Meeting fellow urban sketchers when you are away from home can be a very rewarding experience.
I recently met two of them during my spring break vacation in North Carolina: Jessie Chapman, an architect from Charlottesville I first met at the Santo Domingo Urban Sketching Symposium last summer; and Steven White, a web designer from Blacksburg, Virginia.
Though it was only the second time I met Jessie in person and the first time I ever shook hands with Steven, the connection was instantaneous. It felt like meeting dear cousins or old college friends.
Steven was just as funny and genuine as I expected — I've known him since the early days of the Urban Sketchers flickr group. "C'mon, give me a hug!" he said in the characteristic friendly style of his online persona, "SketchySteven," as soon as he saw me. And Jessie was just as excited as Steven and I about our little sketching meetup, which took place under beautiful sunny skies and pleasant spring temperatures.
The meeting location was Statesville, a small town about an hour north of Charlotte where my brother-in-law, Jeff Archer, opened his mountain bike shop more than two decades ago.
Jeff's First Flight Bicycles business now occupies a historic building in the heart of the city and attracts customers from all over the region and beyond. Sketchers? Not so much. That's probably why he tipped off a local newspaper reporter who promptly showed up to interview us for this story.
After a quick lunch, we set out to sketch across the bike shop as Jeff was busy attending customers who pop up from everywhere. For instance, a New Yorker who took a detour on his trip back home from Florida just to visit the bike shop; and a father and son from Charlotte who spent three hours browsing the shop and Jeff's collection of vintage bicycles, also known as the Museum of Mountain Bike Art and Technology.
The bike shop and other impressive buildings in downtown Statesville kept us busy sketching all afternoon. Then we wrapped up the day in typical sketcher fashion, having a drink at a local bar, the Wine Maestro, that Jeff recommended.
If you ever find yourself near Statesville, make sure to stop by First Flight Bikes and get a sketch or two done along South Center Street. Like Jessie said, it's a town that ranks high in "sketchability."