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Artist Collective Launches Kickstarter for Greenwich Village Coloring Book

 A Toronto-based artist collective launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a coloring book showcasing Greenwich Village's historic 1960s music scene.
A Toronto-based artist collective launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a coloring book showcasing Greenwich Village's historic 1960s music scene.
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Kickstarter/City BLOCKS Culture Collective

GREENWICH VILLAGE — A Toronto-based artist collective is planning a coloring book to showcase Greenwich Village's historic 1960s music scene.  

City BLOCKS Culture Collective launched a Kickstarter campaign to highlight folk and rock album covers, along with some of the neighborhood's iconic buildings.

The project is the brainchild of artist-curator Rafi Ghanaghounian, who is a self-described "big fan of that particular scene" and the Village.

"I've been going there since I was a kid," Ghanaghounian said. "So it was just so fun to give something back to that neighborhood."

"Even to this day, it gives me goosebumps to be there," he added.

He enlisted Canadian artist David Setrakian to draw the book's pages, and the pair came to Greenwich Village to walk around and research "all the sites where a lot of these musicians [were] playing in the 60s," Ghanaghounian said.

They took photos of places like the Bitter End, the site of the iconic Led Zeppelin "Physical Graffiti" cover at St. Mark's Place, and the street where Bob Dylan is pictured on the cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan."

The book includes pull-out coloring pages of iconic album covers, buildings where famous musicians played and lived, and some pages for journaling.

Each coloring page has an illustration on the front and historical context about the image or the neighborhood on the back.

Ghanaghounian said he specifically sought street-level angles so that people can wander the neighborhood with the coloring book and see the pages in real life.

"You can actually walk Greenwich Village and see them and sit down and draw them," he said. "It's almost like a walking tour, a self-guided tour."

They are also creating an online map so that people who live abroad can upload their colorings to correspond with each site, to make the book more "interactive."

"We wanted to have a global reach," he said.

Five pages in the book are intentionally left empty, so users can create their own drawings.

"We want you, if you're in New York, to take this with you and get inspired and create your own album cover and send it to us," he said.

The collective's previous projects focused on Havana, Cuba and Bucharest, Romania, and they most recently produced a "Welcome to Toronto" coloring book for the more than 2,000 Syrian refugees expected to relocate there.

"Coloring is just such an awesome thing," Ghanagounian said. "It just connects so many age levels, whether you use it for therapy or just want to enjoy yourself."

Donors to the Greenwich Village Coloring Book Kickstarter, depending on how much they contribute, get prizes varying from a social media thank you to a special tote bag or signed copies of the book.

Ghanagounian said his favorites is the "Physical Graffiti" page, with the story of how it was the most expensive album sleeve ever made at the time and how complicated it was to create.

Another is the "Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" page, which explains how the photographer had been shooting in Dylan's apartment when the musician decided he wanted to go for a walk.

The photographer kept shooting, and ended up producing one of the first album covers shot outside a studio without special lighting, Ghanagounian said.

"That was a really new thing," he said. "Every picture has a little bit of history in it."