Notre Dame Reimagined

An art historian has a digital map of Notre Dame, but will it be rebuilt exactly as it was?

The roof of Notre Dame needs 50 acres of oak trees to rebuild and no trees in France are big enough to use. So an exact replica is out of the running.

What about modern materials? Steel beams instead of lumber. So now we’re updating materials, and certainly the methods of construction are different.

Why mimic the past when the France can marry the best of the past with the best of the now?

I apologize for the terrible renderings–I am neither an architect nor a photoshop master. And nobody would plop Hadid on top… just to illustrate the point.

Autoprogettazione? / Self Design

If someone actually tried to build something, they would probably learn – Enzo Mari

Enzo Mari’s 1974 book was written to help regular people better understand the objects around them. Since there’s no better way to learn than by doing, the book was a free DIY instructional on how to build 19 different pieces of furniture from rough cut lumber and nails. 

“The quality-quantity ratio is central to the whole of industrial production: quality is determined when the shape of a product does not ‘seem’ but simply ‘is’. This statement, anything but a paradox, is not understood by most people. And this makes it difficult to execute projects of real worth . . . In 1974, I thought that if people were encouraged to build a table with their own hands, for example, they would be able to understand the thinking behind it.”

Buy Autoprogettazionenzo here. 

Observations from Wandering Cities

In 2015, I attended the Growing in Place conference in Raleigh, NC to address how children can learn and play in urban environments:

“How can urban design expose and restore urban nature so children and youth engage with compelling, equitable places for creative play and learning? How can nonformal education in nature enrich playful learning in the arts and sciences in the city?”

Jay Walljasper was one of the speakers. He used to be journalist and described himself as a “hunter-gatherer”. He wrote The Great Neighborhood Book chronicles his observations from wandering cities.

Here are my notes from his talk:

  1. Give people a place to hang out. It doesn’t have to be beautiful or expensive. This is where people make connections and get to know each other.
  2. Give people something to see like street buskers, public art, etc. Public art doesn’t have to be great, it has to be a tool for community building.
  3. Give people something to do. Toronto has public bread oven in park (big Portuguese community).
  4. Give people a safe pleasant place to walk. It promotes health and creates a strong sense of community. Many cultures have a ritual of post dinner walk, like USA promenade.
  5. Give people a place to sit.
  6. Give people a safe and comfortable place to bike. Protected bike freeways spur development.
  7. Give people reliable and comfortable public transit. There is stigma involved. Bad bus stops reinforce the stigma.
  8. Make the streets safe. The safest communities have the most people on the street. Organize walking groups to eliminate crime. Put people on the streets.
  9. Make streets safe from traffic. The streets belong to all of us. “If you widen the streets, my world will shrink.”
  10. Don’t forget about older folks. When we plan, non-drivers don’t exist. To lose driving almost makes you a non person.
  11. Don’t forget about kids. Kids live under house arrest because they can’t walk anywhere. Less than 10% of kids walk to school. We need safer routes to school programs, like a walking school bus.
  12. Let your community go to the dogs. Dogs want what we need- indicator spieces.
  13. Reclaim your front yard.
  14. Make a village no matter where you are. A city is a bunch of villages stitched together.
  15. Keep in mind that people like people. Are we building the slums of the future right now?
  16. Don’t give up hope.
  17. Build on what works to make things better. Have a vision.
  18. Remember the people of the people. Social capital.
  19. Never underestimate the power of a meal.
  20. Plant flowers.
  21. Take time to enjoy your community.

There’s a lot that ordinary citizens can do to engage their neighbors and make their block a better place to live. The Tactical Urbanism guides can help you “implement short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions to catalyze long term change.”Short term projects are great because they change perspective, leading to new policy and physical change.

Think street furniture made out of discarded pallets, intersection repair with leftover paint, and reclaimed setbacks with benches and libraries. These can end up as new plazas and parks, complete streets, and community gathering spots.

The only thing I can add is: How can we do all this and keep it affordable and equitable for everyone?

Philly Monuments

I added my voice to Philadelphia’s monument conversation in PlanPhilly’s “Eyes on the Street” segment, which is discussing “What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?”

My essay here:

Mural Arts’ Monument Lab wants to know, “What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?”

