Top Reads from Strong Towns This Week
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"The grid certified by the city’s street commissioners on March 22, 1811, spurred development by establishing seven miles of regular, predictable street access. It also laid the groundwork for nearly 2,000 acres of landfill that would be added to the island over the next two centuries. The commissioners concluded that New York “is to be composed principally of the habitations of men, and that straight-sided and right-angled houses are the most cheap to build and the most convenient to live in.”
The grid, which incorporated some existing roads, would also prove surprisingly resilient. It accommodated motor vehicles (after sidewalks and stoops were pruned). It allowed planners to superimpose Central Park in the 19th century and superblocks like those of Stuyvesant Town and Lincoln Center in the 20th. In the 21st, the grid was extended west to include apartment houses on Riverside Boulevard."
Equal parts conference, art exhibit and music festival, Weapons of Mass Creation is the brainchild of Jeff Finley, a partner in the Cleveland-based agency Go Media. He launched the gathering last year as a way of uniting the local creative community.
"We want people to come to Weapons of Mass Creation to share their ideas," Finley explains. "Most are designers or work in the industry in some way."
This year's Fest features a line-up of 20 speakers, 20 designers and 20 bands, who will fill the two days and nights with compelling thoughts, images and sounds. Talks will be held at Gordon Square's Reinberger Auditorium, exhibits at Wall Eye Gallery, and bands at Happy Dog.
"When it became clear that World War I was approaching, the Stettheimers returned to the United States and moved to a house on New York’s Upper West Side. Shortly, their home became the premier New York salon, a center of the city’s artistic and intellectual life. Regular guests of the Stettheimer sisters included artists such as Francis Picabia, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and writers and critics, including Henry McBride and Carl Van Vechten. The sisters also regularly threw parties at rented mansions on the New Jersey shore or in the country, taking their friends away from the city for long weekends."
"In addition to the considerable artistry with which Carrie Stettheimer managed the Stettheimer household, planning imaginative meals including such unlikely dishes as feather soup, she created a replica of the sisters’ home in miniature—a remarkable two story, sixteen-room dollhouse that recreated the Stettheimer’s own imaginatively decorated rooms. Carrie Stettheimer worked on this project for more than twenty-five years, filling the dollhouse with detailed miniature reproductions of period furniture and replica light fixtures and lampshades. She recreated her sisters’ rooms—Ettie’s was painted in bright red and blue and outfitted with Chinese furniture; Florine’s was draped in cellophane and lace. Artist friends made small copies of their paintings and sculptures for the dollhouse including the miniature copy Marcel Duchamp made of his Nude Descending a Staircase. Carrie Stettheimer’s dollhouse is on permanent display at the Museum of the City of New York."
"It also includes "tours" of the city's neighborhoods, industrial areas and historical sites.
"We're trying to curate the city as a living museum," said CSU history professor Mark Tebeau. "Cleveland has such a rich past and we're trying to expose that past layer by layer."
Available videos range from old newsreel footage of the National Air Races at Cleveland Hopkins Airport to a 1930s film clip of Herman Pirchner, owner of the Alpine Village restaurant downtown, setting a world record by carrying 50 steins of beer at one time."
Building content for the new app has been a community-wide project, said Tebeau, noting that teachers across the region, along with students, nonprofits and historical societies have all contributed.
And that mass contribution, said Nancy Proctor, head of mobile strategy and initiatives at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., is what makes the Cleveland Historical app unique.
"...I went to a huge retrospective by Pierre Alechinsky at the Carnegie Museum of Art. It was the first time that I had seen someone who was older and established doing something that was vaguely similar to my little abstract drawings. It gave me this whole new boost of confidence."3
"...I used the library at Carnegie all the time. I was reading a lot. I was really into Dubuffet at the time... the last works that he did were very similar to the little shaped things I was doing...."
"...The thing I responded to most was [Christo's] belief that art could reach all kinds of people, as opposed to the traditional view, which has art as this elitist thing..."
"Clearly, though, more than poetry has gone into “Echo,” his 44-foot-high sculpture of a girl’s head, which was raised in Madison Square Park last week. (With a budget of $620,000, it is the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s costliest project to date.) The work is made from an amalgam of polyester resin, white pigment and marble dust, and its glittering neck rises straight from the grass, creating an otherworldly beacon amid the furor of the Flatiron district."
