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…

Cassia-Co-op-Training-Centre-TYIN-Tegnestue-9 Cassia-Co-op-Training-Centre-TYIN-Tegnestue-12 Cassia-Co-op-Training-Centre-TYIN-Tegnestue-3 Cassia-Co-op-Training-Centre-TYIN-Tegnestue-2 Cassia-Co-op-Training-Centre-TYIN-Tegnestue-13

Original Article: Inhabitat.com – 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.

238878 Carlo-Zinelli zinelli-untitled-colorful_man_and_animal-lg 20130602175001-may27_moe_img Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 7.37.25 PM zinelli-untitled-red_woman_left-lg

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 wildersgroveproject@gmail.com.

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

Breaking in Raw Selvage denim!

Nash 2011Fall 2011Nash 1305Spring 2013
If only I had a better camera…

These are the Nash, my 12oz denim that I’ve beat up over the past 3 years–they are 2nd skin now! I have more posts (and images) about my love for denim (the Edmunds) and where I’ve taken them (the cabin trip, the canoe trip, and Puerto Rico)

The Nash
Fall 2012 Camping Trip, the Nash

he Nash, Edmund, and Silvers (now jorts)

Canoe Camping Trip! The Roanoke River Platform System

6 of us set out towards the North Carolina coast last Saturday with beef jerky, whiskey, sleeping bags, and miscellaneous supplies (I’m not going to list them like I did for Puerto Rico, but it was similar). We met Heber of Roanoke Outdoor Adventures (highly recommended) with the canoes, loaded our gear, and paddled out. The Roanoke River is wide and calm, surrounded by wetlands, and undeveloped. It was literally us and the birds; we didn’t see a cloud for 3 days. The current was such that we could float or wedge into a sunken log to read, write, or take a nap. We often lashed the canoes together to drift and drink, telling stories and cracking joke all afternoon–it was great. At night we paddled to our dock and set up camp on elevated platforms. The mosquitos were bad enough that I slept in my canoe about 100 yards out the second night, waking at dawn, surrounded by lilypads. By Monday I was tired, sun sore, and completely relaxed.

Heber is getting the rest of his clients together for a day paddle and pig-pickin’ later this summer so we’re looking forward to that. He had so many great stories about the river and his life growing up there. The boat in the below pictures is made entirely of fiberglass by a father and son duo who ran a fiberglass manufacturing plant (surprise!).

We paddled about 16 miles from Jamestown to Plymouth, NC

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Photos courtesy of disposable cameras by Nic A. and Sasha R.

Thoughts on Passion and Creating

James Rhodes, a concert pianist, speaks on how creativity is “beaten into submission”, that we have allowed our daily tasks and the internet to dominate our lives. James asserts that we devote the extra time in our lives to doing something creative, whatever that may be. He goes on to describe his lifestyle as a concert pianist–it’s a great article.

However, as I browse the internet and bookstores, I come across multitudes of “help” articles guiding the reader to find their “passion”. I realize many people aren’t passionate about anything, cannot decide what they want create, or they are scared of criticism, but who isn’t?

I share my passions with others to hold myself responsible. My friends are excited for me and my projects–passion is contagious. I use their excitement as fuel; it is easier to create knowing I have some support, that my work will be well received. Even if it isn’t, at least I did it (what Seth Godin calls “shipping”).

Original Article: James Rhodes: ‘Find what you love and let it kill you’ from The Guardian

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!

Bukowski’s Movitational: Move On, Regardless

I have not read a lot of Bukowski mainly because I always remember an interview clip of Bukowski verbally and physically abusing his wife.

This motivated me a few days ago after a ran across it on a lit quote feed I follow:


“The nights you fight best are
when all the weapons are pointed at you,
when all the voices hurl their insults
while the dream is being strangled.

The nights you fight best are
when reason gets kicked in the gut,
when the chariots of gloom encircle you.

The nights you fight best are
when the laughter of fools fills the air,
when the kiss of death is mistaken for love.

The nights you fight best are
when the game is fixed,
when the crowd screams for your blood.

