Brian Lehrer in NYC

This project was inspired by my pandemic experience as my hometown of Western Queens suddenly became the global epicenter of public health chaos. Though I was a listener before, tuning into WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show everyday of 2020, not only helped me find key safety information for friends and family, but also allowed me to stay positive about the strength, neighborliness, and resilience of the City that raised me. As lockdowns and isolation toyed with our sense of time, I decided to illustrate a wall calendar filled with beautiful things from NYC peppered with historic dates and notable facts that only the nerdiest public radio fans would find interesting. Month-to-month, Lehrer was tucked into each illustration in the original calendar and the images below omit that “Where’s Waldo” design element, which can be seen here. Though the 2022 calendar is now sold out, 10.5 x 13″ art prints of these illustrations are available to make your own by visiting our online shop here.

January: Coney Island’s Polar Bear Plunge has rung in the new year every 1/1 since 1903.

February: Celebrating Lunar New Year and the Year of the Tiger on February 1st, 2022, nothing says “Tiger Style” like NYC’s #1 Groundhog, Staten Island Chuck, taking the ferry home to the Shao Lin.

March: To celebrate women’s history month I included some of the women who immediately came to mind when I thought of embodying NYC values. From left to right: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Parkchester); Ms. Met (Willets Point); Audre Lorde (Harlem); Patti Smith (L.E.S.); Cardi B (Highbridge); Fran Drescher (Flushing); Shirley Chisholm (Bedford Stuyvesant); Yoko Ono (Upper West Side); Rosie Perez (Bushwick, Brooklyn); Jane Jacobs (Greenwich Village).

April: Spring blossoms, the start of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, baseball’s opening day, and the dedication of Ebbets Field

May: There is no month of May without enjoying the Cherry Blossoms and Sakura at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, poised on the most famous bridge in the world (opened May 24th, 1883), Brooklyn’s Finest, the Notorious B.I.G., a.k.a. Christopher Wallas, stands proud on what would have been his 50th birthday (b. May 21st, 1972).

June: The 1927 opening of the Cyclone (the only roller coaster that’s on NYC Parks Department property), Pride Month, and Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade (the largest art parade dedicated to mermaids that mankind is aware of).

July: Besides heat waves, a rising sweaty lower back index, gushing fire hydrants, surfboards on the A train, random fireworks, and falling air conditioners, a few other natural NYC phenomena occur in July. One of which is #Manhattanhenge

August: August is a time to enjoy the biodiversity of Jamaica Bay. My favorite urban National Park and yours is home to everything from 55k lb humpback whales to families of 2oz federally endangered piping plovers. A visit to Gateway National Park helps one remember that NYC is a city of water built on a chain of islands.

September: This month is an homage to Crown Heights, the neighborhood I had the pleasure to work in, live in, garden in, make friends in, and organize in for six years. Despite intensive gentrification pressures, real estate prospecting, and rising commercial rents, Crown Heights remains an epicenter of NYC’s Caribbean diaspora and September is a fun time in the neighborhood. Late summer flowers are lush, every stoop is the place to bbq, drum corps can be heard practicing for blocks around, and girls are getting their elaborate costumes ready for the West Indian Day Parade.

October: Without a doubt, below 14th street is the world capital of Halloween – unquestionably the most important night of the year. If you don’t agree, you likely did not attend a performing arts high school. My worldview would not be what it is today without a foundation in NYC punk music, outsider art, and believing what a wise 1990s sticker once taught me – that Yuppies are Scum. RIP forever, CBGBs, the Village Voice, and Joey Ramone, all back from the dead for one month and one month only.

November: A time to eat. This was a challenge to draw as I was 15 weeks pregnant and very, very hungry. Turns out that “a Nosh to Remember” was the title of the Nanny reunion special – somehow locked deep into my subconscious. There could have been so many more snacks but here is my beloved assortment of plenty.  

December: To wrap up a walk through of this year long project – December at the New York Botanical Garden’s Haupt Conservatory Palm Dome. Built in 1902 this is where you’ve likely enjoyed the holiday train show, unfurling corpse flowers, orchid shows, or collection of tropical plants from around the world. So many winter holidays revolve around creating light in the darkness, so the illuminated glass house is meant to represent a combination of those universal concepts.

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