PenguinArt by Kate Garchinsky

Tag: new york city

This story has been stuck in my “Drafts” folder for over two months. It seems timely to share it now.

A Church in Brooklyn near Pratt

February 23, 2012

I spent a week’s worth of days and nights in Jersey City, New Jersey this month. First to visit and catch up with friends, and then to catsit for all-caught-up friends.

Since December I have been kicking around the idea of returning to school to earn a Masters degree in Art Therapy and Psychology. This week I began networking and researching in the U.S. capitol of art therapy schools: New York, New York. I visited two AATA approved colleges—Pratt and School of Visual Arts—and met with a professional art therapist to discuss the profession.

Sigh. I fall in love with New York all over again each time I visit. The concrete’s pulse seems to beat in sync with my own.

I had scheduled myself to drive home last night, but after a third full day of activity I felt too drained to drive. This morning my goal was to leave by 10pm so I could make an appointment in Wilmington by 1pm. At 9am I got up to move my car and almost fell asleep while starting the ignition. Appointment cancelled. Sleep now.

Two hours later, my stomach woke me with noisy bagel cravings. Luckily there’s a great homemade bagel shop a block away. I could sleepwalk there, which was especially fortunate as I hadn’t any sunglasses, and the  late morning sun burned my eyes to tears.

Halfway through my journey, a middle-aged man appeared in oncoming sidewalk traffic. At his side he swung an old beat-up skateboard—the perfect accessory to his raggedy skate threads, stained with street grime. The only thing clean about him was his new pair of black and white leather high-tops, on-trend with retro flourecent accents. Even with my gaze averted, I could not miss the day-glo. Sense strange vibe. Avoid eye contact.

So of course, of course, as we passed, this modern hobo stopped and asked me a question. I would have continued on my way were it not for his delivery. I could barely make out his words. They blurred together like a foreign accent, softening my defenses. “Pardon me?”

“Somethingsomethingsomethingsomething can you make a liiiiight?”

“Excuse me?” I asked again, not sure I heard him right.

“A liiiight. Do you have something to make a light.”

“Oh—you need a light?”

“Yes dahling, like fire. Do you have something with which to make FIRE.” Imagine his voice to be like that of the Caterpillar in the old Disney version of Alice in Wonderland—with a dash more flare.

His request struck me as extra-odd because I happened to have in my purse a new book of matches. Last night after my all-day city excursion, I felt a craving for a cigarette. I haven’t bought a pack of cigarettes since…. I’m not sure. College? I stopped in Duane Reed and, well there you have it. I had matches.

“Oh! Actually, yes, here.” I fumbled through my purse hastily, eyes averted. “Just keep ‘um. I don’t really need ’em.”

The cigarette seemed to appear suddenly out of nowhere, like a fake flower in a magic trick. “Thank you, darling.” Ok. Smile, nod, resume stride. 

“Maaaay I ask you… a question?”

Ummm. “Sure,” I say, unsure but still mid-smile.

“Do you think humans can fly?”

My thoughts flipped from right to left. This was no time for logic. “Yes.”

The Caterpillar grinned, and in a grand gesture toward the sky, he proclaimed, “Simplifly!” 

It took my ears and my brain a few moments to catch up. What sounded at first like “simplify” turned out to be a far more magical word. Simp-li-fly. Simply fly.

Simplifly. Huh. Well how about that.

I proceded to the bagel shop and had the most deliciously, serendipitously late breakfast ever and pondered over the significance of my chance encounter.

Jersey City Breakfast

Tag: new york city

Last week I spent a good solid 5 days in New York City via Brooklyn—the longest I’ve ever stayed in the big, big city. I hadn’t planned it that way. The original purpose of the trip was the Illustrator’s Intensive hosted by the Metro NY chapter of SCBWI on Saturday, July 24—a plan that I almost canceled due to a death in the family. In the end, everything worked out rather miraculously and I was on my way there with plans to return Sunday.

The workshop consisted of a full day of mini-classes, both hands-on sessions and lectures. Due to a last-minute cancellation or two, I obtained a spot in award-winning illustrator Pat Cummings‘ class on storytelling, and an extra unplanned critique with art director and former Muppet builder, Laurent Linn. This and another critique by art rep Mela Bolinao were the first portfolio reviews I’ve had on this level in quite some time. Five years since a critique in Colorado and triple that since anything in NYC.

I was giddy to receive positive reactions from both reviewers, even some instant oooh’s and aaah’s but I wanted the nitty gritty. I had requested 100% honesty and I received it with gratitude. My style has changed and evolved for the better, all agreed. Awesome. However, showing multiple styles of illustration in a children’s trade picture book folio may imply weakness in consistency. It is paramount that an illustrator be able to deliver one, beautifully rendered style without deviation when assigned an entire picture book. So a style change, while good from a growth standpoint, does me no good until I prove it’s not a fluke but a regular way of working for me now.

In other words, I have work to do. And that’s ok.

After the workshop I confirmed two appointments for that coming Monday, and, thanks to ridiculously reasonable, flexible accommodations and a gracious host, I was able to extend my stay as needed. Then an angel secured me tickets for the sold-out Celebrate Brooklyn fundraiser with The National and Beach House in Prospect Park that Tuesday. Yes, amazing. With extra tickets I was able to invite and bring some of my newest contacts. I hope that I did not geek out as much as I suspect I did….. ok I’m rather certain I did. Restraint is quite impossible when something moves you, fills you up and just keeps spilling over, again and again and again. Some music just does that. As do some films, some works of art. I want to move people like that.

