A Brooklyn Soda Works Drink for Every Person in New York
I'm probably not the only one to perceive some inner, spiritual cord connecting Jason Polan, of Every Person in New York, whose very large-scale, if long-term intention is to sketch every single New Yorker, with Antonio Ramos and Caroline Mak, a New York couple who concoct various artisanal sodas for their very small-scale company, Brooklyn Soda Works.
I don't mean to imply that Polan has already secretly sketched Ramos and Mak. That's unlikely to have happened yet, though maybe he'll sketch them after this blog post goes viral. As if that would happen! Rather, I'm referring to the obsession that would seem to link their very different aesthetic aims. From Natasha Singer's report, "A Chemist, an Artist and a Lot of Fizz" (New York Times, March 5, 2011), Ramos and Mak clearly appear obsessed with their project:
Last Monday night, the pair were experimenting with new flavor extraction methods and ingredient combinations in the kitchen of their Clinton Hill apartment. Ms. Mak, 30, an installation artist by day, stood on the left side of the stove, heating a medley of fresh ginger wedges, cardamom seeds and pressed apple juice.These two come home from their day jobs every day and concoct various . . . well, concoctions. I find that obsessive, though in a good sense. Similarly, and even more incontrovertibly, Sebastian Smith, in"Artist Jason Polan sets out to draw every New Yorker" (YahooNews, March 6, 2011), reveals Jason Polan in his obsessive quest:
Meanwhile, Mr. Ramos, 29, watched an adjacent burner, tending to an experiment inspired by Scotch whiskey. He had placed sliced plums and lemon peel in a tin-foil sieve over an industrial stockpot lined with Scottish burning peat -- in the hope that he could infuse the fruit with peat smoke . . . .
Ms. Mak takes the ginger cardamom flavor base off the stove, mixes it with apple juice and pours the liquid into a siphon canister for carbonation. Whereas mass-produced fruit sodas that sell in supermarkets are typically made from fizzy water and juice concentrates, she says, their handmade sodas use only fresh ingredients . . . .
At the end of an evening of soda experiments, the couple's kitchen is perfumed in a haze of peat and citrus peel. Ms. Mak takes the canister of cardamom apple ginger soda that she has just made and conducts a taste test.
"This needs more work," she says. "The cardamom has been beaten back by the ginger and the apple."
Mr. Ramos checks on the peat-smoked fruit experiment, taking the plums and lemon peel out of the pan and sniffing them. "It's definitely peaty," he says, pleased.
Artist Jason Polan won't be running out of live models any time soon -- in trying to draw every person in New York, he's got at least eight million more to go.The one afraid to risk great failure will never achieve great success, or so I'm told. Polan has no fear, but is certain to fail, though he may also, paradoxically, succeed, given the recent publicity concerning his project. With that sort of success for him in mind, I suggest that Polan team up with Ramos and Mak, who may also succeed through recent publicity despite their small scale, especially if they go upscale with Polan. Each soda bottle's label could display the sketch of a different New Yorker, making the Brooklyn Soda Works' image as unique as every drink.
The plan may sound crazy, but Polan, 28, is serious.
Every day he's out there with ink pen and sketch pad, posting the results on Every Person in New York. Three years into the project, he's up to about 14,000.
"I know I'm going to fail, I won't draw everybody, but I enjoy trying," he says.
By combining their talents, these obsessive artists might go further in their quixotic quests, not that I expect to be taken seriously on this suggestion, but I could surely use the publicity for my own obsession, this daily blogging . . .