It’s a great question, but I want to suggest a few more to guide the city as it conducts this research phase of what could one day become a great public design project, and to help us understand the challenges of erecting a truly meaningful monument in Philadelphia.

A monument is a lasting evidence, reminder, or example of someone or something notable or great. But I like the Latin root better: moneo means “to remind”, “to advise” or “to warn”. So, this beginning raises the question: Are these monuments intended for us, the current citizens of Philadelphia, or are we building them as a warning to (or guide for) our future citizens?


Rizzo aside, what else is going on in the Philadelphia Monument Ecosystem? Should we take more care when accepting and displaying monuments gifted by private groups? Should we wait ten years after a person’s death or an event’s occurrence before they can be immortalized as a monument? Should we actively uncover people and events that have been ignored until this point?

Our current monuments are monotonous. Around ten percent of monuments depict women, and only ten of those monuments are of actual women, not religious or mythical figures. The remaining twenty-two are mythological or biblical figures, and fifteen of those are of Mary. Sharon Hayes’ participatory Monument Lab sculpture, If They Should Ask, collected the names of women who should be recognized. I urge everyone to dive into this list and explore the possibilities, like Carolina LeCount, a civil rights leader and Octavius Catto’s’ finance. And let’s be sure to remember Winnie Harris in ten years.

Art commissions and boards tend to be positions reserved for members of the community holding “respected” positions, access to capital through fundraising or connections, and the ability to influence public opinion. While many of these boards are diverse in gender and race, they often still fail across the class spectrum.

And who are the artists? Are we giving women and people of color the creative and financial opportunity to create their representation of a person, event, or abstract concept? By my rough count, women make up less than 20 percent of the artists listed on, poet Christopher William Purdom’s index of the city’s public art. It’s safe to say that the number of artists of color similarly falls short of reflecting Philadelphia’s population.


This is a great time to step aside and see what others have to say. I’d love to hear who my longtime black neighbors view as local heroes, the events that defined their generation, and the chain of events that brought Philadelphia to this particular crossroads as  a majority-minority city, the poorest of all big U.S. cities, and undoubtedly the most historic.

We need monuments that reflect the diverse backgrounds of our citizens, such as our growing Middle Eastern population, our large Jewish communities, our West African and West Indian communities here in West Philadelphia, and our Hispanic communities. Let’s explore their histories within the context of Philadelphia and celebrate those stories. Who are the de facto leaders in these communities, and how can we collect and share their stories with the rest of Philadelphia?

As a city that tries to serve as a refuge from nativism, we should ask immigrants like Javier Flores Garcia: What would a monument to sanctuary look like? As a minority-majority city struggling with structural inequity and systemic racism, we should ask activists like the Black and Brown Workers Cooperative: What would a monument to the struggle for racial equality look like?”


How can we co-opt the Mural Arts model of placemaking, expression, and public contribution for our city’s enduring monuments?

Digital tools are great, but they can’t be the only method of data collection. According to a 2013 survey by the Pew Charitable Trusts, both Philadelphians making less than $30,000 per year and residents over the age of 65 are less likely to have internet access than the rest of the population. Additionally, only 16 percent of city residents get their local news from the internet, while almost 40 percent get it from TV.

So, how should we reach out? Not everyone is going to read PlanPhilly, or follow Monument Lab, or pass by workshops in Rittenhouse. There are gathering places around the city can be utilized to reach people: churches, rec centers, schools —  even the local watering hole. It will take time to reach out in an one-on-one manner but the due diligence will pay off, and the citizens will appreciate the effort.


Philadelphia is so historic that it’s easy to overlook the history. I rarely stop to reflect upon the statues all over City Center, and I’ll give the 2,500 blue and gold historical markers a cursory glance. So, my final questions is: What could a monument be?  As benchmarks, the historical markers cost about $1,400 each, while  newly-built monument to Octavius Catto at City Hall cost $2,000,000 . With that range in mind, let’s reimagine what a monument could be:

  • What if the monument could travel so that all sections of the city could experience it, host it, make it their own?
  • What if the monument was participatory?
  • What if the monument was sensory?
  • What if the monument was a trust to fund a scholarship or job creation program?
  • What if the monument was digital?
  • What if the pedestals of all existing monuments to men who owned slaves were converted to a supporting foundation created by sculptures of the all the black men, women, and children they enslaved?
  • What if the monument used all the discarded tires in Philadelphia? What if the monument pushed us to consider the people and resources used to get us here?
  • What if…

I don’t know what the next monument should be, but I know it should celebrate people we don’t want to see forgotten and a collective history we don’t want to see erased. What stories are hiding in plain sight, and what advice do they hold for future generations of Philadelphians? If we want to move forward as a city, and to develop equitably and sustainably, our monuments must guide us toward those progressive goals.


