Category Archives: Architecture

Sol Lewitt 1928-2007

DAILY MUSE | Sad news today. Connecticut’s own Sol Lewitt, modernist, minimalist and conceptual artist, died Sunday due to complications from cancer. Best known for his Wall Drawing series– those grandly scaled, vividly colorful drawings integrated into architectural spaces filling the frame of walls from edge to edge– he remained constant in his themes throughout his career; geometric and repetitive shapes, timeless childlike constructs on paper or in “structures” (as he referred to his sculptural work) that almost seemed obvious or inevitable. Their simplicity conjures up a sense of “I can do that!”. Not in that horrid, insulting way that is often applied to artists, but in the best sense… in that it offers permission and confidence to a viewer to step in and do it too. In that respect, his work always inspires creativity.

Lewitt’s work, while part of the minimalist and conceptual schools of thought which often inspire work so heavily intellectual that it can alienate viewers, never had that effect on me. His work was always humble and joyful– never pretentious.

Please enjoy some images of an enviable oeuvre from a masterful artist.

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TODAY’S MUSE: Fallingwater

DAILY MUSE | Today’s Muse is “Fallingwater”, Frank Lloyd wright’s most famous house– and arguably one of the most famous houses in the world. Built in 1939, it marks Wright’s entry into the second act of his career. Since then, it has served as inspiration to countless architects and homeowners throughout the years. Can you imagine living in a home that is so rooted in and intertwined with the nature from where is springs? If I lived there, I’m sure I’d end up having tons of creative ideas hearing that waterfall running all the time.

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Talk About Creative!

DAILY MUSE | Check out this amazing creativity behavior… from a worm! This little guy is quite the architect.

TODAY’S MUSE: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (updated)

DAILY MUSE | American Modernist poet Wallace Stevens, who remained a Hartford, CT insurance company executive during his career as a poet, had a unique manner in which he would compose. Each morning and evening, he’d walk the two miles between his home and his office. While walking, he’d compose poetry– its metre generating from the cadence of his walk.

Several years ago, I won (along with the architecture firm that I was working for at the time) a competition to design a memorial to Stevens– what would be the world’s first memorial walk to a poet. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, undoubtedly one of Stevens’ most popular and beloved poems, became the background of inspiration. The poem’s angular, modern words– cut, faceted, snapshot views of a blackbird– inspired my design. Thirteen highly polished black granite cubes were to be placed along designated spots of the two mile route where he walked. Out of each cube would be carved (subtracted) a wedged shaped (beak shaped) space/cut taken out. On each cube would be inscribed one stanza of the poem… backwards… yes, backwards… creating an optical illusion whereby one would be able to actually read the stanza forward in its reflection on the surface. It would appear as if the lines were inscribed within the block of the stone; i.e. the letters of the backwards engraved stanza would be be reflected, reversed in mirror image and optically placed within the mass of the block of stone.

I thought it was a pretty nifty design. It turned out they did too. The clients, “The Hartford Friends and Enemies of Wallace Stevens”, asked us to develop the design and afterward went into fund raising mode. Time moved on. Yada yada yada.

Fast forward. I no longer work for the architecture firm. As far as I know the clients are still fund raising and nothing concrete has happened (that I know of that is). I’d love to see in place. And some day it will be. It was a great honor to design it and will be again, even more so, when it is built… and others can walk the walk.

In the meantime we do have the poem itself. One that, no doubt, he wrote while on that walk. It was my muse. Now it is yours. Enjoy…

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

-Wallace Stevens

35 Poems by Stevens (free ebook)

UPDATE | I just checked out the Hartford Friends & Enemies site… I guess the first 3 markers (cubes) are bing installed this spring. I hope that they kept the design as is.

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Hello Dali

DAILY MUSE | Here is a wonderful documentary on surrealist Salvador Dali.

(Last week, I used his image “Persistance of Memory” in this post.)

Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision

DAILY MUSE | Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, has long been an inspiration to me. I’ve never seen a lengthy interview with her before, until now. Charlie Rose conducted and interview with her when the documentary about her ” Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision” came out. The interview with her starts at 20:43, after the Richard Harris interview.

Paolo Soleri Lives!

DAILY MUSE | via a kugel | Paolo Soleri strived to unite architecture and ecology in an architectural philosophy called “Arcology”. He theorized entire cities as Arcologies, developing elaborate designs which remained largely unbuilt. His own home, Arcosanti (his living laboratory in the Arizona desert) was the closest he came to making his philosoply real. While some may think that his architectural philosphy died, others, particularly the Japanese with the overpopulation problem, are taking another look. Check out a kugel’s blog for more…