Monday, July 23

The Children & The Soldiers

Three views from Iraq:

If the clips above are extremes on a spectrum of interaction, I have a feeling the one below is more representative of day-to-day life in Iraq. They explode a can of Pepsi, exchange gifts, have a plum fight, and finally debate their views on Michael Jackson.

Pardon the colorful language; these are scenes from a war, delivered unfiltered to your desktop.

Wednesday, July 18

Friday Photography | The Curiously Large Animals of Florentijn Hofman

I just couldn't hold out on these so Friday Photography is early this week. Enjoy!

"A yellow spot on the horizon slowly approaches the coast. in amazement as a giant, yellow, rubber duck approaches. The spectators are greeted by the duck, which slowly nods its head. The 'Rubber Duck' knows no frontiers; it doesn't discriminate...and doesn't have a political connotation."
From the artist's website.

The architecture beneath the surface is often equally as interesting as the final product. Florentijn documents the building process of his oversized animals at his website.

Via the SFGate. Happy... Wednesday!?!?

Tuesday, July 17

Mission Statement

New & improved, the Architecture for Humanity: Minnesota mission statement:

We are architects, landscape architects, contractors, and designers who volunteer our time to something we are all passionate about: working with both local and international groups to help their communities with design solutions. It is each group’s knowledge and commitment to their community that makes each project successful. AFH MN serves as their resource along the way. Our philosophy for all of our projects: We design for people, with pride not pity.

AFH MN’s commitment to our clients is grounded in the following design tenants:

Let it be local: Design is informed by what is intrinsically bound to a culture. We respond to that, respect it, and draw upon it.

Let it be sustainable: We design for the health of humanity. Sustainability is about creating a balance between what we build and what is naturally meant to be and ensuring a project’s longevity and financial integrity.

Let it be appropriate: The components of a design are made compelling by their ability to respond to a community’s needs both technically and emotionally.

Let it be collaborative: Successful projects come from the informational input from all parties involved through the dedication of passionate people.

Thanks to Cassie and Pat for all of their hard work on this.

Monday, July 16

Monday's Odds & Ends

We begin with a few new links to your right...

Atelier A+D - Almost daily notes from a Seattle based intern architect.
rolu | dsgn - "... A catalog of the things that inspire us" from Rosenlof/Lucas, a Minneapolis based landscape design and installation firm.
Where - "A blog about urban places, placemaking, and the concept of "place" written from Chicago, IL.
The Sky Blue Waters Report - "...environmental news and investigative reporting focused on Minnesota, the Upper Midwest, and the Great Lakes region."

In a bit of exciting AFH:MN news: Jeffrey, Maureen, Rich, & Cassie are set to depart to the south-western tip of Sri Lanka this Sunday. They will be representing AFH:MN at the Hikkaduwa Learning Center Dedication. The Learning Center, initially designed 2 years ago at the first official AFH:MN Design Charrette, is a multi-purpose space for the growing community. At once a Montessori style school, library, and community center, we are very excited to see it completed and functioning. The project was developed by the Minnesota Sri Lanka Friendship Foundation, who also made 100+ new homes possible in the aftermath of the 2004 South Asian Tsunami. Look forward to a full report and pictures when they get back, but for now we'll have to settle for the "near completion" shots below.

In other Architecture for Humanity news, the Venice Beach chapter of Architecture for Humanity has widened their scope to the whole of Las Angeles and have appropriately updated their website. Their current projects include "a mobile education unit made from a shipping container to educate youth about technology and design." You'll see the new Las Angeles link filed under 'Architecture for Humanity' to the right. (Thanks Elliot!)

Saturday, July 14

20 Months After Katrina: Survival & Revival

At Solutions Volume 1 back in early May Andy Richter presented his work documenting the impact HIV and AIDS are having on African communities living along mainland trucking routes. At the end of his presentation he gave us a sneak peak at his latest body of work documenting the places and people of New Orleans 20 months after Hurricane Katrina struck. This Thursday he is opening a show with fellow photographer Jenny Jenkins called
Survival and Revival: Photography of New Orleans at CorAzoN in Downtown Minneapolis.