PARK(ing) Day in Philadelphia, Roots in San Diego

I love PARK(ing) Day because it showcases how quick, cheap, and mobile solutions can vastly improve our quality of life. By reducing vehicle speeds and reclaiming streets as people spaces, these temporary parklets build community and prove that a tiny respites from city life is welcome.

Philadelphia’s PARK(ing) Day includes 52 businesses, designers, and organizations co-opting asphalt for tiny parks. You can see their google map here or download their printable guide: Park(ing) Day Philadelphia 2015_Map.

This strong showing is just another notch in Philly’s belt. There is a history of activating underutilized spaces with community initiatives as seen through the work of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, Grounded in Philly, the Mural Arts Program, and the Philadelphia Orchard Project. If you know of any more organizations, please comment below!

Here are a few parklets seen on my morning walk:

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Zipcar has a pumpkin-painting station and real turf

Continue reading “PARK(ing) Day in Philadelphia, Roots in San Diego”

Using Design to Address Homelessness through Transitional Housing

Last spring Activate14–an outreach initiative I co-founded–jumped on the tiny home craze in an effort to address Raleigh’s underserved homelessness community. We wanted to prove our belief that good design is accessible to everyone and can radically change a community.

The transition out of homelessness is more successful when services like job training, medical attention, and other support are provided through temporary housing, rather than providing services alone. The housing community model allows someone to build a steady job and income without worrying about their safety, belongings, and where they will find shelter.

Not surprisingly, a transitional housing community is more cost-effective than letting the homeless stay on the streets. Increased hospitalization, overnights in jail, and emergency shelter cost taxpayers upwards of $40,000 per homeless person per year. Imagine the savings if we could transition people from homelessness to self-supporting lives through $1,500 to $30,000 tiny homes with community space. 


Continue reading “Using Design to Address Homelessness through Transitional Housing”

Ten Principles for Good Design from Dieter Rams


Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer whose design approach is “Less, but better”.
He believes good design:

  1. Is innovative – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  2. Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.
  3. Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  4. Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  5. Is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
  6. Is honest – It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  7. Is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
  8. Is thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
  9. Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
  10. Is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

As designers we have a great responsibility. I believe designers should eliminate the unnecessary. That means eliminating everything that is modish because this kind of thing is only short-lived.
–Dieter Rams – interview with Icon Magazine

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Quick Ugly Housing = Future Affordable Housing?

Elan City Center Apartments Rendering (Greystar)

What it really looks like…

Is Raleigh getting ugly, or is it just me?

Raleigh is quickly looking like a second-tier replica city dictated by developer’s profit margins. All of our new housing developments are plywood wrapped in terrible materials; they’re poorly designed, unfriendly to the street, and, frankly, an eyesore.

Elan City Center could be one of those at Clark+Oberlin, on N Boylan, S Wilmington or N Person, by Trader Joe’s, or anywhere else in the country. It looks familiar because Greystar, a developer from Charleston, owns 44 complexes in Raleigh, Durham and the RTP alone, and they’re not the only developer in town. There are currently over 2,500 unit under construction in Downtown and Glenwood South.

The real problem is that none of these complexes offer affordable housing. With studios starting at $1,050, they have priced out singles making under $50,000 and couples making under $25,200 each (given a 25% income allowance for rent). How can the City of Raleigh champion itself as friendly and diverse at these prices?

My hope is that in 10 years–when the facades are tattered, plywood floors bowed, and amenities dingy–there will be so many units empty that the prices will drop. Finally, Raleigh will have affordable housing downtown–unless the developer razes the building for bigger profit margins.

