Finding refuge in the charm and quiet of Cafe Mogador in NYC’s East Village, artists and friends Scooter LaForge and Johnny Rozsa meet almost every morning for a cup of Moroccan mint tea and a portrait. It is a routine that has become almost ritualistic for the artists in the last three years and, thanks to their ever-growing collection LaForge’s sketches of Rozsa, it is ritual that is well documented.
Amongst plates piled with hummus, poached eggs and harissa, LaForge quickly sketches the outline of Rozsa’s visage in pastel. As a photographer and the occasional drag performer, Rozsa is well-versed in the art of posing, making him the perfect subject for LaForge’s morning practice. “When I first met her, I told her, she had LTS,” jokes LaForge, looking at Rozsa. “That’s short for Lana Turner Syndrome. When Lana Turner was just beginning her career, she used to post up at cafes in tight sweaters, waiting for photographers to notice her and take her pictures. And, that’s what Johnny likes to do.”
Started as an informal appointment between friends, Rozsa and LaForge’s project is an ongoing experiment and one that is constantly evolving. LaForge, who is a painter and also an occasional designer for Patricia Field, is used to switching mediums and uses each portrait as a new opportunity to hone his craft. “He’s one of the most diligent and dedicated artist I know. He has an amazing work ethic,” explains Rozsa. “And, because of that he is incredible at seeing lines and being able to translate them on to the page no matter what material he is using.”
Not tied to one medium in particular, the sketches are a hodgepodge of LaForge and Rozsa’s daily whims. “He uses whatever he or I bring in,” says Rozsa, flipping through a weathered leather sketch book of drawings. “Some days it’s the iPad, other times it’s pastels or crayons, and sometimes it’s just chalk on the sidewalk.” Relying on whatever is available at the breakfast table, sometimes LaForge even reaches for his tea or coffee as a place to start a watercolor.
For LaForge, the portraits have also become a way to experiment with different styles as well as materials. “Sometimes we will go to the Met and look at something like the Matisse show or we will see a marvelous new Alice Neel book in a window, and I’ll get inspired and want to test it out,” says LaForge. Connected only by Rozsa’s distinctive characteristics, LaForge’s breakfast drawings range from the minimalistic to the whimsical and showcase the artist’s knack for breaking out of his own dirty and multilayered style, which characterizes the majority of his work for Patricia Fields and his exhibitions.
While the duo have no plans of publishing the portraits, Rozsa and LaForge are dedicated to keeping up the tradition. “It’s an incredible experience for me,” says Rozsa. “I have all these amazing, one of a kind drawings from one of the artists I most admire. And, they are all of me!”
You can see more of LaForge’s portraits after the jump. To check out Rozsa’s work, you can visit his website. For a better idea of LaForge’s typical work you can check out his website as well as his upcoming Fall 2013 exhibit at the Bronx Museum.
Images by Kat Herriman, Scooter LaForge and Johnny Rozsa.