“[A]n art work has value as a creation because man is made in the image of God, and therefore man not only can love and think and feel emotion, but also has the capacity to create. Being in the image of the Creator, we are called upon to have creativity.… We never find men anywhere in the world or in any culture in the world who do not produce art. Creativity is a part of the distinction between man and non-man. All people are to some degree creative. Creativity is intrinsic to our mannishness.” — Francis Schaeffer
Yesterday I gave an hour-and-a-half design breakout session for participants at the 2009 Baptist Media Forum at Camp Buckner, up near Inks Lake. The seminar was entitled Between Heaven & Helvetica: How Good Design Can Energize Your Existing Communications. I hadn't delivered a talk that long before, so I was a little nervous to say the least. I figured I'd leave a half-hour for Q&A and prepared what I thought was an hour's worth of content.
My stated purpose was to "embark upon an interactive, multi-sensory conversation among designers, self-proclaimed non-creatives, quasi-creatives, and people who have to work with creatives in order to sketch at the intersection(s) of good design, good theology, and our role as culture creators." True to form, it was meandering and quirky — a soupçon of history, theology of the Imago Dei, a little design philosophy and advice, and visual inspiration/stimulation (I hope).
About 15 minutes into it, I realized I had too much content, but pressed forward, and we ended up getting through most of it without much compromise. Before I went on, my friend Marcus Goodyear gave a great presentation on online community building; I knew he was going to skew his content heavily (actually completely) online, so I weighted my presentation toward traditional media and channel-neutral branding design.
The preso was a mashup featuring three youth media case studies tied to some theological points I made at the presentation's "history unlesson" ... as well as a gallery of twenty logos I had designed, which I will glom together and present to you below. I also re-fashioned and re-presented my "six design nuggets for non-creatives" talk as a 10-minute overview. I was really pleased with the mix of people — I asked the group of media professionals (I assumed I'd be getting mostly PR folks, writers and editors) to classify themselves (how modern of me): almost a third of the room comprised designers and creatives. Another third considered themselves quasi-creative, and only one guy thought he was a non-creative.
My friend Tim Snyder made the trip out to the hill country with his visiting friend (my new friend) Josh. They audited the whole session and Josh participated in the interactive [Playdoh sculpting!] portion of the talk as well. With them and Marcus and my friend Brad Russell from TheBaptist Standard there in the room, I was more at ease than I would've been.
After the presentation, Tim and Josh and I spent the rest of the day together. On the drive back to San Antonio, we stopped in the Blue Bonnet Café in Marble Falls, TX. That's Josh and his chocolate meringue pie. After that we crashed at my house for a bit ( I really needed a nap) before heading to Alamo Drafthouse Theater to see Slumdog Millionaire.
It was a nice break in the middle of the week.
I leave you with an excerpt from an essay by Leland Ryken that I published in Communiqué back in the day, and dredged up for the conversation yesterday (but didn't have time to share with the group):
"What does the image of God in people say about the arts? It affirms human creativity as something good in principle, since it is an imitation of one of God's own acts and perfections. Someone once wrote, "As image-bearer of God, [people possess] the possibility both to create something beautiful, and to delight in it (Kuyper 142). Christian poet Chad Walsh once wrote that the artist "can honestly see himself as a kind of earthly assistant to God..., carrying on the delegated work of creation, making the fullness of creation fuller" (308). This applies equally to those who are not themselves creative artists but who delight to enter into the creativity of others. And it stands as a rebuke to those who disparage God's gift of creativity in people."
Here's a handful of the logos I've designed* — I used these in the presentation:
*the All Saints logo was a collaboration between myself and Von Glitschka, whose work also made it into the presentation.
"An Illustrated Life" is shipping advance copies. With any luck, mine will arrive downtown at my studio tomorrow.
see how many of my sketchbook pages you can find in this promo video artfully compiled and narrated by Danny Gregory:
i've posted before on my fascination with micro-housing. it stands against excess. it's quaint and comforting. safe. it's cool. minimalist and distilled. womb-like. every small house presents a good design problem. it eschews the tendency to amass possessions. a prophetic voice against "bigger-is-better" consumerist bent in me and for that reason, it also interests me as a follower of Christ. as an artist, these lilliputian sheds interest me as potential statements of beauty. and the spiritual introvert in me loves daydreaming about the monastic possibilities. i've dreamed of an art space / cell for years that would be like this. possibly something like the art silos in downtown san antonio.
