Saturday, November 19, 2011

Not Built

The Washington Post has a review of "Unbuilt Washington", the National Building Museum's retrospective of plans for monuments, public spaces and buildings in the national capitol that never came to fruition. The photo gallery is especially interesting. My favorite is the National Sofa

This kind of history fascinates me because it provides a glimpse of how people have viewed and interacted with their environment. Many years ago, I purchased Bridges and the City of Washington because I am also fascinated and delighted by bridge design. The book provided a history of the District's bridges in photographs and plans, including many bridges not constructed which intrigued me as much as the ones actually built. So, too, does "Unbuilt Washington"; it tells me what influenced how a city that is part of my personal and national history came to be.

The reviewer also comments on the architecture of public spaces and how it relates to a city that is both a local community and national capitol. He explores the ideas and imagery that the various built and unbuilt buildings and monuments create or attempted to create. In the process he states that sometimes only the lack of funding has prevented construction of some architectural blunder:
Several projects...which would have radically altered our sense of Washington, were thwarted only by economic downturns or wars that shifted attention away from building projects. The only hope that we won’t be saddled with the badly designed and ill-considered Vietnam Veterans Memorial visitors center, which will eat up public land near Maya Lin’s entirely self-sufficient memorial, now rests on the vagaries of fundraising.

About that visitor center, I could not agree more. Maya Lin's memorial as originally designed--without statue--is fully self-sufficient. The simple listing of names recognizes the absolute equality of death in that war. There are no privates, no officers, no infantrymen, clerks or pilots--only Americans who gave their lives. The memorial leaves interpretation to the viewer. It needs no explanation.

Only thought.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

At the Beach

Long Beach, Washington. Sunrise 15 November 2011.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Art for Army's Sake

The US Army has an artist in residence, Master Sgt. Martin Cervanteza, 43 year old self-taught painter. The man is accomplished. His work is visually and technically strong. His sketches are especially good, certainly better than my own.

But I have never seen a more pristine studio. I've been in many painter's studios, shared space with them and painted with oil paint. It's a dirty business. Granted, my studio space was not state of the art Fort Belvoir but paining with oils is messy. That's why we always wore painting clothes. I see not a speck on the sergeant's fatigues.

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