In our series, Five Questions, One Drawing, artist Steven Weinberg interviews and draws a well known Brooklynite each month. Today we present to you Sophie Blackall. An illustrator of children’s and middle grade books, she also wrote and illustrated Missed Connections, a book of drawings and love stories based on, you guessed it, craigslist missed connections (including the story, “We Shared a Bear Suit”). Blackall has lived in Brooklyn since 2000; she shares a studio with other artists in Gowanus and refers to her current neighborhood as the “Barclays Center Greater Car Park.”
When you leave Brooklyn and come back what’s the first thing you do?
I have a little farmhouse three hours upstate which I visit regularly and love to death, but I’m always happy to return to Brooklyn, to my vibrant, loud, festive, colorful neighborhood. That is, once I’ve found a parking spot. Until then I’m cursing like a seawife.
How do you commute?
I ride my bike to my studio in the Gowanus, which I share with four of the best children’s book author/illustrators in Brooklyn…nay, the world! Brian Floca, Eddie Hemingway, John Bemelmans Marciano and Sergio Ruzzier. Biking is definitely the best way to get around Brooklyn.
How many different places have you lived in Brooklyn? Which is your favorite?
Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, South Park Slope and now the aforementioned Barclay Center-ish area. I spent the most time in Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens and my kids went to P.S. 29 and we made a lot of lovely friends there. It still feels like a village nestled within a city. But I have to say I love having a whole slew of subway trains at my disposal these days. Poor F and G.
What’s your ideal Brooklyn date?
I feel very lucky to have BAM just down the road, and cocktails at Berlyn after a show is always fun. And we’ve been going to Noodle Pudding in the Heights forever, where they treat us like family. But lately we’ve been favoring James. My domestic partner is on crutches at the moment, so our dinner dates have to be within hobbling distance.
In your subway car painting for the New York MTA Arts for Transit program you really captured the variety of people who ride the trains in New York. Is there a specifically Brooklyn scene you’d like to capture where you think you could depict a similarly wide swath of the borough?
Either the Coney Island Boardwalk or Long Meadow, Prospect Park. Both are filled with a brilliant convergence of people, and while the subway gathers us together then suspends us temporarily in transit, these other two places are where we go to relax and have fun and meet up with friends and celebrate birthdays and learn to dance salsa and learn to ride a bike and lose a kite to the wind and buy or sell carved mangos on sticks or cotton candy or churros…there’s always something to see.
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