As mentioned before, a distinction we have as architect/artists is that most of us are working daily in our chosen profession of architecture or landscape architecture. This makes for a delicate balance of the remaining time between all the other “gotta do’s” and our “want to do’s”. And “want to do’s” is where our artistic time must usually fall.
So what happens when working daily at our day jobs goes into “good economy overdrive” and long hours at the office to meet client deadlines? You guessed it, “want to do’s” take a reluctant and guilt inducing back seat – with lots of quiet “aaarghs” processing in our brains. We’re dancing as fast as we can and it just can’t cover all the territory we enjoy.
The good news is that the improving economy has brought an abundant amount of day job work to our doorsteps . . . with this past Spring being positively overheated. Firms can’t hire enough people to keep up with the work. But the last recession certainly keeps objections to zero – this situation is a very good thing.
All this to say, if it’s seems a little quiet on the Galleripple front, believe me there is/are lots of meeting time, sweat, racing emails, and Dropboxed Pdfs flying in all directions! Our cityscapes and landscapes are showing the results and our computers continue to generate fascinating views of structures for the future.
We’re hanging on for the ride and hope you’ll hang on with us. It’s worth it!!
It’s hard to change from one year to the next and not think about things past, present, and future. But why not?! Especially when considering Galleripple’s first year in existence and the many exciting opportunities out there for new ways to express ourselves.
In one year, the gallery has grown to include an impressive array of artists sharing their point of view through the unique lens that is architectural and landscape architectural training. And what is it about architects and their training that makes for unique approaches and insights? In our “About Us” statement on the website is this –
“Most architects draw, paint, make and create long before architecture school and continue to explore art in various forms even while working in their chosen careers. Trained in technically and conceptually rigorous environments, architects develop powerful senses of observation and the ability to translate abstract concepts into physical creations.
Art created by architects proudly projects these qualities of observation, interest, fearlessness, and possibility.”
This adventure has led to multi-state introductions, fascinating conversations, and explorations of potential partnerships. Sometimes these introductions are based on admittedly vague business notions – “Hey, I see you’re starting something on the West Coast. Want to do something together in an East-West coast kind of way?”. Sometimes they are more targeted – “Historic blueprints belong here too, please consider participating!”
Sometimes we send social media rocket shots into the atmosphere to see what happens (let me assure you, the 3D Digital printing community is out there and they are interested and active!). When can I use the #virtualreality shot and see what results?
It is true that every technical advance we use at the office or at school has the potential as a tool for great art. We know this, but the gallery is currently under-represented in that way. I suspect it starts to look too much like work, but am beaming out encouragement on that front to all architect/artists out there.
We can also see what resonates with the world of Pinterest “re-pinners”. Right now, they are in love with flat renderings with an other-worldly atmosphere. Rather than focus on the drawing approach though, let’s note that we do amazingly creative views of the built and landscape world - even within our more restrictive office environments. There’s a hunger for what we do.
Last for this post is the fact that it’s a big world out there beyond my Continental USA perspective. This is encouragement to architect/artists the world over to lend your creative voice to Galleripple. The gallery – and the relevance we bring to the art world as well as the architecture world - will be even stronger with your presence!
People often ask how I find Galleripple’s artists out there in the architecture and landscape architecture community. While our artists sometimes find Galleripple first, the answer usually involves research, invitations to professional groups, and referrals.
Certainly the fascinating people encountered and “met” along the way are the treasure in this work. These passionate creators are often working long hours in their professional careers before they can spend after-hours time pursuing their much more individual expressions. Some have transitioned to full time artist status, some are retired - all are an honor to know about and to communicate with.
Many of the talented artists encountered can’t participate in the gallery for a variety of reasons – but you still need to know they are out there. One young but prolific and profound artist comes to mind immediately.
He is New Haven, CT based Mohamad Hafez. Born in Syria and raised in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the ongoing disaster that is the Middle East has very personal and painful meaning for Mohamad. His 3D architectonic mixed media scenes scream and rage the horrors of war, injustice, and oppression.
Safety and distance serve only to highlight the nightmare – his website notes that “As a result of Hafez’s deep personal connection to his homeland and his inability to offer meaningful assistance, this calamity introduces in him a state of homesickness, hopelessness and helplessness. Hafez’s work is the physical embodiment of his deep feeling of immobility and being silenced that he shares with Syrians around the world. The graphic nature of his work aims to depict the atrocities being ignored globally while drawing attention to the urgent need to keep the dialogue alive.”.
