Sunday, 11 June 2017

Trump voters were right

I was drawing with the UrbanSketchers today, sitting on the stairs of the Vancouver Convention Centre under the broad overhang - because it was the only shady place - drawing the Marine Building.  A group of Americans came by, stopped, and one of them stood right in front of me.  His extraordinarily wide bum blocked my entire view.  I waited patiently, waited some more, and then finally his wife said "Dear, I think you're in this man's way".  And 'Dear' said "I'll stand wherever I want.  It's a free country.  Oh, wait, it's Canada, it's not a free country. Hi-yuck, hi-yuck, hi-yuck."  The only thing I had to defend my country was a paint brush.  I was thinking "Cadmium red, straight to the heart."  Of course, I'm Canadian, so I didn't do anything, and eventually they left.  As one co-sketcher commiserated: "Trump-voters."

But then it gets embarrassing (not for me).  Five minutes later, a security guard comes up to me and orders me to leave.  He says "It won't look good to our visitors having you sit there."  Was he talking about my looks?  I was wearing my best shirt, my standard-issue Mountain Equipment Co-op pants, even a hat to make my hair respectable.  And I couldn't have been too scary-looking, because I'd already talked to 5 other groups of tourists, been photographed with my drawing, let them flip through my sketchbooks, given directions to a couple, even explained to one what the "ugly sculpture" was (the Olympic torch).  But the bigger point is, I'm not in anyone's way, it's public space, and - not to be all Trump-voter'ish about it or anything - it was paid for with my tax money (well, partly).  In the last couple years, I've drawn in a gritty South American capital surrounded by police complimenting me, painted military monuments and barracks in Cuba chatting to friendly soldiers, and sketched the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Grand Central Station - places where they take security pretty seriously.  In Vancouver, I've had security guards kick me out of public spaces because I was drawing a train station, a concrete storage yard, a grain elevator, a movie theatre, a laundromat and now a heritage building.  Come on, people, get some perspective, and stop making those Trumpers look smart!

Otherwise, great day for sketching.

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