Sunday, August 29, 2010

graffiti as residential ornament.

via contemporist

this house is alright -- picture below. i like it. i don't love it on the whole. but that being said, i do love that they incorporated graffiti into the exterior design. understandably, they're trying to make an artistic statement. even the name of the house is the "open air sculpture house" by marek rytych architekt in poland. it's a pretty luxurious modern space, chock full -- i'm sure -- of a pretty extensive art collection. but this doesn't matter.

what does matter is the graffiti, which is the only reason i thought this house was really worth posting about. i love that there's a "framed" section for graffiti on the outside, complete with lights. so it doesn't look like some kid with a spraycan came and just did whatever the hell he felt like -- it has a place, and it's lit like a framed piece of art in any other display -- except this is the back yard or something. i would totally love a designated place for graffiti on my house -- something that works with the design, looks like an outdoor artwork. because it is. it's great! smart thinking.

Friday, August 27, 2010

door county.

occasionally i just need to get the hell out of dodge. today was one of those days. it was (still is) gorgeous outside, and sitting in my apartment all day didn't sound too fantastic.

i've been cooped up without a car lately, since about three weeks ago i got into a pretty lame car accident. the saab was rear-ended and the back shoved in nicely, and it is no longer drivable. so i've been hitching rides with whoever is willing to give one, and also riding my bike around a lot. but today i just needed to get out-out... not just ten miles to the other side of appleton.

i decided to take my camera with me, northeast. it was either door county, or up north along the lakeshore -- but door county won out. not a huge surprise. i love it up there. and on fantastically sunny late-august fridays, it's particularly welcoming.

on my way up to green bay, i passed a convoy of corvettes -- the fox valley corvette club was clearly out for a ride. there had to have been at least twenty, if not closer to thirty ... i was a little bit disappointed there weren't any oldies in with the mix. and i don't even like corvettes.

up in door county itself, it took me one attempt at a photo at cave point county park (the free alternative to whitefish bay state park, although i'm going to check that out someday) to realize the camera battery was all but dead. so there went that idea (the photo above was taken with my mobile phone).

lake michigan is really something, especially on days like this when there's a wind. if it smelled like salt in the air, we might as well have been on the ocean; i was moved enough by this feeling of having gone really, really far to get to this place that i sat down on the edge of a bluff and sun-soaked for a minute, imagining that i was in big sur or somewhere. it's really hard to imagine the smell of salt, though, when all you can smell is fish and lake.

anyway. it was gorgeous. drove up the eastern side of the peninsula, meandering around country roads and trying to avoid hitting the numerous cyclists out enjoying the day.

the northernmost point i reached was ellison bay, where i tried my luck at another county park, only to find that it ended in a gravel road and woods -- which would have been wonderful if only i had brought some decent walking-in-the-woods sort of shoes. on my drive back down the road, though, i happened upon a brand new contemporary home and was architecturally enamored. lots of modular shapes and glass -- something straight out of dwell magazine, and not the typical sort of home up in door county at all. i'm still kind of dribbly about it.

struck gold at an ellison bay used bookshop called wm. caxton ltd. which apparently is also a local publisher. i found a damien hirst book for $25, which was a very good deal -- unfortunately the binding is almost ready to totally give, but this chick does not care. i was super pumped to find that book, and the bookstore -- it was amazing. all of the sections were huge, the shelves suuuuper high, and wayyyy too much material to casually browse in less than a few hours.

made my way back down the busier west side of the peninsula and returned home around 2pm. a short day trip, but well worth it. day trips are definitely ace.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

trichterfeld bei dontrien, von leuchtkugeln erhellt

i've had a re-discovery. i first saw this print at uw madison's chazen art museum. madison has a spectacular collection of 20th century german and austrian prints, and since i took a couple of 20th century art courses there under a professor who's written books on max beckmann--a prominent german expressionist--i was bound to see these prints at some point.

this particular one was laid out on the table in the chazen's print room, along with some other ones that i barely remember. there was a striking emil nolde, and a paul klee. but more than those, even though i studied them intensely, and even wrote a paper on the klee... the otto dix print,
trichterfelt bei dontrien, von leuchtkugeln erhellt (craterfield near dontrien, lit up by flares), 1924, part of the der krieg (war) cycle has stuck with me.

i'm not sure what it is about seeing a piece of art in person. even if it is just a print. there's something about the texture of the paper, the ink, the penciled-in numbered edition, and signature in the corner. it's one-of-a-kind, even in a cycle that may have printed fifty or a hundred of the same image. someone took a block or a stone and they pressed it down on that paper and made an image out of a scratched surface, ink, and paper. these simple things together, done well, can bring a hand to one's heart.

