Tagged: public art

This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.

How Public Art Can Transform a City – re:Think


Common Threads mural in Philadelphia. Image via Philly 360

“Once the province of sculptors who carved statues from huge blocks of stone, public art has evolved into an essential element of urban placemaking and social engagement. A look at the rise of public art — and how it’s changing cities.” Many public art pieces take advantage of historic buildings and places!

George R. R. Martin, Author and … Movie Theater Guy? – NPR


The Cocteau theater was dark for seven years until Martin purchased and renovated it. It reopened in early August. Image via NPR

George R.R. Martin’s hit fiction series A Song of Ice and Fire has sold more than 25 million copies and sparked an HBO adaptation, Game of Thrones, that won two Emmys in 2013, bringing its total to 10. But many fans are grumbling that Martin hasn’t been spending enough time of late in his mythical kingdom of Westeros and its surroundings. On the list of things Martin is doing instead of writing the next Game of Thrones book? Restoring and opening an historic movie theater in Santa Fe.

The Ugliest Church in DC Will Be Knocked Down – Washington Business Journal


Designed by a student of I.M. Pei, the Third Church of Christ, Scientist in DC is an example of Brutalist architecture. Image via NPR

A Brutalist church in Washington, DC will meet with the wrecking ball later this year after a two decades long battle.  The Third Church of Christ has wanted to redevelop the property since 1991, just 20 years after the building was constructed, because of “structural inadequacies and deficiencies.” The same year, a preservation group applied to make the building a historic landmark, an honor it was awarded in 2008. But landmark or not, a settlement has been reached and the building is coming down.

Why Should Diplomats Care About Cultural Sites and Objects? – Take Five

“Some of the most undervalued tools in the public diplomacy toolkit explicitly recognize the fact that more often than not, a nation’s sense of self is closely connected to its cultural heritage.  The value of a particular cultural monument, an example of historic architecture, or a specific artifact in a museum goes well beyond its retail or tourism value, but instead is truly priceless in the eyes of those who consider it a part of their national identity.  There are well-known examples of how disputes over ownership of such culture, including the Elgin Marbles or the Preah Vihear Temple, have led to tense international relations and even armed conflict.  Few are aware, however, of how we routinely use cultural heritage to our advantage in public diplomacy.”

Sign of the Times: When Renovation Means Erasing the Past – NY Times


Simon Schubert’s “Untitled (Large Hallway),” 2013. Image via NYT

The fetish for destroying historic houses to feed the hunger for infinite white space has led to a global style of architectural homogeneity.  For the first time in history, the more money you’ve got, the emptier your home is. The Victorians were criticized for their ‘horror vacui,’ the fear of empty space that led to rooms cluttered with bookcases, pictures and bric-a-brac. The new rich suffer from the opposite condition:  ‘amor vacui,’ or the love of empty space. Across the world — from London to New York, from Paris to Florence — the new tycoons’ houses have become vacuums.”


This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.

How to Live without Air Conditioning – Boston Globe

Using AC has huge environmental costs. While the idea of using less has not become a “touchstone for environmental enlightenment” yet, someday it will be the new hybrid car or recycling. Luckily, we can fall back on traditional construction methods (and historic buildings!) to keep our homes and businesses cooler naturally. In particular, we can look to the historic South for help. Raised foundations, long central halls and strategically placed windows for cross-ventilation, strategically planted shade trees, wide eaves, awnings, high ceilings, sleeping porches etc. are just some of the tricks that kept people cool despite high temperatures and high humidity before air conditioning.

Miami Beach Preservationists Battle Glitterati Over Homes – NPR


“This house owned by a plastic surgeon and his wife, a cast member on The Real Housewives of Miami, is the poster child for efforts to stop runaway demolitions in Miami Beach.” Image via NPR

The demolition of historic homes along Miami Beach’s waterfront has skyrocketed in the last few years, and huge McMansions are springing up their place fundamentally changing the look and feel of the community. At the center of a current preservation battle is a 1925 mansion purchased by The Real Housewives of Miami stars Dr. Leonard “the Boob God” Hochstein and his wife, Lisa.  They want to tear down the 88 year old house designed by one of Florida’s first architects in favor of a 20,000 square feet compound. As the battle over a moratorium on demolitions in the city heats up, it will play out in courts and TV!

