Thursday, February 5, 2015

Finalist for Marfa Housing Competition

I just got the news that Jackie and I were finalists in the Design Marfa housing competition. I posted the boards on my webpage- here. 

I have been going to or through Marfa since 2008. I was on a road trip to Colorado when I first passed through. I fell in love with the silence and light of that landscape. Now that I live in Albuquerque, I go down there every once in a while. (it's a seven hour drive.) But it's different than up here. There is something to the remoteness, you don't just show up there- you have to decide you're going there. I love the desert, I love the combination of art and space, and the people that go through there too. I feel so honored to have had my work in front of the jurors.
Good news is so motivating. Here is the first board

Monday, January 5, 2015

inspiration and year in review

I wanted to share some of my inspiration looking back... and next post will lay out the work for the year ahead.
It's a double whammy for me because I'm a New Years baby. I love resolutions and the feeling of a fresh start-- a clean slate. I just got back to abq after 3 weeks in the East with my family and friends. I've been slowly making my lists, and thinking about the year to come. I have decided to work on monthly and quarterly goals this year. It feels more doable, easier to recalibrate. This article is so inspiring. I hope you enjoy it too. And remember, it can be really simple.

I took some much needed time off from the intensity of the Fall. The semester was challenging on many levels. It has led to some new research topics though, so I'm excited to head back into school, setting up reading lists...  Here's a little break down of my year--because I rarely look at my accomplishments. But this year was pretty epic now that I think about it.

Spring Semester- I started my second semester in Landscape Architecture and one of the highlights was an independent study with Bill Gilbert, he started Land Arts of the American West with Chris Taylor, and the Art and Ecology program at UNM. Every week or so we met at my studio to look at drawings and talk about work and research. This program was a huge part of why I chose UNM to study. The main question that emerged is how or if I integrate my art practice with Landscape Architecture. I can't imagine that I will ever give up a studio practice. I'm okay with a parallel practice, I'm okay with a non- traditional landscape practice. There is time to sort it out.

My research assistantship was with Story of Place Institute in support of a plaza design for the International District in Albuquerque. Every week I would meet Christy Snyder, a cultural Anthropologist, and we would walk the district, meeting people and getting to know the neighborhood.

In March a great friend came out to New Mexico to show art work in Albuquerque and go skiing in Taos. Willi Singleton is an amazing potter.  He has work at the Weyrich Gallery and an annual show there. His friends in Taos are tea Masters. (Urasenke trained) We went up to Taos together and I hung out at the house with Cathy, and watched a tea lesson, and shared the matcha from one of Willi's bowls.

My drawings were selected for an emerging artist exhibition in Albuquerque. Surface at the Harwood Art Center. This included a workshop that ran on Saturday after the opening. We got to meet writers, curators and gallery owners from Albuquerque. It was an excellent introduction into the art scene here. There are young artists and curators that are choosing to live and work here. There is great energy. Central Features and West Bund West are two of my favorites.

Summer Session: I stayed to participate in a class that focused on a design charrette for a festival in the International District. Buster Simpson came in for a week to work with us. It was a great opportunity to work with Alf Simon, Katya Crawford and Michaele Pride, as well as my peers from architecture and L.A.

July and August: I went home to Lancaster County and started clearing out a ceramics studio that I had at my parents place. It was the first medium for me. So many hours of practice and learning were spent there. It was amazing to be back there, taking it down. I was able to give 2 of my students a kiln and about a ton of clay to take to their new studio in Philadelphia. I have been incredibly fortunate in my life as an artist, this field is so generous. It felt significant to pass it on.

