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They Came, They Saw, They Sketched

by Bill Batson

It took months of planning and the work of dozens of volunteers to unleash a Flash Sketch Mob of over 100 artists in Nyack on Saturday, June 16.   All of the hallmarks of the flash mob phenomenon were on display: sudden inexplicable activity that had unsuspecting pedestrians scratching their heads and a mysterious mass of individuals, acting with invisible orchestration, engaging in an act of art for art’s sake.  This flash mob came, saw, sketched and conquered the hearts and minds of all in her path.

The Flash Sketch Mob was the featured event of the 7th annual Art Walk, a project produced by the Friends of the Nyacks and business owner Paulette Ross.  This year the arts event converted 24 local businesses into artist occupied galleries. That creativity overflowed into the street as a Flash Sketch Mob, leaving  a cornucopia of content in its wake.

Under a cloudless azure blue sky, an artist was stationed every twelve paces on both sides of Broadway to create a composite portrait of the village.  One artist worked with a stylus on an iPad. Some set up traditional easels for pastels and paint. Many rested on the ground with pens and pads supported by their outstretched legs. At one location, a poet composed curbside verse.

Nyack multimedia artist Kris Burns collected and compiled the cumulative works into an evening public projection on a blank wall near the corner of High Avenue and North Broadway.  Oohs and aahs typically reserved for July 4th fireworks erupted from the audience of over 100 that gathered to see the fruits of the mob’s artistic labor.

It was a day when Nyack publicly declared its love for the arts.  Amateurs and professionals worked side-by-side to create a handmade visual record of the village.  Children were given a chance to engage in an adult event; adults re-embraced the youthful spirit of making art.

“In 60 years on this earth, this is the first artist event I participated in,”said Flash Mob Sketcher Gary Hipp.  For others it was a family affair. John Gromada and Barbara Cohig joined their daughters Aniela and Sylvie as part of the sketching brigade, one of the many families who turned out for the event enmasse.

The Flash Sketch Mob was made possible through the support of the Village of Nyack and several not-for-profit organizations, businesses and volunteers.  “It took a village,” said Kim Cross, Executive Director of Nyack Center and an early supporter of the project.  Students from their afterschool program volunteered adding to the tidal wave of talent. She added her own observation of this unique event after watching the artists dispatched to their assigned locations she noted an intense quiet on the normally bustling Saturday morning.  “You could almost hear the sound of concentration,”she said.

The mob is gone, but they left behind a mountain of drawings, paintings, photos, video and writing to sort through.  Our short-term goal is to present all of the work in a coherent platform as an intermediary step before the construction of the online digital map.  In next week’s column, I will announce the timetable for the release of a digital slide show of the art produced on the 16th, the creation of the map and a date for an encore projection of the work on the side of a building in Nyack.

Nyack Center Photo Courtesy of Dr. Arnold Roufa. Flash Sketch Mob artist portraits courtesy of Dave Zornow. Night Panorama by Richard Quinn.

Special thanks to the Flash Sketch Mob. You’ll hear more from them in the coming weeks and learn who they are and what they made. But first, a special thanks to some of the people who helped turn a good idea into a great event.

Nyack Mayor Jen Laird White Valerie Nivar
Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart John Papas
Kim Cross, Executive Director, Nyack Center Hal Parker, The Corner Frame Shop
Paulette Ross, P.Ross Boutique Ivan Pazlamatchev
Barbara Atwell Carlo Pelligrini, Amazing Grace Circus
Sue Barrasi Sylvia Petersen
Kris Burns Ann Pierre-Jean
Barbara Caress Wendy Pierre-Jean
Giveler Durandisse Jim Politi, Nyack Village Administrator
Annie Edwards Richard Quinn, Nyack Village Theatre
Joseph Giannella Ryan Robert Richardson
Jan Haber, The Nyack Villager Angie Sampath, Nyack’s Little Schoolhouse
Ellen Hilburg Matthew Seig, Rivertown Films
Nicole Hines Shantel Sellers
Andrew Hurst Betty Smith,
Tracy Kachtick-Anders, Vincent’s Ear James Vital
Glen Keene, Esq. Shameeka Webb
Brooke Malloy-Ortiz Andrew Wellington
Loraine Machlin Jack White
Poku Mensah Mary White, Nyack Village Clerk
Pam Moskowitz, Nyack Farmer’s Market Ray Wright
Jane Newman Dave Zornow,

Bill Batson produced the world’s first “Flash Sketch Mob” in Nyack, NY on June 16, 2012. He is an artist, activist and writer who draws and sketches each week in the village.. ‘€œNyack Sketch Log: They Came, They Saw, They Sketched’€ ©2012, Bill Batson.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored by The Corner Frame Shop at 40 South Franklin Street in Nyack, NY.

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