Archive for November, 2010

I noticed Jill Spurgin’s eyecatching work in a poster tucked in a stairway of my school.
Naturally I had to investigate.

She is having an Artist Reception here in San Diego.

Jill Spurgin
Embroidery and Textiles

Friday November 19, from 5-8 PM
Prudential California Realty Building
890 West Washington St.
(corner of Washington & Goldfinch)

From the artist’s website:

My work has always been inspired by nature…and now nature has become an important part of the design process, as I start to incorporate into my embroidered pieces elements like grass, dried artichoke leaves, pebbles, seeds, nutshells and the bark of the paper birch tree, which is so beautifully designed by nature I can hardly improve on it! Southern California holds a bounty of natural expression waiting to be discovered. I enjoy a great deal of variety in my work, combining embroidery with a variety of mediums from painting on silk and batik to collage and quilting.

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Bearing fruits

Acrylic on canvas. 2007

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Tonight Ken Kellogg, Architect, spoke at my school.
The organic, sinuous forms of his small projects reminded me of Steve Badanes, and the Architecture of Jersey Devil. I was lucky enough to attend Mr. Badanes’ lectures twice and even have a jet-steamer autograph of his (and yes, the mandatory Fremont Troll t-shirt). This is the stuff I though I was going to help build and design once out of Architecture school. Architecture that was art and poetry, light and dream (a direct descendant of my first idol, Gaudi?). Ha.
Here are some stream-of-consciousness notes, jotting down forms from the slides….the lecture moved so fast and I could not coherently correlate each thumbnail sketch with the appropriate project. Here is his website, Kendrick Bangs Kellog, Global Architect Organic, where you can feast on the work.

Below the essence of what I heard and saw tonight: poetry from a seemingly pragmatic man, whose soul can be seen in his work, who believes ‘this stuff doesn’t have to be esoteric’ and speaks the language of the field to the clients. Yet he mentions being a dreamer, and ‘dragon tails’. Here are fins, ancient skeletons, shells, waves, mother-of-pearl surfaces. Here is light and energy.

Obviously Mr. Kellogg is a man who, in the words of Shelock Holmes ‘says rather less than he means’.

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I have a peculiar habit which makes it difficult to watch movies at home in my company:  I  pause the movie whenever I miss a word (a single word being of so much importance to me that I fear, by losing it, I might miss the meaning of the film, or a fragment of poetry at least).  I also pause to capture stills and collect them, a way of appreciating the photography of the movie, the eye of the director, the attention to framing and contexts. Out of these still sometimes paintings emerge. Sometime technological aberrations.

These stills are from the film ‘Murderous Maids’ (Les Blessures Assassines) . When I pasted the captured image, horizontal lines were formed, adding to the frailty of the character. In the stills the red hat becomes a faded rose petal, an accent of vermillion in an Old Master’s painting…I am thinking Vermeer, Northern Impressionism, malancholy light.

The theme of stairs in literature and film is one worthy of investigation. Here stairs are not only architectural elements, but, I believe, symbolic of the undercurrents of this film. I can never really stay away from Architecture, can I ?

Here are some quotes from ‘Murderous Maids’; ponder a while:

Lea: If we were rich…
Christine: What would change? Rich ladies have everything but I’ve seen them weeping in secret.

Christine: [to her sister Lea on her first of work] And always speak to them in third person. Aunt Isabelle said a master is three people. the one he is, the one others think he is and the one he believes he is. Always address the last one.

Interesting Fact: There is no music whatsoever in the movie, perhaps that is why the camera shots speak so loud, and why there is a nervous energy that pervades the movie, an obsessive attention to details passed on to the viewer in the heavy silences, in the pregnant pauses.

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John Hejduk. Sketch from Lake Baikal, part of the Vladivostok oeuvre

John Hejduk. Sketch from Lake Baikal, part of the Vladivostok oeuvre

John Hejduk. Sketch from Lake Baikal, part of the Vladivostok oeuvre

John Hejduk has been called one of the most influential architects and educators of our time..
He was also a poet, an artist and the Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of the uber-prestigious Cooper Union in New York.