Again quoting his website, Mohamad’s works “architecturally represent the urban fabric of the Middle East and serve as his backdrops for political and social expression.”. His works incorporate sound, Qur’anic calligraphy, light, and objects selected for overt messaging.
These pieces require more than witness, they require the question, “What do I do in response?”. I can only imagine the experience of one of Mohamad’s shows.
In the meantime, he’s welcomed me to coffee at his studio - I hope to take him up on it!
We can now see and enjoy more art in seconds than we used to encounter in a lifetime. It glows so nicely on our monitor screens, it’s so portable, and obviously, it costs so little.
But virtual art is like food without nutrition – just simply not as good as the real thing. When you can hold the piece, walk up to it, study its layers and strokes, see light and dark, catch the emotion, live with it, touch the finish, marvel at the materials, and mull the artist’s expression of the story, that’s when it becomes sustenance for the soul rather than quick calories for the eyes.
Actual art can fill a variety of roles, from “star” to “supporting”. Depending on location and either spotlight focus or intriguing assembly with other pieces it’s volume in a space can expand or contract.
It’s not too big of a stretch to note that physical art can greet you when you arrive at the office or welcome you when you arrive home tired at the end of a long commute. It can be a steady source of familiarity and memory in a world that shocks on a regular basis.
So this is strong encouragement to not just view and “Like” (although each “Like” is hugely appreciated!) but to also go for the real thing. Bring that original art to your home and office and then give your selections some freedom, let them be a little “free range” – here’s what I mean . . .
First, art does not have to be vertical. Shocking, I know. How about topping a cool pile of books you love with that small painting that called out to you and said "read me too". Wear a new jewelry innovation in 3D digital fabrication. Totally satisfying each time you walk past it or your eye wanders over your wrist.
What about the top of that piece of furniture? Overlap a couple of compatible pieces and see them begin to talk to each other.
More about groupings - don’t miss the power of interactions between various pieces of art. They emit more energy when gathered! See what happens if your old school family heirloom mixes it up with more edgy neighbors, if your humorous wood crafts are backed up by a more serious blueprint – and they are all in turn backed up by lavish color brush work on metal roofing tin.
Let small go powerful – and let single go multiple. Why underwhelm with one smaller lonely piece on miles of wall when a collection of related works can better showcase whatever feels right for your interests, your time and your place?
Back to that awesome star piece on a single feature wall - these are the show stoppers with enough presence to hold their own in a room. Collect the ones that call out to you even long after you’ve seen them – because they say something important about you.
Although normally a positive people, we join the cloud of groaning, grieving, and horrified citizens searching for answers to this week’s massacre in Orlando. While society is sadly once again seeking answers to a mix of earthly and cosmic questions, our hearts want expression of the unknowable and unthinkable.
Gallery artist John Stantz found himself painting the words of his heart on Sunday. Layer on layer of color, stroke direction, splatter, and emotion vented into an incredibly beautiful abstract story. Fully communicating the collision of joy and youth and acceptance with a force of raw evil, the painting is named ‘considering the circus’. It is a testimony to the fact that evil will not prevail and that hearts will find expression.
John, like all of us is still processing. He writes that the name can have multiple meanings but that it is best at “reflecting on the events in Orlando over the weekend and the general chaotic nature of the world, considering the circus that is the human condition.”
Brokenness permeates the natural world as well as the man-made world. Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of so much of New Orleans was simply awful in its unfolding. Witnessing flood stranded people and pets on tops of sweltering building rooftops in late August 2005; seeing desperate responders using every boat, raft, or helicopter that could be found; and knowing that physical losses were only one component of vast personal loss and pain out there – I also had to paint.
In 'Hurricane Katrina' the winds swirl below. Rooftops with tiny figures are surrounded on all sides by murky water. All await some hope of rescue before the heat and need of water and food consume them. Boats and helicopters feverishly race the clock. Commercial streets are flooded and businesses are lost.
Through it all St. Louis Cathedral radiates hope and confidence in the future.
Long ago in the mists of time evil ravaged a good man named Job. Job cried out to his God for explanation. Explanation did not happen, but a dazzling reminder of the ultimate Creator’s creation of all that is good – time, space, place and life – did happen, and satisfied.