The nights you fight best are
on a night like this
as you chase a thousand dark rats from your brain,
as you rise up against the impossible,
as you become a brother to the tender sister of joy

and move on


— Charles Bukowski

Retna, Typology, and a New Language

LA-based artist Retna started as a street artist but blew up in 2010 when Jeffrey Deitch said his exhibition at New Image Art was “the most exciting exhibition..this year, anywhere”. He created his own language based on Old English, Asian calligraphy, Hewbrew, and Arabic. His work is stunning and upon closer inspection you see the symbols are not random–humans cannot be random–and I want to believe that there is a story behind his one-man language.

“I’ve been writing and I wanted to make this text that was influenced by the world and I wanted everyone to be able to relate to it. I was mixed [race], so I never really felt like I fit in, or I was either one or this or that, so I just started to say I was down with everybody and I wanted my work to reflect that. That was the idea I was after.”

I wish there was more large-scale street art around Raleigh.


retna nycretnaart_retna_02aPrint2This one is probably a collaboration with El Mac.

(Source: More Intelligent Life)

the first draft

It is hard to make time to write, and even harder to start writing. I want the first draft to be the only draft, as if my word is scripture, my pen commanded by a higher being. These ridiculous expectations stem the flow from thoughts to paper and creates a truly jumbled and terrible waste of trees.

Don’t sweat it. Writing is work. Edit.

Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist.
– Jane Smiley

El Mac: Photorealistic Graffiti

mural-at-the-new-adobe-campus-in-lehi-utah_by_El-Mac600_450El Mac is a graffiti and photorealistic artist based out of LA. He has done installations from Miami Art Basel to the Adobe HQ (above). I like the ripples/waves he uses for shading and contour, which can also be seen in his sketches (bottom). Interestingly, El Mac names an artist I featured here as a source of inspiration.

Retna, another LA-based artist, did the typography in the installations with the boy and the man with the glasses.miami-mural-art-basel_by_El-Mac600_450 mac-with-retna-for-ruger-new-tattoo-shop-in-los-angeles_by_El-Mac600_800 miami_by_El-Mac600_450jerseycitysm

Puerto Rico Pictures

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Somewhere inland, off the Ruta PanorámicaSan Juan.Ocean Park_05Right on the beach in San Juan. A lot of the buildings looked like this. 1629_10201007046085368_558513720_nThe cemetery in Old San Juan29003_10201006734277573_840210697_nRhea and I in Old San JuanIMG_20130320_085230Street vendors machete’d the top of coconuts off and stuck a straw in it. Later we smashed them in the street to eat the meat. 

IMG_20130321_125639Above Salta Falls in El Yunque rainforest. We went off the trail and chilled here for a couple of hours.

“When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.”

– Dr. Teresa Belton

Puerto Rico Trip + Lists

for the next week: 1 backpack, 0 laptops

What I packed:

Clothes: straw hat, vans hat, rain jacket, underwear, socks, bikini, board shorts, cut off shorts, edmund jeans, belt, blue polo, button down, blue sweater, 4 v-necks, 3 cutoff t-shirts, running shorts and shirt, nikes (these or these would have been better), and vans

Other: toothbrush and paste, sunscreen, shampoo, face wash, face lotion, 2 flashlights, deodorant, Dr. Brommers soap, hand sanitizer, chapstick, aloe, microfiber towel, sunglasses, 31-blade pocket knife, duct tape, matches, 2 notebooks and pens, cash, ID, credit card, AAA card, some type of e-reader with 100 “classics”, ipod shuffle, headphones, phone charger, ipod charger, e-reader charger (all to USB with USB to power), 3 S-clips, flex lock, Ibuprofen, band-aids and ointment, SIGG water bottle, small bag, smaller backpack — packed into big backpack.

Music (Artist-Album) on ipod shuffle (~300 songs): Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls, Beach House – Teen Dream, Ben Howard – Every Kingdom, Cat Power – Covers Record, Cat Power – Moon Pix, Des Ark – Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker, the Fugees – The Score, How to Dress Well – Love Remains, Jose Gonzalez – In Our Nature, Jose Gonzalez – Veneer, Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, Kurt Vile – God is Saying This to You, Lykke Li – Youth Novel, Minus the Bear – Menos El Oso, Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antartica (Deluxe), The National – Boxer, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – No More Shall We Part, Phantogram – Eyelid Movies, Sharon Van Etten – Because I Was In Love, Toro y Moi – Causers of This, The Weeknd – House of Balloons, Wiz Khalifa – Rolling Papers (Deluxe)

The little black backpack will be full of the stuff I can’t take on a plane and checked-in.

