Texcoco portrait by @sanajaverikadri amid a weekend of love and community and celebration of @normalistman and @saqibkeval
The debut installment of THE USUAL, the new column collabo between @rachellevinsf and I, is out in the world. It’s in the @sfchronicle_food section, and can be found digitally *right now*, or in print starting tomorrow. This is a label of love for @rachellevinsf and I, and we are both really excited that we are not just talking about it (we have had SO MANY convos about this, right @ltrots @newberryjan?!) but actually producing it. Rachel’s first piece is a love letter to @jardinieresf which is closing next week. We got to spend some hours there a few weeks ago, and talked to a few people at the bar about what the restaurant meant to their lives. I tried to capture the mood and atmosphere that made Jardiniere so special to so many people. It was very touching. And now you get to touched too. Link in my bio. Read and share. Thank you @paololucchesi for being such a great editor and supporting stories and storytelling like this. #TheUsualSF Written by @rachellevinsf Illustrated by @mccalmanco
I traveled to Mexico City this week for the wedding of two very special people @normalistman and @saqibkeval of @masalaymaiz. Norma was the person who opened this city to @john_toya and I when we visited three years ago for the first time and welcomed us in. This city has meant so much to me, and to return for such a joyful reason was a full circle. I met @sanajaverikadri here on a trip the following year and we had a moment yesterday to reflect on how much our lives have evolved/changed/grown since that time. The weather was hot, the mood was jubilant and it felt good to be back here, and alive, to celebrate love. Thank you for the memory @analorenzana it was a pleasure to (finally) meet you!
Because I clearly don’t have enough things to do, I have a new (co)column premiering in the San Francisco Chronicle this weekend. This ongoing feature is called ‘THE REGULARS’, and is the brainchild is one miss @rachellevinsf who, let me tell you, has been talking about this idea for yeaarrrrrrrrsss. Who are the people...the characters, really, who are restaurant regulars, who love a place so much that it becomes a part of their lives. Rachel’s writing shows you the heart and humor of the people who make restaurant dining a soulful experience. I’m so excited to be illustrating this feature and collaborating with her. It’s going to be a semi-regular column in the Food + Home section and it debuts THIS WEEKEND. I can’t say anymore about the subjects or the restaurant, this is just a teaser. You’ll just have to pick up a copy of the section in @sfchronicle_food and read it for yourself. #TheRegularsSF
Captured a few weeks ago by @bessfriday as we were reviewing the color printer proofs together for her upcoming catalog. We’ve had some really great conversations during this process: about how we can evolve as artists and as business people, how we value yourselves (or don’t), the highs and lows of relying on ourselves for answers vs opening up our process to others, the vulnerability of admitting to others that we don’t always know what we’re doing. I gave some advice, but it’s only because I’ve had to learn that shit myself in my own studio practice. I can’t wait to collaborate with you again, Bess. 📸 @bessfriday
I’ve been reading a lot about the #TheYeehawAgenda (courtesy of Twitter and @enkyenky) and the woman who started the phrase, Bri Malando (fun fact: she was inspired by the phrase ‘the gay agenda’...priceless). I love that black American culture is reclaiming it’s role in the foundation of cowgirl/guy culture, in style and music, but for the subjects of the recently completed #Rodeo catalog book designed for @gabrielahasbun, its not a trend, it’s their life. I was with Gabriela on one of the days she shot some of these portraits at the #BillPickettRodeo, and it’s evident that for this community, this is their entire way of being. We met generations who grew up on horses, who told us stories of meeting their spouses at these rodeos, raising their kids on horses, or the special bond they had with the land, and their horses. It was inspiring. Here are some of my favorite spreads of Gabriela’s photography. If you want to buy a copy, you should send @gabrielahasbun a message. I’m biased because #McCalmanCo designed it, but it’s really beautiful.
Illustrations in process for the April installment of #ObservedSF. An evening fundraising gala for @CreativityExplored observing patrons, auctioneers, artists, servers and supporters show up to create magic, because Art Changes Lives. I was sold. The next Observed column drops April 20th.
Community alert 🚨 @joseybakerbread @isawstephen and I are hosting a launch party for Volume 4 of #whetstonemagazine on Monday April 22nd at 7:30. Mark your calendar. We’ll have issues, we’ll have drinks, we’ll have snacks. Thank you @joseybakerbread for opening up @themillsf to the community. We’re really proud of the latest issue and are excited to share it!
