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Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Fall of 2011 saw the installation of two art bike racks in downtown Eugene. While there is a plethora of utilitarian pipes and posts throughout the city, these new hunks of metal were a bit more in line with the spirit of Eugene. There are plenty of examples of public art scattered throughout the community. Murals adorn the backs of businesses, sculptures decorate planters in the heart of downtown and sidewalk chalk, graffiti and random installations around campus and in parks make Eugene more colorful. The artistic bike racks not only provide visual stimulation, but physical accommodation as well.

“I think it makes a pretty big statement,” Richard Hughes, president of the Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs), said. Yet, Hughes says the “more artsy” element of the racks is not necessarily a help to the cycling community.

“It softens motorists… or pisses them off.”

Hughes acknowledges he’s no art critic, but he knows bikes and he knows Eugene. So, when he became involved in the art corral project, he was disappointed by one huge oversight for a project in a town known for a particular kind of weather.

“They’re cute,” he said. “But where’s the roof?”

(more…)

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by Alex Marga

Seattle Building

Seattle’s skyline is full of various types of buildings, new and old. These particular buildings hug a courtyard on Pine Street & 4th Avenue.

When we go through our day, passing through building after building, we are constantly bombarded with the walls, floors, doorways and windows around us. Whether we are having dinner at home working in an office building, our surroundings take on a form of emotion that either connects us to that place or pushes us away.

Buildings have emotions built into the blueprints. Each component is thought through hundreds to thousands of times, whether it’s the shape of the building, or where to disperse the sprinklers on each floor. While each part is important, it’s usually the little things that matter the most to both the audience and to the architect.

We take advantage of various things in a building: light-switches, stairs, sinks, windows, doors, and more. But there comes a time when we really see what we use and appreciate it. That’s the art of architecture.

San Franciscan architect and real estate developer Don Bragg has been in the business of buildings for 25 years, working on indoor pools, homes, office buildings and Burger Kings. Over those years he has discovered his tastes in buildings and practiced them on his own designs.

“I consider architecture as an art form first and foremost,” says Bragg. “I like the holistic approach of the design of a building.”

A simple choice to do stone work versus woodwork for a home can be a deal breaker for potential buyers, but putting too much artistic thought into something can cause other problems too.

“You want these things that are on these buildings to have an artistic representation, but you don’t want the building to look haphazardly [sic],” says Bragg.

EMP

The Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington rests in the sun at the base of the Space Needle. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Experience Music Project (EMP), Frank Gehry’s elaborate building in Seattle, Wash., is one such building that receives criticism for its unusual design. With multiple slabs of brightly colored metal overhanging the glass door entrances on each side, and its place next to the iconic Space Needle, the EMP is not one people flock to for inspiration. According to

Harold Washington Library

The Harold Washington Library, located in Chicago, Illinois, is often criticized for its over abundant homage to various types of architecture. Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.

writer Bunny Wong, this building is “everything from ‘a multicolored blob’ to ‘open-heart surgery.’”

Other buildings, like the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Ill., create a different type of criticism: pretentiousness. “Neoclassical references collide with a glass-and-steel Mannerist roof; throw in some red brick, granite, and aluminum… and you’ve got way too much architecture class for one day,” writes Wong.

Bragg believes that the best type of architecture is one that can combine each component with ease. “Despite differences between different parts [of a building], it should at no point forget about itself,” he says.

Some of the most famous buildings tend to be ones that stick to one style. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France remains famous for its elaborate ironwork, and the Louvre museum, also in Paris, showcases an elegant glass pyramid that plays with the eyes when lit up. Both keep a consistent style and are praised for their iconic images.

But when it comes to average architecture, each person has his or her own preference. “I always like when they put stone on the wall,” says Bragg, who praises his own house for being an interesting piece of architecture.

While the actual building is a piece of artwork, to make a functional part of that building into a piece of art is a feat of its own.

“Whatever component is designed to be a part of a building must be artistic,” Bragg says. That means every light switch, every doorframe, and every side of the building must be designed to look pretty.