I have not stopped working with clay, but it is no longer my central practice. I do have an iron clay body that I love, a Rob Barnard recipe. It is finicky and fine grained-- you cannot get away with anything, I mean, if you just look away for a second it cracks. But it does amazing things in a long wood firing. I got to make some cups out of it this summer that rival the best that I have ever pulled out of a kiln. The balance in the cups and the color in the clay was incredible. Every summer for the past 10 years I have spent at least 2 weeks in August firing with Joy Brown up at Still Mountain Center. This firing was shoehorned in. I also got to spend a day with Christine Owen in New Haven, looking at artwork, visiting Yale's campus. The Maya Linn sculpture was a highlight. As was the day with Chris, talking about our own work, and struggle for balance with teaching and making good work. Christine is part of a fabulous performance team called the Bridge Club. She also makes ceramic sculpture and pottery. Like me, she has many things in play. It's rare and not rare, but so great to talk to a fellow practitioner.

Fall Semester: This semester focuses on systems and a more regional look at design. Because we worked on two Urban projects simultaneously, I'm not sure that I got to pull out as far as I had hoped. Construction drawings studio was great, we did detail drawings for documents. I have a lot of ideas about how I would like to use them in the future. CAD was interesting and challenging-- barely scratching the surface of this program.

My drawings were selected for a solo exhibition at the Bechechi Open Space, Bernallilo County. It is a beautiful building designed by a local architect.  The exhibition opened in October.

Design Marfa  held a competition that I entered with Jackie Bryan, a duel architect/la masters candidate at UNM. We will find out the results in February. It was my first LA competition. It was great to collaborate on this design. Our faculty were so supportive with feed back. I'm so curious to see how we did.

Finally, I revamped my website, and have my drawings and current studio work up. I will be posting my public work from Philadelphia as well as the L A studio work semester by semester.  I had considered archiving this page and using the blog on square space, but I like this space. Here's to another great year.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

parking day with unm

UNM Landscape architecture students made a park outside of CityLab along. It was a beautiful day, plenty of sun, flower seeds and seed bombs making there way into the city.

See more about parking day here.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

desert bound

I'm sitting in the emptiness of my studio apartment, packing up some drawings for an exhibition in September. It was such an amazing space to live in for almost 3 years. Drafting table as the central axis. So many thought streams of work came together in this space.

I'll be living in Albuquerque for a couple of years because I am starting a masters of landscape architecture. I don't know what to expect, but I do know that I am looking forward to a ton of drawing, research and time in the desert. I hope to post some thoughts and drawings from my sketchbooks and personal studio work.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer project thing two: Murals

Theme: Botanical: We will be using tree shadows and plants that grow on the site as a starting point in this multi faceted project. I prefer to make murals that are abstract in nature, less directly representational.  We will look at and discuss interpretive and scientific ways of drawing plants. If you have any suggestions or links, I'd love to hear about them in the comment section.

I am looking at fibinacci sequence as a way to spiral students and neighbors through the passages. That led to a ton of other mathematical research such as fractels and Mandelbrot sets. Not sure if I can or should insert that imagery, but it is stunning.

I'm also looking at the cellular structure of plants, I remember being blown away in a Botany class by the beauty and abstract qualities of the cross sectional slides. I'm going to try to gather some commonly known plants, like sunflowers, mint, corn and maple trees to use as layers or components of the spiral.

I also just went to an amazing exhibit at the American Philisophical Society, "Through the Looking Lens" on Cornelius Varley, he was an artist who made drawings and water colors of cross sections of plants. His color palate is definitely going to inform the choices that I make on site. I've always loved old hand drawn maps and botanical studies are becoming a close second. The second botanist that I am researching  is William Bartram,  we will go to the gardens at least once as a group. Here is some of the source imagery that I am looking at so far. Links will follow at the end.

Cornelius Varley

Mandelbrot Set

fibonacci Sequence

Bass wood Rings

Zea Maize (corn) root cross section

Architectural rendering by Henaghen Peng for the VA Museum

My chief collaborator is Kaitlin Pomerantz, who has been doing some great projects with "weed"/wild plant identification in Philadelphia.

we the weeds

I start in one week, I know that I have 2 walls, (actually one building, a childcare center) and one smallish wall 9'high by 16' long. I will be working with a highschool team to create some of the imagery and to execute the murals. 
It's always a wild ride, stay tuned...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Project: Thing One

There is a new Restored Spaces project starting at Shoemaker Mastery Charter School in West Philadelphia. I will act as the consultant on the art making concept, and do a quick summer project from July 1- July 19th.

