Congrats to CAF

The Chicago Architecture Foundation continues to be rewarded for its amazing collaborative reform of our school system's antiquated architectural drafting education to a holistic design-based education.

From the AIA press release:

"The Architecture Handbook, a joint effort between the Chicago Architecture Foundation and Chicago Public Schools produced The Architecture Handbook: A Student Guide to Understanding Buildings, by Jennifer Masengarb with Krisann Rehbein. The guide, along with its accompanying CD and a teachers’ edition, came together via a collaborative process including educators, practitioners, and students and reaches well beyond the mechanics of CAD and BIM skills. “The book refocuses emphasis away from strictly acquiring technical drawing skills and towards the application of those skills in the service of studying the design process, architectural history, preservation, geography, urban studies, and sociology to explore the built environment,” writes Peter G. Ellis, FAIA, RIBA, in support of the nomination."


Green Revolution

It WILL be televised ya'll :)

I'm looking forward to checking out this year's "Black Creativity" exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry.

This year's theme, "Green Revolution", explores green technology and innovation and features African American architects, designers, engineers and business leaders in the 'green movement'. There are some awesome workshops on the roster. I'm glad to to see MSI taking this approach and look forward to some more interesting work.


congratulations mr.president

i would be (and was) remiss in acknowledging the significance of this amazing day.

the inauguration of barack obama, 44th president of the US

the man is not perfect and i soooo loathe the messiah complex that some seem to have...but i have to say that i am beyond excited and wholly inspired. we have a president who understands urbanity, pluralism, and justice.

i remember him knocking on the door of my mom's house more than once as an organizer and as a young politician looking for votes. its a beautiful thing to think that someone so "on the ground" (not that there aren't folks more on the ground than he) is running this nation. i love it. i am equally excited to have michelle obama as first lady. not because she went to one of the same elementary schools that i went to and lived only blocks away from where i grew up (how cool is that???) but because if people weren't so busy worrying about her outfits they might take note and recognize her extraordinary vision. she was the executive director of public allies the domestic americorps and community leadership program that i did 12 years ago that really changed my life. i can't wait to see her agenda. this is a magical time for a paradigm shift that is long overdue.

shout out to reverend lowery's benediction for its profound secular significance as much as any prayer and aretha's hat.


1st LEED certified home built by high school students

This is a 1300 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, ranch style, modular home.
The students of CATEC's Carpentry Program have constructed last year’s home following the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines for sustainably built homes. Following these guidelines leads towards the construction of a more energy efficient, and environmentally friendly building. Several “Green” features of last year’s house include the following:

§ Hardi-plank Siding
§ Standing Seam Metal Roof
§ Non-toxic Cellulose Wall Insulation
§ Low VOC Caulks and Adhesives
§ Low E Argon-filled Windows
§ Energy Star Light Fixtures

The CATEC "green" home was auctioned off to the highest bidder(47K). The new homeowner was thrilled by her purchase and looks forward to getting her new home.


Exquisite city

here's something i hope some of the students in our programs will check out:

exquisite city

This exhibit features an architectural model of a fantasy city made almost entirely of cardboard created by more than 70 artists. Also includes an audio installation of music and sounds recorded on Chicago streets.


visible city

ok clearly i have already broken my little resolution.

anyhoo...his seems pretty neat:

The Visible City Project seeks to understand the different roles that artists play in imagining and helping to design 21st century cities. The project investigates how art practices function in specific contemporary urban contexts as a tool for enhancing communication and renovating democratic citizenship, and how they might be used to educate and transform the experience of urban dwelling in light of the changing technological, economic and cultural experiences of globalization.

Through research and colloquia, the project will look at the implications of these changes for artists, collectives, spaces and interventions.


New Sustainability Initiatives in Chicago

Got invited to this today...which is part of the Mid-American Horticultural Trade Show but sounds open to the public.

Illinois Green Industry Meeting
Thursday, January 15th - 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.
McCormick Place West - Room 184

The Illinois Green Industry Association (IGIA) invites all registrants and guests to attend to a special presentation by the City of Chicago and Chicago Park District highlighting new sustainability initiatives. Growers, landscape contractors,arborists, landscape architects and others who work on projects in Chicago should attend this informational session to learn more about the Chicago Climate Action Plan, Adding Green to Urban Design, City of Chicago Invasive Species Ordinance, Chicago Park District Sustainable Landscape Standards, and other programs that will continue to impact your work.

