-- note -- sorry about abandoning the live blogging last night. it was engaging, to be sure, but just not conducive to blogging.
5:52 pm - I'm here at St. Mark's, San Antonio, in the historic heart of downtown. The room is abuzz, and for a so-called emergent topic, the place is brimming with folks over 50. At 39, I'm clearly the youngest person here. Mary Ellen is here from ¡Viva! — and we were able to talk a bit about the upcoming Open House. Phyllis Tickle's flight was delayed, and she just showed up.
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.
It was wonderful on so many levels. First and foremost? Time alone to rediscover, enjoy and relax with Amy. A celebration of fifteen years of marriage. The weather and the flights and food and the downtime were all superb, the journey and the destinations were picture-perfect and meaningful. The friends we reconnected with along the way were hospitable and fun and funny and myriad. The trip was even educational (learned a little about wine during the first third of the trip and a little about youth media in the last). I did a much better job about living in the moment. Didn't spend my whole time behind the lens or buried in sketchbooks. Our 5 senses were each a little more alive, aware, acute.
Wednesday We flew San Antonio to San Diego to San Fransisco (the via santa?); wove through the City, over Golden Gate Bridge (stopping only long enough to snap a quick photo) and drove all the way up hwy 101 to our B&B in Cloverdale. Stopped along the way in Santa Rosa for farmers' market. Italian for dinner. Strolled Cloverdale's main street; Explored our B&B's gardens.
Thursday On Thursday, Amy and I were awakened by the time zone difference and the excitement of being in a new place — plus, we got a good night’s sleep in a very comfortable bed. Where the night before had been hot and humid — Wednesday had reached 106°F in this inland part of northern California — this morning was crisp and cool. Large temperature differentials are a hallmark of Sonoma County — good for grape-growing. We got up and milled around the upstairs of the B&B a little: there’s a little hospitality room on the other side of the house that has coffee, hot tea, a small ice maker, and a fridge with sodas, juice and water.
After a bit we decided to go out for a pre-breakfast walk in downtown Cloverdale. The B&B is on Third St. just a block off Cloverdale Drive, the main street, and pretty much in the center of this tiny town. We took our time, snapped some iPhone shots of interesting buildings, and after some searching, eventually found Underground Coffee wedged in the back of an antique store. Amy: a blueberry muffin; me: a dolce latté. On the side wall of the antique store four large murals depict historical scenes of life in Cloverdale — one for each season, though the seasons were vaguely depicted and to the point where for a while we weren’t sure which painting matched which season. Heading back, I snapped a tiled panorama of Pick’s, a hamburger joint that’s been around for 70 years or so.
Breakfast was fun: we had two house mates, a young couple from Stockholm, who were enjoying California while on vacation and probably enjoying the favorable exchange rate as well. We were served Dutch pancakes with homemade pomegranate syrup— as well as some apple-gouda sausages, mini muffins and coffee. I also had a light peach nectar which had the consistency of apple juice, and Amy and the Swedish couple had orange juice. Don, our host, would disappear from time to time, bringing out the small courses; first, the muffins, then the sausages and pancakes, then returning with the syrup. He’s a good conversationalist and was very interested in helping us plan our day in the Dry Creek appellation. Within fifteen or twenty minutes, we had recommendations and a highlighted map.
We toured a handful of Dry Creek wineries and ended up sampling wines at fewer than we stopped at. Asti's Cellar No. 8, Fritz, Ferrari-Carano (mostly for its well-tended gardens). We enjoyed a picnic luncheon overlooking Lake Sonoma (note the Dublin Dr. Pepper we enjoyed with panini from the Dry Creek General Store. Later in the day we fell in love with Bella vinyard and its wine caves and checked out quaint Preston winery as well. Romantic drive along West Dry Creek Road to Quivira. Poked around bookstores and stationers in touristy-but-serene Healdsburg, and walked barefoot in the cool grass in their town square. Back at the B&B's beautiful gardens, we watched dusk turn into night as we traded stories with the innkeepers Don and Mary before turning in.