i hadn't noticed until now, but the new york times has been covering this beat with regularity: today they published a story by steven kurutz about a tiny house built on the back of a pickup truck. one year earlier they published this about "high-style sheds". And back in February, Bethany Lyttle wrote "Think Small" — funny, it's a small headline which stands juxtaposed against the NYT "GREAT HOMES" section header (see photo, left). Lyttle also narrated a wonderful companion slide show where she shows the rural getaway of one Mr. Adams, a lawyer in San Francisco. Her narration says something to the effect that, "being in a small space makes the land seem greater," and she continues with this small profundity:
"the smaller the footprint of the house, the greater the footprint of the land"
these photos bear witness to that little truth. so maybe one day when my lovely overcrowded nest thins out a bit. in the meantime, i'll enjoy daydreaming.
all of these photos above are copyright the New York Times,
taken by Peter DaSilva, Michael Falco, Heidi Schumann, Alchemy
Architects, John Friedman, and Jay Shafer for Tumbleweed Tiny Homes.
you may remember my post last year about the m-ch micro compact home, a 2.6 meter cube intended for one or two inhabitants (it's now on display at moma until mid-october). i've always been intrigued by well-designed, compact living spaces (my son and my mom both tell me they share the same facscination). equally interesting to me are are treehouses and teardrop trailers, such as the one pictured on the left. homes and mobile homes like these are, in my mind, testaments to good space allocation, a (relatively) conservative use of resources, and a rather romantic way to bunk down for the night. i've enjoyed reading about building one's own teardrop trailer, and if i were more handy with tools i'd certainly have it on my list of things to do.
now front architects in poznań, poland (north of wrocław and west of warszawa) have designed the billboard-inspired single hauz:
"…a kind of manifest, proposal of a house/shelter for a Western Worlder. The "basic unit of society", as marriage is called, is no longer the only model of life. As a detached single occupant house unit, Single Hauz fills a kind of a void in the field of housing proposal for so called "singles"…"
in any case, it's a joy to look at and to ponder a month or even a week living inside. enjoy their mockups:
Was thinking about incomplete projects today. All our best-intentioned efforts.
Things I've said 'yes' to — because I'm wired to say 'yes' … then set aside for many reasons. play, pause. play, pause.
Not so much aborted because the thing didn't have merit, but maybe more because something else had more merit.
Not so much ignored because of entropy, but maybe more because I have too many plates spinning on sticks.
Not so much started because saying 'yes' was modeled as a child in my artist-mom and fix-it-all-dad, though that's in there somewhere.
Not so much started because my identity
is too enmeshed in seeking approval of others, though the tendency to be a pleaser is in there as well.
And it reminded me of this stations of the cross project. I only have two stations completed (the two above are further along than when this shot was taken).
I allowed myself to give up the project for now because it was already used in context with another group stations project. And maybe because they weren't being executed the way I had envisioned.
Now they're sitting in a corner of an unused room gathering dust. And I no longer have the drive to complete the project. for now.
Maybe when the seasons turn cool and Ordinary Time gives way to the rhythmic sway of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent maybe then I'll be inspired.
It of course brings up questions of the agency of the Holy Spirit in the Christ-follower's life. Are we to truly be children of the Wind? Breeze-Flexible, Malleable, willing to follow the Wild Goose? Yes, ¿no?
Is artistic inspiration extractable from spiritual in-spiration? In-filling In-dwelling In-breathing?
And is this a cop-out? I just didn't feel inspired today. Or yesterday for that matter.
Or is it soul-care for the over-burdened, a lesson for the weary, cardinal direction for the wayward dabbler?
and then there's the home-front:
the deck that's falling apart; the soil beneath my dead lawn that's starting to crack from dehydration;
a thousand points of shame to own and be embarrassed about mostly when relatives come to visit. lack of landscaping. dehydrated lawn. cracked foundation. peeling paint. dilapidated deck. do i own these failures more than others? how do these not kill you all? nagging failures… when it comes to labor, it's in much worse form to pull the "i'm just not inspired" card.
I'm on my way out of the office, heading home, but I wanted to post this really quick since I didn't have time the last 2 days.