Everyone is encouraged and welcome to attend this free presentation and discussion.


Temple Exercises

If you're in Chicago...plan to see this exhibition.

sorry i missed the opening last night which has gotten rave reviews...but i have 3 of the other events in my calendar on the 10th,13th and 26th in my calendar.

Theaster Gates' Temple Exercises is a series of exercises that occur both at the MCA and around the city. Exploring the relationships among art, politics, and race, Theaster Gates constructs a temple-like structure that merges aspects of African-American and Japanese traditions. Gates's construction also serves as a contemplative space meant to inspire dialogue across philosophical and cultural boundaries on topics ranging from politics and religion to culture, food, and art as well as a performative space for the Black Monks, a group of Baptist-Buddhist musicians who mix slave spirituals, monastic chants, and jazz to create a singular sonorous experience. The exhibition is curated by Tricia Van Eck at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Theaster's work (both performance and the tactical artifact) is especially interesting to me, having grown up both Buddhist and Black, i've often internally speculated on whether those experiences are completely parallel or if/how they intersect.

*update* (after seeing the saturday afternoon performance at little black pearl i was really stunned. he and the 'black monks of mississipi' created a meditative and spiritual experience the likes of which i literally have ONLY experienced in a place of worship...it was truly something that both defied one religious tradition and also felt deeply related to many. the shoe shine...talked about power and priveledge and struggle and humility and pride, unrecognized and undervalued talents, artforms, people...just so, so much... this work reinforced for me, art as a way of knowing...along with the power and poetry of collaborative work and the intermingling of disciplines. theaster is a profound individual...i am thankful for his work, ecstatic for his success and i look forward to watching his progress.



1st day back at work threw my blogging game off yesterday.

for yesterday:

i've been wondering about whats up with Obama's short but sweet Arts Platform now that the economy has gone to hell.

my favorite part of which was:

"Create an Artist Corps: Barack Obama and Joe Biden support the creation of an “Artists Corps” of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and their communities. Studies in Chicago have demonstrated that test scores improved faster for students enrolled in low-income schools that link arts across the curriculum than scores for students in schools lacking such programs."

for today:

i find it interesting and exciting the ways that artists are addressing issues of sustainability and popular culture in their work. i recently looked at what artist torkwase dyson is doing in her latest stuff. i met her years ago through a mutual friend and remember being really intrigued by her earthworks. Dyson describes her work as 'looking at popular culture and it’s material relationship to the environment. Through multiple forms she poses relational questions of consumerism, environmental segregation, global economy and access to natural recourses'.

i would have loved to have checked out her exhibition at the corcoran last month entitled,

"The Rims Costs but the Guck is Free "

Comprised of paintings, animation, sculpture, and wall-mounted drawings, the exhibition is a satirical jab at the nature of consumer-driven society, commerciality, pollution, identity, and the difficult borders between race, culture, and reality.

this is especially interesting to me because i have often wondered...how your average joe livin in the/my hood could be reached regarding issues of sustainability. i think the green for all movement starts that...in the sense of exposing the economic/job opportunities of sustainability to those who are low-income. however just the self reflection piece...you know looking at the impact of how you think, live, act...it seems like art can help with this. a mirror of sorts.


"new" ideas for "new" communities

..."urban prosthetics"..."inhabitable toys"..."spatial corrections"

ludens,brainchild of ivan hernandez quintela is one i meant to blog a minute ago...actually in addition to the luden's website there are great artist sanctioned pics and an investigation of this guys' work here

when i see work like this, i bow down...yes...and i get excited because A)i think its stuff i want to/should be doing...but also because it gives me ammunition of sorts. there are these massive community development movements with massive amounts of funding attached to them such as the new communities program which is a comprehensive plan to revitalize 16 chicago neighborhoods through a "quality of life" plan created with neighborhood participation and implemented by a lead community organization. i live in one of these communities and have working relationships in 3 others...i actually adore this effort but i do have criticisms. one of which is that in most of the these quality of life plans, "art" is a component at some level but i feel like the murals and plop art that gets incorporated, while often quite beautiful, misses the point or at the very least an opportunity.

interventionist work (artwork some might call it) like the architect ivan hernandez quintela of ludens is virtually non-existent. this is what i pondered in my thesis and continues to baffle me...why is this work often relegated to artistic novelty? why don't community organizers and activists at the most mundane level know that this is a tactic/tool that they can use in galvanizing people to transform their environments? in community "plans" why does the art portion, the education portion the economic development portion etc. have to be segregated endeavors? i see things like...LUDEN's mobile public library, and i'm like hey...this has a place in the community development process its time to use new tools as we rebuild "new" communities.


