Past Forward Through Architecture and Design

There are old favourites, like Daniel Burnham’s sweeping vision for Chicago. And you will find unexpected gems, such as the glistening prefabricated kitchen and bathroom components of a French architect intent on creating once-elite ski resorts cheap to the masses.

These are one of the eye-catching objects in the Art Institute of Chicago’s new installment of its permanent structure and design collection. It’s one of the most extensive exhibition installations the museum has ever showcased of its vast holdings in these areas. But the objects alone are not what make the show worth seeing.

Rather, it is the ability with which the bits are framed within a larger narrative of how design and architecture have shaped — and continues to shape — how we live. While there are a number of lapses in that narrative, the exhibition, titled “Past Forward: Architecture and Design at the Art Institute,” is, for the most part, has been intelligently told.

Throughout, a major theme is that interior design and architecture are idea-driven Fields participated in the making of experimental visions, not only the real reality of a brick bungalow or a tubular steel chair. That cerebral view will probably provoke a world-weary dismissal from individuals who’ve witnessed the costs, both financial and human, of designers’ failed visions. Think demolished public housing projects. But there’s no denying that the radical, often uplifting impact that design and architecture have made throughout the past 120 years.

The Show, to its credit, explores both sides of the coin.

Organized by Zoe Ryan, the museum’s chief architecture and design curator, “Past Forward” occupies the majority of the design and architecture galleries at the museum’s Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing. (The remainder of these galleries will be dedicated to temporary museum showcases and displays).

As in the rest of the Modern Wing, the exhibited material — drawings, sculptures, pieces of furniture, posters, videos and much more — covers the period from 1900 to the present. It’s the first time, Ryan said, that the museum has collectively exhibited its holdings of modern and contemporary architecture and design. They amount an estimated 250,000 items.

However, this is a different type of permanent installation. A few of the show’s contents, particularly light-sensitive architectural drawings and fabrics, must only be exhibited for a few months at a time to prevent fading. So go now if you want see a drawing such as Ludwig Hilberseimer’s chillingly enchanting 1924 vision of a town whose residents reside at high-rises and work in factories right below.

The instalment — made by Julia Di Castri, who teaches at the University of Illinois in Chicago’s architecture school — neatly accommodates the demand for the exhibit’s ever-changing contents. In the deal, it underscores structure’s unique capability to frame space and provides visitors multiple paths throughout the show.

Diagonally organized, 12-foot-high walls produce a compelling tension with the odern Wing’s right-angled geometry and form a collection of room like spaces which contain the show’s thematic sections. Openings in the walls create alluring, down-the-alley perspectives that showcase prime display material, such as a multicoloured, stencilled wall covering by Chicago architect Louis Sullivan.

The best of the segments make fascinating connections among their subjects and the world at large. The one on offices, as an instance, demonstrates how the expansive, column-free insides of innovative structures such as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s 1955 Inland Steel Building in Chicago pushed designers to create lighter, more flexible office environments. Unfortunately, one such attempt flopped, resulting in the lucid wall text notes, to what we now know as the omnipresent and dull cubicle.

A more pleasing outcome can be seen from the aforementioned prefab kitchen and bathroom units, which French architect Charlotte Perriand designed in the 1970s for the Les Arcs ski resort in the French Alps. The fibreglass units were plugged into small apartments, holding down prices and helping to democratize a formerly exclusive leisure activity.

“Past Forward” also succeeds in pulling back the curtain on how architects change their theories into material reality; a process well illustrated by architect David Adjaye’s drawings and mock-up versions in the National Museum of African American History and Culture. And we see design’s importance in shaping a city’s image, evident in the artfully simple posters that the modernist graphic designer John Massey failed in 1966 to promote Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan.

Still, there are flaws, and they are partially rooted in the fact that curators are like card players — they need to play the hand they are dealt.

The Art Institute’s design and architecture holdings, as extensive as they are, aren’t all-encompassing, which leads to a frustrating gaps. The section on modern museum interior decorating, as an instance, has nothing to say about the powerfully sculpted, digitally enabled museums of Frank Gehry, whose Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, dazzled the world and changed the course of museum design when it opened 20 years back.