Lunches have always been really good alone time for me to muse, draw, photograph, be alone with my thoughts, pray. Yesterday I stole away a few blocks south of here to San Fernando Cathedral (this church is the oldest cathedral sanctuary in the U.S. and the official geographic center of my home town). I walked their stations of the cross and then headed across the courtyard to their little café for a $1.95 grilled cheese sandwich.
At lunchtime the day before, I headed a few yards north of me to the Southwest School of Art & Craft (next door to our design studios) and stepped into another thin space -- the courtyard at the school has this little hand-cut limestone fountain that I really admire. Before heading into the Copper Kitchen (the century-old refectory at the former convent there on the school campus), I took a slew of tiled photos of the fountain and its surroundings with my little iPhone camera, hoping to merge them later.
Later, while I was busy doing other things on the Mac at work, I let Photoshop auto-merge the pictures. It detects edges and, depending on the settings, tries its best to create a seamless panorama.
I ran it through several different ways, and it's fascinating to see how the computer rendered the composited scene Two different auto merged files are shown here (click on each thumbnail for a larger view):
When I knew I was traveling to NYC recently, there were three people I wanted to sit down with and have conversations. The first was a former design intern named Danny Adrain, who is now a senior designer at Razorfish. The second was Thomas Turner, the young editor of Everyday Liturgy. And the third was Danny Gregory, a fellow creative director / author / sketchbook artist / podcaster, and creative force behind the Everyday Matters movement / craze / meme.
I ended up getting to hang with all three. I digress.
Danny Gregory, his wife Patti, and their son Jack welcomed me into their world for an hour or so — they live in a beautiful eighth floor apartment in the Village. Every inch of their apartment was either window glazing, book shelves, or space for hung artwork.
Rain, illness, travel and other hurdles had kept me from coming back to the labyrinth site until today. I borrowed my dad's gasoline-powered weed-eater and went to the back of the property this afternoon.
It was very peaceful. I was the only one there. It was really nice to be alone.
So for about the first hour this afternoon I used the weed-eater to chop off a bunch of dead shin- and knee-high grass. By about 4:00 it looked like this. The clump in the foreground is about an inch tall.
Next, I used this $4 rake to clear the dead grass away. This took about twice as long as I had planned; I got twice the number of blisters I had planned… But then, just as the sun had dropped below sight, I had finished — well, at least enough to rest. Just in time for a metaphoric shabbat.
If you squint, you can kind of see the circle of the labyrinth starting to take shape. the Prayer Walk, off in the background of this photo will lead straight into the Labyrinth.
The center of the labyrinth will be where the surveryor's flag and dog tie-out are located, there in the middle of the composition.
It's only after periods of exhausting physical labor that the God-phrase "It is finished" comes to mind. I think of Christ's work on the cross, and I think about the YHWH's work in the creation accounts. I think about resting after work, and I think about saying, "It is good" and letting it apply both to the end result and to the process of having worked hard.
Amy's out fulfilling a continuing education credit this morning. I had asked the kids to wake me at 8, and we made 'Saturday Pancakes' as is our frequent ritual. Then we loaded into my car and got Abigail off to gymnastics a few minutes late (they make the kids run laps for the parents' timing errors!).
Afterwards, we drove to Bobbi and Ben's house a half-mile away. Ben is retired now, but is one of the great designer/illustrators that hailed from San Antonio. Bobbi was our paper specifications rep for years. They were having a garage sale, and I had heard from Mark that an oak flat file was going on sale (I missed it by about 5 minutes, they said, which is probably good since I have neither the space nor the money for such a purchase). In the end I picked up a few books for a dollar apiece: a Graphis logo annual to add to my collection, a visual source book, and a how-to-draw-in-pen-and-ink book that had some nice cross-hatching examples.
Next, I wanted to take the kids to a local farmers market, so we headed off to Jackson-Keller and McCullough (someone let me know if there's a better Saturday farmers market in or near San Antonio, I suspect there is). Jordan bought a length of sugar cane, and I bought onions and potatoes, and we admired the fresh produce. Pecans are abundant — as Greg Garrett said recently,"hooray for fall, for falling pecans and temperatures…"
I came home and (even though it was only 10:50 in the morning and I was still pancake-sated) sliced into one of the beautiful onions, and tossed it in a skillet with a slab of butter and some sea-salt. While the onions were browning I thin-sliced two of the red potatoes and eventually tossed them into the pan as well.
