Old Town Gdansk, Poland
While visiting Poland to attend one of my sons’ weddings, I discovered this historical image (circa 1800s) of the old town river front. The first mention of this city, located on the banks of the Motlawa River, was in 999 as “urbs Gyddanzyc.” The sketch depicts the main historical buildings that made Gdansk famous as a wealthy ocean port city. The main focus in the sketch is the old Zuraw built in 1442-44 as a city gate, a defensive fortification, and a loading crane. Many ships had their masts lowered at this location to allow them to continue under the bridges of the city. In the background stands St. Mary’s Basilica, one of the largest brick cathedrals in the world. My wife and I were very fortunate to tour this city with a family friend who allowed us to stay in his cottage flat. For his generosity, I gave him this original artwork that took me 1,000 hours to complete.
Much of Michigan’s lumbering boom happened during 1840-1900. This image is from the Clare County Historical Society archives in Michigan. The photograph was taken in Lincoln or Surrey Township (circa 1870) and depicts two tree fellers notching out a giant cork pine using axes and a two-man saw. These lumberjacks were a very tough bunch that endured extreme hardships, bunked in rough-built camps, and received very low compensation for their work. Many of these large pine trees were made into ship masts. As the trees became scarce, logging camps were phased out. I spent 1,200 hours working on this sketch and it has been my most challenging work to date. It brought me closer to my northern Michigan routes during the process.
I chose this image to sketch from the Michigan Historical Archival photo collection (circa 1885-88). The stone masons and laborers are all believed to be inmates of Michigan state prisons, hand selected for their trades, to build the Marquette Branch Prison (MBP) on the south shore of Lake Superior in Marquette, Michigan. Construction began in 1885 and the prison was opened in 1889. Built primarily of limestone from a nearby quarry, MBP was nicknamed “The Castle” and is now listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places. MBP continues as a prison today but is also known as a tourist attraction because of its flower gardens and landscaping. It is interesting to note that the laborer in the foreground appears twice as tall as some of the stone masons in the background. My sketch was completed in approximately 1,100 hours. I gave the original artwork to my father, James C. Myer, on his retirement at age 65.
He is a master stone mason who taught me his trade starting at an early age,
making this a very meaningful sketch to me.