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Art, Freedom, and The Kiss–A Tribute in Syria

“If you can not please everyone with your deeds and your art, please a few”

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) is an Austrian painter and first president of the Vienna Secession ( an artists’ union), whose goal was to rid itself of classical oppression and motto was “To every age its art. To art its freedom”. The majority of his subjects are women, and most of his paintings were considered pornographic in the late 1800’s. He specialized in theater decoration in his early years and his love of costume is clear in his paintings of socialites.

His paintings remind me of the artwork and stained glass windows I have seen in sanctuaries across the nation–bright colors, lots of gold, mosaics, and heavy symbolism–snakes, flowers, sword, halos–but more human.

A few days ago I saw that a young man, Tammam Azzam, painted The Kiss (1908) on a bombed-out building in Syria, only a few days after the UN placed the death toll at 70,000 (homage at bottom). I am glad this image bounced back to us from space, somehow sent from a country where the government has disabled cell phones, landlines, and electricity. This image conveys hope and compassion to a land in dire need of help.  Gustav would approve.

gustav-klimt.jpg!Portrait hygeia-detail-of-medicine-1907Medicine, 1907, University of Vienna Ceiling Paintings, destroyed by the Nazi SS in 1945

Hope2-Klimt Hope II, 1907-1908

klimt.adele-bloch-bauer Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907

Gustav_Klimt_049 Portrait of Emilie Louise Flöge, 1902

the-kiss-1908(1)The Kiss, 1908

tammam-azzam-freedom-graffiti-150x150cm-archival-print-2012-edition-of-5-courtesy-of-the-artist-and-ayyam-galleryTammam Azzam‘s homage to The Kiss
Note: the majority of the images were taken from wikipaintings.org

Knife in the Water (1962) movie stills

I recently watched my first Roman Polanski film, his debut, Knife in the WaterPolanski co-wrote and directed the 1962 film which takes places mainly on a boat featuring only 3 actors. A married couple pick up a young hitchhiker and invite him to spend the night aboard their boat. The film is tense and beautifully framed. The film received a 1963 Foreign Language Oscar nomination, the first Polish film in this category.

My favorite scene of the movie is when the camera is panning from the mast of the ship to show what each character is doing after getting settled. The wife is wo-manning the rudder, the husband is mapping the course, and the hitchhiker is napping. I immediately wanted to boat around the lakes of Poland. In a previous shot, the cameraman, while tied to the mast, forgot to attach the safety line to the camera and dropped it in the lake.

Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 9.07.15 PM
Knife in the Water
I stitched the stills together to get a sense of their relation to one another. The still of the hitchhiker is rotated 180ª for continuity.

Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 9.29.09 PMThe waterways surrounding Gizycko.

Graffiti: RYNGAR

The purging of bookmarks directed me to an ekosystem.org page for a graffiti artist called RYNGAR. I cannot find out anything about him and I cannot remember how I came across him in the first place. All I know is that the artist’s work is found primarily in France.

The mechanized | industrialized cross sections of these sad little animals make me feel a little sad and the last one reminds me of the socialist murals by Jose Clemente Orozco.

925837 garce_oks_ryngar_b2m_08 bien_garce_retork_ryngar_brown_dog

7886710356_bbfd64f871 6025828254_f3cf4ac70a_z-1 ryngar72mioshelemansweb

New Denim! Kind of..

A pair of 14oz selvage denim has been sitting in my closet for over a year and a half due to a minor repair I needed to make. Although my heaviest, and best for winter, I haven’t noticed its absence due to my large rotation of denim. Of course, I decide to fix them now it is warming and they’ve been my go-to pair since.

I love the way raw denim breaks in. At first they are so damn uncomfortable, but after vigorous wearing they become a second skin, and very soft. After a couple of years the thread wears down, forms holes, and turns white. It is the look mass-produced brands try to re-create, which means that wallet outline is actually where my wallet is. The coin pocket still holds my lucky peso. I couldn’t un-cuff a few pairs if I tried.

DenimThis was my first pair, from a few months of wearing to a year and a half later.
Same pair, same fabric, nothing special, just life.