Grilled onion is one of those memory-inducing smells — today it conjured images of my father slicing onions, chiles, tomatoes and cilantro for pico de gallo while his friend Dave grilled skirt steak from Bolner's for fajitas (this, years and years before fajitas were well-known around the country like they are today).
As someone who tries to follow in the way of Jesus (faltering, flailing, failing), I can't help but be drawn to themes of simplicity that stand in stark contrast to my day-in-day-out tendency toward crass western consumerism.
Speaking of simplicity: Last night I was able to catch up with a few of my designer friends from Boston and Chicago over a nice dinner down at Bruce Auden's Biga on the Banks. Jen Bennett is a designer at Big Blue Dot, and is a proponent/exponent of Etsy.
(Etsy is a website featuring all sorts of handmade items for sale, including, jewelry, screen-printed textiles, plush animals, journals, and much more — quite a few of the folks who sell their goods on Etsy live what one of their columnists called the "hybrid lifestyle: selling handmade crafts online, along with selling farm products locally." Others are freed up to work from home and parent full time; still others hold down 9-to-5 jobs and use Etsy as a sustainable creative outlet.)
In Jen's spare time, she is a stuffed animal designer, and is perfectly happy to design you a custom stuffed animal (she is making an armadillo for my editor friend Carol).
Here are a few shots from Jen's Etsy site. When you're considering gifts this holiday season, consider handmade.
this was done from a photograph, sorry to disappoint :) no, i didn't go to rome today. i merely went over to jeff's tonight and practiced guitar and wet my whistle. reminds me of the eric peters song 'fool in rome'
via willzhead, via the moleskinerie, via m-ch: "The micro compact home [m-ch] is a lightweight compact dwelling for one
or two people. Its compact dimensions of 2.6m cube adapt it to a
variety of sites and circumstances, and its functioning spaces of
sleeping, working / dining, cooking and hygiene make it suitable for
The m-ch has a timber frame structure with anodised aluminium external
cladding, insulated with polyurethane and fitted with aluminium frame
double glazed windows and front door with security double lock;
graphics can be applied for sponsors, exhibition and business use.
The m-ch measures 266cm x 266cm x 266cm. The ceiling height is 198cm and the door width is 60cm.
Inside the m-ch features:
two compact double beds, each measuring 198cm x 107cm, with covered cushions
storage space for bedding and cleaning equipment
a sliding table measuring 105cm x 65cm, for dining for up to five people
flat screen television in the living/dining space
a shower and toilet cubicle
a kitchen area, which is fitted with electrical points and features
a double hob, sink and extending tap, microwave, fridge and freezer
units, three compartment waste unit, storage shelves, cutlery drawers
with gentle return sprung slides and double level work surfaces
thermostat controlled ducted warm air heating, air conditioning, water heating
devin—he's the tween-aged long-haired artistic-looking brunet right behind the stroller in the photo—devin is one of our community's budding young artists*. he's enrolled in say sí, an arts program in southtown blue star arts complex where he and his fine family make their home. in any case, he has a really nice photographic diptych on display as part of "dualities"—the gallery's fotoseptiembre exhibition. it's a hand-tinted photo juxtaposing a digitally-affected version of the same photograph. very nice. i wasn't doing stuff this cool when i was a pre-teen. it's a really cool program, and there's lots of good stuff on exhibit down at blue star this month. anyway, we went down to check out first fridays, and look (above!) at how many trinity housers came out to represent.
*speaking of budding young artists, tonight (while i was working on a fedex deadline for a potential new client of mine), twentysomething photographer and trinity house denizen mark menjivar had an art opening at the guadalupe cultural arts center also as part of fotoseptiembre. (this shot is called reunion on the right) — he's working hard to carve a niche as a local photographer "at the intersection of art, faith and social justice." he's part of three exhibitions this month:
Waiting ... Images from South Texas | Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center; San Antonio, TX | FotoSeptiembre | Two-man show with Will Langmore
Witnessing, Still | Centro Cultural Aztlan; San Antonio, TX | FotoSeptiembre | Group Show San Antonio African American History Alive: A Photo Exhibit |
Carver Community Cultural Center; San Antonio, TX | FotoSeptiembre |
Photographic Restoration & Audio Stories
This evening I once again picked up The Book That Will Not End, that is: Gustavo Gutierrez’ A Theology of Liberation, which I’ve been “reading” since winter. “I don’t know why I don’t just finish the thing,” I said to myself. It’s easy to talk to oneself when one’s wife and kids are out of town. So I read. In bed. From 4 to 6. Then I drove to Orderup and ate and read from 6:30 to 9. Then I came home, hopped into bed to finish The Book That Will Not End and was momentarily startled out of my skull by the cannonade volleys following the nearby performance of the 1812 Overture at Ft. Sam Houston’s Memorial Day shindig. I swear, for a millisecond I believed San Antonio was under some sort of attack. Boom! (I wish I could have heard the orchestral part) Boom! (but I could only hear the interstitial…) BOOM! (and then three more, and then more) Boom! BOOM! boom! and then the Blat-a-Blattatt of Fireworks followed.
