Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Living In the Brownfield - Here & There at the Eames House with Vicki Liantonio

Split-context pairing, in which "eventually everything connects" was first brought to my attention at an exhibit curated by Timothy Gierschick II at Second Space Arts in Philadelphia.

(left) Bandit (right) 2nd and Market - 2011 Vicki Liantonio, Piccolo Takes All

“Here & There: iPhoneography by Vicki Liantonio” is installed as the 2012 Spring/Summer show at this superb gallery, which also happens to be a model for engaging a community through the arts. Liantonio is the founder of the multidisciplinary design house “Piccolo Takes All,” and also an avid Instagram contributor. Her posts under the name “@piccolotakesall” are full of the kind of place-bound images found in the show as well as her more abstract remixes of photographs and graphic design work.

(left) Hedge (right) Passage - 2011 Vicki Liantonio, Piccolo Takes All
The show pairs photos taken in and around Philadelphia (“here”) with photos taken on the road (“there”). The success of the show resides both in the timeless quality of the individual images and in the synergy of the pairings. Composition, content, meaning,and reflection unite each pair, and allow new meanings about time, experience, and context to emerge. The effect is similar to a trope, creating a shift in the meaning of word and image: the viewer remains engaged with a singular moment as all else continues to change with time.

(left) Red Sea (right) It Was For Freedom - 2011 Vicki Liantonio, Piccolo Takes All
Charles Eames once said, “Eventually everything connects - people, ideas, objects...the quality of the connections is the key to quality 'per se'...I don’t believe in this ‘gifted few’ concept, just in people doing things they are really interested in doing. They have a way of getting good at whatever it is”. Liantonio has perfected this skill; her recent show and current work are testaments to this way of thinking, seeing, and engaging the world.

(left) Bank (right) Sway - 2011 Vicki Liantonio, Piccolo Takes All

By chance, an interesting architecture and context pairing emerged from a conversation between Liantonio and myself, involving Case Study House #8. Through this conversation, across two images on Instagram, new life was brought to a decade old photograph that I have carried with me from desk to desk. The photograph is of a little-known panel on the garden end of the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, CA taken circa 1999.

Liantonio recently visited the Eames House where she continued her personal exploration of the Eames Office legacy. I reminded her of my interest in the enigmatic ghost tree panel that I had once photographed, and asked if she would explore it further while visiting the residence. What follows is the photographic outcome of Liantonio’s visit, and also the answer to my decade old personal question regarding the ghost panel from the Eames Foundation itself.

excerpt from an email following Liantonio’s questions about the panel on her visit

Dear Vicki,

The info so far: The panel you saw is of a photo taken by Charles Eames shortly after they moved into the house. It is a photo of the eucalyptus trees lining the railroad tie pathway in front of the house, showing them, at that time, as very young and spindly. I made an inquiry to see if we have the original photo in our archives (it’ll be there someplace). I’m hoping the person who’s checking will also have info on how it may have been reproduced on that panel. Will let you know if we find anything more.

Eames Foundation

excerpt from an email following the initial update from the Eames Foundation

Hi Vicki,

Didn’t come across the original photo but I did come across this info. It may be more than you may want but thought I’d send it anyway because it encompasses their blend of indoor/outdoor and the photo is a part of that. Eames Demetrios (a grandson) wrote a book called “Eames Primer” and this is a passage from his book:

“Then there are the reflections; windows that reflect back abstract patterns of eucalyptus bark, superimposing them on the human textures within. Elsewhere you see the meadow through windows, through the house, through interior plants, all at once. There is a detail over the back patio – a black-and-white photograph of these same trees screened onto a textile, then mounted on a panel and screwed to the building. Just before twilight, when shadows still fall on the image and the natural light turns the reflections on the leaves monochromatic, it becomes almost impossible to tell where the building ends and the reflections begin. One truly believes Ray when she remarked “after 13 years of living in it, the building for me ceased to exist a long time ago.”

Eames Foundation

Given the importance of the photograph to the practice of Charles and Ray Eames, it seems fitting that meaning would be held and revealed across time and place through a series of photographs. The connection of building to landscape being the subtly-revealed lesson from an actual pairing of architecture and photograph placed quietly above the garden door by Charles and Ray. The ghost panel captured a moment and continues to unite nature and architecture as one, graphically and experientially across time and place.

As always we advocate supporting the arts and the artist by being a patron. You can find the individuals mentioned above at the following links. We’d like to thank Vicki for her help and support on this and other projects.

Vicki Liantonio – Piccolo Takes All and @piccolotakesall on Instagram
All of Liantonio's images in this post were captured using an iPhone 3Gs.


