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Google Places and Platypie

Muhammad Ali
The Boy on the Cliff

June 16, 2016

Last weekend I decided to draw something in DC that I’d been meaning to draw since the 70s - Key Bridge in Georgetown.

Searching for an advantageous view point from which to sketch, I discovered much had changed under the Whitehurst Freeway since the 50’s when we used to go to the Old Bayou Nightclub and listen to Dixieland.

Office buildings and luxury apartments, coffee shops and cute boutiques have replaced the old Christian Heurich Brewery as well as the factories, auto body shops and cement plants that once lined the riverfront under the freeway. I used to go down there in the 70s and draw the old industrial buildings.

Old cement plant, watercolor, circa 1978 (click to enlarge)
Old cement plant, watercolor, circa 1978

At the end of K Street, I found the stairway that leads up under the overpass and out onto what is now know as the Cliff of Georgetown. Covered with graffiti, the old brick foundation provided a beautiful and lofty spot for me to sit and draw Key Bridge.

After a while, a group of teenage boys arrived on the parapet where I was sitting. They were laughing, snap chatting and talking about jumping down into the river, swimming, exams, girls…

It was a hot day, the 8’ black snake that had been sunning himself below me when the kids arrived slipped quietly back into the old bricks and stones instead of staying and listening to their stories. I continued sketching and after a bit, the guys came around and admired my drawing and asked how long I had been “an artist.” (“Off and on forever.”)  Our conversation was fun and heavily laced with phrases that only a black person could freely throw about. Beautiful, musical, rhythmic...

Back to drawing the bridge…

Micron pen, watercolor (click to enlarge)
Micron pen, watercolor

The next time I looked up, an extraordinary moment occurred. One of the teenagers was standing out on the edge of the cliff staring across the river. He took off his shirt, turned and looked back towards his friends. There he was, the beautiful young boxer in shiny, white trunks, his arm raised in victory… For just a a second or two, Muhammad Ali was there with me - I sketched him quickly.

Quick graphite and pen sketch, computer enhanced color (click to enlarge)
Quick graphite and pen sketch, computer enhanced color

I thought of you when I heard about Ali, of course. Take care of yourself! Sounds like a lovely summer. 


Oh, Peggy! Your writing is as clean and pure as your drawings...written another way, your art is as clean and pure as your art! It'such a joy to see the world through you. Thank you

Bob F

Very nice work ! See you Saturday.

Anne P

Great story; great pictures. Will you be coming up to NY?


Welcome back to DC! Please find a bit of time to connect, if possible, Peggy. Would love to see you.

Cindy S

Great drawings, and good to hear from you. Where are you parked? I am having an open house for a few friends on June 26 at 3:00 o'clock. Please come, both of you.


Sounds like we are both having the same skin problem. When you have planted comfortably in D.C. lets get together. Here, there or both.


Beautiful work, Peg!

Ryan F.

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