This is the only reason why I am glad we are not building like the Capitol Apartments anymore.

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Capitol Apartments. Photo by

If the City of Raleigh wants downtown Raleigh and the surrounding neighborhoods to be a hub of creativity, diversity, and innovation, then it needs to start acting more like a benevolent developer + leader and less like a doormat. I suggest that they give the Appearance Commission real authority and require all new developments offer a percentage of their housing available to low-income families, similar to the Town of Chapel Hill.

“The Town shall encourage developers of residential developments of 5 or more units to (a) provide 15 percent of their units at prices affordable to low and moderate income households, (b) contribute in-lieu-fees, or (c) propose alternative measures so that the equivalent of 15 percent of their units will be available and affordable to low and moderate income households;”

Until then, we can only wait until poor design and quality works in favor of lower socio-economic groups.

P.S. lol at the stock images on the websites for these developments.

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Food Truck Proposal for Raleigh’s Moore Square

The City of Raleigh is spending $12 million to revamp Moore Square, one of two downtown green spaces. While the space needs an upfit to reflect the world-class status Raleigh is working towards, I believe there are smaller steps the city could take to attract crowds and increase revenue.

Restaurants, shops, and a children’s museum face the square on the west end. To the east are empty lots and storefronts. There is no reason to walk through the center of the square. Currently, the square is known for its homeless population that are attracted by public transportation and a variety of services aimed towards people in need.

I suggest the city allow two food tucks to serve from the middle of the square. Area food trucks are eager to run in downtown Raleigh, and are willing to pay for the opportunity. Each truck would easily pay $100 per shift. After a few weeks, the city would have enough funds to buy picnic tables and other amenities to create a more enjoyable experience.

Other cities proved that the presence of food trucks aren’t detrimental to other businesses; they increase interest and foot traffic. People will take lunch breaks in the square, visit after work, and spend time outside. Furthermore, the square will feel more safe with a greater public presence.

Sure, a city employee will have to schedule food tucks and process payments, and other employees will have to empty the trash can more frequently, but I think 4 food trucks per day will generate enough revenue to cover it.

C’mon Raleigh!


Activate14: Architecture + Design Event Series

What started as intra-office conversation on hosting architecture and design events quickly turned to reality when Frank Harmon Architect decided to sponsor the inaugural summer event series at the AIANC Center for Architecture and Design (CfAD) in Raleigh, NC. Planning quickly commenced with the AIANC Program Committee. We decided to bridge the events by focusing on issues facing North Carolina cities: sustainable foodways, alternative transportation, and urban housing.

Within 2 months we had started the framework for Activate 14 (a play on the address of the CfAD), released a Design + Build Competition Call for Entry open to North Carolina architects, architecture students, and artists, and started planning for 4 summer events.

Activate 14 is an annual event series that instigates conversations with the public about current architecture and design issues shaping our communities. It is free, public event series in downtown Raleigh, utilizing the entire grounds of the CfAD with cascading events to feature educational components, food, drink, music, children’s activities, and art.

This has been my primary focus for the past 2 months and I’d love for you to check out the website and give me some feedback, especially if you live in North Carolina!


My NYE Wishes for Raleigh: A List


I think about Raleigh all the time. I want to make it better, I want to contribute, I want to provide services to encourage a thriving urban center. Here are some of my wishes for the New Year.

I wish for increased ridership on public transportation; dedicated bike lanes; attainable rents for startup businesses or discounted rents for the first 6 months; successful implementation of the Market and Exchange Plaza renovations; window displays in abandoned buildings; more interactive public art; a nighttime gathering space that isn’t centered around alcohol; cool playgrounds; politicians concerned with living wages, alternative transportation, and all things green; a great anchor tenant in 227 Fayetteville; a local grocer near my home; BIKE SHARING; a neighborhood cleanup; utilization of empty lots; shelters at bus stops–we’re bare to the elements; streets democratically oriented towards pedestrians and cyclists, not large personal vehicles with lonely riders; pedestrian scrambles on Fayetteville during the lunch rush; food trucks!; c’mon parklets!; affordable solutions for downtown living; Dorthea Dix to become a park; a bar in the basement of the Velvet Cloak; intersection repair, everywhere; mixed used buildings that haven’t been value engineered; a GOOD donut shop; light rail; and, as always, books, books, and more books.