Ah, but what did I do earlier in the day? If I told you I worshiped in church, you might think I was talking about Trinity House. That wouldn’t be wrong, but not what I meant:
You see, I had been wanting to return to the McNay Art Museum in order to see Villa America: American Moderns, 1900-1950. My temporary bachelor status afforded me the luxury this afternoon. And like Beuller's Cameron in front of Seurat, in my book art gallery = sanctuary. I went and I took my time, lingering over brushstrokes, contemplating compositional choices, even noticing the frames of the pieces for a change, and then lazily basking in the beauty of Marion Koogler McNay’s 23-acre treasure, the centerpiece of which is a Spanish Colonial Revival mansion realized by “fabled” architects Robert and Atlee Ayers — all this, mere blocks from my home. And I rarely take time to go.
How appropriate that an exhibit of Modernism starting more-or-less from the fruits of the Armory show would come to rest for a while in McNay’s home, for the Armory show was said to have certainly influenced Marion’s personal artistic path.
Villa America. Great show. Demuth, O'Keeffe, Philip Evergood, Grant Wood, Walt Kuhn, Wyeth. Get thee…
If you go, consider checking out my faves: here are ten paintings from Villa America that either captured my imagination, provoked me, or left me with more questions than answers, which is a good, good thing:
Walt Kuhn Roberto, 1946 oil on canvas 40 x 30 inches
Ben Shahn Death of a Miner, 1949 tempera on paper 14 1/2 x 21 1/2 inches (poorly hung with bad lighting, you might have to search for this one; it’s stuck in a corner)
Theodore J. Roszak Man at Machine, 1937 oil on canvas 24 x 40 1/8 inches
Theodore J. Roszak Rectilinear Study, c. 1934-5 painted wood and metal 7 x 8 5/8 x 3 7/8
Gerald Murphy Doves, 1925 oil on canvas 48 5/8 x 36 inches
Naum Gabo Constructed Head No. 2, 1916 galvanized steel 17 1/2 x 17 x 17 inches
Robert Henri Edna Smith, 1915 oil on canvas 41 x 33 inches (was a scandal in 1915)
Jared French Evasion, 1947 egg tempera on gesso panel 21 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches (to me speaks of institutional church and power and shame? who knows)
Max Weber Two Seated Figures, 1910 oil on board 47 1/2 x 24 1/2 inches
Grant Wood Return from Bohemia, 1935 crayon, gouache, pencil on paper 23 1/2 x 20 inches
Ah, but what did I do even earlier in the day? Ate lunch at Karam’s on Zarzamora with my church family. What did Cliff call the Trinity House twentysomethings this morning? The Youth Invasion. :) I’ve come to really love this congregation. One of our couples is getting married on Saturday. Weddings. Beautiful. Sacramental. (see, I have been reading Gutierrez.) Speaking of Beauty, I’ve also been reading Elements of Design: Rowina Reed Kostellow and The Structure of Visual Relationships. Which also deals with Beauty in a more spiritual way than Reed’s contemporaries realize. Or at least let on.
Ah, but what did I do even earlier in the day? Helped facilitate worship at Trinity House. Where we talked about mission. And our commitment to the Kingdom work outside the walls of the church. Here’s where the Gutierrez text comes in handy. I agree with much but not all of his points. You know, that’ll need to be another blog post for another day.
tonight i had the privilege of taking off work a little early and driving around SA with Jordan so he could take architectural detail photos for a class project. i knew that Mission San José had an excellent example of flying buttresses (extra credit!), so we motored south, and along the way found columns (Corinthian + Ionic), decorative façades (Blue Star and the Pig Stand on S. Presa), vaults, domes, and a whole host of other things to shoot. After the photo shoot we went to Madhatter's for a dinner. Here's a photo of Jordan down at Blue Star. Anyway it was a fun night. I enjoyed just chillin' with my wonderful
son — he of the straight A's, kind demeanor, and recently of the president's physical fitness award! The latter feat coming from Amy's side of the family, to be sure.
