The Live Reaction Art of Michael Arthur

By Dean Haspiel

[NOTE: please allow a minute for the gallery to upload and use the arrows to go back and forth]

To accompany Dean Haspiel’s podcast interview with Michael Arthur, TRIP CITY is proud to present a gallery of Michael’s live reaction art with annotations from the artist himself:


Yoshimi Robot Fall Work: Drawn during recent rehearsals at La Jolla Playhouse for Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, During this rehearsal the crew was working on how to have the large robot collapse after a battle.

Head and the Heart BNROO: Drawn in the photo pit during the Head and the Hearts Bonnaroo set in 2011. I was commissioned to chronicle the Festiv al in drawings which often had me in the pit area between the crowd and the band.

Reed Townshend: Back when I first started drawing at Joe’s Pub, one of the first real events I got to chronicle was this acoustic set of Velvet Underground covers performed by Lou Reed and Pete Townshend. It was the first time they had ever played together.

Hair in Face Sleeper: This is a subway drawing. I used to do a lot of them on my way back and forth to Joe’s Pub.

Adele: This was from sound check for Adele’s first American show at Joe’s Pub. The only people in the room were her band and the Pub crew and me.

Alan Tousaint: One of my favorite drawings. After the show, his daughter took me over to show him the drawing (which I had made up in the booth during the set). Toussaint looked at it and said, “That’s a God’s-eye view, son.”

Graham Sunday Strip: This was a drawing I did through one day with the Martha Graham Dance Company. It sort of began as an attempt to do a Krazy Kat-like narrative lay out, but it became it’s own thing.

Friday at ABT: Again, this was just an attempt to create a Sunday Strip like layout as I drew the company’s activities through a day at The Metropolitan Opera House. It’s a little sloppy, but I think it’s a good rep of the ballet work day . . .

September Montage: This is just a stream of consciousness like drawing. If it means something, it’s just an accident.

Balthrop Live set: This is the drawing from a single Balthrop, Alabama show we performed down at the Abroms Art Center in Manhattan. Each drawing is a different song from the set . . .

Sound check Montage: The longest Balthrop, Alabama tour was a month long trip around the country in July a few years back. I started this page at the beginning of the tour and added to it each night during sound check. It sort of spun out from the center.

Lady Rizo: One of my favorite performers to draw is Lady Rizo. I’ve seen and drawn her many times and every single show is better than the last one. She’s gonna be a legend.

Jonathan Batiste: Another Pub drawing.

Public Enemy: This was drawn during their Summerstage appearance in 2011. Another drawing where I got to sit in the pit between the crowd and the stage. Amazing energy in that location.

Fred Cash: Fred is the bassist for Toshi Reagon and Big Lovely, a band I’ve had the good fortune to sit in with a few times and draw along live on the big screen. Toshi is one of my favorite people in the universe. This drawing is from rehearsal for last year’s show, but it’s funny–both of her show’s I’ve done live drawing with have always had complete surprise sets. No matter what gets rehearsed, it’s almost always completely different once the band gets on stage. It’s very improvisational.

Yoshimi Dancers: Another drawing from La Jolla Playhouse and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.

Alicia Keys: This was a private show Alicia Keys played at the Pub for her fans. It was a surprise gig announced the morning of the show through her fan page. tickets had to be picked up in person. It was very intimate and really amazing.

Yoshimi Theatre Tech: This was one of the first drawings I did of the Yopshimi process. I was experimenting with a new brush. It’s one of my favorites.

Pic by Kevin Yatarola of me and my set up during a show at Joe’s Pub.

Michael Arthur