Well, this list could go on but I’ve exhausted my supply for the night.

What do you want?

photo © Matt Robinson,

Who Wore It Better–Art Edition

While looking for some type of link for the Who Wore It Better reference in Tuesday’s Post, I found– an art edition on tumblr comparing very similar concepts and executions. In some instances, it is an homage or reference, or in others genders or cultures have been swapped. It’s an interesting perspective.

There’s some theory about the collective unconscious and how certain concepts pop up worldwide, at the same time, totally unrelated to one another. Maybe it is the same for art–reacting to pop culture and politics and injustices.

Anyway, here are a couple of my favorites:

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Custom Textiles: Print All Over Me + Spoonflower (Durham!)

While doing some research today I ran across another custom fabric company called Print All Over Me that lets me pick an object to digitally print whatever pattern I want or pick from another’s uploaded design (that user receives 20% of the sale). I can’t speak to the cut or fabric but the print is as good/bad as you make it.

Spoonflower–Durham, NC–is similar but you buy printed fabric by the yard, which means you have to make the object. They have 12 fabrics to choose from including silk, linen, and cotton.

Either way, here are two services that help you MAKE IT HAPPEN.

These custom clothing services will keep popping up because who wants to go out and run into someone wearing the same shirt? Then it gets down to Who Wore It Better? and things get ugly.

Speaking of which, what’s going on at NCSU’s College of Textiles?

Images from PAOM, who am I to judge?

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Why I wanted to be a RDU Baton holder

I am the RDU Baton holder on instagram today (@rdubaton) and I plan to use it as a soapbox for multimodal transportation, sustainability, utilizing urban space better, the need for public art, and so on.

The mission of the RDU Baton is to showcase Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the surrounding communities. We’re supposed to “show off our beautiful and lively corner of the world,” which many other baton holders have done. These people are pumped to be living here, in a growing area grounded by great universities, a burgeoning tech center, good food, and craft beer. I like all those things too but there is a lot more to Raleigh regarding transportation, social equity, and sustainability.

The relationship between the homeless, Moore Square, public transportation, and the city is strained; the train tracks are privately owned and serve as a thoroughfare for the transient; new cookie-cutter housing is built in large blocks next to residential neighbors with no input; bike riders fear for their lives because there are not dedicated bike lanes, even on brand-new streets; a small group of citizens dictate how public land and resources are used, citing safety and money to scare people; a lot of time, money, and space downtown is focused on alcohol and the more frequent “special event”; light rail was struck down, again, while Citrix is building a giant parking deck on Morgan Street.

I live between NCSU and downtown in a relatively low-income area cut off by Hillsborough Street, Pullen Park, and the railroad tracks. I see a lot and ride my bike to work often, rolling past the jail, a methadone clinic, new housing developments and several great local businesses.

I’m hoping to bring awareness to some of these issues. Raleigh is great, but it could be better.

Cai Guo-Qiang: Explosive Art

Cai Guo-Qiang is a Chinese artist best known for his fireworks and explosions, notably the 2008 Beijing Olympics but I like the animals best. It reminds me how safe we think we are in our built environment. These would look AWESOME suspended outside in a metro area. Now that I’m working with Raleigh Public Art, maybe I’ll give him a call.

more Google Images, a Smithsonian Mag article, and Cai’s Website and Blog (wordpress)

Cai – in his mid 50’s! 
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Borrowing your enemy’s arrows chi06cai-draw2-001chi02Poster Final versionPicture 015Inopportune266900-970x600-1Da Vincis do Povo – currently in Brazil 

Thoughts on Books and Bookstores

I’m researching book mobiles and book bikes and such to figure out ways to increase literacy and the love of reading. I’m tired of blogs foretelling the death of books as a physical entity. At some point they will meet their end but we are not there yet. At the very least, rich book collectors will keep the first editions of “masterpieces” in plastic sleeves on their built-in shelves, much like a collection I saw a few weeks ago (which focused on African-American dialect written by white people, of course–ugh).

Cost and accessibility are problems: new books are expensive. Libraries and book stores are not always easy to get to, or the selection isn’t great–used bookstores especially, or once surrounded by stacks of books, you forget what you want to read, you can’t remember authors or titles picked up in friendly conversations, or the staff is nonexistent or unfriendly.

