On Sunday, Urban Sketchers Chicago’s theme for their virtual sketch-out was to “Document This Time”. On their blog, they write: “We are living in troubled times. No-one is left untouched with what is happening in the world, in our country, in our city. This week we will do a visual documentary of what is happening in our neighborhoods.”
I took up the task to sketch some unusual things I saw in St. Paul. One thing that has been very different is how our churches do worship services. I watch an online service most Sundays, but have also participated in “parking lot worship” at Grace Lutheran in St. Paul. When you pull into the drive-way, a masked and gloved usher hands you a brown paper lunch bag with bulletins and small individually sealed communion kits with wine and a wafer. You are guided to park in rows and turn your radio station to an AM station, and the pastor and singer stand on a stage in front of the group and lead worship. Piped-in music comes for the hymns. All around you are people sitting in their cars. It is very different than being indoors sitting in a pew. Once church is over, you are directed out of the parking lot.
Churches everywhere are being challenged with how to carry on services as states are opening up. It is no small task to keep everyone safe. I wanted to show a snippet of this experience, so I did a small sketch and filled in color when I got home.
After we left church, we drove around St. Paul into areas where there had been riots. Traffic flowed smoothly on University past the capitol building and down toward the Allianz stadium. We saw no protests, but the aftermath was evident. Many buildings were still boarded up, some with expletives or sayings on the sides. We saw the remains of three buildings that had burned to the ground. Their charred beams and walls were in piles of twisted steel and rubble on the ground. I could not find a place to stop and sketch, so waited for a small mall area at Sunray, east of St. Paul. There I stopped to sketch one of the boarded-up buildings which was open: a Dollar Tree.
I have sketched at protests before, both at the Women’s March and the March for Our Lives. I wanted to sketch in the last two weeks and document more, but I was uncertain where to go. So I am sketching the reminders. As order seems to have been restored a bit more in the Twin Cities, I hope to get out and about more. That is one thing I enjoy about urban sketching… the personal part of the story we can tell. How it impacts us. We are sketching history!