The events leading up to the show that night surely amplified my celebratory mood; with each day came a new experience; with every new connection a cobwebbed door cracked open, illuminating the brain dust before scattering it in a crosswind. I was alive. I am still alive. I like it.

Why didn’t I do this sooner?

Obligatory Hipstamatic Photos

Tag: new york city

“Stage invasions aren’t supposed to be this cute. As sprightly folk-popsters The Leisure Society launch into their second number, a two-year-old wobbles up to the front of the stage, making it to the edge before he’s whisked off by his mother to a murmur of aahs.”

James Medd of Word interviewed SMTS co-producer and art director Kate Garchinsky and attended the show on May 15 with his two sons. Read his account of the festivities, and learn more about the Kindie movement in children’s music.

PDF: SingMeToSleep_Word0710

Tag: new york city

You would think from the lack of activity on my own website that I’ve been lying around in my pajamas, daydreaming to sweet tunes, doodling and enjoying tea and crimpets.

That, my friends, is precisely what I’ve been doing.

(Ok well, sort of.)

My big fat project of 2009-2010 has been a CD of lullabies for children and music-appreciating not-so-grown-ups. Once a figment of an idea itching my brain, now full-blown reality, for the past 16 months “indie lullabies” have been my life. On May 15 The Line of Best Fit, Arctic Circle and American Laundromat Records celebrated the album’s release in London at a hugely successful Daylight Pyjama Party at Union Chapel with The Leisure Society and The Real Tuesday Weld performing. The event was covered in Word mag, and scores of blogs have made favorable mention of the album over the past 3 months.

Video Footage:

The Leisure Society: Inchworm at Union Chapel

Nine songs from the CD are now being played on rotation on Starbucks radio in locations spanning the globe. Kind of mind-boggling—when in London one cannot turn a corner without spotting a Starbucks. Scary, really. But anyway… I’m pretty proud of it. Can you tell?

The fantastic part about all this is that the CD is a charity album, and all sales go to a great cause. The Valerie Fund has been supporting the comprehensive treatment of children with cancer and blood disorders for over 30 years. But as a small, independent non-profit, the fund operates on a skeleton staff with fully tapped, limited resources. Non-profits such as these struggle in the same way small businesses do during times of recession, and their work is insurmountably important. The last charity compilation American Laundromat Records produced has raised over $30,000 for Casting for Recovery, and I hope that we will, at the very least, quadruple that success with “Sing Me to Sleep” and help The Valerie Fund thrive rather than survive. Each year thousands of children and their families rely on their support and care in specialty centers in hospitals across densely populated New York and New Jersey.

There’s tons more info I would love to share with you now, but I have to go return some shoes, deposit a check, and pack my bags for the weekend because Sunday is the BIG DAY, Release Party the Second, at Joe’s Pub in New York City. Come, bring your kids. Yes, even the screaming runny little ones. The event is designed specifically to delight and engage ornery minds with beauty, art and music. Plus the face-painter is one of the best in the city, and you know I am all over that.

Once this event is through, it’s back to the creative board—I have plenty of new ideas itching my brains. More on that later.

Happy weekend.

Tag: new york city

Sing Me to Sleep - Indie Lullabies

Long time no update—so it goes when you’re this busy. If you’re a friend on Facebook or Twitter you already know what I’m talking about. Sing Me to Sleep – Indie Lullabies is at last a reality. A real, tangible, physical piece of art and music that was once just a figment of my imagination. The album officially releases worldwide on May 18, but pre-orders began shipping 2 weeks ago.

Let the parties begin.

Release Party the First. London.

Next week we will celebrate the CD’s official release with a Daylight Pyjama Party, presented by Arctic Circle, American Laundromat Records and Union Chapel in London. That’s right, far across the sea in a quaint little church. Not only that, but England’s darlings The Leisure Society, and antique beat setters The Real Tuesday Weld will perform their lullabies from the album, alongside original material. AND it’s free. FREE! And you can bring your kids. In fact, please do. And dress them in their jammies, because it is, after all, a lullaby CD and a pyjama party (that’s how they spell it over there in the old world. Or so they tell me).

Very heartfelt thanks to my very good friends at The Line of Best Fit whose enthusiasm for this project has made the entire event possible. Great music blog. Go read it for days.

Sing Me to Sleep - Daylight Pyjama Party

Release Party the Second. New York.

So as if that’s not enough. On Sunday, June 13, the legendary Tanya Donelly, the lovely Jenny Owen Youngs and the fearless Julie Peel will perform another all-ages matinée at Joe’s Pub in New York City. You may remember Tanya from 90’s chart-toppers, Belly. Or from the earlier days of the Breeders. Or Throwing Muses. Tanya has enjoyed a solo career since all these, and her cover of “Moon River” is a delightfully soft representation of her singer/songwriter work.

Again, kids are welcome to attend in their pajamas, and if they do, they leave with a little prize.

Sing Me to Sleep - New York Release Party

Representatives and friends of our charity, The Valerie Fund, will be in attendance at both events.

And so will I. With bells on.

But do I dare show up in my pjs?