Hartford Historic Images and Making Art

Filtered Trolley

I’ve been making drawings of Hartford to get a feel of my new home. I’ve been riding my bicycle and driving around and taking photographs. I’ve also been looking at old photos of the city and region. It’s been very exciting and interesting to learn about this place. I frankly didn’t know much about Connecticut before I moved  here so it’s been great to try and see what this region is about. Of course it’s really fun trying to make art from all of it!

Hartford City Hall Vector in Orange Box

I like trains, so it’s great to look up some of the history of Hartford and find out that there used to be a public transportation system throughout the region that even took you out toward Springfied MA. These trains were torn out by the 1940′s. It’s a real American tragedy told time and time again throughout this country but when you go through these photographs you really get a sense it really connected people. There’s lots of commuter traffic in and out of the city because most of the people in Hartford live in the Suburbs. I’m pretty sure there will be a reverse trend soon here. I can feel it.

Main Street Hartford 1888

Main Street September 1940 State Street east of Main St. 1906

Bodega Blog


Bodega with White

For the last year I’ve been working on a blog called the Beautiful Bodegas. The blog is a collection of photos and images as a tribute to the neighborhood corner market. I’ve been basically compiling photos of these stores wherever I go and also scouring the internet for images.

Marwa Halal Market

Recently I added a submission page so anyone out there can send me photos of their local markets. I’m hoping people will send photos so we have an online collaborative space. Feel free to look at the images, send me a message and hopefully you can also send me some photos, drawings etc. in dedication to the our local store.

American Liquor Store

 

Beach Hill in Santa Cruz, California

Beach Hill Court

The Beach Hill neighborhood of Santa Cruz, California is a great historic mix of late 19th and early 20th century mansions, cottages, mid-century motels, hotels and a wonderful historic hostel called the Carmelita Cottages. I suggest staying here when you visit, but if you are here for the day, take a walk around the neighborhood before you make your way toward more of the popular attractions in the area.

Beach Hill

The view from Beach Hill toward the Monterey Bay. The hills on the horizon are the Monterey Peninsula.

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One of the many beautiful old Victorian Mansions on the hill.

Beach Hill is situated between the working class Latino community of the Beach Flats, the bustling eclectic Downtown,  the suburban West Side neighborhood, The Municipal Wharf and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park. All of these neighborhoods are within easy walking distance.

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Earlier in the century the neighborhood was an exclusive community of wealthy families in large multiple story mansions. Over the years this has given way to hotels and motels as well as a few restaurants and apartment buildings both middle class and for the wealthy. The neighborhood has a distinct character that also offers sweeping views of the Monterey Bay and views of other neighborhoods in Santa Cruz.

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The many beautiful bungalows and cottages in this neighborhood provide a wonderful backdrop to this famous surf town.

A small walk in this tightly knit neighborhood  should give you a quick sense of what life was back in an earlier period of this city. I suggest to bring a camera and walk around and spot many of the hidden architectural gems.  Better yet, stay for a few days and enjoy many of the wonderful attractions scattered just beyond the reach of Beach Hill.

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Las Palmas is a popular Mexican restaurant in Santa Cruz

Roasted Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

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Over the years that I’ve been cooking food, one of my go-to favorites is roasting a good free-range or organic chicken to keep the kitchen warm, comfy, and well stocked for meals during the coming work week. I use a simple technique from Alice Water’s Simple Food Cookbook to almost always keep my roasted chicken cooked perfectly. First by roasting it at 400 F degrees breast side up for 20 minutes, then 20 minutes breast down, and finishing it a final 20 minutes by cooking it one more time breast up  to brown the skin and cook it through.  I put a little spin on this dish by adding chopped vegetables as a bed for the chicken to roast on a flat  hotel pan. This technique captures the essence of the chicken and any of the wonderful juices that drop into the pan can be absorbed into the vegetables. I think roasting the chicken with the vegetables add a  perfect balance of flavors to a dish that is perfect for the fall and winter vegetables and equally ideal with spring and summer vegetables.

  1.  One small to medium chicken (Preferably organic or free-range chicken for the best taste!)
  2. Vegetables for roasting. I used carrots, parsnips, onions, and red potatoes. I like to keep my vegetables seasonal. I usually roast  root vegetables in this dish. I sometimes add whole small tomatoes in the summer. Feel free to be creative!
  3. 2 large onions or 3 small onions
  4. Olive oil
  5. salt to taste
  6. pepper to taste
  7. Herbs (Rosemary, Sage, Thyme)
  8. Dry or stale bread. I usually keep my old bread in the freezer. It isn’t necessary to include the bread in this recipe.
  9. 1 fresh lemon if needed or desired for added acidity to the chicken and roasted vegetables.

First use salt and pepper to season the whole chicken and try to get the chicken to room temperature at least an hour before you roast it. During this time you can stuff the chicken with herbs in the cavity of the chicken or you can cut slits into the skin and put herbs under the skin.

Turn the oven on to 400 F degrees to preheat the oven for roasting.

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Clean and cut your vegetables into smaller pieces that will make the vegetables with the chicken cook equally. You can have a look at the pieces in the above photo that I cut to give you a sense of size.

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Cut the bread into small pieces close to equal size. Not too small because you can burn them but not too big because you want them to absorb the flavors of the chicken.

Combine the vegetables and bread in a large bowl. Season with salt, pepper, fresh herbs, and olive oil. You can decide how much olive oil you want but I prefer to go lighter with olive oil because the goal here is to get the juice and fat from the chicken to coat the vegetables.

