between here and there


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Mixed Media

 

I am trained to be an architect. But the images in my head cannot be stilled. Color in all ways, expression in multiple mediums. This fact has bothered me for quite some time. But then I started looking into the artists I admire. They all work(ed) in multiple mediums. It is only our consumerist tendencies that focus on artist’s expressions in one medium at a time. But if you take the time, you can understand that the work comes all the time, in many different ways. A painting, a collage, a drawing or sculpture. A building or jewelry. The artist does not limit him or herself, we only limit ourselves and the opportunity to fully experience the art made when we focus on a specific medium. It’s all art in the end.

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Knowledge equals Empowerment

  
Sometimes we need to learn things more than once in a lifetime. Of course some “lessons” we learn over and over again. In this instance, I am re-learning autocad. And it’s kind of like re-learning how to ride a bike with different gears. Even after twenty years not much in the mechanics of the program have changed. 

So watch out you youngsters, cuz I’ll be speeding by you soon. Just need to learn how to shift a few more gears! From concept to spec, I am gaining the power to tell the whole story. 

Knowledge is empowerment. A great lesson from Remote Studio. 


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Creative inspiration 

  
Creativity is always here. Even if we are busy with the rest of life’s needs. It creeps in the Windows, crawls between boards. It will open the door if left unlocked. The beginning of a vision for what we don’t always know. We can push the vision away , and if it keeps returning, pay attention. This one may really need to come into to being.

Why this inspiration and not another? We will never really know. But we can ask ourselves if we are up to the challenge of the translation to reality. We can take inspiration on and change the world, one bit at a time, for the better.


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The Search for Beauty

Sunrise o“We shall thus prevent our guardians being brought up among representations [music, sculpture, poetry, architecture] of what is evil, and so day by day and little by little, by grazing widely as it were in an unhealthy pasture, insensibly doing themselves a cumulative psychological damage that is very serious. We must look for artists and craftsman capable of perceiving the real nature of what is beautiful, and then our young men [and women], living as it were in a healthy climate, will benefit because all of the works of art they see and hear influence them for good, like the breezes from some healthy country, insensibly leading them from earliest childhood into close sympathy and conformity with beauty and reason…”

Socrates

Not much to say after reading this, but a lot of doing needs to occur.


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Reading Leopold

Louisiana Wetlands

Louisiana Wetlands at Sunset

I fell in love with the wetlands of Louisiana in part because I read Aldo Leopold, and in part because the grasses that wave against the blue sky of the Gulf remind me of the grasslands of the Great Plains of North America, which brings me back to the legacy of Aldo Leopold. I don’t use the word LOVE as a simple term, but as a description for that deep feeling we have when someone, thing, or experience moves our soul. That sense that we have when we believe we have found meaning in our world where so little existed before.

But this takes me a bit off-course, and the course I intend to take you on is the ground breaking trajectory of Aldo Leopold. Actually we will explore, his words, thoughts, and the legacy of Aldo Leopold.

As every Remote Studio begins, so will this one in the summer of 2015, with the reading of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, with Essays on Conservation from Round River. Even if you don’t realize it today, in a a few weeks you will. You will understand the great debt you owe Leopold for the places we call wilderness today, for the endangered species that are protected, for the idea that poetry can be found and experienced on the land, and then written about, and shared with all of us. That the fast paced day you spent online, driving in traffic, and answering texts, can be slowed down and valued relative to the place you find yourself: with the experience of sun, wind, scent and birdsong.

And if you wonder why we would be reading a book written by an activist (although he may not have called himself such) in 1949 , you only need to read the book to learn. The obviousness of this request will appear as you understand how necessary words written sixty-six years ago are in 2015.

Aldo Leopold’s book, the whole book, will be discussed at the end of the first week of Remote Studio, a week of hiking and making, with very little time for sitting still. To give yourself the opportunity to savor his words, thoughts, and to commit to your future, I recommend that you start reading the book before Remote Studio begins. And to take notes, and to write notes to yourself and underline passages you value in the book.Live in the book.  And perhaps someday, if you pay attention you will have a place you love, too.

From this place that Leopold provides we begin our journey with Remote Studio, and the understanding of why architects so desperately need to know the world as he saw it.

 

 

 


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Architecture and Modesty

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This weekend was full of work . I’m not complaining. But stating a fact. Part of the work is a modest design proposal for an addition to a house.

There are always lessons in everything we do. And this little design has reminded me of a few things I have known. Confirmed things I know even in a cobwebbed corner of my mind:

1. It is necessary to know when to respond with modesty over exuberance, no matter how talented a designer you are. And perhaps the lesson I needed to be reminded of. There is a certain critical effort that must be made to design thoughtfully while at the same time working from a place of restraint . Not all creative answers should be dominate , some should be quiet and simply fit in with what came before. This is the case for the addition I am working on.

The existing structure is a dynamic , yet simple, 1970 contemporary house. It’s dynamism is in it’s sweeping roof that is a singular gesture of form. On the rural landscape it’s primarily living area is visible as a single sharp pitched shed roof reaching from the ground and extending to the sky.

To take away this dynamic and singular move from the primary living volume by way of a bedroom addition would be disrespectful to the hierarchy of architectural expression . The best response is one of support. Of course making the overall building better, but not by making an over-expressive addition. Instead by making a better whole.

2. Most architects and designers work today with the use of the computer for 2-d drawings and models . And this had been my primary method for a decade . But with this small work I thought all handwork would be best, and faster. Because I teach architecture students I am well aware of their current use of computers, 3-d modeling and laser cutters. And I recognize the benefits of these tools, and use them myself. But the work this past weekend using pencil , paper, cutting blades and chipboard also reminded me how critical it is for creators to use their hands to understand their ideas, their work. From this process a clarity arrives, like the clarity we gain through concentrated meditation. The slowing down of the process in exchange for the immediacy of current technology asks us to think and be sure and clear of our decisions. The tactility of hand to brain connects us to the world in it’s reality like feet to a hiking trail, bringing connection and surety.

The process also reminded me of all the things I am capable of with my hands, the versatility of expression, creating, and making . And the deep knowledge I have collected over thirty years with my brain connected to the actions of my hands that allow me to make the art I currently pursue .

Mind to hand. We are makers in the world . There is no better substitution.


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A Few More Steps

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The concrete blankets have come off. The giant hole has been back filled with gravel and dirt and leveled…and the plumber has roughed in the drains and pipes that will soon be buried in the concrete slab.

Rigid insulation has been set on top of the gravel, along with wire mesh. And tomorrow it will be my turn for some work. I will be adding the tubes on top of the wire mesh that will serve as the loops that will be buried in the concrete slab to create a radiant floor.

There will be no selfies made of this process. So if you want to see the action you can come on out and take pictures . And maybe tie a little wire. If you are a past Remote Studio student you probably had a similar experience when we formed concrete for your project!