Friday More fascinating breakfast conversation. More guests had arrived, and our table mates included a couple from Nova Scotia and our Swedish friends. We packed up the car and kicked back in the gardens before bidding farewell to Don and Mary and the Swedes. Instead of retracing hwy 101 back to San Francisco (hereafter, the City), we decided to take the scenic route, which allowed us to explore the Eastern side of 101, back through Healdsburg (found some cute shops and a really cool kwanset-hut antique store). Peeked into Simi winery but didn't stick around for the tour.
Lunch in Windsor, mostly to find free Wi-fi. Happened upon a pizzeria on its second day of business. During lunch's email-check, we discovered one of my dear high school friends is pregnant, and another high school friend was in the Bay area touring colleges with her son and her high school aged daughter.
Friday afternoon we made our way into the City, did a driveby of The Haight, and settled into Golden Gate Park where we toured the Botanical Gardens for a couple hours. Then it was off to Grace Cathedral (that's where my friends Vanessa and Will are both associate pastors), where we met up with Ryan, Holly, Paxton, and others in the Seven community, because the Jesus for President tour coincidentally had rolled into town. Cobalt Season played during the intermission, and I had an amazing evening, and got to say a brief hello to Shane and Chris. And I met the head of Grace's labyrinth guild. They have a guild that takes care of their two Chartres-styled labyrinths (one indoors, the other out). Made me want to learn more about the Psalters.
The Sharps pointed us to Liberty Café for a late-night nosh in Bernal Heights, but it closed as we were walking up. Rats. We ended up getting really turned around and frustrated with driving around the Mission District before settling on a 24-hour diner, then coming back to Ryan and Holly's and crashing.
Saturday Slept in. Way in. Smelled the coffee sometime after 9:30 and stumbled toward the aroma. Then I saw it. The view. The house where the Sharps are house-sitting has this amazing view of the water. It's breathtaking in daylight and beautifully sequined at night. We chatted with Holly and Ryan, ate some AMAZING Cali cinnamon toast, watched Pax, and made plans to hook up with Lisa and her kids at the notable Zachary's Chicago Pizza at Berkeley (note to self: the drive from Oakland Hills to Berkely on 13 was amazingly beautiful in July). We walked around Trader Joe's, then made our way (with a hot pizza in hand for our hosts) back to Casa Sharp where our Emergent friend Adam Klein was celebrating his birthday. His extended family members were there as well as his Seven friends, many of whom Amy and I met for the first time. From about 1pm to maybe 1am we enjoyed the longest pool party in my remembrance, with some really neat people as well. I built a little fire when it got cold and we were thankful for the heated pool (thanks again, Ryan). At some point in the evening, rock-n-roll photographer and friend Daley came to the house as well, after shooting a wedding in Berkeley. Everyone was in rare form that evening. Rare form.
Sunday Our original plan was to visit St. Gregory of Nyssa for a "now-for-something-completely-different" worship experience (watch the whole video if you have time). But the pool party and travels had decided for us: more sleeping in. So here's what we did. More morning coffee and cinnamon toast. (Sorry, Bob, we never made it to bakesale betty either)... we lounged and caught up on email. So did Daley and Ryan and so the whole breakfast table looked like an Apple convention. We just embodied the sabbath. Rested. Then said some sad good-byes and snapped some photos before Amy and I left for the Union Square area. Crossed Bay Bridge into the city and before long, arrived at Hotel Nikko. Checked in and rested a little in our room before walking up (and up and up) to California, back to Grace Cathedral, where Amy and I were the guests at a Sunday School class (in a beautiful library) where they were talking about being Ordinary Radicals. Vanessa and Will invited us there so we could talk about our faith-journey, our Trinity House experiences as well as our Covenant experiences, and a little bit about my role in illustrating Jesus for President.
Then we went up to the choir part of the cathedral and had a beautiful evening contemplative service with a Eucharist. Sigh. It was really amazing, and an amazing cap to an amazing weekend. Vanessa, Will, Matt, and Anna treated us to dinner and laughter at Farmerbrown afterwards. Then it was back to the hotel, time to shift into Conference Mode.