Announcing .... the rebirth of Communiqué: An Online Literary & Arts Journal. In ancient Rome, the adventus was a celebration honoring an anniversary: the date of the emperor’s rise to power. The Church later adopted the term Advent to mark the arrival of a different kind of Emperor – the Son of God in human form. It’s a season for honoring the past and sharing hope for the future. We could think of no time more appropriate to announce the rebirth of Communiqué Journal
When we published our first issue in 1998, Communiqué was one of the first of its kind. Eight years later, sites devoted to the intersection of faith, culture, and the arts permeate the web. The fact that there has been a proliferation of like-minded publications is a blessing. Beginning in the spring, Communiqué will be back with new offerings, published three times annually.
We celebrate the past. For this, our Advent issue, we have searched our archives and identified eight of most compelling pieces we’ve featured in the past, including poetry by Luci Shaw, a short story by Greg Garrett, and the Byzantine iconography of John Snogren.
We live in the present. We are pleased to feature a new essay by Troy Bronsink."The Advent Community and the Emergence of God's Dreams for Creation" looks at four lectionary texts through an emergent theological perspective. We also stumbled across the poem "I Ache For That Long Lost Light" quite by accident. The verses were penned by Communiqué friend Louis Hemmings — a Dubliner who deals in rare and used theological books. His verses, nested in the signature file of a recent email, caught our eye. He granted us permission to share the poem with our readers this season.
We look hopefully to the future. With this announcement, we joyfully await fresh submissions for next year’s issues. We continue to seek original stories, poems, essays, reviews, and art that explore, question, re-imagine, examine and celebrate aspects of culture and Christian conviction. The deadline for submissions for the spring issue is February 15.
soupablog asks: What is to be our philosophy of ruins?
Now that America is getting old enough to have them. This question ties into previous throughts about 'relocation to the abandoned spaces of Empire' as well. I'd like to point you to an excellent photoessay from slate [heavily excerpted and emphasized by me]:
Abandoned places—ghost towns and gutted factories, derelict dwellings and vacant lots—litter the American landscape. No longer needed, buildings slowly decay into battered husks. Molds and microbes break structures down into organic matter; animals and plants move in as people move out. Americans generally accept this kind of decay only in certain contexts: What is picturesque in a deserted mining camp can be deeply disturbing on a residential city street. And even in the ghost settlements of the West, the impulse to hold on to the material past is strong. But what happens when we let these places go? What lessons can we glean from their gradual disintegration? Decay erases certain histories. But it can release other stories about place and ecology that would otherwise go untold. ... Ghost town workers take great pains to "arrest" decay at some indefinite point of maximum ghostliness; never mind that these places owe their wracked and weathered charm to rot and ruination. ....When structures are left to their own devices, they melt instead of remaining frozen. ....In their unrestored state, the buildings recall the foolhardy capital that built the mine and the ultimate failure of the venture. The transience of human ambition is etched out in lichen on the iron of the former shaft works and in the moss that covers the rotten roofs. Letting man-made structures decay to the point of disappearance is not an idea with a lot of popular or professional support, at least in America. In the mid-1990s, however, sociologist and photographer Camilo José Vergara proposed a "ruins park" for the mostly empty urban core of Detroit. In his "American Acropolis," the vacant buildings would become habitat for peregrine falcons and intrepid plants. The prairie would reseed the city streets. People would gather to witness a "memorial to a disappearing urban civilization." Detroit citizens did not welcome the proposal. It mattered little to them that Vergara found redemption and beauty, as well as regret, in their husk of a city. In this slide, Vergara's photo of the derelict reading room of the Camden Free Library in New Jersey, a thicket of saplings reaches toward a tattered ceiling's filtered light. Historian Elizabeth Blackmar detects in Vergara's photos an "aesthetic pause," which leads us to wonder how we could have avoided the wasting away of these 20th-century landmarks—and to reflect on what we are to learn from their demise.