Furthermore, bookstores once doubled as the printing press or publishing house of literary reviews and magazines and were the hub where writers and readers converged (i.e. Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company, Left Bank, Paris, 1920’s) Sure, online forums are great places for that but, personally, that’s not my thing. Plus, trolls. I want to have a face to face conversation and allow my excitement to carry me into the nth cup of coffee.

Though the independent bookstore is doing well in the midst of big chain bookstores failing or downsizing, it is necessary to revamp the bookstore model. Digital books and media must be included in the selection and other revenue streams must be found….more on this later. Shakespeare-and-Company-Hemingway-Sylvia-Beach-Adrienne-Monnier bookstoresgothamliterary1948party_zps193d7c73 The literary crowd of Shakespeare & Co. Joyce and Sylvia BeachSylvia Beach and James Joyce

A Model for Sustainable & Affordable Housing

Architectural and design magazines and blogs feature more sustainable and green buildings daily and many of these projects come from other countries, in rural areas, for good cause, and very inexpensively.

I came across this Training Center in Sumatra designed by TYIN Tegnestue to bring cinnamon farmers together for more education, to battle unfair business practices, and promote healthcare issues. Local craftsman and an ox built the center using locally produced brick and wood for 30,000€ ($40,000). The large roof floats over the 5 interior buildings to allow a cooling breeze and daylight, exterior brick traps heat from the sun and keeps the interiors cool, and the hinged windows are awesome–some vertical, some horizontal–as are the tiny ventilation holes and arrays of smaller windows.

Affordable, communal housing in temperate climates could look like this…

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Original Article: – Cassia Co-op Training Center

L’art Brut: Carlo Zinelli

Carlo Zinelli–schizophrenic Italian, war veteran, and artist. After stints the Spanish Civil War and WWII, Carlo’s aggression increased and ability to verbally communicate deteriorated. He called mental institutions home until his death. After 10 years in insolation, 2 sculptors and a psychiatrist added him to the art program where he created over 3,000 pieces with pens, gouache, and watercolors. The atelier exhibited his work 10 years before his death, catching the attention of art historians and collectors.

His figures are always drawn in profile and the majority of his works are double sided. I like the repetition of the figures and symbols and how every inch of space is used. I think many artists would like to operate as an outsider artist–no influence from the outside world, no formal training, and an unending drive to create–but find those conditions unattainable in the real world, or the driving force is undesirable.

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Wilders Grove in the Newspaper

A public art project I’ve been working on for McConnell Studios made it into the newspaper Sunday and you can barely see me in one of the photos…it’s a start! ha!

The project is “Wilders Grove,” a 40 foot long undulating wall composed of recyclable materials to be installed at the first LEED Platinum waste service center in the nation. We estimate that over 600 volunteer hours have gone into the project, not to mention the hundreds of hours it took to develop the kaleidoscope software and build the frame.

Read more about the project on the website or check out the News & Observer article. If you’re in the Raleigh area and want to participate, email

OTYV4.AuSt.156matt McConnell and I are taking the wood panels off the steel frame.


Notes of Civility

A letter on civility from Anton Chekhov to his older brother, a drunk painter and writer, from Letters of Note.

To my mind, civilized people ought to satisfy the following conditions:

1. They respect the individual and are therefore always indulgent, gentle, polite and compliant. They do not throw a tantrum over a hammer or a lost eraser. When they move in with somebody, they do not act as if they were doing him a favor, and when they move out, they do not say, “How can anyone live with you!” They excuse noise and cold and overdone meat and witticisms and the presence of others in their homes.

2. Their compassion extends beyond beggars and cats. They are hurt even by things the naked eye can’t see. If for instance, Pyotr knows that his father and mother are turning gray and losing sleep over seeing their Pyotr so rarely (and seeing him drunk when he does turn up), then he rushes home to them and sends his vodka to the devil. They do not sleep nights the better to help the Polevayevs, help pay their brothers’ tuition, and keep their mother decently dressed.