"While we do focus on effective ways to reach youth with technology, our
audience is about one third non-profit/advocacy organizations so
branding could be branding for a company or branding for an agency
serving youth. [We had]
sessions on this year's election, youth activism, on whether girls are
the new geeks, and [one on] what folks who create web
sites for youth can do about cyberbullying.
So it was not just about "selling stuff to kids" it was also about
using those technologies effectively and authentically to reach them
whether it is with a product that is actually useful or a message that
could save their lives or inspire them to create social change."
Wednesday Was a travel day, so following a night of Chinatown and cable cars, it was nice to just sit on a plane and be. The kids gave us a great welcome, as did my parents, who along with my mother-in-law, took care of the four little ones.
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:
It came in today! My advance copy of Jesus for President, the new Shane Claiborne + Chris Haw book for which I contributed 40 or so watercolor illustrations; designed by my friends Holly and Ryan over at SharpSeven. I'm really geeking out over how cool it turned out, thumbing through it like a little kid. It's cool to finally see the other contributors' work (several artists, photographers) and see how the whole thing comes together.
Please consider buying a copy.
It's four-color throughout, but somehow the price is less than $12 over at the big box place. I'm sure VivaBooks will sell it as well.
Here's an illustration I did, which you can see closer when you buy the book:
file under: filet'o'fish'o'war
Here's designer Ryan hard at work with his other love. This is fresh footage BTW:
Tonight, Emergent|SA got together at our downtown San Antonio hangout, Ruta Maya Coffee Co., for an evening with Claude Nikondeha, Amahoro Africa. It had been quite a few years since I had spoken with Claude in person, and it brought joy to catch up with him again. He has a missionary's heart for Christ's work in Africa, with none of the imperialist, colonialist baggage. He's open to God doing things in new, different, unconventional ways, and his whole being seems bent toward lives engaged in God's Kingdom-work, whether its lone outposts of conversational gospel in red-light districts or serendipitous sermon-free church plants in urban Africa, or charting an emergent type of accountability/edibility among his close friends in Phoenix.
It was good to see TJ, Lane, Danielle, Tim and Bob there as well. I'll leave you with a large pull-quote from Bob about tonight:
"What a hope-filled night it was, crashing the Emergent|SA Feb gathering. ... I got to Ruta Maya early, in time to stumble upon the San Antonio Obama staff, squatting for the past 3 days until their offices open this Sat. It was
great to hear their stories of community organizing in Iowa, Idaho,
Nevada and Washington - a swarm of people in their early 20s helping
connect people to a powerful campaign.
It was even more hope-filled to hear Claude Nikondeha of Amahoro Africa. Claude talked with great energy about how this network helps build
relationships, sharing stories and exploring the shape of the emerging church in post colonial
Africa and beyond.
He was quite moving talking about what God is doing in East
Africa, particularly in terms of new models of faith communities and
courageous people fostering new model of transformation.
just the past few years, Amahoro is now consists of over 200 leaders representing 200 communities. For more about Claude, see this interview.
Two things Claude said really grabbed me:
he talked about what a contrast America is with Africa -
particularly how un-involved or interdependent our lives are with one
another in the U.S.
he used a term I had never heard or even considered - pre-emptive reconciliation. Talking about the recent conflicts in Kenya, Claude talked about the power of engaging in reconciliation BEFORE an outbreak or a provocation.
I came away from these two hours just brimming with hope, eager to
see the world that these Obama staffers and Claude are birthing." — Bob Carlton
"Look, if someone wrote a play just to glorify
What's stronger than hate, would they not arrange the stage
To look as if the hero came too late / he's almost in defeat
It's looking like the evil side will win, so on the edge
Of every seat, from the moment that the whole thing begins...