Even if the collection is powerful, it’s not always well-handled. The show’s treatment of postmodernism is fragmented and unfocused. Stanley Tigerman’s iconic “Titanic” collage, which portrays Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall sinking into Lake Michigan, appears in one section while some of the postmodern “Late Entries” into the Chicago Tribune Tower competition of 1922 are in another. Considering that the current resurgence of interest in postmodernism, the show’s inability to draw together these essential pieces is a disappointment.

Some of the design items on screen seem somewhat kooky, despite their provocative contemporary relevance. A seat, shaped like a cow’s chest, which reminds us of the animal origins of leather furniture? Such designs bring to mind Mies’ famous line: “I do not wish to be fascinating; I wish to be good.”

It’s much more moving to see among the moulded leg splints which California Designers Charles and Ray Eames developed for injured soldiers during World War II. The splint was a substantial step toward the sculptural moulded plywood furniture which the Eameses designed after the war. Architecture and design are at their best, this example indicates, when ideas are not imagined for their own sake but to enhance and elevate human expertise.

Why Art and Wine Mix

I’m resting my elbows on an unvarnished, paint-stained dining table in a comfy craft store and I am hoping a nude man appears any moment now. Surveying the A3 paper, paintbrushes and assorted kinds of pencil, I am distracted from the giant glass entry doors. ‘Will not those who pass by, you understand … see?’ The teacher smiles and says: “Life drawing happens on Tuesdays. Tonight, we are drawing fruits from the nearby fresh food store.” Why I presumed every Drink and Draw course would involve a nude model is most likely best left to your psychoanalysts.

Drink and Draw discovered popularity firstly in New York Lately and today the tendency was imported into most developed nations including Australia. True to its title, this can be an art course for both the experienced scribblers and clueless newbies — but with the pairing of a classic artesian ale or wine from the yarra valley.

Art and alcohol can be a fantastic combination; it assists individuals with their inhibitions. A blank page may freak out people. When you’re ready to get beyond that and just get something on the paper, it becomes much simpler. Mixing drinking, socialising and drawing is not fresh: boozy art collectives had been a fixture of 1920s Paris. In addition to getting you over the hump of putting pen to paper, understanding alcohol forms a portion of this course eases that very specific concern; conversation may be stilted.

Joni, a science teacher, says that she wanted to reserve an artwork course but was daunted by six-week obligations and phrases such as “tuition”. She believes having ‘beverage’ in the name makes it seems relaxed and not as severe.

Art and alcohol could be a great combination; it helps individuals with their inhibitions

Folks start filtering in, introducing themselves as though they were mingling in a friend’s house party. The first to arrive is Victoria, a young mother on maternity leave from her job. Her husband booked the course as a gift so that she could have an artistic night-time off. She says: “When I was working I kept saying I needed to do something artistic to unwind, but I never got around to it.” Sitting beside me is Jenny, a policy advisor for a charity. She’s never attracted before but is trusting her A* in GCSE pottery will establish an advantage.

After the table is complete and beverages are poured; tonight’s featured wine is a Merlo from a yarra valley winery; Jude admits an ice-breaking game of Pictionary. Both teams compete for some strange bars—Presumably from the same fresh food shop as the fruit, not as hence the stakes are damn high. Here, the actual artists have the advantage over novices: my attempt with an elephant resembles a very specific portion of the male anatomy, whereas an applications engineer, Ben — that asserts that “signing my touch is the only time that I pick up a pencil” — manages to communicate a lion with a squiggly circle. My elephant needs to have scarred him, however, because when a person pulls a mouse with a long tail his very first suspect is “a semen!” The match finishes, after much laughing, at a draw. Fruit bars for everybody!

The allure of this course for everybody is to return to something they loved when they were younger.

Past the beverage, most men and women tell me, that the allure of this course is return to something they appreciated when younger. Just about everyone says they enjoyed art at college, lost touch to it and are trying to reconnect.

The instruction is impressive. We’re taught the Fundamentals of Drawing: how to summarize, how to color using pens and cotton buds — without the presumption of present abilities or natural splendour. And the Outcome? Well, nobody believed my peacock feather was a semen. I predict that an achievement.

And in one of the chatter, joking and reinforcement, some of my classmates create stunning drawings. And, given my complete lack of ability, mine is heaps easier than anticipated. But is that down to reduced inhibitions and very good instruction, or wine skills? Perhaps that is the beauty of Drink and Draw — Never needing to understand.

