A 63-year-old artist, writer, model, dog walker and Upper West Sider displays her art at Manny’s Bistro – West Side Rag

“You are what you are.” Photographs by Peggy Taylor.

By Peggy Taylor

Over the past year, the white back wall of Manny’s Bistroon Columbus Avenue between 70th and 71st streets, has been hung with striking 4′ by 2′ photographs by Jazz at Lincoln Center photographer Frank Stewart.

But last Thursday, owner Manny Colon brought along two of Stewart’s saxophonists and trumpeters to make way for twenty 5-by-5-inch stick figure illustrations of the 63-year-old up-and-coming artist, writer, fashion model, dog. Walker, and Upper West Sider, Dee Abrahamsen. Titled “You Are What You Are,” he has created a charming gallery of figures celebrating actors, authors, musicians, photographers, and Manny.

Manny Colon.
Dee’s illustration of Manny.

It’s Dee’s first art show, but she hardly dares call it that. “For me it’s just putting some drawings in a friend’s restaurant.” For her, even the word “art” is too great. “I never studied drawing or painting. I can’t draw eyes, so all my figures wear sunglasses. I can only draw stick figures, but I try to give them character and personality, I try to take a moment of their souls and put it in a square.”

Write or eat, that is the question.

Created with “the bare minimum amount of lines” to celebrate the complex histories of her sitters, Dee’s deceptively simple stick figures speak to and from the heart, and today she enjoys a loyal following, not just from friends, but far and wide as well. . fans. She is well known on Instagram and portraits of her have been commissioned by restaurants, residences and the Plaza Hotel in New York City. “Even the doormen in my building like my work,” she says with pleasure.

Dee doesn’t just draw celebrities. On her website, she features a rubric called “My Girls,” in which she describes single women from the Upper West Side who, she says, “are really different sides of me; women who identify themselves by what they do and not by their appearance”. She captioned one of these drawings with: “Remember; you are not your hair.”

For women overwhelmed by multitasking, she dedicates a series titled, “You Don’t Have to Master Everything,” and accompanying subtitles range from witty, witty, and whimsical to heartwarming, moving, and insightful.

The source of his inspiration is the city, “the world in miniature” and, in particular, the Upper West Side where, he says, “you can’t walk a block without having an idea”.

Dee doesn’t develop her ideas on paper with an ordinary graphite pencil. He creates his drawings with the Adobe Fresco painting and drawing app created for iPad and Apple Pencil. “When I bought my iPad three years ago, I talked to him and asked if it would change my life. She did it. She didn’t lie.

In the courtyard of his building.

I chatted with Dee (of Norwegian and Polish “farm stock,” she specifies) in her nearly 500-square-foot studio on the second floor of a high-rise near the Hudson. She described herself as “a 63-year-old woman camping in a fancy New York building, with a mattress on the floor and a view of the patio fireplace.” That mattress sits just above the building’s pool, where she swims for forty-five minutes every day, keeping herself trim and trim.

We chatted over Spanish Marcona almond, rugelach, and pecan cookies lit by two tall, skinny avocado-green candles. Your favorite colour. She captivated me with her warm, wide smile, her ballerina mannerisms and, when she described her hair, hers “a two-inch streak of gray waving from the crown of her head”.

When Dee was starting this adventure three years ago, a friend told her, “You’re too old to start something new. His chances of success are equal to the chances of the sky turning green. That friend was wrong. In Dee’s world, the sky turns green.

Her future projects include a series of books for girls “to help them navigate these precarious times.” Her portraits at Manny’s will remain an evolving gallery and she will create two major works for the side walls.

“Who says,” he asks, “that an old woman can’t learn new tricks?”

Manny and Dee.

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