Claire Lawton is a freelance producer, writer and post-supervisor — and sometimes she illustrates
Claire has written cultural commentary and in-depth reporting for several media outlets. Her focus is primarily in popular and visual art, as well as ephemera. Below is a selection of her writing.
On a warm Wednesday night in June, a hip, young crowd formed a long line along 26th Street in Manhattan. They laughed among themselves, eyed the number of people in front of them, and clutched their blue ticket stubs to AIDY/TAMI/SPO, a sold-out three-woman show at Upright Citizens Brigade.
Billed as a performance by “three improvisers that you will either want to fuck, marry, or kill by the end of the show,” AIDY/TAMI/SPO was an hourlong showcase by three improv greats, including Tami Sagher, Shannon O’Neill, and Aidy Bryant.
In May of 1920, hundreds of soldiers gathered in Sverdlov Square in Moscow. They’d been called by the new leaders of the Soviet Union — members of the Bolshevik party that had overthrown the Tsar and seized power to create the first communist country in the world.
The soldiers were on their way to the front lines of war in Poland. But before shipping off, they assembled for a rally given by Vladimir Lenin and his comrade, Leon Trotsky. As Lenin addressed the crowd from a makeshift, an iconic photograph was made, and as the shutter opened and closed, photo paper was exposed to forever encapsulate what would become a historic moment.
To spot the latest cool-kid trend, swing by a bodega in Brooklyn. The small, brightly lit convenience stores are on almost every corner in the U.S. capital of hipsterdom, and the owners keep tabs on their neighborhoods before stocking up on organic condiments, fair trade snack bars, and jars of coconut oil.
On a humid night in July, a trip to a bodega in south Brooklyn yields a four-pack of eco-friendly toilet paper and a small potted cactus. When asked about the new makeshift shelf of cacti in front of the store, the clerk barely looks up.
On a cool Thursday evening in January, several women gather around folding tables in a Central Phoenix warehouse to sort thousands of books, pausing only to pull out a greeting card used as a bookmark or to show off a rare find.
The volunteers quickly pull worn copies of Amy Tan’s The Hundred Secret Senses, Relationships for Dummies, and anything by Maurice Sendak out of grocery bags, stick them with color-coded price tags, and place them neatly into a maze of tall shelves filled with salvaged produce boxes labeled by genre and topic.
If there’s a modern Mecca for the followers of letterpress, it’s got to be the Chapel of the Blessed Eutectic in Prescott, Arizona.
From downtown Phoenix, it’s less than a two-hour drive. Take I-17 to State Route 89 and you’ll find yourself in big-sky Prescott. And just a few miles from the city’s center — down Pioneer Parkway, around a few sharp turns, and up a very steep driveway — you’ll find Sky Shipley and his working tribute to an industry more than 500 years old.