Although it looks like we're alone
In this scene set in shadows
Like the night is here to stay
There is evil cast around us
But it's love that wrote the play..." —David Wilcox
this sketch is pretty much what church looked like today, except even if you squint, you can't see chris alvarez sitting up front playing cello. and the windows in the drawing aren't interleaved by the beautiful hanging banners of advents past. and you can't see me sitting there wondering if i'm going to have enough energy to explain the deutero-isaiah theory to anyone in my family today (i didn't have to). somewhere in the cross-hatchy composition you can also imagine my friend tj visiting today, sitting there over on the far side, next to liz and jason.
this morning my pastor and friend gordon reminded us all that in advent we trade 'ramping up' for 'slowing down' (i give lip-service to this all the time; today i'm really considering how to live this corporeally and not just let the idea make my head nod); we don't get louder, we search for silence, etc. (this one i can handle usually). also his message gave me pause — i had to be open to a new way of understanding proto-isaiah's prophecy here (as largely unfulfilled prophetic utterings rather than esentially fulfilled or not-yet eschatological hope). not sure i agreed with it fully, but i was certainly willing to travel alongside as this got unpacked. a really good sermon: i wish i could take you all to church with me, but that would quash the innocence of this little stone church hidden amidst the juniper trees.
but what really hit me this week wasn't the sermon or the worship or even the onset of advent. instead it was a few well-aimed words (lobbed in my direction) from some smart women in the mystics/cynics/pilgrims class — i had been talking about some longtime frustrations when [thanks to their insight] suddenly the whole situation unfurled like a starched sheet amidst cerulean sky in a well-directed laundry soap commercial, and i knew that in an instant everything had changed. a burden had been lifted.
from now on at least this one issue will be framed in the language of acceptance, forgiveness and possibly mourning, rather than the posture of my insistence for change or for [the individual in question] to opt-in to my point of view. it was a free therapy session which netted a hammered stake and a new fence vector.
Austinchange.org and Brian McLaren hosted a series of conversations in Austin yesterday revolving around his new book EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE. Some links from Bob Carlton… The Austin American Statesman had some great coverage:
My friend Troy Bronsink moderates the session, and it's also interesting to hear them dialog during the nearly 40 minutes of Q&A which follow. I tried to keep the files intact, but edited out a few long audio gaps.
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.
Friday i worked from home on client work until mid-afternoon, then started out on a trip up to austin where i met bob carlton for dinner prior to the Austin Emergence 2007 panel discussion thingy.
Intuiting, perhaps, that i was born just miles from leon springs, texas, bob suggested we meet at Rudy's BBQ on 183. Over brisket and sausage and Rudy's now-famous BBQ "Sause" [sic], we shared in some good conversation and learned about the "hand-spa", then headed a couple miles away to this well-groomed, mall-like mega-church campus (ewww; i was half-expecting the perfect landscaping to have piped-in music from those injection-molded theme-park rocks. instead i quickly found the money-changers — err, sponsors — in the campus café).
so not a very likely setting for an emerging church confab; in fact, it had all the trappings of the contemporary-pop-culture-church-as-performance i've been running away from the last ten years: professional lighting rigging, three massive projection screens, tech geeks in back in a mixing board booth worthy of a concert hall, elevated-stage-instead-of-altar, auditorium, overstuffed chairs for the speakers, lapel mics, slick, auditorium seating for the rest of us and pre-produced video loops with schmutzy typefaces and royalty-free video loops. nothing to situate itself in time and place. OK: i'm not being very gracious. and i know this. and i will stop. now.
what came next is articulated well by bob here and here.
In the end I was impressed by most of the speakers and by the moderator, Scot McKnight, who I already had been tracking via books and weblog posts (and my bro-in-law syler's coffeeklatches with the prof) ...
The evening session (atonement theories!) finished. then comes the obligatory "we're in Austin, who's up for Magnolia Café or Kirbey Lane?"
My late-night dining partners were my buddies from Netzer Co-op. The entire current incarnation of the co-op was present, I believe: Lay-abbot Tim, Abbess/Painter Brianna, Contemplative Michael, Worship-Artist Ryan, and Novice Jonathan. I was honored to play the role of, as my friend Mark Menjivar would say, holy listener. They were/are at a turning point in their fledgling community all-too-similar to where Trinity House was at a year or so ago. Then I gave them some imperfect sage-green advice to go with Bri's green-green enchiladas. Usually-silent Michael suggested that after an evening of talking about theology, that they ditch the next morning's event and go buy sandwich fixings and spend the morning handing out food to the poor in Austin instead of listening to talking heads at the conference. Which is exactly what needed to be said. And done. I could've hugged him, the suggestion was so spontaneous and on-point. We stayed out too late and dragged ourselves to my gracious in-laws' where beds and sofas were awaiting my friends and me.