The Mad Hatter Approach to Development – Rustwire

This is brilliant! “I call this type of [no-growth] sprawl [typical of rust-belt cities], in which the wealthiest keep moving further out in search of something newer and better, the ‘clean plate’ theory of urban development, after this exchange in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: ‘I want a clean cup,’ interrupted the Hatter: ‘let’s all move one place on.’ He moved on as he spoke, and the Dormouse followed him: the March Hare moved into the Dormouse’s place, and Alice rather unwillingly took the place of the March Hare. The Hatter was the only one who got any advantage from the change and Alice was a good deal worse off than before, as the March Hare had just upset the milk-jug into his plate.'”

Traditional Building Materials Are Still the Best Choice for HP – Preservation in Action


Image via Preservation in Action

Beware of PVC composite replacements on historic homes!  “In the limited instances where wood-meets-earth or the worst precipitation (window sills, balustrades and stair treads), PVC composites may appear to be an attractive alternative. But its use should be considered with caution; new composite risers, fascia plates and sills will not show signs of degradation, but they will conceal what’s happening to wooden structural members behind them.  So, when it fails, be prepared for wholesale failure of the system.  (‘Gee, the stairs looked great … who knew the stringers were rotted?’)”

Baltimore Activists Use Art and Web to Fight Blight – NPR


“Street artists Nether (top) and Tefcon install a mural in the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore.” Image via NPR

In Baltimore, an activist and street artists have joined forces to fight blight and poor planning policy in the city.  First Carol Ott, who runs the website Baltimore Slumlord Watch, identifies a vacant building and its absentee owner, then she makes the information public on her website. She’s cataloged hundreds of buildings this way. Then, a street artist uses the building as a blank canvas.  S/he  creates a mural that includes a QR code that takes you to Slumlord Watch, a step that  “fuses public art and public shaming.” Click through to find out how landlords and neighbors are responding!

This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.

Treasures in the Smithsonian’s Attic – Washingtonian


One of two parachute dresses at the Smithsonian. This chute saved WWII Major Claude Hensinger when he bailed out over Japan. When he returned home, he asked his sweetheart to marry him by presenting her with the parachute, which she fashioned into a dress inspired by Gone with the Wind. The couple’s daughter was also married in the dress. Image via The Mary Sue

“In the 158 years since, the Smithsonian has found room for a steam-powered adult tricycle from the 1880s; a violin that served as a Civil War diary, with entries etched into the back; and a prized set of jewel-encrusted trinkets, including a pacifier, a yo-yo, a mousetrap, and a sardine can. There’s a stretch of pavement from Route 66, a cache of Y2K memorabilia, and Evel Knievel’s motorcycle. There’s Abraham Lincoln’s top hat and his handball; Theodore Roosevelt’s writing desk and his original teddy bear; John Glenn’s spacesuit and the tube (yes, tube) of puréed beef he carried into orbit.

Some at the Smithsonian may bristle about its reputation as “the nation’s attic,” but it’s not a term of disparagement. Attics are where we store things we love and can’t bear to part with, even if we aren’t sure why. We know things will be safe there, and for that reason attics are just as important psychologically as physically.”

Artist Offers to Paint Over Stanley Marsh 3’s Whimsical Signs – Route 66


Image via Haiku Travelers

A local artist has offered to paint over the whimsical road signs erected years ago in the Amarillo area by the criminally indicted Stanley Marsh 3,  who is most famous for creating the Cadillac Ranch.  The signs are part of a public art project called Dynamite Museum. The project started in the early 1990s with a solitary “Road Does Not End” sign. Thousands of these signs — no two are the same — are sprinkled all over the region. Like the author of this piece, I have mixed feelings. It’s understandable that some owners find the signs distasteful in light of the allegations against the artist, but is painting over them the best way to proceed? Is removing the signs and storing them better? Is doing either robbing Amarillo of one of its most unique and beloved features? Is leaving them in place insensitive to Marsh’s accusers?