Last night I recorded an episode of #MuniDiariea, telling a story of how I came to be illustrating strangers in our San Francisco public transit system, inspired by growing up on the New York subway system, which helped inspire my #ObservedSF column in the San Francisco Chronicle. My hosts Eugenia, Tara and Peter served rosé, as I sat on their couch and talked about my love of surly grandmothers looking disapprovingly at everyone else. Like this one. I was obsessed with her judgmental eyebrows and stylish hot red jacket. I mean. The episode comes out in a few weeks, and I can’t wait. @munidiaries
My dear friend David Martinez passed away last week. It has been a sudden and devastating blow to me and the friends that loved him wildly. He was a somatic coach, a former dancer, and (weirdly, by his own admission) a producer for a tech giant. He wore all of these complexities close to his heart, and in his last few years he sought to integrate all of them together in a way that provided solace and understanding to his clients and friends. I was introduced to him by our mutual friend Tim, to whom I will be forever grateful. We were both at crossroads in our lives, both beginning new professional adventures. We provided counsel for each other, and bore witness to our transitions, growth, milestones and setbacks. A couple of years ago, I had my first fine art show, a declarative type painting series called #ItsNotMeItsYouShow, inspired by statements and quotes that I’d been quietly collecting. ‘Trust Your Life’ was a slogan that David used religiously. He said it often to remind himself; and he said it to remind others. To him, it meant not giving in to fears, and giving up control to pursue your dreams. The phrase spoke to my soul, just as he had. He and I had made plans to install it in his new home the weekend before he died. My friend Yvonne said that every loss feels different and every loss is painful. This painting is a reminder that that trust and faith comes from within, as well as the love of community and family around you. He was searching for the former until last week, but he will have the latter forever.
Observed on Wednesday evening at @jardinieresf with @rachellevinsf after receiving and processing the shock of one of my closest friends passing away. Finding solace in pen on paper amid grief and confusion. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never been to Jardinière in my twenty years of living in San Francisco. I read in the San Francisco Chronicle that it was closing at the end of this month and wanted to pay my respects. Rachel and I have spent many hours in restaurants together, and I have cried (and laughed) with her (and she with me) through many of life’s transitions. Wednesday was no different. I could tell that many other people were there to pay respects. It was celebratory and it felt pure. I came back on Friday night on my way home from another #ObservedSF event and ordered my drink. One of the bartenders spotted me drawing. I looked up and Chef @tracidesjardins was staring back at me. We talked about her decision to close the restaurant on her own terms in a city that (more and more) forces these decisions. “I’ve never closed one before. It’s bittersweet.” She said that she was excited about her next chapter, and I said that I was happy for her. We said goodbye to each other and I toasted my dearly departed friend.
Flashback to yesterday when the sun was blazing and the spring was sprung in the Mission District. I was standing outside of @wisesons with co founder Evan Bloom and we were reminiscing about the journey that brought us to this point. It felt cosmic to shoot portraits and interiors in the location where, a couple of years ago, I was having brunch with @rachellevinsf. Evan sat next to us and asked us if we wanted to make a book with him. It took me months to be convinced that he wasn’t joking. I knew this project would be a personal, and unique experience, but I had no idea. Evan has placed a lot of faith in me and my studio to shepherd this book from concept to reality. It’s a rare thing in books to have one person wearing these hats, and I’m grateful to Evan for defining that even before I got involved. That is rare. To art direct, design and illustrate #EatSomethingBook has been a dream and I’m appreciative of the trust. (And to have it captured by our amazing photographer @marencaruso was even better).
We wrapped our last shoot today for #EatSomethingBook and as ever, it was a wonderful and unforgettable experience. I’ve rarely met so many characters in one setting. Por ejemplo, the three ladies in my notebook are part of a docent group. They meet regularly to critique art exhibits and kibbitz about this and that. Two of them are named Susan, and the third’s middle name is Susan. Susan L (on the left) said: “I went to school with four Susans. When our teacher said told one of us to pipe down, we all did!” I died. #ObservedSF
Multitasking on a Sunday morning, shooting on location at @wisesons with @marencaruso (who took this photo) with #ObservedSF in tow. Pick up your copy today!