Upon graduation from high school in 1976, Haring enrolled in the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, a commercial arts school. He soon realized that he had little interest in becoming a commercial graphic artist and, after two semesters, dropped out. While in Pittsburgh, Haring continued to study and work on his own and in 1978 had a solo exhibition of his work at the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center.
"And herein lies the problem. The High Line may be a landscaping project, but a good part of its success is due to its architectural setting, which, like the 12th Arrondissement, is crowded with interesting old and new buildings. The park courses through the meatpacking district and Chelsea, heavily populated, high-energy residential neighborhoods. Very few American cities — and Manhattan is the densest urban area in the country — can offer the same combination of history and density.
In other words, while the High Line’s success may seem to be an instance of “build it and they will come,” in New York, as in Paris, “they” are already there — living in the surrounding neighborhoods, working in the close-packed office buildings, touristing.
Moreover, while the High Line may have become a fashionable distraction for out-of-town visitors, it succeeds because it offers a green outlet to its many neighbors, who, like Parisians, live in small apartments. In no other American city do residents rely so much on communal green space, rather than backyards, for relaxation."
"The statue, which looks a bit like the young Mr. Warhol dipped in silver paint, is fast becoming a favorite downtown attraction. One visitor said she thought it was one of those painted humans who startle tourists in Times Square. She kept waiting for The Andy to move.
For Warholians, a more loyal army of fans, the statue is a shrine. And within days after it appeared, they began adapting the monument in that organic way that is so much a part of the city ethos. One day there was a box of Brillo pads at The Andy’s feet. Last weekend there were cans of Campbell’s tomato soup, including one that had “Andy for President” added to the label."
12 – 2 pm: Workshop: Making Your Own Zines and Minicomics – by Bill Volk; A crash course on cartoon storytelling, presentation, and basic bookbinding. How to put your words and pictures in print, make them read clearly, and get in touch with others who do the same. Free.
3pm- Workshop- Want to learn how seIf-publishing happens? ‘Publish, Perish or Languish? NOT!’ Three of my self-published titles are in stock at Fleeting Pages: The Alchymical Zoodiac, Stitchburgh, and The Little Sheep Who Couldn’t Sleep. Come and get your signed copy! Everyone welcome!
8pm- Film: the WORLD PREMIER of tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE’s 348th movie: “Selectric Piano; Po, Li, Ou; & Anagrammatic Variations” tENT’s friend in Greensboro, NC, Mark Dixon, took an IBM Selectric Typewriter & repurposed it so that typing each key has a one-to-one correspondence to an 88-key keyboard which is played as a result of the typing. This device is called the “Selectric Piano”.
tENT wrote 4 highly abstruse & formally exacting texts that 2 typists
then typed using the Selectric. The combination of these texts + the (M)Usic
their typing produces + the overall claustrophobia of the situation
is quasi-documented in this experimental feature.
A teaser for it can be witnessed here:”Mark Dixon’s Selectric Piano”:
Starring and narrated by Chris Klein and Jennifer Lowe, 'Only God Could Hear Me' offers a portrait of the lives and souls of "non-speakers," looking beyond just how they communicate, into why they are driven to do so. Follow several AAC users as they navigate the daily challenges of their disabilities. Brought to you by Bruce Baker and Semantic Compaction Systems, the creation story of the "Minspeak" method is told in parallel. Directed by Colin Sanders.
Bookstore clerks, bookstore owners, and former bookstore workers read from their own writings on the bookstore biz, as well as the writings of others. Great indie bookstores represented include: Powell’s Portland and Powell’s Chicago, St Mark’s Bookshop, East Side Books, Jay’s Bookstall, Caliban Books, Awesome Books, Maelstrom Books, Burke’s Book Store, and more.- Free
"Surpassing attendance expectations, M.C. Escher: Impossible Realities has drawn record crowds to the Akron Art Museum. As the last of only two venues in the United States to show this once-in-a-lifetime loan from Athens, Greece, Impossible Realities drew visitors from across the country. Escher fans came from as far away as Alaska, California and Washington, with most of the out-of-state visitors hailing from Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Illinois.
