My new favorite local coffee shop, tied right now with Think Coffee, is Joe: The Art of Coffee, a few blocks from the park heading west. Currently on the walls of their small yet welcoming space on Waverly Place is artwork by New Yorker Tom Matt who has put together the terrific NY: The Series which features New York City locales set against the backdrop of the New York Times. The art is featured on Joe’s walls until this Thursday, March 15th.
I asked Tom some questions via email and here are his responses:
What inspired you to put together this series of NYC shots ? New York followed a series on Paris, yes?
At the turn of the millennium, I knew that I wanted to create a body of work celebrating New York City. I wanted to draw the city using pastel, and didn’t know what kind of surface to draw on as my ‘canvas.’ It dawned on me one day, while sketching on a scrap of newspaper in Esperanto Cafe on MacDougal Street – to draw ‘my take’ on dynamic views of the city, on top of the front covers of NY newspapers. I liked the layering effect of pastel with body copy of headlines and articles peaking through here and there. This technique also spoke of layered narratives of all of us living is such a diverse and vibrant city.
Some years later, I decided to travel to France several times, where I created my Paris series, drawing on top of the Le Monde paper. I draw all of these on-location, which I prefer, and finalize them in my studio.
Was there a different feeling focusing on New York vs. Paris?
The main difference between Paris and New York is that our city is enormous next to Paris. Having lived here for so long brings a familiarity advantage in that, I was able to find my favorite views here comfortably over time. In Paris however, I had limited time and had to work more quickly. Paris is very charming, and the hard part was finding the ‘best’ views, since everywhere I turned – every view was amazing…
How long have you lived in New York?
I’ve lived in New York for about 14 years now. I grew up in Connecticut.
How did the show at Joe’s come about?
I love the walls at Joe’s on Waverly, and saw an ad there inviting artists to put up their work. It took a year before there was an opening for me. I’m pleased to have my work there now.
Washington Square Park is featured in the series. Thoughts on your feelings on drawing at the park and your experience working there?
I love the Arch in the Washington Square Park. Here is one interesting story among many I can share… I created a commission last year on newspaper for a client who proposed to his fiancée in the Park. The view features the Arch, and crowds of people around it. This gentleman met her when he was at NYU grad school, while he was playing guitar one day in the park. She approached him after listening, and left her number with him on a scrap of paper. This first meeting initiated the beginning of their relationship.
He asked me to include him in the art, playing guitar, which he posed for in the same spot where he met her. Once the art was complete, he gave the piece to her as a gift on their wedding day. The art was commissioned on a particular front page of the newspaper, bearing a date that had significance for them both.