You can learn more about the Restored Spaces initiative by following the link below. Many of my previous projects are documented there.

 Restored Spaces at Mural Arts

We partner with various city and national entities to promote environmental awareness and promote the interface of visual art with natural systems. In this case the plant life that is embedded into the streets and marginal places, and a new planting that will be bases on stories that we hope to collect from the elders in this community. Every culture has folkloric and medicinal uses for wild plants and herbs. We hope to add them into a mixed perreniel bed.

The other plants that we are researching are for pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, so we expect to use butterfly bushes, grasses, yarrow, mint, lavender, milkweed etc.

My hope for the garden is that it softens a 4 foot high berm around the school entrance, and becomes the seismic record of breezes, sunlight and shadow and seasonal changes.

View of School with mature trees and berm

The stone wall is about four feet high- imagine nasturtiums and grasses spilling over the edge.

Here are some source images:

Designing With Grasses: Neil Lucas

miscanthus in winter

Piet Oudolf

We have plans for 3 12 foot long x 2 foot deep beds. 

Here are some of the places that I have been for inspiration:

Friday, June 7, 2013

the discipline of presence

" I love all men who dive", wrote Herman Melville to a friend. "Any fish can swim near the surface but it takes a great whale to go down stairs five miles or more; and if he don't attain the bottom, why all the lead in Galena can't fashion a plummet that will."

My friend and fellow artist Tim Hawkesworth quotes this in the beginning of one of his morning talks, before we head to our studios for a day of immersive drawing, painting, or hanging around looking at things.

I'm going through boxes that I never fully unpacked here, getting ready for another move. I have notebooks that date back to the mid 90's - at the beginning of the dive into an artist's life. I think I have been writing the same thing in notebook after notebook. It's kind of rediculous and comforting. So many lists, so many things that I can never undo.

The further I get into it, the deeper I go, the stronger the sense of urgency. To have and cultivate a kind and curious and disciplined life of paying attention, of being present.  And then this, this morning, on my facebook feed.

How We Spend Our Days Is How We Spend Our Lives: Annie Dillard on Presence Over Productivity

"There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life. A day that closely resembles every other day of the past ten or twenty years does not suggest itself as a good one. But who would not call Pasteur’s life a good one, or Thomas Mann’s?" Annie Dillard The Writing Life.

Monday, January 28, 2013


can never keep up with the thought stream, but I like to see what emmerges. I love this space so much- the silence. hear and here. I hope I can be in the desert next year. This is place is pretty dark, I only get early morning light, and then tree diffused light the rest of the day. Dappled, cast green. I love the way that light spills under the edges of the curtains and all of my books piled up around me. So lovely. More drawings are under way.

"Sol did not in my experience collaborate on his ideas. Those were private considerations. As generous and collaborative as Sol was, he was also extremely private, internal, and silent. No small talk. This combination of disciplined internal creativity and enormous generosity of spirit is the the Sol Lewitt that I know."
C Venezia


from a notebook 2012

Monday, January 21, 2013


Five years ago I was in Mesa Verde in the snow. I'm still making drawings from the ideas that emerged from that time. The west is hard wired into me. I am in a period of working, drawing, and staying still. It's getting to me.  The winter stillness has not been peaceful. I need to protect and cultivate my solitary studio time. Everything feels stuck and uninspired, but I have to keep coaxing it anyway. Teasing it out- lowering the standards right? I hate that feeling. 

Monday, January 7, 2013


I have this idea that if I could just do the basic things everyday, that I would feel like less of a failure. It's a fallacy. I think the idea of failure or success has more to do with mood, or expectations. I know even on the weeks and months when I am in a groove, then the failure becomes less about getting there, and more about what happens in the practice, (take your pick.)

But... fear of failure or dread of failure does seem to be a constant companion. It starts and stops the most amazing things. It's just fear though, no need to make such a big deal about it. It's real, it's there, it's not going anywhere.