Because of its overwhelming popularity, the museum, in an unprecedented move, is extending the exhibition’s closing date. Visitors now have until Sunday, June 5, 2011to examine first-hand the masterworks of Maurits Cornelis Escher before the collection returns to Greece."
"Funds raised during the Pittsburgh is Art Day of Giving will be directed entirely to GPAC's Artist Opportunity Fund which helps advance the careers of individual artists by providing funds to support specific extraordinary opportunities that have the potential to significantly impact an artist'swork and professional development."
The match pool will contain between $475,000-500,000 from The Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Hillman Foundation, The Buhl Foundation, The Benedum Foundation and The Grable Foundation. Every organization that receives donations during the match period will receive a portion of the match. The matching dollars will be pro-rated.
Donors will have 24 hours to give. Only credit card gifts through PittsburghGives.org will be eligible for matching funds. No gifts from checks, cash, gift card redemptions, or donor-advised fund grants will be eligible for matching funds.Minimum gift eligible for match: $15
Maximum gift to a single organization: $10,000
Each participating organization is eligible to receive funds with no maximum limit for the organization. Organizations are prohibited from donating to themselves.
Participating organizations will receive pre- and post-event surveys which they must complete and return. Organizations are also required to report gift results including size of donor pool, average gift size, number of new donors, total amount of gifts received from returning donors.
"Pittsburgh loses lots of trees to development, disease and pests every year and the Urban Tree Forge gives some of the timber a second life as building material, furniture and art. The woodworker John Metzler founded the organization. He was killed in May 2010 by a runaway U-haul trailer as he cut wood outside the Forge. Larkin Page-Jacobs has his artist profile."
"Samuels’ drawing The Odyssey of a patch of street exactingly renders a 21 x 310-feet stretch of scarred asphalt onto a 92 x 33-inch sheet of paper. With the help of a magnifying glass, you discover that the drawing is made from handwriting that word for word transcribes the entire text of Homer’s Odyssey, the epic poem of war and homecoming. The cracked asphalt is the street in front of Samuels’ home. The text winds its way down one side of the sheet of paper returning up the other side, back to her home, and ends with the text’s call to bring a halt to the great leveler, War.
Before beginning to write, Samuels affixed a photo-mask of the street’s crevices and potholes over the paper. After the text was written, she peeled away the mask removing some of the text. Where the text was destroyed, the drawing was created. Accompanying the drawing is an archive of the lost and destroyed memories made from the text-covered photo-masks."
"Vanka's personal belief in the futility of war and his sadness at seeing his homeland destroyed are made patently obvious through his work. After being commissioned by Father Albert Zagar to paint the murals in 1937, Vanka completed two cycles of paintings (20 altogether)- the first in an eight-week span that spring, and the second group in 1941. The latter works clearly demonstrate his anguish over the war in Europe. He set for himself grueling shifts of up to 16-18 hours a day, and sustained his energy with multiple doses of Coca-Cola. Zagar gave the internationally-renowned artist a freehand to depict whatever imagery he so chose. In doing so, Zagar empowered Vanka to create timeless works mixing secular and spiritual concerns in a manner wholly original.
The content of these murals is truly unforgettable. There are mournful peasants entreating God for support in their difficult struggles in the Croatian countryside. An angel in a gas mask looms over the congregation from high upon one wall. An anguished, crucified Christ separates two war-crazed soldiers. In a similar scene, the Virgin Mary desperately tries her hand at a peaceful resolution. On another wall an industrial robber baron sits at dinner and is served a cleansing course of fiery retribution by a skeletal hand. These are not the placid reassuring scenes of sanctification that a regular churchgoer becomes acclimated to. They challenge the viewer to seek the holy in the most trying of times.
Had these paintings been completed for a museum, they would inspire a constant stream of tourists from all over the world. As it is, they await the few who become aware of their existence through word-of-mouth. Since my initial exposure to them, I have tried periodically to see them again. But it's no use showing up on church property, hoping for the random chance. You must call ahead of time to see the murals. Fortunately the woman in charge of tours is accommodating, and will show you around for nothing but a freely-offered donation. If you happen to be in the Pittsburgh area, I am scheduling a group tour for either this coming Monday or Tuesday. Contact me if you want to be included. The experience will leave an indelible mark upon you."