I am reviewing couple of his books, Vladivostok and The Mask of Medusa and thought I would share some of the ear-cornered pages.  Like Marco Polo, John Hedjuk’s travels start from Venice. Some of you may know my mother is from the Venice region, Treviso to be precise, and it was endearing to find the Serenissima in this book, a fascinating fusion of East and West, and even Milano, my birthplace. From the foreword:


The journey I have been on for the past ten years followed an eastern route starting at Venice, then moving north to Berlin through Prague, then northeast to Riga, from Riga Eastward to Lake Baikal and then on to Vladivostok. This has been, and is, a long journey.

Bodies of water mark the trek. Venice of the Adriatic, the lagoons, the Venetian canals, the river Vitava of Prague with its echoes of Rilke and Kafka, the waterways of Berlin, the Gulf of Riga, Lake Baikal, and the Sea of japan in Valdivostok. The elements giving off their particular atmospheres, and sounds, impregnate my soul with the spirit of place, place actual…place imagined.

The works from this journey are named and form trilogies.

In Venice;

The Cemetery of Ashes of Thought                                                                                                                                  

The Silent Wtnesses and

The 13 Watchtowers of Cannaregio

In Berlin;

Berlin Masque

Victims, and Berlin Night

In Russia;


Lake Baikal, and


[  ]

I state the above to indicate the nature of a practice.

[ ]

I have established a repertoire of objects/subjects, and this troupe accompanies me from city to city, from place to place, to cities I have been to and to cities I have not visited.  The cast presents itself to a city and its inhabitants. Some of the objects are buit and remain in the city; some are built for a time, then are dismantled and disappear;some are built, dismantled and move on to another city where they are reconstructed.

I believe that this method/practice is a new way of approaching the architecture of a city and of giving proper respect to a city’s inhabitants.

It confronts a pathology head-on

John Hejduk, 1989 

Hejduk’s work is provocative, political, polyedric. Read Errand, Detour, and the Wilderness Urbanism of John Hejduk, part of  Paroles d’Architects, an excellent collection of writings on architecture.

Also Sorkin on the Mask of Medusa, in Exquisite Corpse: Writing on Buildings.

Reading this book, at the nexus between literature and architecture reminds me of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. One of the future anterior projects: to illustrate Calvino’s cities. But it’s been done.

Cultural Minister

The Minister of Culture reads the works of Hawthorne, Flaubert and Hardy.What impresses him is the extraordinary love of women by these authors. Somehow the three writers are related through the strenght of Zanobia,Madame Bovary, and Batsheba. The Minister of Culture is aware of their seductions. He imagines, fabricates, and sews the dresses they had worn. He folds each garment and places it in an oblong box and waits for sundown. He precisely selects his victim, follows her, commits his crime, redresses herin the dress from the box, and places the body at the edge of the water. At Dawn he reads from the appropriate passages in a trembling voice.


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Norman Foster interviewed by Charlie Rose.

Charlie Rose interviews Norman Foster. Click to watch.

Architecture as a spiritual experience, architecture as a [moving] container for art in Foster’s Sperone Westwater Art Gallery in the Bowery, NYC, architecture concerned with light and genius loci. It is beautiful to watch Foster’s hands accompany his  slow, eloquent, deliberate answers–there is poetry there.  The documentary ‘ How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?” is introduced, named after a question posed by Buckminster Fuller, whom Foster collaborated with from 1968 until Fuller’s death, in 1983.

I have to thank my friend Lamees for sharing this. What a gift.

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It is November, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and  National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). The goal of the first is to write a novel of 50,000 words in the next 30 days, by sticking to a schedule of 1667 words per day. If you have been thinking about writing for a while, and completing that literary project of yours, this is the time to do it. NaBloPoMo is set up as its usual one post per day, but this time there are  prizes and more publicity.
I wanted to share some inspiring badges for this month. Let the writing begin.

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