Next morning, thanks to Google Maps and the iPhone, we discovered Pacha, a cool little fair-trade coffee joint in Austin. Must return to soak in more. Planning to go to just the first session and then go with Netzer, I was drawn into the conversation in a deeper way than the day prior. I also got to meet Danielle Shroyer, the pastor of a fellowship in the DFW area that a few of my friends frequent. I like her: she's got a great perspective on many things.
And I love the theological underpinnings of Josh Carney's mind. Resolved: after his commendation (being the third or fourth this year, I will next read Jürgen Moltmann).
I felt pangs of guilt for Tim and I never joining up with the rest of Netzer on their outing. The praxis engagement and resultant reflection would've been better for me. I rationalized it away several times: I was Tim's ride so I needed to stay; I'm too old and just got in the way of their youthful missional expression; I knew I needed to get back on the road at about 2pm; I really wanted to talk to several of the folks afterwards, including Glenn and David (right). Kept thinking about the distribution of the food going on while I was wrapping up my stay at the conference. But I never went. Tim and I left and grabbed lunch and sat down to record a podcast interview for his blog at Jo's and then I hit the road for SA.
Came home, and prepped for this morning: I facilitated a discussion in our 'mystics/cynics/pilgrims' class at church (sort of the sunday school dropouts) about the way of the pilgrim, and led hymns, a taizé chant, worship songs, and an original composition in front of the congregation. the song that I wrote I dedicated today to my grandmother who turns 90 years old this week.
That's where I was this evening: at Lorraine Pearman's 90th birthday party.
Read a little Alan Roxburgh this evening, blogged this, and will be going to sleep.
Sorry not much critical reflection of the conference.
Muslim scholars reach out to the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the heads of the
Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist churches, the Orthodox Church's
Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I and other Orthodox
Patriarchs. Read about it here.
is a new book co-operative established "to provide access to books—and everything they offer—to our communities in San Antonio. Specifically our target areas are the West, South and East Side communities that have lacked access to books for generations. Our goal is to provide a progressive alternative to the market-determined access of books.
"Underground Books will be the only community owned
bookstore in San Antonio.
We will belong to the community, not only through the usual co-op investment process, but also through events and activities that can bring the community together."
Here's the sign/logo I designed for the U/B co-op.
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
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.
i'm appending this to my last post: if you didn't click the link and find this, you might miss the excellent context of that photo: invincible cities, an interactive flash app featuring photography and essay by camilo josé vergara, sponsored by rutgers and the ford foundation, and designed by crimson.
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.
my post late last night was eaten by amy's PC: about 45 minutes of typing down the drain. so i'm not gonna even try and reconstruct. here's the synopsis of what you missed:
I. brian mclaren came and talked to our cohort and other guests in san antonio last night. i wrote about how much I enjoyed my time getting to know brian better, how much fun it was to play host to such a gracious, enjoyable guy, how good the company and food and drink was at La Fonda, but that's all since been better said by others, here, and here, for example. despite several times being at the same events, this was the first time we'd been able to talk uninterrupted, for more than ten minutes at a time.
II. sounds like the austin cohort is now in good hands. between jim mueller, scott hall, glen barbier, greg willis, and whomever from ECN chooses to engage... let's just say our group will be able to gain a lot from the folks up the road.
III. communique journal is moving along nicely now that it's being delegated properly -- i'm hoping it's one of my hobbies that i can continue with -- it's meant so much to so many people over the years -- look for a new issue in december.
IV. what I've really been wanting to blog about is Trinity House's first advent service. But I'm afraid the PC will crash again, so let me post this, and start typing on the 2nd post.
V. in the meanwhile, here's two stanzas i really like from a poem by my friend pam (amahoro means "peace" in bantu):
for the calloused hands trembling after years of hard labor yet no rest for the weary amahoro, amahoro
for an untouchable people the “lowest of low” unaware of their value amahoro, amahoro