Rainbow Nest

As humans, we become connoisseurs of whatever is important to us at the time. As a teenager I was a 7-11 connoisseur. I was extremely picky about the consistency of my slurpees (I might still be pretty picky about that). In my 20s there was a period when I would only draw with a specific type of pencil, if I got to class with a sub-par selection there was no way I could draw anything worth keeping. Now, in my 30s, I have a lengthy list of olive oil requirements.

As a kid I was a playground connoisseur.  I had very specific opinions about where we should go to play, and the quality and variety of the different equipment at each play locale. I wrote about one of my childhood playgrounds a little while ago here.

Oh my stars do I wish I had been exposed to this:

This is the brainchild of Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam and created through her company NetPlayWorks. She started exploring textile art in the 70s but the shift to playground designer was a bit of an accident. From her profile on Knit Japan:

“Two children had entered the gallery where she was exhibiting ‘Multiple Hammock No. 1′ and, blissfully unaware of the usual polite protocols that govern the display of fine art, asked to use it. She watched nervously as they climbed into the structure, but then was thrilled to find that the work suddenly came alive in ways she had never really anticipated. She noticed that the fabric took on new life – swinging and stretching with the weight of the small bodies, forming pouches and other unexpected transformations, and above all there were the sounds of the undisguised delight of children exploring a new play space. She felt it was almost as if she had discovered a new dimension.”

I like that. Play as another dimension.

Her first public project was for a national park in southern Japan, and since then she has created at least 6 other play spaces. Her commission at an art museum in Japan was for a sculpture that children could “touch, play with and experience through all their five senses.”

These amazing structures fit that bill perfectly.

Each of her structures is engineered with safety in mind, but I think part of what I love about this is that is doesn’t look all that safe. We spend a lot of time and effort keeping kids “safe” but kids’ brains are programed to touch and climb and explore and fall from a height.

These look like so much fun precisely because they are not too safe.

Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam crocheting

Images from:

the NetPlayWorks website

and Rebellogblog.com here

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Recognition

Working as a art director I am on studio lots quite a bit. I often recognize actors and musicians as we go about our respective jobs. One of the hardest things to get used to is remembering how I know someone when I recognize them. I (of course) don’t have this problem with really famous people, but character actors, or people who have had a long running returning role as a supporting character… Let’s just say I have embarrassed myself. When I first started working, I met Abraham Benrubi on a set and I thought I really knew him, like he was a friend of a friend or something. After that incident I have censored myself. Unless I am positive that I can remember a real life interaction with someone, I don’t say anything.

The flip side of that is when I see someone on TV and I keep wondering how I know that actor. I try to remember what other roles I am remembering them in, but keep drawing a blank. Then, sometimes days later, I realize that I actually do know them. That actor actually is a friend of a friend, or someone I went to school with.

This, however, was a first.

This is a painting by Jason Shawn Alexander. The model, Windell Middlebrooks, is an actor that I went to grad school with. He was in my thesis production, Seven Guitars.

I stopped short when I saw this painting. I recognized him immediately. Mr. Alexander has done a wonderful job of distilling his personality onto canvas. I know those looks.

This painting is less intimate, Windell is not looking directly at the viewer, but it is no less successful.

After catching my breath, I looked around Mr. Alexander’s website for a while. He has plenty of amazing paintings, and I don’t doubt that the personalities of his other subjects are rendered just as perfectly as Windell’s.

He has a gift.

Jason Shawn Alexander has a show up right now at 101 Exhibit on Melrose in LA.

All images from Jason Shawn Alexander’s website

via Booooooom

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Golden Moon

When I was working as the technical director at a high school we did a play called Windshook. In the play the actors reference the moon, so we needed to have something for them to point at. Now, most productions probably just bought a moon gobo, pointed a light at the cyc and called it a day.

We were not most productions.

We decided to build a geodesic dome and cover it with translucent fabric. This might have been more successful if we had looked at any geodesic dome plans or even a photograph. We just cut a lot of pencil rod the same length and started welding… It was a very misshapen moon.

It was a good idea, we just floundered in the execution.

Along that same train of thought…

This is the Golden Moon Pavilion at Mid-Autumn Festival at Lee Kum Kee Lantern Wonderland in Hong Kong. It was perfectly executed.

It is actually the exact same idea we had all those years ago – a moon made of a geodesic dome covered with fabric – but on a much grander scale.

This is the work of LEAD (The Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design) a Hong Kong & Antwerp based architectural design firm; specifically by architects Kristof Crolla and Adam Fingrut.

The dome itself is a steel structure that was then wrapped in bamboo and finally covered with kite shaped pieces of fabric. The festival celebrates the moon at its fullest and the structure is meant to evoke both the moon and a Chinese lantern.

The color is a reference to the legend of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess of Immortality. From the press packet:

“According to the romantic story Chang’e lives on the moon, away from her husband Houyi who lives on earth. The couple can only meet on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival when the moon is at its fullest and most beautiful. To symbolize the passionate love burning between the reunited couple that day, the 6-storey-high, spherical moon lantern is clad with abstracted flames in fiery colors and patterns.”

However, there are LED lights on each of the fabric pieces, so at night the moon lantern can be any color of the rainbow. During the day, the true colors show.

