Y’all remember poor old Art Chicago? Remember when we captured, in this very column, the life mimics performance art of young show-goers eating leftover pizza from the garbage? This city has struggled for years to create a world-class contemporary art show, but hopefully our highfalutin luck is about to change with the second annual Expo Chicago, opening on September 19. A few weeks ago, Bottega Veneta with the fancy PR-folks of Skoog Productions, threw a party for the host committee of Gallery Weekend (GW), which runs concurrently with Expo. Eaves isn’t exactly sure what GW is, but that’s probably because our annual art budget is only in the three figures. I think it’s for trying to convince out of town rich folks that we’re the Miami of the Midwest.
Writer Anne Taylor Fleming recently interviewed Frank Gehry for Los Angeles Magazine, getting a glimpse into what the architect thinks about Los Angeles and the meaning of his work there. Gehry tells Fleming about some of the missed planning and architectural opportunities that continue to challenge the city, including the push to make a bona fide downtown, which he believes stems from clinging to old ideas about what a city should be.
Richard Rogers turned 80 years old this week, making him the same age as Willie Nelson. You might think that’s a pointless comparison, but the Italian-born, British, self-described “left-winger” architect and the pot-smoking Texan Outlaw Country singer have more in common than one might at first suspect. At around the same time that Shotgun Willie was changing America by uniting the hippies and the red necks through music, Rogers and his buddy/collaborator Renzo Piano were converting critics into fawning admirers and altering the face of architecture with their design for the Centre Pompidou. “We thought of ourselves as bad boys who wanted to change the world, with the funny idea that you could do it through architecture,” is the way Piano put it in a recent article in The Guardian.
In recent interview with the journal Foreign Policy, Frank Gehry held forth on how architecture and democracy don’t really go together. Just too many opinions, you see. “I think the best thing is to have a benevolent dictator—who has taste!” said Gehry. “It’s really hard to get consensus, to have a tastemaker. There is no Robert Moses anymore.” Why was Gehry on FP’s radar in the first place? We’re guessing it was Hillary Clinton’s Gehry name-check in one of her outgoing speeches as Secretary of State. Riffing on how institutions of the future must be dynamic rather than static, the stateswomen stated, “We need a new architecture for this new world, more Frank Gehry than formal Greek.”
The planners of the AIA New York Chapter 2014 International Architecture and Design Summit have selected a pretty unusual conference venue: the Chateau of Versailles. Given the still sorry state of the economy, the choice left us scratching our head (under our powdered wig). Perhaps Rick Bell will point out the lessons in urban agriculture to be found in the Petit Trianon? Summit participants can display their work on easels in the Galeries Batailles, which will be handy if they want to do a little painting later en plein air. Apres tout, Giverny is less than an hour away by automobile, a bit longer by carriage though. Potential attendees are warned that the Plaza Anthénée will be closed for renovations. Sacrebleu!
Readers enjoying Architectural Record’s free online content got a wake-up call in late May: a paywall for articles older than 30 days. Now to access “the archive,” one must subscribe to the publication or sign up for an online subscription ($20/year). Thus, Record, one of the oldest surviving publications on architecture, joins the ranks of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, which in recent years have asked readers to pony up for full online access. Record’s move sent a jolt through the Twitterati of the architecture and design world, who speculated on what other pubs might follow. No paywall plans for us, Metropolis and Architect cheerfully tweeted back. Thanks to its high volume of online traffic, Record can afford to experiment with paid content, even if it means stymying some potential readers. On Reddit’s architecture site, a recent post that asked “What design do you like best?” and included a link to Record received the reply: “I like the one that doesn’t link to the F—ING PAYWALL.”
Freshly anointed “Design Mind” of the year by the National Design Awards, Michael Sorkin dazzled the full house at the annual graduation conference hosted by SVA’s Design Criticism MFA program. Sorkin startled the audience to attention with his opener, “Our world is going to hell!” and then never let up. Presenting concepts for self-sustaining cities, the architect/professor/gadfly took a break from urban planning to critique some other types of design. “Get ready for the worst graphic design of the day,” he said, clicking to a the logo of his employer, The City College of New York, and its weirdly gargantuan “the.” Following his presentation, Sorkin and moderator John Hockenberry debated the appropriateness of a request Sorkin had received to write a good review of a recent tour on TripAdvisor…from a guide who had just taken him through the Dharavi slum in Mumbai. In vintage Sorkin style, the Design Mind lamented, “Everything is being assimilated to a system of consumption!”
Is Anthony Weiner two-timing New York City? If you looked at the mayoral candidate’s website in late May, you might wonder whether he wants to lead parades in the Big Apple or the City of Steel. Perspicacious political reporter Michael Barbaro of the New York Post discovered that a backdrop image on Weiner’s website was not a view from Brooklyn across the East River, as it may seem on first glance, but rather a shot from the Robert Clemente Bridge leading into downtown Pittsburgh. Oops.
The rumor-mill has been churning non-stop over LACMA director Michael Govan’s and architect Peter Zumthor’s plans for the museum. Basically it looks like they are planning to take LACMA apart and start over; an effort that failed when attempted by Rem Koolhaas and OMA back in the early 2000s. The full scope of the plans will be unveiled in June, with LACMA’s exhibition The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA. But for now we’ve gleaned that under Zumthor’s plan, not only would there be a new indoor/outdoor art park, but four of the museum’s midcentury structures would be replaced by “curvaceous modern glass structures.” That basically includes everything but the Bruce Goff pavilion and Renzo Piano’s new structures. Let’s see if the second time’s the charm.
Depending on your tendencies toward miracles and/or conspiracies, you may have done a double-take if you saw J.C. Penney’s photographs of its Michael Graves-designed Stainless Steel Teapot. An online opinion that the kettle’s profile evoked Adolf Hitler saluting caught fire… and the now-backordered kettle will be available again on August 28.