San Francisco-based artist Yutaka Houlette has collaborated with writer, Sarah Loden, producing a brilliant a collection of narrated illustrations. Yutaka’s “Homeless” series evolves a richly textured urban environment occupied by three homeless individuals. He used watercolor, ink, color-pencil and wintergreen oil transfer to complete the drawings.
Sarah, who currently lives in Perth Australia, eagerly embraced the themes of humility and the subtle humor that shines in the faces and gestures of Yutaka’s characters. Her storyboards also toy with the newsprint backgrounds. Yutaka and Sarah communicated via gmail to plan their collaboration.
BUILDING AS DANCE PARTNER
“What brings you here tonight? May I have this dance?” No one asks so formally anymore. Maybe it’s something to do with this song. The AM radio tuned to a solo-spotlight-style crooner singing a standard; and well, it’s delightful to have a partner.
In these cities, cars whiz by — car after car after car, and you’d think they’re all the same and there’s no special thing about having a car; or that they would even exist at all. There’s so many! And they’re filled with people!
People you don’t notice though they’re on their way home, or headed to the park with their kids, or have a lunch date to attend. Did you notice the building?
It’s 15 stories tall—glass, concrete, steel beams—and people made this thing! They built this structure based on a plan proposed by an engineering-architectural firm hired by a developer investing in the prime realty spot downtown with the hopes large companies with high-end clients would cover the rent.
I, just, well, “Thank you for this dance.“
BUILDING AS BENCH
I notice there’s a varying gradient of gray-green-black rendered to the asphalt from wear and sun. There’s mingled in the cracks of pavement: rust colored pine needles, broken bits of brown-turned leaves, a fluff of white–perhaps from a bush or flower?
Five dollars to be a served a cappuccino crafted with a leaf design by the milk pour.
60% of the men. No. 80% of the men in this cafe wear button down suit shirts. Button down suit shirts and I have holes in the armpits of my cotton blend long sleeve tee. It’s covered by my coat actually. I’m doing my best to blend in. I’m cowering over my worn belongings, scanning the people who occupy this dim lit, tile floor, exposed warehouse ceiling café in the bottom of this downtown building.
What a paved walkway says: “Here’s where you trod. Not on the fresh green lawn that’s watered and cared for only to look comfortable and welcoming.” The bench says: “Sit here. Not there. And definitely not on that building ledge where there’s a rail of spiky ‘ornamental’ spires attached.” Quality of living, they say.
BUILDING AS TRASH CAN
Newspapers are dying. That’s how this café is here. It occupies the building once used by the city newspaper. The name of it is Small Print.
It’s funny when I think about what I do in a city: I am a receptacle to collect the bits of unused, unwanted items of people. Discarded paper cups not fully empty, fold-at-the-seam takeaway boxes, mass printed campaign fliers to stop oppressive work conditions in whatever/every/our foreign country. I notice how unvalued an object’s utility is until you would need it and are without…
“Sorry, news, we just don’t want all the paper going to waste when we’re really not spending the time to read you anymore. It’s us, not you, really.”
It rained mid-afternoon. Water collected in my bin and turned the paper to mush and the liquids to brine. “Fresh made soup!” I could sell.
It’s just…the headlines are enough. So goes the newspaper to our phones, so goes the story behind people on the street.