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Councilman Ricky Burgess today announced a new collaborative designed to bring East Liberty-style growth to the struggling Homewood neighborhood.
Mr. Burgess announced that the city Planning Department will provide $150,000 to the Homewood-Brushton Community Coalition Organization to hire one or more economic development specialists. He said additional funding announcements by the city and Urban Redevelopment Authority will be made in the next week or so.
"In the infant years of the new millennium, the city realized it urgently needed a new vision. Jay Williams was working as the city’s director of community development in 2001 when the planning department sought out the expertise of Youngstown State University (YSU), the leading employer for the city and Williams’s alma mater. YSU had plans in mind for its own growth, but ended up nurturing a rehabilitative partnership with the city. Williams, along with D’Avignon and Anthony Kobak, the current chief city planner, teamed with YSU academics piqued by the research of new urbanists such as Stephen Graham and Ann Markusen. Youngstown came to recognize itself, in the words of Markusen’s theoretical work, not as a “sticky” place —an urban center that continuously draws people (Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York City) — but as “slippery” — one where it’s easy for, say, a YSU student to slip into the city, and then slip out due to lack of jobs or housing.
“Our right-sizing plan came out of talks we were having internally acknowledging that although our population wouldn’t be going back to the hundreds of thousands, but that smaller didn’t mean inferior,” says Mayor Williams. “The question we asked was, because we were once so much larger how can we take the remnants of what made us large and build upon that?”
The planning team began to consider a counterintuitive approach to development: rather than grow the city, it should clean and “green” up the unoccupied real estate. They conceived and presented a basic “right-sizing” formula to the Youngstown public, who fleshed out the plan with their ideas and expectations. Or, depending on whom you ask, the planners consulted the public first and then drew up a blueprint for Youngstown 2010.
No matter its genesis, the eventual plan reflected three years of public surveys and town hall meetings aimed at understanding the city’s needs. “Overwhelmingly, people said they wanted the city shrunken, and they were for cleaning up the blighted situations that were causing different variations of decay, crime and abandonment,” Kidd says. Thousands of citizens were consulted, and hundreds of students and professionals logged the process. The plan went into high gear after Williams was elected mayor in 2005. At 34, he was the youngest mayor Youngstown ever elected, and also the first African American — two identity aspects that resonated with college students and the emerging black majority."
"What makes PlayhouseSquare unique is that it not only renovated and manages the performance spaces—including the five historic theaters (the Ohio, the Palace, the State, the Allen and the Hanna) that otherwise would have been bulldozed for parking lots—but it also created a local development corporation that owns more than 1.6 million square feet of office and retail space inhabited by more than 3,000 workers in five buildings; developed the 205-room Wyndham Cleveland Hotel; and manages an additional million square feet of real estate throughout the Cleveland metropolitan area.
Its budget of more than $60 million puts it ahead of the better-endowed Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Museum of Art. Two-thirds of PlayhouseSquare's annual budget supports the performing arts. One-third is reinvested in its real-estate ventures.
"The real-estate business is a working endowment for the theaters," said Gina Vernaci, vice president of theatricals for PlayhouseSquare. "The stages feed the neighborhood's excitement and vice-versa," she added. "People who work down here now think about PlayhouseSquare as a campus."
"In essence, Fleeting Pages consists of taking over (taking back??) one of the spaces, left empty by a failed big box bookstore (Borders) in Pittsburgh, for one month, starting May 7th, and filling it with independent & self-published work of all kinds, book arts, workshops, and events.
All revolving around various forms of written self-expression.
The idea is a result of a few things; a great appreciation for independent and self-published works of all kinds, as well as for those who create them, the toll taken on local booksellers by big box bookstores, a concern for the cultural effects of big box stores in both their existence and their failure, and a general frustration with the model of the publishing industry.
We felt compelled to do something. Fleeting Pages is what we came up with. It will test the theory that what is happening with “books” – creation, consumption, access – matters to many. And if given the opportunity to take over, or take back, one of these empty spaces they will. And in the most brilliant of ways.
The end result, what Fleeting Pages will ultimately become, is a beautiful unknown as it is dependent upon what others are willing to add. The framework is there – the space, the concept, and a few people volunteering to work their hardest in support of the project."