All posts filed under: buildings

a real renaissance: the arts in western MA.

Earlier this summer, I attended the Creative Communities Exchange in North Adams, MA, home to Mass MoCA.  North Adams has become something of a poster child for the creative economy, as the museum is housed in a former textile mill and the arts community has been a bright spot in the relatively dim economic outlook of the town and the region as a whole. A bit of context: North Adams is located in the Berkshires, home to countless nationally recognized arts organizations, such as Tanglewood and the Jacob’s Pillow dance festival, the Clark Museum and Shakespeare & Co.  There are already lots of arts supporters in the area.  There are already lots of artists in the area.  Essential to this story is the fact that the MoCA’s success is not replicable everywhere, and instead represents a well thought out, place-based strategy for post-industrial redevelopment.  The Berkshires now boasts an incredible creative economy advocacy organization, Berkshire Creative, one of the hosts of the conference.  They recognize that cultural production in their region can be a major …

working landscapes, fantasy landscapes, cultural landscapes.

I just got back from a road trip through the Pyrenees, from the French Riviera to Barcelona.  It was a gorgeous trip, a relaxing trip, a very, very food oriented trip (like you’re surprised).  But you know what was surprising?  How industrial, how work-oriented the landscape that we traveled through was.  From Marseille and its warehouses to the industrial agriculture and viticulture of Languedoc, from large-scale salt production in the Camargue to the incredible manufacturing history and massive port of Barcelona, the places we traveled through were not exactly straight from the fairy tales.  When we passed a nuclear power plant we were reminded that France gets 75% of its energy that way, and as we passed through the Pyrenees and saw the vast fields of air turbines we marveled at their size, the sheer engineering of them, and the marvelous contrast that they made against the romantic misty landscapes and medieval villages that surrounded them.  It was so exciting to see up close the work of making a country run, the kind of thing …

Confront the Art.

I went to Dallas last month for a family event and was *blown away* by the Dallas Museum of Art.  In particular, it has this incredible Center for Creative Connections that takes a more innovative approach to helping visitors think about artworks and technique.  Close to my heart, the exhibition on view at the C3 galleries when I was there was called “Encountering Space.”  In the museum’s own language: the exhibition “presents works of art from the Museum collections and asks visitors to consider how space is used to invite engagement, raise questions, and create meaning. As viewers begin to encounter works of art this way, they are no longer passive observers but active participants.”  Awesome, right? Ok here are some pics.  The first is from the C3 exhibit, and the second is from the Nasher Sculpture Gallery, an independent sculpture garden and gallery across the street from the DMA in what the city has called its “cultural district”. This James Turrell is absolutely exquisite, it’s the first I’ve seen in real life. Last is a …

every city should have a city museum (guest post)

< this post is by my good friend Alex Reisman, whom I asked to share her thoughts about st. louis with us.  enjoy her incredible photos and this first of several entries! > Diana has invited me to write a little bit about St. Louis. I went to college there and recently returned for a six-week internship at the venerable community development corporation and mouthful Old North St. Louis Restoration Group. I feel uncharacteristically religious about St. Louis. Evangelical about its patent potential. If you walk around downtown and many neighborhoods, you might declare, as a visitor of mine did, that “it feels so empty.” But spend some time in the subtext of St. Louis and you would find that the city is in fact—to borrow a friend’s favorite word in college—rife. There are exquisite details everywhere, crumbling buildings to be restored, old mistakes to be avoided, and dire legacies of racism and economic hardship from which to recover. To a large degree, St. Louis’ redemption is and will be in the salvage of its …

ruins: urban, colonial, eternal.

I’ve written before about ruins in Detroit as that city confronts the challenges of urban abandonment.  Today I want to revisit ruins, and once again I’ll try to restrain myself from talking too much about Ruskin, the picturesque, and the patina of decay.  Because how we deal with ruins in our communities is a very practical question, as the city of Detroit shows.  When do you choose abandonment over rehabilitation?  What does it say about your sense of past, and future, when you choose to revere or ignore ruined buildings?  What stories do you tell when historic buildings are maintained, and what do you tell when they break down?  And finally, how do you build a new society, or continue to develop an existing one, in the context of previous narratives of abandonment and decay? I first started thinking about ruins when I visited my friend Alex in St. Louis last month.  She was interning for Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, a redevelopment organization that uses preservation and community history as the foundation of …

blight roundup.

So weekly might have been a bit of a stretch, but I really have been photographing a lot of blight these days.  Here’s a quick roundup of some of the great sites I’ve spotted: some of them truly destructive to their surroundings, some of them sad and nostalgic for their abandonment, and others just somewhat surprising.  Enjoy.