Architect Recounts his Encounters with the Masters

It was compulsory for architects to make the Grand Tour of the greatest buildings and historical monuments of Europe. This was both for people residing in Europe and also for people starting out of the side of the Atlantic. The aim was to return home with measured drawings  and architecture photography of significant buildings and then replicate those honored structures or their details, be they in the Roman, Gothic, Renaissance or Baroque eras.

Though this Beaux Arts requirement waned long ago, the Grand Tour is still accepted by architects now. Actually a whole issue of the Yale Architectural Journal (Issue Number41 – 2008) was dedicated to the effect of this Grand Tour on architects like Chestnut Hill’s very own Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi. But now, architects out of the continent also fly into the U.S. to find buildings of importance.

Let us be clear: many architects travel to see the buildings made by the Masters – but a single architect trained in Germany actually traveled into the U.S. to meet with the masters themselves, having met many in his own home state before emigrating here. Otto Reichert is a tall, distinguished-looking guy, very cultured and well-spoken, currently living in Chestnut Hill in a vintage home with classical house extensions. Now in his 90s, he’s retired and walks with a cane. He and I love regular conversations about politics, design, and history whilst sunning or swimming in the Hill House pool.

Back in 1950, Otto obtained a degree from the Technical University in Karlsruhe, went to Columbia University, then got his degrees in city planning and architecture at Harvard. Through time, by accident, fortune, or persistent pursuit, Otto participated with a few of the very creative and effective styles of the 20th century.

In response to Otto’s cold telephone in 1951, the world-renowned architect of this Seagram’s building on Park Avenue, Mies van der Rohe, encouraged Otto to return to Chicago for a four day tête-à-tête. Otto was more than surprised to discover Mies’ whole office no bigger than a living space away from an architect’s stereotypical environment of drake low loaders and crane hires. Mies sat behind a normal drafting board (no desk), as though Mies was a mere worker rather than a world-revered master. As unexpected, there was only an office supervisor (an aristocratic Baron of a kind) and 2 draftsmen.

Mies and Otto took walks across Lake Shore Drive and would stop to watch Mies’ restrained, grid-like apartment homes then constructing single storey additions. At one stage, Mies, the stoic, abruptly exploded in anger when speaking to some Swiss critic who maintained that Mies had misplaced the architectural energy he’d exhibited throughout his Berlin period. Before supper, Mies and Otto both had three martinis; Mies, Otto explained, could have kept moving. Alcohol was as near Mies’ heart as his ever-present cigars.

Otto was thrilled when Mies led his assistant to take Otto to find that the striking and famous Farnsworth House, then under construction across the Fox River at Plano, Ill. This was a memorably first, floating quantity of glass and white painted steel from the largest slab cranes of the region, built as a country retreat. Despite a litigation instituted by the customer (with whom Mies had experienced a romantic liaison), the home remains a masterpiece of mid-century modernist thinking and is presently possessed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In the Union League in Philadelphia, Otto once had lunch with the famous Swiss architect, Le Corbusier, and some other Harvard-trained architects. Otto explained that Corbu’s small stature was in stark contrast to his standing among the very influential artists/architects of this 20th century. The attached photograph is his sculptural chapel at Ronchamp, France, taken by an architectural photographer in 1973. During the luncheon, the hugely famous Corbu nonchalantly reported that he was usually the last to leave the workplace and carry out the garbage.

In 1957 Otto had a short exchange with Walter Gropius beneath a full moon on the staircase leading up to the Acropolis at Athens. Gropius, always the teacher said that these people would for no real reason walk in silence round the Parthenon. If architecture could do that, it has fulfilled its mission.

In contrast to this reserved Mies van der Rohe, Otto describes Richard Neutra with his bulk of silver hair (that Otto recognized, he often uttered) as a totally charming, bubbly Austrian. Neutra is famed because of his California homes with large expanses of glass which married the inside together with all the beauty of the California landscape.

Otto worked with Oskar Stonorov on the Plan of Hopkinson House at Philadelphia. Oscar was also a sculptor and adored literature. In Stonorov’s passing, Otto and Philadelphia’s very own Louis Kahn reminisced for 2 hours about the guy they both had admired and adored. Otto worked with Harriet Pattison, among Lou Kahn’s partners. She had been a landscape adviser on Otto’s Academy House job in Center City.