It is beautiful and such a great marriage of industrial (the steel dome) traditional structures (the bamboo wrapping).

 

All photos from the LEAD website

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Remembering Kidhood

I am blessed with a good memory for past events. I may not be able to remember the names of half the people I just met at a cocktail party, but I can talk for hours telling stories from third grade (or any year). My best friend jokes that we have to stay friends because I am her memory. I tell stories that remind her of events so that then she can remember too.

Sometimes, I think this is why I get along well with lots of kids. I remember what it was like to be a kid. There are so many adults who have completely forgotten that they were once kids, let alone how it feels to be a kid. Kids are so often at the mercy of adults who have a very rigid view of How Things Should Be. It didn’t happen often, but I hated being talked down to, especially by adults who didn’t seem all that bright.

I had an exceptionally happy childhood, but when you are in an unfamiliar situation people generally get anxious. As a kid everything is new, so you are practically always in unfamiliar situations. There is a lot of free form anxiety floating around the playground.

I feel like the Spanish sculptor Efraïm Rodríguez must remember what it is like to be a kid. He sculpts them with such finesse.

I love how the adult doesn’t have a face. From a kid’s perspective, adults exist from the waist down.

I am completely charmed.

all images from Efraïm Rodríguez’s website

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Lighting the Space

I come from a family that purchases all home furnishings at estate auctions. For a long time I didn’t understand furniture stores, (I simply didn’t know anyone who had ever bought furniture that was less than 50 years old).  That means that most of my furniture has been purchased outside.

The only problem with this method, is that it is hard to gauge just how big something is without context. That’s how I ended up with a chandelier that is wider than my dining room table.

I started thinking about interior lighting outside after seeing this amazing photo series by Rune Guneriussen. His work is all about playing with context.

Mr. Guneriussen photographs several different kinds of (usually) interior items (like chairs, lamps and books) in pastoral scenes in rural Norway. He thinks of this work as less photography and more sculpture and installation, it is about story and space and time.

My favorites are the lamps.

The context juxtaposition is so beautiful.

All images from Rune Guneriussen’s website

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Yesterday’s Media Hits and Today’s Detritus

This is pretty fabulous on both an aesthetic level and as commentary on consumer purchasing trends.

It’s thousands of discarded CDs sculpted into a vortex.

Leticia R. Bajuyo has made a couple of these pieces. These photos are from Event Horizon and Dual Wielding, both exhibited this summer.

I love how polished they look from the front and how ragged they look from the back. Zip Ties!

This work reminds me of Marsyas 2002 by Anish Kapoor – which is perhaps my favorite installation of all time.

all images from Leticia R. Banjuyo’s website

via My Modern Met

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170,000 Pink Spheres

meanwhile in Montreal…

Claude Cormier and his team installed thousands and thousands of pink balls over a pedestrian street this summer.

There were three different sizes and five shades of pink in the installation that was 1.2km long. It reminds me of these great street installations from earlier this summer.

It looks so cheerful and happy!

All photos by Marc Cramer from Claude Cormier’s website – there are lots more photos over there including  photos of the installation process

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Chandelier

Growing up we had a multi-tiered crystal chandelier hanging over the dining room table. It was a huge production to clean it in November so that it would sparkle through the holidays. Rather, it seemed a huge production to me at the time, but it was probably only the work of a half hour. Funny how, in memory, childhood chores take on a magnitude grater than they were. Once clean, it was a beautiful sight.

These photos of a very different crystal chandelier reminded me of the one from my growing up years.

This is Chilean Red, by sculptor Donald Lipski, it hangs at Kathryn Hall Vineyards in Rutherford, California.

According to the artist’s website “the piece recalls the rugged and gnarled surfaces of grape vines.” The crystals hang from the suspended “roots” of the structure.

I love the play of the refined crystals and the free, organic structure. It is lovely.

 

photos from Donald Lipski’s website, My Modern Met, and Kathryn Hall Vineyards

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As if it Grew There

While I was pursuing the coverage of the Venice Architecture Biennale, I was struck by this piece, Arum, from Zaha Hadid Architects.

It manages to look like both an organic form, and wholly man-made at the same time.

It reminds me very much of my favorite gas station. I don’t always by my fuel here, but whenever I can this is my station of choice.

This is Helios House in Los Angeles. It’s on the corner of Robertson and Olympic, and it is pretty much the closest station to my apartment. When it was under construction there was a huge fence around the site, so it was a complete surprise when it was unveiled. I was pretty stoked to live so close.

Both of these works rely heavily on computer geometries. As such, the look both futuristic and natural; like the aluminum panels just grew there.

 

Helios House was designed by Office dA in Boston and Johnston Marklee Architects in Los Angeles.

Arum photos from Design Boom

Helios House photos from here, here, here and here

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Floating Fish

Some art is visually stunning or profound, but my favorite art has a sense of humor about it.

This piece is by Bruce Nauman; ‘One Hundred Fish Fountain.’ It was at the Gagosian Gallery, in New York last month. The piece is composed of a school of bronze fish, suspended in the air. Water is pumped into the hollow bodies and sporadically the fish spout the water back into the collection pool.

Not exactly ground breaking, but funny.

 

images from Design Boom

image © Bruce Nauman. courtesy Gagosian Gallery. photography by Robert Mckeever

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