Place the vegetables and bread on a flat hotel pan.

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Place the chicken on the vegetables breast side up.

When the oven is at 400 F degrees put the chicken and vegetables in the oven on the middle rung of the oven. If your oven tends to burn the tops of food place the pan with the vegetables and chicken on a lower rung. Close the oven.

Turn the timer on for 20 minutes.

After the first 20 minutes quickly pull the pan out and put it on a stable heat resistant surface. Quickly and carefully remove the chicken and place it on a plate. Take a spatula and move the vegetables around the pan. Pay attention to where the juices have dripped on the pan. Try to combine the drippings with the vegetables to coat them evenly. Don’t worry if there isn’t much sauce because you’ll get plenty as the chicken cooks for the next 20 minutes.

Quickly put the chicken back breast side down  on the pan with the vegetables and place it back in the oven to cook for another 20 minutes.

After the second 20 minutes pull the pan out again and repeat the step of carefully and quickly pulling the chicken off the hotel pan and stirring the vegetables to absorb the drippings from the pan. Be sure to try and scrape any of the vegetables that have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pan. Do not remove them. Simply stir them. Also, if you notice any of the vegetables starting to cook faster than other vegetables you can place them under the chicken. Place the chicken breast side up and put it back into the oven for another 20 minutes.

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After the final 20 minutes, pull the chicken and vegetables out of the oven and investigate what you’ve cooked. You can tell that the chicken is cooked if you look at where the thigh meets the body of the chicken and see if it comes apart easily when you pull it. If it doesn’t looked cooked, put it in the oven for another 5 minutes. If the vegetables look like they will not take another 5 minutes, quickly take the vegetables off the pan and place it into a large bowl and put the chicken back into the oven.

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When the chicken is cooked place it onto a chopping board. Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes. During this time you can mix the vegetables and season them to taste. I like adding a little lemon juice for acidity.

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Carve the chicken when ready and plate the vegetables first and then plate the chicken on top. I usually make a little salad to go with this dish but in the photo I just added some arugula leaves for some fresh textures and flavors.

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Bon Appetit!

Chilly Philly

There are many reasons to love Philadelphia. We can write for hours and hours to share so much of the beauty that makes up this great city. I can’t say I am an expert of this city, but every time I visit I fall in love with this place. My wife and I went down for a visit this last weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday and we met with some friends to take a walk around with our cameras. We spotted lots of wonderful architecture and had a great meal at Monk’s Cafe. It was a memorable day with agreeable weather that just made everything perfect! P1170958 P1170977 P1170978

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We spotted some beautiful tags known as Wickeds here in Philadelphia, I tried to take a few photos of them but this one made by the writer Smock just has the hand quality of a seasoned graffiti writer. Did you know that there’s a distinct graffiti culture here that pre-dates New York Subway graffiti? A very special city for those who love the American folk art form of graffiti.

P1170992I spotted this lovely sign. I couldn’t help but take a photo.

P1180001This is a perfect holiday photo with the skaters and the glory that is the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Volga Soviet Car Limited Edition Print

I caught the photo for this illustration on our first day in Kazakhstan this summer. When I saw this car I knew I had to make an illustration of this but I wasn’t sure if it would work for our project. After our project was finished, I decided it would look great as a poster and it somehow represented the image of life in the small towns and cities that work in and around the bazaar culture.

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I had these made by a local printer here in Hartford, Connecticut.  The print is a limited edition for our project Voices of Taraz. For those who  donated 200 dollars or more would receive a special printed poster with the name of the project, signed, dated and numbered.

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I think the print came out quite nice! I like the satin paper feel of this. The image is at 24 inches x 18 inches.

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Above you can see a close up shot of our logo with a Cossack soldier. Cossack soldiers were part of the Russian military and often served at the borders of the Russian Empire. Many of those people who live in Taraz and the rest of Central Asia are descended from this ethnic group.

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Brass Magic Band Drinker

Snip of Coin Logo Drinker Final

Always trying to expand on a theme with my work, it’s great to see this image for the band Brass Magic worked in with a little detail. We’re hoping to get these made into t-shirts for the band to sell as swag for their concerts. There’s a festive feel to this man sitting on a bench with a bottle of horns! I’ll post the shirts when and if they get printed.

Voices of Taraz Rewards for our Kickstarter Campaign

Social Condenser

I’ve been working on a series of watercolors for those who have contributed to our Voices of Taraz project. A lot of really interesting little works that I hope will make our contributors happy that they’ve helped fund our project.

Van

Some of the works are at 5×7 inches and others are at 8×10 inches. They’re all watercolor on paper and each one will be signed, dated, and with notations that it was part of our project.

Artwork Momma and Zhanara

Family portrait.

Brass Magic and the Logo

Brass Magic in Washington Square

Daniel Lubin from Brass Magic asked me to make his album cover art. You can see them above busking in Washington Square Park in New York City. I wanted to capture the energy of the band and make a logo that felt like the sound of the horns but also to give them some brand identity. The lead musician Daniel Lubin is a Tuba player so we decided to go with the logo of the tuba as a representation of his spirit and influence, but to also give you the sense that this is no doubt a horn playing funky brass band!

Brass Magic Coin

The final logo for Brass Magic

Brass Magic 2 Horns

This was an early idea for the Brass Magic Logo that didn’t make the cut

Brass Magice 3 Horns Black and White

I like this one in black and white! I think the fonts are nice too!

As soon as the album is released later this month, I’ll post the album art!