Artist Anthony Gonzalez, once “the kid who could draw,” is bringing decades of experience to his new life drawing class in Washington Heights, the first of its kind uptown.
Intense, devoted and inspirational, Anthony González’s commitment to the craft of drawing has been lifelong and unwavering.
That commitment continues with the start of his new life drawing class in Washington Heights. When teaching drawing, Anthony González attempts to “get people to imagine that they’re running down hill as fast as they can, always on the verge of falling. That’s the edge you want to be on when you’re drawing.”
González hopes to create an unconventional experience in the classroom that will help artists experience that edge while still covering essential topics such as light and shadow, line quality, movement and anatomy.
“I may not be able to name all the muscles of the arm. However, I know their origins and insertions so anatomy is fundamental in understanding how to draw from life,” he said.
One of Gonzalez’s motivations for setting up a life drawing class in the neighborhood he has called home for decades is that there’s never been a class like this in this part of the city.
It is designed to serve as creative place where artists can commune, draw from the model and gain guidance from an experienced teacher.
Originally from Southern California, González had found his safe place in drawing early in life. Known as the “kid who could draw,” he did what most people who could draw did: he drew the things that interested him.
He liked cowboys, so he would draw horses. He wanted to be a pilot, so González drew airplanes.
“I drew things that I cared about,” he explained.
Taking cues from the works of such artists as Francis Bacon, Ralph Steadman and especially Egon Schiele, Gonzalez’s drawing would become more than just sketches of a talented young man, but an outward expression of his connectedness with life.
“Drawing is a way of processing what’s going on. It’s more than just an intellectual exercise. I do drawings because it helps me to mediate my life, the environment I inhabit and allows me to cultivate being in the present,” added Gonzalez.
Though his father, a Mexican immigrant, would have preferred he become an architect, González enrolled at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where he studied for three years. He left the college a few semesters before graduating to study sculpture at the Venice Studio School in Venice, California.
And though he says there have been some regrets about that decision, González feels that studying sculpture made him a better artist.
“[It] enhanced my drawing ability because a good craftsman must know how to imagine something in their brain and turn it in space,” he said.
After his studies in Venice ended in 1978, Gonzalez’s plan was to head to Norway and continue on with another sculpture teacher, yet he ended up getting as far just as New York.
During his years in New York, González attended the Art Students League and taught around the tri-state area.
Eventually, his sometimes-biting political style made it to the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times, The New York Daily News and The Nation.
However, Gonzalez’s work displays a haunting playfulness that has neither a political nor satirical bent. Many of his drawings can simply have an original childlike perspective that can bring one to recall past feelings without seeming necessarily familiar.
This aspect of his work is on display at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, where González was commissioned in 2007 to create a mural for the Department of Pediatric Physical Therapy at the hospital “to put something on the wall to help to get the children to move.”
Whether his work is seen in the pages of powerhouse publications or on walls offering encouragement to children, González insists that the inspiration and the commitment are not dissimilar.
“Drawing requires the same physical and emotional self-awareness as playing an instrument, shooting baskets or [dancing] ballet,” he said.
For him, that cognition originates in his daily art of life drawing.
“[It is a] fundamental thing, like playing scales,” he explained.
Moreover, Gonzalez’s life drawing class is intended to offer much more than a model to draw and a teacher to guide.
The class, he said, is a “tool to becoming more involved” in life, to finding one’s way to the art of being more than what we are.
“Drawing, for me, is very therapeutic,” observed Gonzalez. “Whatever sanity I do have is derived in great measure from my drawing, because there are no limits. I don’t have to check myself like you do in the real world.”
For more information on the artist and his life drawing class, please visit www.anthonygonzalez.com.