Timothy Gierschick II – Director at Second Space Arts, Artist, Writer

John Isaac – initiator of Eames topic and @visualicaasi on Instagram

Special Thanks to the Eames Foundation for their kind and responsive attention to our inquiries and also for the preservation of the incredible design heritage of the Eames Office.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Material, Process, Product - Making Brick

We love this Stuff! - One of our favorite things to do- visit a manufacturing plant! Having a clear understanding of what it takes to make the materials we use sparks a further interest in how we could exploit that particular material. Our friends at Glen Gery Brick provided an excellent tour of their plant which is right in our back yard.

The oldest manufactured module of construction in the history of building.
It all starts with the raw material preparation. The manufacturing of brick begins with the gathering of surface clays and shales from the Pennsylvania quarry. The raw material is then prepared and crushed to a fine consistency. Water is added to provide the proper plasticity and materials, such as manganese, are added to change the body color.
Handmade, machine molded or extruded, each manufacturing method imparts a different look.  In the handmade method, a soft mixture is forced through an extruder, cut into slugs and conveyed to work stations. The slugs are then individually picked up, rolled in sand and thrown into a pre-sanded wooden mold by a worker. Excess raw material is removed by a wire and endless belt. As the filled mold boxes continue on their journey, they are mechanically bumped on their ends to loosen the brick from the mold prior to dumping.

The setting and drying process is next in line. After the brick unit is formed, the units are hand or mechanically set onto kiln cars.

The next step is burning or firing the green brick. The green brick pass through the long length of the kiln on a continuous procession of cars moving on rails. The continuous tunnel kiln employs a combination of vertical and horizontal drafts. The preheating, burning and cooling is done in zones varying in temperatures. The type of firing influences the range of color. The color variations being the extremes of dark color nearest the fire or in the crown on the kiln and the light color at the bottom where the brick have the lowest temperature.

We're still asking the brick what it wants to be..

Monday, June 18, 2012

Living in the Brownfield - Vicki DaSilva Times Square

 A few months ago Vicki DaSilva kicked off the crEATive lunch series at spillman, people are still talking about her performance that day, she’s an infectious speaker, two words, book her ! 

Well now they have something else to talk about – Vicki and Antonio are the feature story on the NYTimes Sunday Arts section! She’s also being featured on Ai Wei Wei’s “Never Sorry” page – talk about respect! 

Great and deserved coverage for a phenomenal artist, we’re wishing you the best tonight when you light up time square – go jedi Vicki! 

Today at Speaking of Architecture we’re turning spillman blue to jayz blue to honor Vicki DaSilva…“99 problems and a bitch ain’t one!” - link to the NYTimes article below and to the good people at Artist Wanted for making such a refined and excellent selection for tonights event.  Up on the big screen from 7-11pm, let us know what you see!

Monday, June 11, 2012

SFA News – Unbuilt Works

The P/A Awards are our profession’s most prestigious prize for unbuilt works of architecture.   “Unbuilt | Built: The Influence of the Progressive Architecture Awards”  is an exhibit curated by G. Martin Moeller of the National Building Museum. The show is on exhibit from May 14 to August 31 at the AIA Headquarters in DC.  The topic is near and dear to our hearts, as one of our own has been the recipient of this prestigious award in the past.

Summer Cabin by Joseph N. Biondo

In 1996, SFA Design Principal Joseph N. Biondo won a P/A Citation for the Summer Cabin, a theoretical retreat in Adirondack Park, NY. His award was announced in the May 1996 issue of "Architecture".  In that same magazine issue, AIA Fellow Peter Bohlin received an AIA Honor Award for the Ledge House in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains, realized with the help of senior architect Joe Biondo.  Joe’s work with Peter Bohlin was highly influential in his career, and his work continues to reflect the lessons he learned at Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson.

 Ledge House by Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson

Some perspective on that moment in time and the experience of working with  Peter Bohlin, Biondo states  ”study, refine, tune: these are the guiding words uttered from my mentor and friend Peter Bohlin when sketching over design drawings with a soft pencil while working together at BCJ.  Peter’s built work commands a quiet reverence – it is profoundly meaningful and speaks poetically to its users.  I will be forever grateful for the creative collaboration we have had over the years. Peter has been an inspiration in pushing my architecture beyond style and toward a high degree of tectonic clarity and honest expression.”

Summer Cabin by Joseph N. Biondo
Built or not, the message is clear: human-centered design, regional materials and finely-crafted details can produce an architecture that is timeless, useful, and extraordinarily compelling.

Summer Cabin by Joseph N. Biondo

At Architect magazine, you can read G. Martin Moeller’s thoughts on theory, practice, ideas, and execution, all in relation to the exhibit discussed.  Hope you enjoy the read as much as I did:  http://www.architectmagazine.com/exhibitions/g-martin-moeller-jr.aspx?rssLink=G.+Martin+Moeller+Jr

The AIA Galleries are open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, except for Federal holidays. Please be advised, the AIA Galleries and the Octagon also function as event rental space. AIA reserves the right to close the exhibition areas to the public at any time for a private event.

Image credit: Ledge House -  Bohlin Cywinski,Jackson / Karl Backus