Macro Intervention: Glass Beach

Quite possibly the most beautiful dump in the world, no amount of  intellectual design effort that is now currently applied to projects such as Fresh Kills in NYC could possibly hope to create the tumbled glass splendor at Glass Beach.  Only decades of waste disposal hurled off of the cliffs at Fort Bragg, California  by its residents could make something that amazes in its dichotomous splendor. They discarded glass, appliances, and even cars. The land was owned at that time by the Union Lumber Company, and locals referred to it as "The Dumps." Sometimes fires were lit to reduce the size of the trash pile.

In 1967, the North Coast Water Quality Board and city leaders closed the area. Various cleanup programs were undertaken through the years to correct the damage.

Over the next several decades the pounding waves cleansed the beach, wearing down the discarded glass into the small, smooth, colored trinkets that cover the beach today.  In 2002, the California State Park system purchased the 38-acre (150,000 m2) Glass Beach property, and after cleanup it was incorporated into MacKerricher State Park.

NOTE:  Photos courtesy of ++ Colossal



Micro Intervention: The Boneyard Project

'The Boneyard Project' is an effort initiated by art patron Eric Firestone at the the cemetery of disused war planes in Arizona  to resurrect disused planes from throughout America’s military history.  It has attracted more than 30 of the world’s best urban artists worked on five ruined US Air Force jets, vividly bringing them back to life with paint and color. (1)

The first part of the Boneyard Project, 'Nose Job', made its debut in the summer of 2011 with an exhibition of nose cones taken from military airplanes and given to artists to use as eccentric- shaped "canvases". The second installment in this series: Round Trip: Selections from The Boneyard Project, features five monumental works created on military planes by a dynamic selection of popular graffiti and street artists from around the world.  (1) 

The show is on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson until mid-May.  (1)

NOTE:  All photos courtesy of designyearbook.com


Aluminum Boys

Photo Courtesy of thisiscolossal.com
Artist Gregor Gaida lives and works in Bremen, Germany. His figurative and downright trippy sculptures often depict aggressive, even violent people engaging with each other under unknown circumstances, as with this pair of mischievous aluminum boys titled Attaboys. Gaida says that he often bases his figures off of images found in magazines and books. (1)

The found footage is often no more than an impulse that is no longer discernible in the further development of the shape. Analogous to photography, my objects are three-dimensional snapshots. The characters are frozen in movement and often cropped along imaginary image borders. I transport the fragmented character of photos into the third dimension. Simultaneously, when dealing with color and options of shaping, painterly characteristics appear. Thus, the life-sized special interventions are formally attributed to sculpture but are equally part of painterly and photographic categories. (1)
Photo Courtesy of thisiscolossal.com
Attaboys appears to be a reinterpretation of another set of sculptures from 2008, Kind und Kreide II, where two similar boys are seen drawing a line with chalk. It's unclear if the artist intends to draw a parallel between the two works, but I’m going to go with it. It leaves one hoping to see what they’ll be up to in four years from now. If you happen to be in Germany you can see Gaida’s work at PARROTTA Contemporary Art in Stuttgart through August 4th. All imagery courtesy the artist and PARROTTA Gallery. (via Anita Leocadia) (1)
Photo Courtesy of thisiscolossal.com
Photo Courtesy of thisiscolossal.com

Photo Courtesy of thisiscolossal.com

Photo Courtesy of thisiscolossal.com

Photo Courtesy of thisiscolossal.com

Photo Courtesy of thisiscolossal.com


Micro Intervention: "Parc du Chateau”

Photo courtesy of Francois Mechain
Self proclaimed photographer and moving sculptor, François Mechain creates playful and ephemeral works where items of our modern everyday work or home are juxtaposed in against a natural setting.  This is a good example of his Inspiring and sometimes haunting these well photographed pieces.


Meadows: From Livestock Feed to Landscape Design Popculture

Gene and Ben in a hay field, Perrys Mills, NY
 Before the meadow experts draw their metaphorical knives, let me first say that I recognize that there are different types of meadows and that I am not an expert in any of them.  I know that there are perpetual meadows from alpine to coastal and everything in between that stand to discredit the title of this blog.  But it seems as though every presentation, every rendering, and every landscape design is clearly discussing what was heretofore known as a hay field.  Clients, unless it is truly a project where a perpetual meadow naturally occurs, or a research facility, or a hardcore Eco-wealthy tycoon, are not going to introduce the types of conditions required to maintain those meadows.  Thankfully it is quite rare that someone would set fire to a field of tall grasses.