Survival and Revival: Photography of New Orleans
Thursday, July 19th | 7pm to 9pm *refreshments and live music
Minneapolis Warehouse District
Washington and 2nd Ave North

Andy's work is full of gems, both large and small, like the series of photographs below that follow the temporarily repaired London Avenue Canal floodwall.

"The London Avenue Canal Levee and floodwall was breached during or shortly after Hurricane Katrina in late August of 2005. This breach contributed to the flooding of New Orleans. Some has speculated that were it not for the breachs most of western Gentilly may have been spared from major flooding.

... Examinations have shown that high water never topped the floodwalls; the flooding was due to engineering failure of the levees and floodwalls. Allegations of design flaws, shoddy construction, and use of inferior materials are being investigated." - Wikipedia

To see the full extent of Andy's photography in New Orleans, be sure to check out both his "Urban" and his "People" galleries. Combined, these two gallery's show the enormous pride, hope, and spirit still alive in the face of complete urban destruction, even close to two years later.

Hope to see you at the show!

Monday, July 9

Deuce Seven & Street Art Reconsidered

After laying low and working up a local following in the Twin Cities, graffiti artist Deuce Seven (aka: Deuse Sevin, Deuce 7, or just simply 27) recently made two trips to New York City, one in January of this year and then again in March, that catapulted his work into the national spotlight in a surprising way. Unlike other recent graff-world news to draw widespread attention (see the Splasher fiasco here, here, and here), 27's work is noteworthy for its creative merit and beautiful execution - as exhibited below.

photo: Surlygrrrl

I'd like to use 27's work to air out some thoughts on how street art is changing and invite you to do the same if you're so inclined. During 27's second stay in the Big Apple The Village Voice posted a short interview with him and posed the question: "Is a guy from Minnesota the new king of New York street art?" - proving that talent will always trump gimmickry and prolific output, even in the graffiti-saturated New York streetscape.

But there are two aspects of his work that have been yet ill-commented on that interest me most. The first is 27's apparent dedication to and embracement of the temporal characteristic of his medium. Where most graffiti is driven by some combination of 1) real estate of the public realm and 2) ease of accessibility in the cover of night, 27 seems to forgo the immediate limelight in favor of encouraging those interested in his art to seek it out in the liminal and often condemned space of the city.

[Sidenote: This isn't to say he won't paint well known spots. He hit the Williamsburg Bridge (a kind of graff-world landmark in NYC) with beautiful pieces both times he was there.]

photo: GammaBlog

photo: setstatic

The second aspect of his work that interests me is the way in which it has spread. His work is so well represented online that I will go so far as to announce the emergence of a new kind of "street art paparazzi", people compelled to scour urban outer realms, find his work - and the work of others, document it, and share it online.

photo: Luna Park

In this approach, it seems that 27 has at least partially sidestepped the most common argument against graffiti. Rather then "vandalizing" the public realm, he paints in buildings destined for demolition, or in other cases simply screws art into street sign posts. The hunt for his work often takes the viewer far from every day life in the city, but through his cultivation of the street art paparazzi, more people then ever before are able to see his art. It should be said that this is not an entirely new phenomenon, but I do think that 27 is doing it better then anybody else at the moment. At the vary least, the artist's work and recent notoriety in New York City provide a good segue into a larger discussion about the changing place of street art in the city...

... and of course provide me with an opportunity to display a little MPLS pride.

[Thanks is due to the numerous photographers on Flickr and elsewhere who make this often temporary art permanently available to a global audience. Check out their photographs: dancypants, TrespassersWill's, The Curse of Brian, Luna Park, and Artistikfunk and show them some love.

UPDATE: Or you could go straight to the source: Twenty~7's Flickr account via Format.]