Sunday, November 30, 2008

up north

a good break and a foot of snow.
now back to baltimore and reality.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

things i wish i had thought of

here's to the things i come across that make me wonder why i even bother. (and i mean that in the least self-discourging way possible.) classic tibor kalman. geeky graphic design for the pure enjoyment of other graphic designers. tara donovan (my newest discovery.) and the clever napkin notebook i spotted at urban outfitters. (that kind of started this collection to begin with.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

before fall changes

just wanted to say... that baltimore does fall particularly well. some times i walk down the tree lined streets of bolton hill and become certain that this city (or at least this neighborhood) was made for this season.

st. paul paint

pictures from an urbanism project a few weeks ago. the task was to find, using census mapping, a wall in baltimore. anything that divides two starkly different sets of data. and then you actually go out to that wall, and photograph something specific that you see (in the style of bernd and hilla becher) i found this island of old people northwest of st. paul and north ave. and found an interesting difference in the paint color on either side of the street...

Thursday, November 13, 2008


tonight a vision for the charles north area was revealed to a packed metro gallery by the central baltimore cultural alliance. key word: vision. i like this approach. it isn't some private developer coming in and showing some final blueprints. and making it a matter of "when" instead of "what." it's current community movers and shakers coming together to invest in the area and dream big about what it could be. (mica among them.) nothing is set in stone, but steps are being taken. and, if their word holds true (which i know is a rarity with urban redevelopment) it will be an organic evolution of the area. with just a little prod.

north avenue has grown on me even more this year. i like the designs in the brickwork of the buildings. i like the layers of mismatched paint slapped on walls to cover up graffiti. this whole thought of redesigning kind of came out of nowhere. but apparently it's been a long time coming. and mica's been a key part of it all. fred lazarus is the committee chair. it was comforting to have him there. i know he has the best interest of this city at heart. and just look at what he has done during mica's time of expansion. one of the things that attracted me to mica before even visiting was their claim to mix the old and the new, to preserve existing structures (station building) and build innovative new buildings (brown) that somehow seem to fit right into the quirky campus flow. and he has always been the one to say, if baltimore goes down, mica goes down. and vice versa.

all this optimism doesn't mean i don't have my doubts. all the artists renderings feel odd. i'll miss the aesthetic of the old north ave. things like mechanical parking seem just stupid. (shouldn't we be moving away from accommodating cars like that?) and while i like some sort of penn station redesign, i think adding on a whole new wing is unnecessary. (one thing i like so much about this vision is the focus on abandoned buildings and spaces. let's work with those before we start from scratch.)

overall, this is huge. and won't happen over night. or over a year. or over ten years. but it's kind of cool to be down the street at the start of it all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

brain shopping

a recent assignment from my type 1 class. the task was to create a large poster (18 x 24) that would both be satisfying from far away, and draw you in closer. the text was given to us, ellen's "40 tips and tricks for getting in the mood to get ideas."

our next, and final assignment, is to design a type specimen! should be fun...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

arts every day

things like this make me realize... baltimore is amazing. yesterday morning, steph, tara & i went to mount royal for this big "arts every day" website unveiling. ( mt. royal elementary is one of a few baltimore public schools that became an "arts integration" school last year. (and fitting seeing as their school is right smack dab in the middle of the mica campus.) "arts integration" means that teachers and staff make a concious effort to incorporate the arts into every other subject, with the belief that it will strengthen the entire learning experience. the "launch" featured performances by mount royal students ("it's a hard knock life" from annie, "oh the places you will go," and a song called "i'm a leader") interspersed with quick art affirmations from people like the director of the baltimore museum of art, the fine arts coordinator and ceo of baltimore city public schools. the ceo, dr. andres alonso, spoke of wanting to do this in every single classroom. he called them "lessons with connections" and said that "this is what education is supposed to be about. not test prep. but creating culturally competent kids filled with references." the idea is engaging the disengaged learner, activating creativity, and seeing what will come of it.

i love stumbling across solutions like this. because now no one has to struggle to think of a way art can play a larger role in education. no one has to start from scratch. someone has already put time, money, and energy to developing a structure we can all build on.

Monday, November 10, 2008

cheap art

excerpts from peter's "cheap art" pamphlet turned pdf courtesy of jackie. (she always has such good timing.)

especially interesting to me after watching some clips from boys of baraka again in urbanism. and even though i've seen it at least 5 times, it still managed to piss me off. and leave me feeling a little helpless. i don't know. it's just so huge. stephanie plugged a mural project to the class afterward, and out of my own mental frustration with the limits of art, and without filtering, i gave her the "it's just a mural" card. which i immediately regretted. in these moments of doubt, i need to see the value in just moving, even if it's doing something little and even if ultimately the impact is a drop in the bucket. (and i'm trying to look at these hypocritical points of intersection and realize the factors/philosophies at conflict there.)

those excerpts were also interesting in context with the pyramid atlantic book arts fair that i went to this weekend. and the dichotomies that kept coming up, like: genuine/forced, interaction/isolation, high/low art, elite/everyday, accessibility/cost, open/closed. in the middle of a day of looking at all of these artists books, some thousands of dollars and requiring gloves to hold, there was a lecture about the democratic multiple in book arts. it was a nice break. (not to be a snob or anything, but i liked probably only 3% of the books there. the rest? not very innovative or fresh. awkwardly designed. extremely narrow audience. somewhat inconsequential subject matter.) the presenter asked for "something beautiful for free" or at least a "cheaper than chai price point." and challenged how much of the stuff they make was just advocating the art form. (hmmm...) it was interesting. maybe i was expecting too much of the artists book world. maybe i'm forgetting that this is already accomplishing something by being an art that moves from the museum wall into the (washed) hands of the people; that in itself should be enough of a departure, but it can never leave that language completely behind.

