Volume 1- Issue 1
May 3, 2004

In This Issue:

click on a link to jump ahead to that section of the newsletter

 


Introduction

Hello Friends..

Welcome to the very first issue of the DB Sullivan Studio newsletter. This is the next step in the evolutional ladder of my web presence. From e-mails to newsletter, this is a prelude to my website which I hope to have up in the next month or so. You folks will be the first to know!

I must say, making the switch from a normal e-mail to a newsletter was a bit more time-consuming than I anticipated. First, I had to come up with a format in html, which I did using Dreamweaver. I had to choose my content and what I would feature in each issue. Then I had to find, download, install, and learn a program that could send my newsletter automatically and separately to each subscriber. I found Maillist Controller which seems to do a good job. It took quite a bit of time for the initial set-up, but now it should be smooth sailing. I'm using the free version which is limited to a single list with a maximum subscribers of 100. (for those of you interested in writing a newsletter).

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to make this newsletter better... Is it too long? too short? Not enough pictures? Does it take too long to download? ...etc.


It's been a while since my last mailing and a lot has happened since then, so this newsletter is rather long to catch everyone up on things. And I actually finished the third Bethlehem Steel drawing weeks ago but held off on sending it until I finished this newsletter. In fact, the prints of the first three drawings were picked up from the printers this past Friday and they'll be released this coming week. I'll be including an official release of these drawings in my next newsletter.

I hope you enjoy my efforts.

- David Sullivan

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Art Preview


"Bethlehem Steel Series"

click here for larger image

"Forgotten Tracks"

medium - pen & ink
image size - 10" x 14"

aprox. drawing time: 60 hours

This drawing was done from one of the photos I took from "behind enemy lines". It was during my illegal excursion when I was able to steal this view of "The Tool Steel Finishing Building".

As awesome as this building is, this drawing's intention is to focus on the tracks leading up to it's doorway. These tracks are now barely visible, hidden beneath dirt, stone and a lot of time. Yet these rails were once the lifeline of the Bethlehem Steel, carrying coke to the blast furnaces and molten steel to the mills. Now they lie dormant and slowly become forgotten.

This drawing is dedicated to the railroad workers, without whom the Steelworkers would've never stood a chance.

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Announcements & Good News

Save Our Steel

I've recently become quite the activist by getting involved with the Save Our Steel campaign. I met the co-founders of SaveOurSteel.com, Amey Senape and Michael Kramer. They're a husband and wife team who started the site last year with their own time and money. I strongly urge you to check out their site. And if you're local and you have an interest... and want to "be heard"... you can download pre-written letters and addresses to city and state officials; all you have to do is print them out, sign them, and mail them.

Also, I've made an agreement with Mike and Amey to put my prints for sale on their web site to benefit their cause (as well as my own, of course).

I believe the presence (and ultimate success) of my Bethlehem Steel prints will also help in raising community awareness of the Bethlehem Steel Issue. After all, out of site... out of mind. If people see these drawings, they might be reminded of a sentimental place in their heart that would miss the Steel if it were gone. And hopefully it will inspire them to get involved.


Getting inside the Steel
(this is a great story)


After trying for more than a year to find someone who could get me inside the Steel property ... I basically gave up and started doing drawings from some photos I took from outside the fence. One day, I decided to push the envelope and went behind the fence (where it ends at the railroad tracks near the blast furnaces). As I walked along the tracks, I saw notices along the edge of the Steel property that read "keep out". So I figured... if I weren't allowed to be there, they wouldn't have those notices. So as long as I saw those notices, I was okay. Well, it sounded logical at the time.

I walked down the tracks for close to a mile, almost to the Minsi Trail Bridge, before venturing back... snapping away with my camera, nervously glancing around from time to time. I almost made it back out into the "safe zone" when I got intercepted by a security guard in a white pick-up truck who came flying up behind me along the railroad tracks. A short, elderly, white-haired gentleman got out of the truck screaming, "Gimme the film, gimme the film!" All I saw was white hair, a bright red face, and alot of spit flying. I calmly explained to him that I was an artist and yada yada yada... he was having none of it! "Gimme the film!" Then I told him I had a digital camera that had no film, so he insisted that I erase all the pictures... or be arrested and fined. I didn't like the idea of erasing several hours of work, but I also didn't like the idea of getting arrested. So, I compromised. I erased only the last picture I took while making him think I erased all of them. That way, everybody was a winner... the security guard got a feeling of satisfaction from a job well done, and I got out of there unscathed with about 160 images.

I immediately began a new pursuit of someone who could identify the buildings and structures in all these pictures. Through yet another phone journey, a woman from The NMIH (National Museum of Industrial History) put me in touch with Bob Stocklas, a man who worked at the Steel for over 40 years. I contacted him and he said he would be glad to help me. As it turns out, he was the Senior Property Manager of the Steel for Tecumseh Redevelopment Inc. In fact, I had to enter Steel property and go through guard houses to meet with him. He graciously spent an hour and a half pulling out blueprints and maps, going over my pictures, explaining processes, etc.

Obviously, he could tell from some of my photos that I had been in "no man's land". I told him my story and he pointed to his bottom right desk drawer and said, "I have a drawer-full of undeveloped film. He (the security guard) is constantly bringing me film from someone who wandered onto the property." That's about the time the same white-haired security guard walked into the building to talk to Bob about someone who's been riding a motorcycle through the property. He saw the drawing of "The "A" Furnace" and commented on it. Meanwhile, I had a hundred or so pictures laying on the desk proving that I was illegally on the property. I nonchalantly gathered them up as I talked about my drawing.