Growing School Gardens

part of the reason why my blog went defunct is because my work and personal schedules are insane. in 2009, i think i will try to let more of my work (like the green home build project) spill over into the blogosphere so that it feels more connected for me and less like one more 'task'.

one of the things i'm working on as i return back to work on monday (eek) is the collaborative implementation of a project of mayoral committee i am on which is tasked to devise a plan to incorporate "learning landscapes" at every one of the roughly 600 chicago public schools. this initiative currently dubbed, "growing school gardens" is exciting for a number of obvious reasons. my angle in this though is both the green design education AND the workforce development aspect for students. given the "green collar jobs" movement and also the lack of diversity in fields of environmental conservation and landscape architecture i feel like it is a tremendous opportunity to both educate students about the depth and significance of these fields but also give them real tangible training and work experience in designing, installing, maintaining and advocating for these critical spaces that will impact them now by enriching their educational experience and by offering a living wage...instead of always paying adults/companies to do it. this effort is only at the very beginning and has a lot of tentacles with some really amazing non-profits leading the way, such as openlands, chicago botanic gardens, and chicago wilderness federation (leave no child inside) and municipal groups like the the chicago park district and department of planning. more to come on this budding initiative set to make its first debut this summer with the installation of five new sites.

one thing i hope to do is incorporate the work of chicago based archi-treasures...they did a bang up job on their first of a 3 part professional development for my high-school career and technical education teachers in areas of architectural design+drafting, construction, and agriculture on how to create learning landscapes on school grounds this fall.


he said...

"to be an artist, you dont have to compose music, or paint, or be in the movies or write books. its just a way of living. it has to do with paying attention, remembering, filtering what you see and answering back, participating in life." (viggio mortensen)

random quote in an interview but struck a chord with me.


"a collaborative artwork in the shape of neighborhood development"

happy 2009!

resolution #1...not have a stale blog. my posts might be wack one-liners but they WILL be daily in 2009.
if i can be addicted to facebook, i can get blog-a-licious too.

anyhoo, the watts house project was recently featured in an issue of art forum and while it has been going on for almost a decade, in my ongoing quest to find intersections of art, architecture and community i thought it was interesting thing to jumpstart things.

Watts House Project (WHP) is an artist-driven urban revitalization project centered around the historic Watts Towers in Watts, California. Directed by preeminent Los Angeles artist Edgar Arceneaux, WHP is a large-scale artwork-as-urban-development engaging art and architecture as a catalyst for expanding and enhancing community.

from the LA Times article:

"The effort was first conceived by Rick Lowe, the mastermind behind Project Row Houses, a still-flourishing, public art project that grew up in Houston's once-crumbling Third Ward. Lowe's idea there was to rehab 22 former tenant shacks, and convert them into living -- and live-in -- works of art for the residents. It transformed the neighborhood from blemish to jewel. "These projects are a way of challenging the notion that low-income neighborhoods have to be poor neighborhoods," says Lowe."

i meant to end the year by giving props to this project which combines youth work, art work and public work. pinata factory which is all at once guerilla public art, a statement about the privatization/policing of public space, and distribution of emergency warming blankets for the homeless.

they are located here:

1...North ave under the kennedy

2...Sacramento ave under the kennedy

3...the kennedy under Grand ave

4...under the kennedy at Logan Blvd

january 13th at the MCA: Global Neighborhoods: Rick Lowe and Kyong Park in Conversation Moderated by Theaster Gates.

"How are cities and neighborhoods reconstituted, and how do the poetics of art and ritual both propel and complicate urban rebirth? In a conversation moderated by artist Theaster Gates, experimental architect and activist Kyong Park and artist and community organizer Rick Lowe engage in dialogue about urban transformation, contemporary art and the global ramifications of highly localized and conflicted processes of change."

here's to a great year!