Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes by Michael Cho has been one of my favorite art books for a long time now. These pages aren’t filled with typical urban sketches of city halls and famous landmarks (although I enjoy those too); they’re more intimate than that. This is a side of the city for locals, not tourists. As Cho remarks:
“I’d often cut through the alleyways here on the way home on a summer night or during a walk to clear my head on a spring day. They’re familiar places, quiet and often hidden in plain sight. I think when you know a city, you know its back alleys. It’s like a house: the dining room is in the front to show the guests, while the real living goes on in the kitchen in the back.”
Some years ago, huddled in a small bookshop flipping through these pages for the first time, I instantly connected with that sentiment. I saw traces of my own hometown and current city within the drawings, memories of my own brick alleys washed in orange streetlamps. There have been a million little moments I’d notice an old building, a tree, or a dock which the light was hitting just so and think to myself “Wow this is beautiful, I want to draw this.”
Unfortunately I didn’t often get around to it, but I’m very glad Michael Cho did. Enjoy!