After he left, Bob explained to me that he wouldn't hesitate to take me down to the magistrate and issue a $390.00 fine. He said, "It's not worth it", and that if I ever wanted to get more pictures, I should come see him and he'll issue me a pass (along with some ground rules) to go anywhere on the grounds and take all the pictures I wanted.... without any fear of being spit on by "the white pickup truck guy".

A few weeks later, my 2 year quest came to an end. Joined by Edgar Prause, a fine art photographer from upstate New York, I had my dream fullfilled as I stood in between the remains of the giant buildings and structures.

It was absolutely surreal. I felt like I was in a ghost town... the kind of place where the silence seems to talk about days past. Everywhere I turned I saw something that was personal to someone, somewhere. It might have been a scratch in a door that was, perhaps, made by someone named Oliver scratched by his tool belt as he rushed out of work because he recieved news that his wife just gave birth to their son... or a nail in a wall put there by someone named Nathan to hang his cap on when he filled out his reports. There were thousands of these little memories that seemed to scream out in the silence.

Armed with my digital camera, I bounced from place to place snapping picture after picture. I took over 400 pictures that day, which brings my tally of Bethlehem Steel photos up to around 700. I don't spend alot of time on getting my photos perfect. My camera is my "visual notepad" used only to record images that I can later use to create a drawing. Unlike my buddy, Edgar, who spent over a half hour just setting up for a single shot. He used a gigantic "accordian-like" camera that used 8"x10" negatives. He reminded me of Elmer Fudd as he stuck his head under the cloth that draped from the back of his tripod. I think he got about 6 or 7 pictures that day, but I'd bet they're phenomenal. He told me that negatives of that size could be blown up to 20" x 24" with no loss of clarity.

We spent about 6 hours inside, taking a break halfway to empty my memory card on my computer at home and to get some more batteries. We would've stayed longer, but I ran out of room on my memory card again and we didn't have time to make it back from a second visit to my pc.

All in all... it was a day I will always remember!



Steelworker's Festival in June

The Steelworkers' Archives (a non-profit group committed to preserving the history of the steelworker), along with the PA Federation of Injured Workers, will be sponsoring "The 1st Annual Bethlehem Historic & Cultural Festival" on June 12, 13 & 14, under the Hill to Hill Bridge. This festival is geared towards the Bethlehem Steel & the Steelworker, and the heritage and culture that each share. And, yes... I'll be there peddling my Bethlehem Steel prints.

But that's not all... The president of the Steelworkers' Archives, Bruce Ward, saw my work when I went in to drop off my application. He immediately asked me if I would be their first official "Steel Artist" and design their first poster. I will be handsigning these posters at the festival and selling them to help benefit their organization.

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The Answer

 

This is a feature where I answer one of the many questions
people often ask me about my artwork or my ability to create it.
If you have a question you would like answered, click here.

The Question:

"Where do you get your inspiration from?"

My Answer:

Back when I was in high school, I spent way too much time looking for inspiration instead of drawing. I was always looking for "something great" to draw. I wasn't satisfied with plain, ordinary subject matter. I wanted to draw Utopia. I wanted to draw something magical that would capture the viewer and take them to a place that nobody's ever been before. And so I searched and I searched... and got absolutely nothing accomplished!

But then one day, an artist by the name of Dick Boak showed me a book... it was a reproduction of a book from a time back when printing proccesses were primitive, when the text and the pictures couldn't be printed on the same page together. This particular book was the last volume of an encyclopedia which consisted of all the pictures that accompanied the volumes of text. There were thousands of images in this book and all were pen & ink drawings done by one artist (I don't know his name, but that doesn't matter). Now think about what's in an encyclopedia....everything! Well, that's what was in this book.... pictures of cathedrals, animals, butterflies, insects, trees, machines, dresses... you name it! And every drawing was spectacular! This artist made "everything" look like "the great drawing". It became quickly evident to me that it's not what you draw, it's how you draw it.

So, really.... what's needed is not inspiration........ what's needed is motivation. And what motivates me? Hmmm..... that sounds like another "Answer" to me.

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Acknowledgements

 

This is a regular feature  where I acknowledge and thank those who've helped me in some way with my pursuit of artistic success.

I would like to acknowledge:

Austin Sullivan

Austin is my father who is a missionary in Russia. I haven't seen him in about two years and although we are thousands of miles away, we keep in touch on a regular basis through e-mails. Over these past two years, he's been a great emotional help for me and has gotten me through some pretty tough times just by responding back with the right words. If not for his encouragement to "keep going", you wouldn't be seeing any of these new drawings because they wouldn't exist.

Also... it was the e-mails of my artwork to him that evolved into this cool newsletter.

Thank you Dad.


Sam Glasmire

Sam is my father-in-law. (no, I didn't get remarried... I just never divorced my in-laws)

Before Sam had become a successful business owner (in utilities construction), he worked on the railroad for sixteen years. In a recent e-mail to me, he wrote about the blast furnaces: "I SPENT MANY COLD NIGHTS WARMING MY BACKSIDE WHILE MOVING THE HOT METAL CARS AND THE SLAG POTS WHEN I WAS WORKING ON THE P.B.& N.E RR BETWEEN 1951 AND 1967."

And although he's done quite a bit for me throughout my life, I am acknowledging him now because it was his enthusiastic persuasion which prompted me to do this last drawing featuring the RR tracks.

He also said he would like to see something of the "slag pots" and the "submarines" (both are "railroad cars" used to transport molten steel to the mills.) And they'll be coming down the road... or should I say "down the track"

Thank you, Sam.

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copyright © 2006 David B Sullivan.  Please read my copyright notice.