Side Street Espresso in downtown Anchorage has been a great place for a good espresso and a daily dose of social or political commentary for decades. Husband and wife owners George Gee and Deborah Seaton have doled out coffee and baked treats for years. George is also an artist. He started drawing on a white board that featured daily drink specials to give customers something interesting to look at. Those drawings are inspired by his inner social and political contemplations and are now collected in a new book – Flutters From Side Street – Volume One.
GEE: For the last year-and-a-half, I haven’t been walking to work from home, but for most of these years — we’ve been there 25 years — I would walk. And just in that quiet time of walking, I talking four in the morning when there’s no one on the streets, no cars. In that quiet time, things evolve in your head.
TOWNSEND: Volume One is out now, Flutters from Side Street. Do you have favorites in your first collection, or is that like asking which one of your kids is your favorite?
GEE: It’s kinda like that. There’s some that I feel closer to than others. There’s ones like the dinosaur one, The Good Old Days, that one I feel close to. The very last drawing in here is Gender Queer. It has to do with my son and I dealing with that issue, or me dealing with my issue concerning it. That’s a really important one because when you go into the text area, you see that really was influential in some changes I was learning about myself. Drawing for me, and you see it in that last section, like a therapist sometimes. It’s just a passing thing, and sometimes it’s deep.
TOWNSEND: Describe for us the dinosaur drawing.
GEE: Well it’s a picture of a skeleton T. Rex head, and it’s titled The Good Old Days. And let me just read, it’s brief. “I think only dinosaurs like me, perhaps unknowingly are already extinct, reminisce the good old days, before money became the standard for truth, honor justice, morality and excellence. Before television became the standard for family time. And before violence was all that could excite our passions. That;s the dinosaur one. But you know, the main focus is political and social. I considered not 9/11, but the response we made to 9/11 to be the most significant watershed geopolitical of the 21st century. So there’s a lot of focus on that. And we’re still experiencing it. I mean, the boundaries and the leadership in the Middle East has changed, but it’s also happening in Europe as the migration’s happening. Drawing is where I started with these images. I quickly moved to also making comments. And once I did that, it became a voice. And this is my voice, coming from Side Street.
Today is George’s 76th birthday and tomorrow evening at a First Friday event at Side Street, a combination birthday party and book launch will take place.