Artist Tom Matt’s NY: The Series Featured at Joe: The Art of Coffee on Waverly Place Until Thursday, March 15th — Interview with the Artist

From NY: The Series by Tom Matt

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.

Joe The Art of Coffee Waverly Place

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.

Washington Square Park is wonderful – so many diverse people, artists, musicians bustling around. I like what they did redesigning the park, especially the gardens. I love the flowers there in Springtime.
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Check out Tom Matt’s NY: The Series at Joe: The Art of Coffee, 141 Waverly Place off Sixth Avenue (head west), this week, from now ’til Thursday, March 15th. (The WSP pieces are not showcased at Joe but you can view on his web site.) You can try a cup of their direct trade, organic (but not certified) coffee while you’re there!

Website of Tom Matt
Joe: The Art of Coffee

Holiday Events — Tree Arrives by the Washington Square Arch Monday, November 28th!

Last year's tree

More info on the holiday events at the Park to come but here are the basics:

Monday, November 28th Christmas tree arrives from Vermont by the Arch (at 4 a.m.!) (It’s unclear if it gets decorated that day but swing on by!)

Friday, December 2nd 8 p.m. Washington Square Music Festival Holiday Concert FREE in St. Joseph’s Church, 371 Sixth Avenue

Wednesday, December 7th 6 p.m. Tree-lighting ceremony & caroling

Saturday, Dec. 24th, 5 p.m. Christmas Eve Caroling

After Over 100 Years, Dueling Returns to the Park! — Sunday, August 28th (Update: CANCELLED)

En Garde!

Cancelled due to forthcoming storm; will be rescheduled

The Martinez Academy of Arms will present dueling in Washington Square Park on Sunday, August 28th from 5-7 p.m. at the Holley Plaza (west of the Fountain). The Broome Street-based school, which teaches the European tradition of fencing arts, will hold a “demonstration of the art and science of fencing as it was practiced in New York City during two of its most important historical eras, the 18th and 19th centuries.”

In It Happened on Washington Square, Emily Kies Folpe documents dueling in Washington Square at the time it was a potter’s field:

The open space of the potter’s field was often a stage where large themes of American history played out in small dramas. In 1803, William Coleman, editor of the New York Evening Post, and Captain Thompson, harbormaster of the port of New York, fought a duel there. Although the immediate provocation was a personal insult, the animosity arose from the political convictions of the two men involved, each of whom adhered to a fundamental but opposing philosophy of government.

Coleman was first challenged to a duel by the editor of the American Citizen who accused him of slander. (Aaron Burr ran American Citizen and he battled Alexander Hamilton the following year in their famous duel in Weehawken, New Jersey in which Hamilton was killed.) The duel between the two editors was called off but Mr. Thompson (likely Thompson Street is named after him?) jumped in and stated that Coleman wasn’t up to a duel and “would readily turn the other cheek if attacked.” It was a different time and this caused Coleman to then challenge Thompson himself to a duel. Thompson died, admitting before hand that he had provoked the duel to happen.

Kies Folpe writes that duels continued for another twenty years or so “even as the area became more populated”; however, in 1828, dueling was prohibited by state law. (The Academy says duels were fought in Central Park as late as the 1920′s!)

Come witness this lost art on Sunday at the Park.

Photo: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliotheque nationale de France

Meditation Flash Mob at the Park Sunday, May 15th

Tomorrow, Sunday, May 15th, at the park, a Meditation Flash Mob! It’s free from 12-1:30 p.m. Meet near the Arch. From the web site:

The intention:
1. To create an environment for people from all walks of life to come together in meditation.
2. To expose the world to meditation through public display of meditation.
3. To come together as a global community to send positive intentions out into the world.
4. To show that leading by example is the best way to lead. Simple acts can stimulate major paradigm shifts in thinking.

The Meditation — 12pm to 1pm we will be sitting in silent meditation near the arch on Washington Square North. The more people sitting at 1pm the better but you can show up anytime between 12pm and 1pm and start sitting.

The Sound Bath — At 1pm. We will gather for sacred sound. You can use any mantra or sound that connects you to the higher source within you or the universal energy of all life. Om, Ah, God, Allah, or any other random sound that vibrates you personally.

The throat is the center of self-expression and creativity. By unleashing our highest vibrational sounds we allow for change to grow from within. It’s also a lot of fun and just sounds awesome to everyone around.

Maybe people can send healing energy and a peaceful resolution to Mama Hawk Violet!

Washington Square Literary Journal Reading Series Event Tonite, Saturday, February 26th, Free, Near the Square

Washington Square Literary Journal, the journal edited by graduate students at NYU in the Creative Writing Program, has a lively and active reading series. The events are hosted primarily in locations around Washington Square. Upcoming schedule here.

Tonight, Saturday, February 26th, at 7 p.m., they will be celebrating the release of the Winter/Spring 2011 issue of the new edition of Washington Square. The event is free, open to the public and there will be beer provided by the Brooklyn Brewery, co-sponsor of the event!

Featured readings by contributors Timothy Donnelly, Deborah Landau, and Adam Wilson.

Location: Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, 58 West 10th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues

Getting there by train: A, B, C, D, E, F to West 4th Street-Washington Square

Free Chess Lessons Begin Today at Wash Sq Park NW Corner Mondays-Thursdays 1-5 p.m. Through August 6th


Beginning Today — Free Chess Lessons at Washington Square Park!
Mondays through Thursdays * 1 pm-5 pm
July 6th – August 6th

Northwest corner of Washington Square Park near Washington Square West and Waverly Place

Instruction for children and adults! All levels welcome – from first-time players to seasoned pros

Master chess instructor available  * Come every day or just once or twice

This program is co-sponsored by Chess-in-the- Schools, the Friends of Washington Square Park and the City of New York Parks and Recreation.


French Film Fridays – WSP to host “March of the Penguins” Friday, June 12th (Update: Moved to Monday, June 15th); Other films subsequent Fridays

The New York City Parks Department in conjunction with the Cultural Center of the French Embassy is presenting French Film Fridays for Free, or what they call “Films on the Green,” in June and July. The series began this past Friday, June 5th (actually, due to rain it was moved to Sunday) at Central Park. The festival moves next to Washington Square Park for three Fridays beginning this Friday, June 12th with the Academy-Award winning “March of the Penguins.”

Update: Apparently, “March of the Penguins” moved to Monday, June 15th, 8:30 p.m.

WSP Film Schedule: Friday, June 12th:March of the Penguins, the epic story of penguins fighting to survive in the Antarctic that made nature documentaries cool again.” Friday, June 19th:Microcosmos, a spectacular look into the tiny world of insects, with such highlights as bees collecting nectar, spiders wrapping their catch and a mosquito hatching.” Friday, June 26th: The Big Blue, Luc Besson’s timeless and fascinating movie unfolding in the enigmatic world of free-diving.”

This is a nice collaboration of the Parks Department with a cultural organization vs. handing over the reins to a private conservancy. The series moves to Tompkins Square Park after WSP for three films in July. The full information about the series can be found here. Seating begins around 8:15 p.m., films begin approximately 8:30 p.m./sunset. Rain date is the following Sunday. All free.