyone. Even a transvestite came by to hang out. The ladies also shout at other people they see on the street to come over and see. There are times it gets pretty crazy. There is also a lot of laughter going on. We all seem to enjoy ourselves. Even the owner of the motel came out to introduce himself. I really dig people.
My trip to Asia was very much like the movie "Lost in Translation." My wife and I went together but Yun was really there on business. She had meetings all day and sometimes dinner meetings at night. So I was pretty much alone all day and night to draw and have adventures. Just like Bill Murray, I would smoke Cohiba cuban cigars and drink single malt whiskey by myself in crazy high-end hotel bars. One night in Tokyo, we even went to the hotel bar that was used as the location in the movie. The hotels we were staying in throughout Asia blew that one away though. I was able to do about 22 serious drawings in my two weeks in Korea, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Beijing. Over time you will get to see them all.
Oct 5, 2006
I attracted large crowds at Tiananmen Square. In communist China you don't want to be standing out and drawing lots of attention to yourself, especially in Tiananmen. There are thousands and thousands of people hanging out sightseeing. The place is huge. Members of the People's Republic of China's army paid me a visit. They were nice and cordial. I could hear the crackle of the secret police walkie talkies over my shoulder. Once they realized what I was doing, they too became instant fans of my work.
When Yun and I got home from our trip to Europe I went into iphoto and made a slide show with music. She was quite amazed. The day after she saw it she wanted to know if we could change the music. I said sure. I showed her how I did it. When people who don't use mac see one in action they instantly get hooked. We downloaded music from the music store and relayed it over the existing slideshow. Yun was thrilled. I said, "do you want to make a slideshow of our trip to Italy together?" Cut to 5 hours later and we are finishing up. I showed Yun all my tricks. Now it is becoming harder and harder for me to just sit at my computer without Yun being drawn to it like a magnet. Her PC never had that effect on me. Apple truly does rule.
Oct 4, 2006
Yun hadn't seen her grandmother in fifteen years. We went to visit her outside of Seoul. She recently had a brain tumer removed so she had short hair like a boy. She was also recovering from a broken hip. She broke it falling out of bed so now she sleeps on a futon on the floor. And she is getting senile. Plus she speaks no english at all. Yun was happy to see her again. The grandmother and I liked each other right away. She was always giving me the thumbs up sign. Even though she is somewhat senile, she was always in a happy upbeat mood. She had lots of question about me for Yun. Yun would laugh because she would ask the same ten questions over and over. The best was, one morning her twenty year old grandson was walking around the kitchen and grandma said to Yun, "who's he?" That cracked me up. We all laughed, even grandma. I did this sketch of their corner market while I was staying there.
When Yun was a little girl living in Seoul, her grandmother would wake her very early in the morning to go chant at her temple. Yun said it would happen at four in the morning and they would arrive at the temple in the dark. The temple would be glowing because it was lit by hundreds of candles. It is a memory Yun will never forget. The rest of her siblings weren't too keen on going. We recently went to South Korea and Yun wanted me to see this great temple. We got in a cab to go there. At some point the cab stopped and Yun was arguing a bit with the driver. They were speaking Korean, so I didn't know what the hell they were talking about. Finally we got out and walked between some buildings and there it was. Yun said she was telling the driver that this is not where the temple is but he insisted that it was. Turns out that South Korea has changed so much she didn't recognize the neighborhood. Yun said not one of the tall buildings surrounding it were there fifteen years. Now I have my own beautiful memory of the temple.