Space doesn’t allow complete reference of the other architects and artists which Otto engaged with during his lengthy career, but this is a simple list to give you some concept of the broad horizons of his cultured life:

Dean G. Holmes Perkins (School of Architecture at Penn); Architects: Philip Johnson; Pietro Belluschi; Erich Mendelsohn; Otto Ernst Schweizer; Egon Eiermann; Frei Otto; Hans Scharoun; Artists+: Harry Bertoia; Sam Maitin; Charles Searles; Joan Miró; Vincent Persichetti; Eugene Ormandy; along with Anne d’Harnoncourt.

The world would be richer if Otto Reichert-Facilides had enough energy and time to compose a full size memoir!

Plumbing Museum App Supports Art Industry in Watertown

The Plumbing Museum has declared the ribbon-cutting and launch of the Manoog Family Artist in Residency Program, a new cultural initiative being provided to the Watertown and Greater Boston communities.

Designed to encourage careers in both the arts and trades, the program provides artists with the physical and financial resources required to explore the relationship between art and industrial engineering. Named after the founding family of the Plumbing Museum, the Manoog Family Artist in Residency Program offers artists the chance to harness their passion and imagination to generate significant artwork, develop their skills and give back to the community, all over the space found at the Plumbing Museum and its partner organization, J.C. Cannistraro.

As part of this program, selected artists are supplied with complete access to studio workspace, fabrication and welding tools, materials and a cash award. The program’s first resident artist, Ryan Leitner, is a recent graduate of Tufts University School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The autumn residency will conclude with an exhibition at the Plumbing Museum in January 2017.

At home in Australia, it’s not surprising that the plumbers who made an “Ettamagoh” dunny to race at the prior dunny races in the Warrnambool Talent have created a “Cistern Chapel” pipes museum themselves. Warrnambool plumbers Tony Van Rooy and Brian O’Shannessy obviously enjoy a little fun but their Cistern Chapel is significantly more than dunny humour.

The group of plumbing paraphernalia reveals how changes in plumbing technology have made life much easier and highlighting previous plumbers’ abilities as well as the risks they faced. Mr O’Shannessy said he initially believed his buddy Tony’s pastime of collecting plumbing paraphernalia had been “stupid” before he caught the ‘art collection’ bug and joined him in a few collectors’ rallies.

The collection grew and both got a site at the South Western District Restoration Group’s centre that’s next to the Cobden Miniature Railway and Mini Golf Park. In the true spirit of the old plumbers who were ingenuous in repairing things, they recycled a corrugated iron shed from neighboring Dixie to make a home for the makeshift museum.

It houses everything from old nighttime soil cans and architectural engineered timbers to elaborate ceramic and metal piping configurations as well as the major array of different varieties of toilet cisterns the museum is named after. Other displays include round the corner chisels and coin-operated gas meters. Most haven’t been restored to increase the allure of their era.

Tony, 67, and Brian, 62, have been plumbers for several decades and know the tales behind lots of the things including the inspiration for the saying “as flat as a shit carter’s hat” At the time before sewer pipes were set up, night soil carters took off the bathroom cans from backyard bathrooms.

They carried the cans in their shoulders and the hats they wore to protect their heads from spillage and possible corresponding gas installations frequently wore flat. Lots of the museum’s displays are over a hundred years old like a water main made from stainless steel slats bound with wire. When the absorbent wood became wet, it swelled to become waterproof.

The displays elicit lots of laughs and stories from visitors about their experiences with similar products. Comic signs like “Old plumbers do not die, their plungers only perish” and a “Plumber’s Poem” add levity to the museum. Old wooden bathroom doors under laminated structural timber beams have a new function as display boards for ranges of taps. The plumbers delight in opinions in their guests’ book saying that the museum is “a shit place” or something similar. But while they could laugh about their work, they said it was clear improvements in youth had supplied big improvements in quality of life.

“Prior to a flushing toilet was really easy,” Mr Van Rooy said. But even with each of the technologies and essentially blocked plumbing and drains or burst pipes, he stated meeting his clients was among the best parts of his job. The chance to meet people was why he loves doing maintenance plumbing in a form of art as opposed to construction. Mr Van Rooy said while plumbing sometimes involved getting into unsanitary circumstances, plumbers were generally able to keep “from the shit.”

