Current artists: Amon Azizov, Wei Chen, Qiao Fu, Gao Min, Guo Kun Sheug, Artashes Karslian, Ji Yin Jin, Li Qun, Lin Ruo, Dean Lu, Ren Jien-Guo, Jorge Rivera, Sharif Sadiq, Peter Walsh, Xiang Yue Chuan, Dario Zapata, Zhuang Xuemin

Organized by Peter Walsh, Ongoing.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

First Photos from Session Two!

First photos from Session Two of the Central Park Portrait Exchange are now available! Embedded below.

Click on the lower left hand corner icon (with arrows) to get the full sized slideshow.

Special thanks to Robin Randisi for taking these photos.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Battle Begins

Robert Lederman, the President of the street artists’ organization A.R.T.I.S.T., sent out the following email message today regarding a Park Enforcement Police (PEP) action at Union Square Park (USP) in Manhattan:

New USP development Friday May 28

This Friday at 5:30 AM the PEP came to USP. They made all the artists leave the park. I heard they confiscated some unattended tables as well. The artists were then directed to stand in a line until 6AM at which time they were "allowed" to re-enter the park. The PEP then checked everyone's tax ID and did other enforcement.”

To see the complete update go to:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Session Two Report

Two more portrait exchanges were completed this today between Li Qun and Peter Walsh and between Dean Lu and Peter Walsh. The morning was overcast and breezy with a fine mist occasionally threatening to become rain, but the weather held out. The drawings were done at one of the main locations for professional portrait artists in Central Park - near the Plaza Hotel and across from Grand Army Plaza at the corner of 59th and East Drive.  Photos coming soon!

Comments by Peter Walsh:
“These two exchanges went very smoothly. We used a new paper – Windsor and Newton 90lb. hot pressed watercolor - which worked a lot better than the Rives BFK used for Session One, but still it had more texture than the newsprint that many of the artists in Central Park normally use. We may try yet another paper for Session Three. Xiang Yue Chuan joked that I had made Li Qun look a bit like Mao, and Dean Lu was amazingly fast, drawing with a piece of compressed Chinese charcoal in one hand and a cigarette in the other.”

Thanks go out to Robin Randisi and Miriam Eusebio who were on hand to take photos. Both are members of the website, a new artists’ barter website, and they will be completing barters soon with Walsh in exchange for their photos work. Seems a fitting way to deepen the exchange project and their pictures will be posted soon!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Session Two This Thursday

Portrait Exchange Session Two:
Time: Thursday, May 27th, 2010, 9:30am -12:30pm
Artists: Li Qun, Peter Walsh, Xiang Yue Chuan, Dario Zapata
Location: Northwest Corner of 59th Street and East Drive. Near the Plaza Hotel.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Second Slide Show - Photos by Kathy Brew

Here's another great set of photos, taken by Kathy Brew, showing each of the three portrait exchanges done during Session One of the Central Park Portrait Exchange.

One of the most interesting aspects of the drawing process that you can clearly see in this set of photos is that the three professional portrait drawers, Zhuang Xuemin, Ren Jien-Guo and Wei Chen, start with the eyes, lock in the key features, and build out to finish, whereas Peter Walsh lays out the basic architecture of the head and then drops the features into this frame.

Many thanks to Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra for coming out to help document the project.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

First Photo Slideshow!

First photos from Session One of the Central Park Portrait Exchange are now available! Embedded below.

Click on the lower left hand corner icon (with arrows) to get the full sized slideshow.

Special thanks to Louise Ma and Alex Ramirez-Mallis for taking these pictures.

Monday, May 17, 2010


The first three portrait exchanges were completed this morning on the lovely tree-lined path leading up to the Central Park Zoo. Artists Wei Chen, Ren Jien-Guo, Peter Walsh and Zhuang Xuemin traded sketches to get the Exchange off to a great start. Each drawing took about 15-20 minutes, first with Walsh posing and then, switching chairs, with Walsh drawing. Each full exchange - with two drawings, discussions and interviews - took about an hour. Photos, slides shows and video will be posted soon!

Comments by Peter Walsh:
“The first drawings are very interesting. The portraits I did of Zhuang, Ren and Chen, drawn in that order, are fine although I really didn’t hit my stride till the third drawing – of Wei Chen! It’s brutally difficult to keep up with these professionals. In general, my drawings seem a little bit flat still. I’ll have to work on building depth. Each portrait of me is unique, which I find exciting. Each of the artists captured a different aspect of how I look. I think that Chen, Ren and Zhuang had a better grasp of capturing a likeness than I do and they certainly work amazingly quickly. The only real drawback for the day is that the paper I chose – Rives BFK – has too strong of a tooth. We all struggled with it. I may see if I can find a smoother paper for the next session.”

Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra were on hand to shoot video and do interviews with both the artists and passersby. Louise Ma multi-tasked doing fantastic Mandarin-English translations, taking photos and explaining the project to interested park goers. Alex Ramirez-Mallis was also on site taking photos. 

Many thanks to everyone! Stay tuned for updates, news and schedule announcements.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Schedule for the Central Park Portrait Exchange

You’re invited to come up to Central Park and see the drawings as they are being created!

There will be four half-day drawing sessions, one per week from the middle of May to the middle of June 2010. Rain dates, if necessary, will take place by extending the schedule further into June. Here’s the current schedule:

Portrait Exchange Session One:
Rescheduled time and place due to rain!  
New Time: Monday, May 17th, 2010, 9:30am – 12:30pm
Artists: Wei Chen, Peter Walsh, Zhuang Xuemin and others
New Location: Enter the park at East 61st Street and turn right, we'll be near the Zoo entrance.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Test portrait exchange between Peter Walsh and Xiang Yue Chuan, April 23, 2009.

Welcome to the new blog for Central Park Portrait Exchange! I hope to be adding content rapidly as the project gets up and running. The actual drawing performances may start as early as next week, the second week of May 2010. Keep an eye out for details!

Why this project?

I've been wanting to do a portrait exchange with artists working in Central Park for several years. As a drawer myself, I'm impressed by the speed and precision with which they work. Yet I'm also interested in the economics of art-making. These artists get paid one price, artists in Chelsea get another, and as a conceptual artist supporting myself with non-arts jobs, I frequently get nothing in exchange for my art!

On top of these issues, the City of New York and the NYC Parks Commission have forced my hand by proposing that most of the talented artists working in Central Park and in other parks be shut down. The time to act is now!