it's nearly abstract. it's so simple, and yet the emotional and even physical implications of a crater field in world war I france are massive. it could be the surface of the moon; one might even guess that it is if it wasn't within the context of the rest of the cycle. it stands out to me, also, because it differs greatly from the rest of the works into the series. the national gallery of australia has a good article on this series, along with some other images from it.

i'm not sure why it has stuck with me so much more than other prints from this era. i have a fondness for german expressionist prints and woodcuts, so it's no surprise that one would remain engrained over time. it must be the emotion of such a simple, seemingly empty image.

dix is not necessarily my favorite german expressionist. his work is amazing. but it is also disconcerting. it's that disturbance factor that makes me love it and loathe it simultaneously. his art came from a deep, dark place, rooted in the misery of death and war in early 20th century europe. that, of course, is what makes it as fascinating as it is.

below, just because it's arguably his most famous painting, and because it's awesome (and yet, in its own way, still disturbing) dix's
portrait of the journalist sylvia von harden, 1926:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ode to saab. "the black peril" r.i.p. 1990-2010.

i thought the cover for this 1985 saab spg was cool, even though mine is/was a 1990. a sad thing occurred yesterday. i was rear-ended on my typical drive to work. luckily no one was injured, but my car bore the brunt of most of the damage, getting the rear passenger side shoved in quite badly. some other odd damage was done as a result, but i'll try not to dwell on it. it is a loss.

i know it sounds weirdly sentimental to want to pay tribute to a car, but i. love. this. car. i found it online on one of those big auto sale websites, through a dealership in new york state. i paid an extra $1000 to have it shipped to me on one of those snazzy car-carrier trucks, and picked it up at 5:30am one morning in a piggly wiggly parking lot. crazy, yes. but i don't think i have ever been happier to be driving a car.

the saab 900 spg is seriously my dream car. it was. it still is wayyy high on my list of coolest cars ever made. it is the second 900 i've owned -- the first was a 1985 super basic, cream-colored 900. the 1990 spg was a serious upgrade -- sunroof, turbo, cruise control, power locks, spoiler, leather interior... it was just a nicer car, period. and it really didn't give me too much trouble, considering how old it was, and i had no service records on it whatsoever.

i've had it for a little shy of 4 years. after a ford f-150 pulled out in front of me mid-winter last year and i banged up the front end, things started going gradually downhill. the clutch went out, the wiring is bad (infamous saab electrical mysteries), the engine probably needed some serious work. but i didn't care! it got me from a to b -- and in style! serious style. i felt like queen of the road in that thing, and i don't care what anyone else thinks.

saabs are awesome because:

1. their shape is bizarre. i love how weird they look. they're like nothing else out there.

2. the ignition is in the center console! so every time you drive, it's like starting up a go-kart. the only part where this becomes an issue is if you're drinking a latte and spill it in between the seats.. if it gets in the ignition, you're fucked.

3. the turbos are zippy. it feels like you're driving tank, but they are still fast. a saab can be both.

4. the body kit and hubs on the spg are hot.

5. they're made in SWEDEN! hello!!

saabs -- when they were owned by saab, made by saab and not general motors (
who cares about new saabs? not me.) -- are the coolest cars out there. i have a serious european auto bias, okay, i'll cop to that. and it might be that because all i've ever driven were saabs, i'm hopelessly in favor of them. but they really are the coolest-looking cars on the road.

the photos below are of a diagram of the 1985 spg body kit (what makes it awesome), and the final photo is of my own car, post-trauma, sitting in the towing storage lot. you can't see it behind mine, but there was a brand new saab that had a front end looking three times as bad as mine and full of mud. i think there may have been some high speed and a ditch involved there. :(

anyway. this is an ode to the coolest cars ever made. r.i.p. saabie.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

dream houses.

OH MY GOD. DO YOU SEE THAT KITCHEN!?? cory buckner architects. i am being absolutely serious when i say that if i owned a 1950s tract house, and i had a million dollars, i would hire these people to do it the f--- up! i found the korman residence on contemporist, but then i went to the website and looked at all their other projects -- mostly the VERY 50s-in-tact home remodels, and i'm telling you, it is impossible to determine if it's a house remodel that i want (for my nonexistent house), or if i should just build a time machine and go back to 1954.

is it weird to get this excited over residential remodels? ;)

the two photographs on top are from the riley residence. the two below are the korman residence.

all i have left to say: cory buckner, two thumbs up while dancing.