Agricultural meadows are not rare on farms in upstate New York where I grew up. There, we just called it "hay" (although the family farm is itself truly becoming a thing of rarity).  If you were lucky and had the right field you got a second or third cut and you didn't leave it in the field to dry for "good winter color".  And, if it was long enough to cut, you cut it for feed.  The winter color near my house was severely stunted by a 6" haircut that was soon covered with snow that was then soon covered with a layer of dried or liquified manure.  The effects of this practice are hotly debated particularly this year in the Champlain Valley where the blue-green algae blooms threaten the life within Lake Champlain, not to mention the tourist and recreation associated with summer fun.

Those hay fields were not described in glowing language meant to sell a design concept.  It was a fact of life and a toilsome one at that.  I was too small to really be involved in the process and did what I could apart from not getting stepped on.  It was a lot of long hours cutting and bailing, loading and unloading, stacking and unstacking and finally feeding and cleaning manure. When it was time to "do hay" my father would climb from what we called the hay mow, an elevated barn attic where bailed hay is stored for the winter, looking as if he had been caught in a heavy rain.  A literal heavy rain, the man was exhausted.

I've described a simple process made romantic in my telling and somehow cheapened by master degree holding esthetes: a club in which I clearly hold a card.  I say that perhaps to assuage the dread that I may be morphing into a griping middle-aged man lost in the noble past.  Maybe I am.  Or maybe I can't help but acknowledge not only the hypocrisy inherent in the sale of a "meadow" as a design element, but that I am, even in my criticism, inherently and inextricably connected to that hypocrisy.  The day I, like so many others of my generation, left the rural homestead to pursue higher education I both forfeited my right to defend the farm life and the right judge others who, like me, are so entirely over educated that they need to rediscover that noble past.

So now we have urban chickens, urban farms, urban bees and urban meadows.  All of which I took for granted and all of which I now see in an entirely different way.  And somehow it irks me that my urban and suburban born friends are becoming enlightened to this fact.  Maybe its because what I wanted most was to have all the things they did growing up.  That I grew up in a way that was different and difficult and somehow that chip is slowly being tipped from my shoulder.

And I feel like I carry another secret: it's that is there is a reason why my generation left those farms.  It's hard.  Beekeeping is hard.  Doing hay is hard.  Putting up fence is hard. Catching cows when they get out is hard.  Keeping chickens alive is hard. The "evil" of  large scale industrial farming is not abstract and the people affected directly by it are real.  Like warriors or athletes it's a lifestyle that makes men and women strong in their youth and wears on them in old age.  Not everyone is cut out for that life and when I hear about concepts deployed by newly minted experts as a weekend warrior activity or a design aesthetic I am somehow on some level oddly offended.

So the dilemma I face isn't the acceptance of agricultural processes as pop-culture (something that has been done more or less since the advent of agriculture), it's that I haven't been able to let that chip fall.


PhotoCosma Work in Romania

These lovely, ethereal photos of mist-filled forests were captured by brothers Andrei and Sergiu Cosma of PhotoCosma who live and work in Romania. They plan trips together, light, shoot and process each image as a team, resulting in some truly remarkable perspectives. You can see much more of their work on 1x.com and in their very extensive gallery featuring a wide range of natural wonders. (via reddit)


Micro Intervention: Sant Francesc Church

Photo courtesy of inhabitat.co
Sant Francesc Church was originally built between 1721 and 1729 by Franciscan priests, but after centuries of use the space had fallen into neglect and was verging on becoming a junk yard. It had holes in the walls, grime on the plaster, rusty old cars on the altar, and a severely damaged facade – some people wanted to demolish it altogether.

Instead of tearing down this historically important building, the town of Santpedor chose to renovate it into a cultural space and auditorium. David Closes was tasked with preserving the legacy of the building while adding the modern amenities necessary to make the building useful.

Completed recently, the church took seven years to renovate and the result is a beautiful mashup of the historic and the modern. Closes retained the rough and damaged facade along with the liturgical spaces, the structurally sound arches, and anything else that could be saved. Where the building was too damaged to restore, Closes designed modern volumes to take their place including a glass and steel staircase on the exterior, a new ramp above the nave, a new deck, reading cloisters and bathrooms. New lighting was also installed in order to illuminate the space and reveal the beauty of both the old and the new construction. (1)
Photo courtesy of inhabitat.com

Photo courtesy of inhabitat.com

Photo courtesy of inhabitat.com

(1) http://inhabitat.com/modern-interventions-used-to-renovate-the-crumbling-sant-francesc-church-in-spain/convent-de-sant-francesc-david-closes-2/?extend=1