On the last weekend of the month, #ObservedSF drops, chock-filled with cultural moments to remember. 1. A quiet moment before @chefico closes 2. The Black Joy Parade, a celebration of the magic of the black community 3. The Writers Grotto Book launch party, a gathering of witty repartee and one-liners, and 4) Zuni cafe’s 40th anniversary, a testament to how resilient and relevant that institution is. Pick up your copy in the Style section of @sfchronicle
Back in the studio after the blur of this week. First presentation of the day is reviewing the color proofs with @gabrielahasbun for her upcoming promo book titled ‘RODEO’: a decade-long personal portrait series of black (and white) rodeo cowboys in Northern California. The process of reviewing color for this 32 page catalog is a bit different than other catalogs I’ve designed. The printer is an old school newsprint vendor based in the Midwest, and they don’t do ‘color proofs’. After working with them for the past eight years, they’ve become amused by my high maintenance requests to maintain color and quality production control. So the proofs arrive with several typed-up disclaimers each time. We looked through each page one last time, Gaby approved it, we high-fived. Next step: being printed next week and shipped back to us, bound, and ready for the world. #DesignedByMcCalmanCo
Thank you @creativebug for the most challenging and rewarding week I’ve had in forever. I learned a lot about my illustrating process (mainly, that I actually have one). I spent the week intensively drawing 31 subjects while three cameras recorded every facet of what I was doing. I explained what tools (paints, pens, brushed and ink) I used, why I was using them, and what results they generated. I talked about how I compose my drawings, explained myself when I changed my mind (which was a whole lot) about what pens or colors I was using, and talked about what mood I was trying to create. I’ve been telling myself that what I do is completely organic and loose, but this experience has shown me that I actually put quite a bit of thought into illustrating, and I should embrace it more. I loved that the idea behind this class was based on my #ObservedSF column (which comes out this weekend!); it was a natural and comfortable place to share this process. I’m grateful to Courtney for asking me to do this; as well as Faith, Tim & Sam, the incredible video crew who kept me motivated and gave me all the hot water in grannie mugs and goofy jokes I could ask for (just in time for Mercury to fall out of Retrograde!). Thank you thank you thank you. I’m going to sleep for a year now. Also! I’m obsessed with this wallpaper they created from my set. I’m going to steal the idea and re-wallpaper the #McCalmanCo studio.
And speaking of Observational Daily Drawing Challenges, it’s a reminder that my #ObservedSF column comes out this weekend! One of the events I’m including is the recent celebration of @zunicafe turning 40 years this past February. Zuni brought back original guests and original employees. There were people attending who had not been there for years because they had moved away or gotten older. I got quotes from @engvinny and @tablehopper to represent the mood of appreciation that everyone in the room had for this defiantly special place.
I say often that I’m not an illustrator but after this week I might have to revise that perspective. I’ve been filming with @creativebug this week, creating 30 online videos of their Daily Illustration Challenge, riffing off of my #ObservedSF column. I’ve directed tons of shoots, but it’s very strange being the subject. I’ve been learning how to smize, repeating my lines until I get it right, and illustrating from dawn to dusk. The #CreativeBug crew has been incredible, making me feel comfy and like I actually know what I’m doing (which I don’t). I’ve been ‘illustrating’ for a couple of years now, but this the first time that I’m explaining my (usually solitary) process and how I do it (while cameras are rolling). It’s been fascinating (for me) to hear myself describe how to do this. I’ve been great to use all of my paints and pencils and colored pencils and not feel like a hoarder for carrying around all of my stuff with me. The videos come out in a couple of months, so I’ll be sharing more. You’ll be able to subscribe and see me embarrass myself.
This week has been a rewarding blur, in the best way. I moderated a (second) talk this weekend with the amazing @yamininayar and artist #AlanDeSouza on their process as artists, the complicated social issues (is: migration, immigration, urban planning, architecture) that shape their work and define their role as artists. Yamini’s work is being celebrated In a @gallerywendinorris pop-up at 3344 24th Street. It’s worthy of your time, if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s a moving and dynamic body of work. Thank you @matea__fish and @wendisnorris for asking me to join in and facilitate this conversation. A friend asked me how I created space to do multiple talks this week. I kept it all the way real with her: “I went home to take a nap afterward.”