Every now and then you see a graduating architecture student portfolio that stops you in your tracks. The sophisticated composition, compelling images, mix of art with architecture, and overall beauty is wholly unexpected. The lucky firm has an opening at just the right moment – and the next thing you know you have a new coworker with an infectious smile and killer visual art talent. Her name is Daniela Paola Rey.
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Daniela Paola grew up surrounded by paper and pencil, the currency of a father and a brother who are both multifaceted artists. Magic grew from that fertile soil.
Deciding that architecture best incorporated her many artistic interests and desire for challenge, Daniela Paola found that school at SCAD presented the perfect opportunity to intertwine and develop those interests.
A study abroad program to the countryside of Southern France brought into focus the interactions of people with built space. And it is where she developed a passion towards the use of mixed media for communication of architectural concepts.
Due to a lack of technology and availability of materials in the small town where she was residing, Daniela Paola chose to only rely on re-used cardboard, napkins, and charcoal pencil to present her ideas in studio.
This sourcing of found materials proved to be a pivotal moment in her architectural studies as well as an amplifier to her creative side. For Daniela Paola meaning rests in the process, not in the final result. Incompleteness and texture are welcome aspects in her work.
She writes that “My dad developed a unique abstract style of painting, he utilizes the paint palettes to make texture. Fabian (her brother) learned this technique from my father as well, and so did I. No matter how many styles we may explore, the brush texture and unfinished palette strokes are always present in the work.”
And so is some mighty powerful art!
I came along in one of the last pre-digital generations in architecture school. We were fortunate to have large swaths of curriculum devoted to figure drawing, perspective constructions, outdoor pencil drawings, pen and ink texture studies, and watercolor techniques. The career result was that development of design concepts and communication with coworkers about those ideas flowed easily in the office (not to mention on restaurant napkins!).
Then something happened along the way. Elementary school educators weren’t so sure children needed to learn to print or write in cursive. They had keyboards. And architecture schools converted valuable course time to support the ever increasing relevance of computers and drawing software to the profession. At many schools the pendulum swung too far.
Those of us in hiring and project management who value design contributions from all team members noticed that not only did young interns have a hard time writing notes on a sketch, the focus had shifted from design to our ever developing digital capabilities. Indeed, design is often dictated by the tools, rather than the other way around. Management played its part in the drama, desiring the increase in efficiency over artistic exploration and detail. But not all management, and not all team members. And not just architecture.
A fortunate finding of our fast paced, hyper-digital world is that collaborative creative thinking and communication is essential to innovation. Hand drawing facilitates that process, especially in conceptual stages and for many disciplines. Even the most technical of website and app designers utilize quick sketch bubble diagrams to map their sites. In response Georgia Tech is a school now rebuilding hand drawing skill development - on behalf of all students, undergraduate and graduate.
An example course created to strengthen these skills is a hand drawing course named “Drawing On Nature” from Tech’s new "Innovation and Design Collaborative". Students from various disciplines across campus learn the basics of observation, composition, gesture, and tone while being encouraged to explore the relationship between their field of study and their drawing endeavors. It is taught by an interdisciplinary team of lecturers and professors representing architecture, biology, and engineering and it is a runaway success with the student population. Lane Duncan of the College of Architecture has been at the forefront of course development and is excited about its reception.
Tech’s webpage on the course includes the example of Melissa Bergin, an undergraduate aerospace engineering student. Melissa focused her final project on a study of birds, especially the details of their wings. The act of closely observing and drawing the birds in motion enabled deeper grounding in aerospace engineering principles.
Other courses that have found their way back into Tech’s Architecture class catalog include an introduction to visual arts, aka “the Connell Workshop: Art of Drawing”, figure drawing, and an introductory course in the use of watercolors. Each helps to reintroduce the value of the abstract squiggle, the success of the subliminal, and the sheer fun of doodled ideas finding shape, form, and purpose.
Tech is certainly not alone in this renewed interest in hand drawing. Thoughtful people in many places realize something important had gone missing. Notre Dame is hosting a conference this coming September focused on “. . . exploring the role of hand drawing in architectural history, education, and practice.”. And Harvard GSD’s course directory for this past Fall 2015 notes that “Architects who are fluent in various kinds of freehand drawing are able to generate, refine, and evaluate design ideas more effectively than architects who depend upon the computer for visualization.”
So “Yes!” This is not an either/or proposition relative to our digital tools. Hand drawing comes alongside, working compatibly with our technical selves - it is an idea whose time has come again.