3. They respect the property of others and therefore pay their debts.

4. They are candid and fear lies like the plague. They do not lie even about the most trivial matters. A lie insults the listener and debases him in the liar’s eyes. They don’t put on airs, they behave in the street as they do at home, and they do not try to dazzle their inferiors. They know how to keep their mouths shut and they do not force uninvited confidences on people. Out of respect for the ears of others they are more often silent than not.

5. They do not belittle themselves merely to arouse sympathy. They do not play on people’s heartstrings to get them to sigh and fuss over them. They do not say, “No one understands me!” or “I’ve squandered my talent on trifles!” because this smacks of a cheap effect and is vulgar, false and out-of-date.

6. They are not preoccupied with vain things. They are not taken in by such false jewels as friendships with celebrities, handshakes with drunken Plevako, ecstasy over the first person they happen to meet at the Salon de Varietes, popularity among the tavern crowd. They laugh when they hear, “I represent the press,” a phrase befitting only Rodzeviches and Levenbergs. When they have done a penny’s worth of work, they don’t try to make a hundred rubles out of it, and they don’t boast over being admitted to places closed to others. True talents always seek obscurity. They try to merge with the crowd and shun all ostentation. Krylov himself said that an empty barrel has more chance of being heard than a full one.

7. If they have talent, they respect it. They sacrifice comfort, women, wine and vanity to it. They are proud of their talent, and so they do not go out carousing with trade-school employees or Skvortsov’s guests, realizing that their calling lies in exerting an uplifting influence on them, not in living with them. What is more, they are fastidious.

8. They cultivate their aesthetic sensibilities. They cannot stand to fall asleep fully dressed, see a slit in the wall teeming with bedbugs, breathe rotten air, walk on a spittle-laden floor or eat off a kerosene stove. They try their best to tame and ennoble their sexual instinct… What they look for in a woman is not a bed partner or horse sweat, […] not the kind of intelligence that expresses itself in the ability to stage a fake pregnancy and tirelessly reel off lies. They—and especially the artists among them—require spontaneity, elegance, compassion, a woman who will be a mother… They don’t guzzle vodka on any old occasion, nor do they go around sniffing cupboards, for they know they are not swine. They drink only when they are free, if the opportunity happens to present itself. For they require a mens sana in corpore sano.

And so on. That’s how civilized people act. If you want to be civilized and not fall below the level of the milieu you belong to, it is not enough to read The Pickwick Papers and memorize a soliloquy from Faust. It is not enough to hail a cab and drive off to Yakimanka Street if all you’re going to do is bolt out again a week later.

You must work at it constantly, day and night. You must never stop reading, studying in depth, exercising your will. Every hour is precious.

Anton Chekhov

Vintage Cannes Film Festival Posters

The festival wrapped up last Saturday but I didn’t follow it this year.
Instead, I gathered some vintage posters = great fonts, great colors, great sketches.

Cannes+Film+Festival+1939 4th+International+Film+Festival+in+Cannes+in+1949 5th+International+Film+Festival+in+Cannes+in+1952 8th+International+Film+Festival+in+Cannes+in+1955 14th+International+Film+Festival+in+Cannes+in+1961 1767-image-450-550-fit


Also, here is a quote from Kevin Levine about film festivals, specifically Sundance, but it might apply to Cannes, and I agree.

If Will Ferrell or Brad Pitt – just to name two random examples – are in an independent film, do they really need a film festival to get Harvey Weinstein to screen their film? The chubby nerd from New Jersey who maxed out his credit cards to make a film about a local convenience store couldn’t. He needed a film festival. He needed an audience to appreciate his effort before he could be recognized. And now today’s equivalent of a young Kevin Smith can’t even get his movie into a festival much less Harvey Weinstein’s screening room.

be an enthusiast

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”


Passion makes can make a good idea great.

Coolest Outdoor Bathroom – Austin, TX

Forty-nine 3/4″ thick steel plates curl in on themselves to form a public day-lit bathroom in the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike trail, Austin, TX. Its design eliminated the need for artificial lights or ventilation. The steel was left untreated, rust has already formed on the plates.

Miro RIvera proves that functional, necessary outbuildings can also be beautiful and well designed.

piston design photographs piston design photographs Trail Restroom Trail Restroom

thanks to Jacob B. for pointing this out!