interestingly enough... the coolest part of the conference was finding this van out back that housed something called the "floating lab collective." (they were doing a banned books project.) i was so impressed. if that doesn't legitimize "community arts", i don't know what does.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

so glad.

i was walking down st. paul street the other day to take pictures for an urbanism assignment, and saw these strips of poll tabulations taped to the door of an elementary school, waving in the wind. stuff like this makes me glad. glad to live in a city where there is a subtle collective energy. (if you listen closely you can hear it. cheering out of windows and cars honking until 2 in the morning.) and glad to have a new president on the way...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

halloween 2008: cirque d'horreurs

1 month of planning
9 program managers
4 advisers
a handful of workstudies
a full day and a half of set up
4 hours of partying
1 hour of take down
a week of playing catch-up...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

a full week at falvey

thought i'd share some of my notes & thoughts from lectures and films this week at falvey hall. (it's unusual that i go to so many, i kind of felt like i was moving in...)


byron kim
-monochrome painter. (i loved his skin color studies.)
-interested in the relationship of small to vast. infinitismal to infinite.
-cloud paintings - once a week for seven years. but it's ok to miss a week. and they don't always get done on sunday. sometimes it doesn't happen until thursday.
-sometimes criticism and theory ruins what we have an appreciation for.
-all about elevating detail to status of whole. (privileging.)

brian collins (this guy is brilliant)
-60's. kennedy. "we choose to go to the moon." a story of hope. collective destiny.
-today. bush. "you're either for us or against us." a story of fate. revenge.
-change problem solving to problem making. (seek the issues instead of waiting for some client to come to you.)
-dove campaign for real beauty - about designing a social experience that changed perceptions. allowed dove to become an agent of change in how the media defines beauty. (dove self-esteem fund.)
-bp - beyond petroleum
-everything is about making money. so you might as well be socially concious, too.
-design is hope made visible.
-sva students come to class with two stories - a time you were incredibly happy, and incredibly sad. (emotional charge - grandma heller, target pharmacy prescriptions re-design.)
-what is most personal tends to be most universal.
-in ghana, children walk 3-5 miles (women) to get water.
-world economic forum, "designing waters future."
-learn who is doing intersting work and why they are doing it.
-read art criticism a lot.
-companies that recognize that they play a larger role in society will be respected by consumers -and in turn make more money.
-get a job. go where you have more energy after the interview than before.
-don't go to a place with a clean desk policy. if they have one, run. you're a fucking designer, you're allowed to make a mess.
-study now, when your brain is flexible. become an encyclopedia of design. it gets harder to memorize when you are older.
-there are very few designers who jump fully formed into talent. (chip kidd is one.)
-if you really want to be extraordinary, you have to spend 10,000 hours on your craft. work you ass off. 9-5 should be 9-12.


trouble the water
(fall film series.)
go see it. seriously. (if you live in baltimore, it's showing at the charles for the next week.) the story of hurricaine katrina from the hopeful perspective of people that actually lived through it, and had the premonition to document it through video. it touches on so many huge issues. (and oddly enough, as my brain was attacking each one i kept coming back to education/teaching.)


brilliant simplicity (metropolis magazine.)
-when you are involved in a big thought it brings you out of the mundane. transcendance.
-not just making connections, but unexpected ones.
-the econcomic situation has shifted. maybe people will spot spending time on that stuff (branding/advertising) and will start to research bigger issues with small budgets.
-our nation needs to do more for the funding of ideas. let's go back to privileging invention.
-rise of the citizen journalist/architect. citizen means different things to different people. (what's wrong with powering those other than the elite?)
-starting is a very good word.


andrew blauvelt (not in falvey, but nonetheless....)
-towards relational design (v.2.0)
-stabilizing shanty towns in tijuana. (adding an element to existing structure.)
-closed/open, ideal/real, reflexive/relational, one/many, observer/participant, use/behavior, prescribe/enable, interative/generative
-creating identity systems allows for it to add and expand over time.
-experimental jetset shirts. appropriated system to use to different ends.
-boy meets girl business cards. answers to questions become system of text.
-designer to author to editor.
-producer to consumer to user (prosumer).
-structuralism to post structuralism to pragmatism.
-popular to vernacular to quotidian.
-iconic to idiomatic to prosaic.
-aesthetic to cultural to social.
-formal to symbolic to programmatic.
-linear to cybernetic to network.
-iterative to variable to generative.
-infinite forms to multiple interpretations to contingent solutions.
-(each one building upon the other, and all still operating at the same time.)
-things today have a diverse range of practices - requires looking philosophically at what might connecting them in processes.
-walker art center inherited custom made matthew carter font system. huge book, not useable. (especially when those people left...)
-guiding process without controlling it.
-"where ____ meets ____" leaving it open and putting it out in the community. "where my foot meets your ass" on bus stop poster.
-60's: control, today: release.