Hanging Tips For Your Art Display Show

Installing a solo art show of your own work is a challenging and fulfilling job. A solo show is most likely something you have actually worked toward for a year or more to showcase your art under stunning art hanging systems. You have a significant psychological investment– and frequently an economic one as well– in its success. If your program remains in a museum or industrial gallery, installing the show will probably be the responsibility of the museum manager or gallery director. But if your program is in a co-op gallery, art association, alternative art area, library, bank, restaurant, office space or your own studio, part or all the duty for arranging and hanging the work will most likely fall on your shoulders. Checking out the installation procedure will help you create a cohesive exhibition that will show your work to its finest light.

Things to think about

The very first obstacle is to acknowledge that, while the works you have actually produced for the exhibition are the factor for the program, the exhibition is not about the works. Rather, the exhibition is a work of art unto itself. Your artworks are just one element of that larger work– the exhibition.

Creating an exhibit is a multidimensional procedure. Amongst the elements that add to a success or failure are the exhibit area, the lighting, the audiences and the method they will move through the space, visual interruptions that are inevitable, focus on your primary purpose for the exhibit, the mechanics of how the artwork will be hung, and the plan of the pieces.

The area

Start by clearing the space as much as possible. Even if there are pedestals, chairs or other furniture that you envision you’ll use in setting up your exhibit, remove them at this moment so you can see the area with as few diversions as possible.

When the space is empty, analyze your environments. Is there any natural light? The number of entryways and exits exist? Are there any pillars, unmovable dividing walls or other blockages in the space? Do the walls need to be touched up from the previous picture hanging systems? Is the ceiling high or low? Is there adequate lighting? Exists anything in or near the area that will take on your work for the audiences’ attention?

After you have actually resolved these questions and other that strike you, it’s time to bring your works into the area– if possible, into the center of the area. Don’t lean the works against the walls at this moment– they’ll end up being an obstacle to visualizing the very best possible layout of your show.

Oil Painting Lessons on Various Topics

Being the most popular medium due to its forgiving nature, many of the artists wish to learn to oil paint as a means of self-expression and creativity and with this intention in mind, enroll for classes wherein they can expect to learn the different oil painting techniques from the maestros of the field. In this respect, the student might as well bear in mind the fact that like all new activities oil painting also needs to be learned from scratch and that there is no short cut which would enable one to become an accomplished oil painter overnight. However, joining oil painting lessons would undoubtedly speed up the process as one would get an opportunity to learn to oil paint by incorporating the various oil painting tips imparted by the guru.

Initially, while oil painting how to paint landscapes, seascapes, animals, and flowers forms the content of the oil painting lessons as instructions pertaining to the various oil painting techniques employed for painting these subjects are imparted to the student artist. Landscape, being the easiest, is not only the most common but also the first to be handled by beginners by utilizing some of the traditional oil painting techniques. While painting a landscape with oils, the student is instructed to start from the sky and gradually move downwards. This is not only in keeping with the light to dark rule but also entails the application of the wet-in-wet technique. One way of imparting depth to landscape oil is to paint the farther objects in light colors and the closer details in dark colors.

Attempting a seascape is comparatively a more challenging task but certainly not impossible to achieve for a dedicated student who believes in a lot of practice. Seascapes are best painted by utilizing the wet-on-wet technique which entails the application of wet paint on top of another wet paint so as to create soft edges and proper blending of different colors. Seascape is usually replete with clouds, foam, waves and beaches and sometimes a lighthouse as well all of which can be depicted by maintaining a certain angle of the brush stroke. A beginner needs to remember that while painting a wave, the inside of the wave requires an under curve brush stroke whereas the top of the wave requires an overhand.

Painting animals is a more complex task as one needs to keep in mind details like long fur, short fur, eyes and the overall proportion. In this regard, one of the noteworthy recommendations pertaining to making an oil painting of animal is to copy from a picture and try to produce the closest possible replica in terms of the mood, theme, and expression of the particular animal or a bird. This would not only provide the artist with practice in various techniques but would also make him versatile. Likewise, for painting flowers, one would need a vast array of colors and a combination of several techniques in order to be able to acquire the desired result.

Having mastered most of the traditional techniques through these basic subjects, one can then graduate on to more complex subjects and even oil painting as an outlet for one’s dreams and fantasies.