This controversy brings to mind other cases of artists accused of criminal acts, like Michael Jackson and Roman Polanski. When given a choice, do you listen to Jackson’s music? Watch Polanski films? What would you do if one of Marsh’s signs was on your property?

Book Review: Talking Appalachian – The Kaintuckeean

“Their is no singular Appalachian voice. Rather it is a collection of dialects spread over many parts of the country from upstate New York to rural Mississippi. In Talking Appalachian, published earlier this year by the University of Kentucky Press, editors Amy D. Clark and Nancy M. Hayward examine ‘The Englishes of Appalachia.'”

“In her poem Spell Check, Anne Shelby writes: ‘Now it wants to replace homeplace with just someplace. Is this the same spell that changed proud to poor, turned minnows into memories?’

In all our support of “buy local” we have often failed to support our local identity. Talking Appalachian reminds us to also support a person’s voice, identity, and community.”

It’s the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War Draft Riots. Why Should We Care? – The Bowery Boys


“Police try to restore order in front of the New York Tribune building, a pro-Lincoln publication being attacked by rioters.” Image via The Bowery Boys

During a five day riot over the drafting of NYC men into the Union Army, hundred of people were killed and injured and property was destroy. “It was the most grave, the most tumultuous event in New York City history between the Revolutionary War and September 11, 2001,” yet there are no significant permanent markers or remembrances in the city.  Why? Because the riots laid bare racism and corruption. The Bowery Boys ask,  “… how does a city acknowledge a self-inflicted tragedy?  Who wants to remind America of how duplicitous many New Yorkers were during the Civil War?”

Saving America For Posterity at the Library of Congress – CBS Sunday Morning

The Library of Congress, the largest library in the world,  is preserving the past and the present for the future.

“When it opened in 1897, the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building was the first public building in the United States with electricity. Walk in and prepare to be in awe. There is a Gutenberg Bible in perfect condition . . . a draft of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln’s handwriting . . . the earliest map with the name “America” printed on it, from 1507. But even surrounded by treasures, it’s hard to comprehend that the Library of Congress contains more than 155 million items.” It is currently archiving billions of Tweets!  Click through to learn more about the strange and interesting things the library is keeping safe for future generations.

This Week

 A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the news.

Tax Credits are No Joke

Baker Chocolate Factory (side view) in Dorchester, Massachusetts via Preservation Nation

Architect Robert Verrier has helped to restore over 150 historic buildings using historic tax credits. In his post over at Preservation Nation, he discusses how historic preservation and tax credits boost the economy, encourage business, and are a savvy investment.  Preservation can also buoy a community, revitalize neighborhoods, and it’s green!  Be sure to check out his post to read more and to see examples of his beautiful work.

Public Art Inspired by the Past

First Conundrum via heritagelandscapecreativity

It seems like I’ve been talking a lot about public art here on Bricks + Mortar lately.  Once I started thinking about its relationship to historic preservation, I just can’t stop. And I see it everywhere now. So I really loved this post over at heritagelandscapecreativity,  which delves into the relationship between sculpture and archeology in Scotland.  It highlights the piece,  First Conundrum, based on geometrically refined neolithic Scottish stone spheres.  The large scale replicas are as engaging as they are beautiful. Check it out! (See more photos here).

Spindletop Hall deTour Photos

If you enjoyed this, this or this post about last month’s BGT deTour at Spindletop Hall, you should definitely pop over to the  Kaintuckeean’s Flickr to see more photos from the behind the scenes tour!

Lily and the Silly Monkeys

Herakut’s “Lily and the Silly Monkeys” is keeping downtowners company throughout their work day.

It is interesting how one little change in the landscape can transform the view from so many vantage points. Lilly and her pals can be from Main Street, Short Street, Cheapside Park, and from the windows of tall buildings blocks and blocks away.

Click the photo to read my post on Herakut’s visit to Lexington and some of the preservation concerns linked to public art!