Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shadow Wrap

I've always enjoyed the magic of shadows. Whether the shadows reflect the physical object in the outline of the light and shade contrast, or gently outline the contour of of the surface, the play of pattern is forever fascinating.  With artificial light, the shadows are wonderfully predictable, with the sun, they offer endless variations depending on the time of day.

Like invasive vines, these tree shadows are not discriminating!  The asphalt street, earth, brick house are all shaded equally.

Georges Seurat, French, 1859 - 1891
Head of Woman with Hat, Conte crayon
Smith College Museum of Art
Seurat uses the outline of this woman, as a shadow would, but further describes the specific features of his subject by varying the tonality in light and dark.  Unlike the hard edges of a shadow, the edges are soft and open, thus enlivening the surrounding space.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Italian, 1475 - 1564
Bathing Soldier for Cascina cartoon, pen and ink
British Museum
The way that shadows describe the topography of the earth reminds me of beginning studio art classes.  The professor would encourage us to utilize a lyrical line to "describe the surface" of what we were drawing.  Here the master of contour Michelangelo utilizes cross-hatching to model the muscular forms.  This allows us to not only understand the outline of the form, but the interior as well, suggesting volumes in space.  Treating the outline uniformly would result in a flattening of the image.

Maxalto catalogue image
The juxtaposition of contemporary furniture with a classical background is always exciting.  The striping of these walls, is as indiscriminate and  hard-edged as a shadow can be!  This concept certainly pushes the envelope in terms of how to paint a wall with traditional, decorative mouldings!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hands On!

I attended an exciting exhibition recently at the Pulitzer that I recommend to you all!  It is the first commissioned installation piece, and is a multi-sensory exploration of the architecture designed by Tadao Ando.  The artist is Ann Hamilton and the title of the project is stylus. The exhibit includes many levels of interactive programs that will continue to evolve and develop throughout the installation period.  Ann was chosen to represent our country at the 48th Venice Biennale.

You might want to check out the website:

I love art that you can touch and explore.There are thousands of papier-mache hands in the custom cubicles! 

And I always like an experience that includes a piano! Composer Shahrokh Yadegari collaborated with Ann on this project.  Ann also includes her poetry, newspapers, and all institutional programming by Pulitzer.  She has very sensitively designed this site-specific piece for both the architecture and the city of St. Louis.  Go see, read, hear,  and touch!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Le Quatorze Juillet

Zut alors!  Missed being in Paris again for Bastille Day! Without a doubt, it is the biggest party in the world, tho' Carnival in Rio and Mardi Gras in New Orleans surely are contenders.  I had to make do here in St. Louis with celebrating with a dear friend and fellow francophile. Pat gave me a wonderful gift, which will be my next bedside book, "Paris to the Moon" by Adam Gopnik.  It is about living in France, his dream since he was 8 years old.  For some reason, I too, from as far back as I can recall, was always obsessed with all things French.  Must have something to do with beauty, culture and lifestyle for starters!

You can't have a military parade without an air show, and what an air show!  Along the Champs-Elysees, the Patrouille de France burst out of the clouds, streaming the national flag behind them.


Lastly, a magnificent fireworks display lit up the Eifel Tower.  Well, maybe next year I'll be one of the revelers.  It's dawn to dusk excitement.  Happy Bastille Day to you all!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Don't Say No to Rugs

I always like to involve my clients in the creative process of art and design.  When I proposed that a custom rug be fabricated using the design of a water manhole cover for his bathroom, my client was only interested in how soon could he have one?  I had been admiring various water and sewer lids for some time now, while on my dog walks, and I observed many different designs and colorways.  One Saturday morning, early, we toured a few covers to decide which one he would like best. He preferred the water cover to the sewer cover, and then  the when there was little traffic, we set up shop in the middle of the street to do our rubbings.

Being an engineer, my client couldn't resist the opportunity to educate me as to what was a sewer cover, water cover, or catch basin and all manner of information that had never even occurred to me to ponder...all I was interested in was the color and the pattern!

Being an active, engaged client, it wasn't hard to Tom Sawyer him into "helping" me do the rubbing.  We used thick, round pieces of graphite to clarify the letter edges of "St. Louis Water".

The comments that we got from passersby were amusing.  First, a man pulled up in his truck and asked "What are you doing?"  I said we were making a rug.  He seemed alright with that response.

A pedestrian ran down the street to us, worried that there was an accident and that we were doing accident scene templates.  "Is everything alright?"  He took the pictures of us.

One passing bicyclist yelled out "Making art!"

A neighborhood youth stopped to watch for a long period, never saying a word.

Any car that came near us gave us plenty of clearance, except for the last one, which unnecessarily HONKED as if we were in the way or might make a sudden move.

The rug will be flat and about 1/4" thick.  It will be water and mold resistant, made in New York, and take about 8 weeks.  My client invested himself and his talent, and now he has a story and a rug to show for it, all because he didn't say no!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

I have found the perfect volunteer job: painting floats and other decorations for a local philanthropic organization called the Veiled Prophet organization.  The VP was founded in 1878 by a former citizen of New Orleans.  He envisioned a parade similar to the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade, as a way to promote St. Louis agriculture and business. The character of the Veiled Prophet was adopted from the poet Thomas Moore, as a mythological theme for costumes and pageantry.

The Veiled Prophet Parade, now held on July 4th, kicks off five weekends of St. Louis special events each summer.  There are marching bands, large balloons, clowns, horses, and 30 floats.  Of these 30 floats, 17 are themed floats designed and decorated by the VP organization.  This year's theme was "A Night at the Movies".

The shop is an immense place, buzzing with excitement for the work at hand. As a former Fortune Interiors employee, I felt right at home amidst the power equipment, paint, and supplies.  I met a lot of wonderful people, and made some new friends.

Here I am, snorkeling in my dreams as I paint seaweed to adorn the Little Mermaid float. This satisfies my interest in painting stage sets back in my 20's as a career option.  It's never too late!

 I still say, if I wasn't designing homes and businesses, I'd be happy to work for Disney!

Little Mermaid float
Here's the parade and some of my handiwork.  It's a privilege to paint as a way to give back to the community!