The fire escape, for example, has a specific use: to quickly exit a building on fire. However, the incorporation of the iron or steel bars on a building – traditionally brick – creates an interesting contrast to the often-drab metal-and-glass buildings of modern times.

Portland Fire Escape

This fire escape, located in Portland, Oregon, has been painted white to match the white bricks on the building. People use the fire escape as a balcony, plant holder, or extra storage rather than its intended use.

“When we design buildings, there are entire indoor [fire exit] corridors being planned alongside the building,” says Bragg. “But in San Francisco most buildings that are six or seven stories have fire escapes.” The choice to leave almost obsolete objects on a building is purely an artistic choice, but one that reflects the style of that building.

There’s a cultural implication for certain pieces of architecture, alongside the aesthetics of it. Stained glass windows are reminiscent of cathedrals and the Renaissance era, while fire escapes are a reminder of tenement houses and neighborhoods.

Whether it’s a specific component of a building, or just the style that it fits into, architecture resonates with everyone in contact with the building. It can bring up good memories and bad ones, it can make you feel uncomfortable or completely in your element, and it can make you wonder about the world or not at all.  Without even you knowing it, architecture is quite possibly one of the most important elements of life.

Sidebar:

Architecture by Woody Allen

Famous neurotic director Woody Allen is an architect-phile. Finding the beauty in even the most down and dirty places, Allen tends to romanticize the art of buildings and place by making them characters in his film. Well, not characters in a traditional sense at least. Here are five brilliant examples of architecture in Woody Allen films.

1.    Paris, France (Midnight In Paris, 2011)

Paris is one of the most photogenic cities in the entire world. With a history of brilliant architecture and the romance of the various colors and style coming together as one, it’s hard to find a bad picture of the city. So, during the opening credits of Allen’s latest film Midnight in Paris, he decides to let the city show itself.

2.    Rockaway, New York City, New York (Radio Days, 1987)

The story of Radio Days relies heavily on the setting: as Allen tells the story of “his childhood” (a fake version, but one that doesn’t seem to be too far off from the truth), he illustrates the memories from the Rockaway in New York City. The way he describes his neighborhood for the first time becomes an important piece of the plot.

3.    Beverly Hills, California (Annie Hall, 1977)

It’s the beginning of the end of Annie Hall when Alvy (played by Allen himself) and his girlfriend Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) head to Los Angeles for Christmas. While this example is not one of Allen’s moments of praise for architecture, it does illustrate his taste and dislike for the sunny West Coast versus his beloved New York City.

4.    New York City, New York (Hannah And Her Sisters, 1986)

Holly (played by Diane Wiest), one of Hannah’s sisters in Hannah and Her Sisters, is on a date with an architect. Well, she’s more of a third wheel of a date with an architect. As they drive through New York City at night, the three characters discuss the beauty and elegance of various buildings and why they stand so gracefully next to some that are not so beautiful.

5.    Manhattan, New York City, New York (Manhattan, 1979)

Nothing screams New York City more than the opening of Manhattan. As Allen attempts to kick-start his story in the perfect manner, black and white shots of the Manhattan district of New York City roll on, all set to the music of “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin. The entire scene is so elegant that despite not even mentioning the buildings, Allen introduces them like characters to his plot.

HONORABLE MENTION: Rome, Italy (To Rome, With Love, 2012)

Because the film hasn’t come out yet, it’s not fair to add it to the list just yet, but already from the preview we can tell that Allen is sure to make the audience fall deeply in love with Rome.

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Antonia Gomez – Theatre Arts

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As she sits on her couch in her apartment on Hilyard Street, flipping through channels, Antonia Gomez comes across Les Miserables (the 1998 version with Gerard Depardieu) and can’t help but to sing along (loudly). It’s a cloudy Saturday morning and Gomez will soon be heading to Villard Hall on the UO campus, for a Pocket Playhouse performance.

Gomez, a 21-year-old senior (soon to be graduate) in the public relations program at the University of Oregon is also a theater arts minor who’s interested in acting.

“I’m good at public relations, but it’s not really what I’m passionate about,” Gomez said. “I love theater, and I think that’s what I’m meant to do.”

Originally from Piedmont, California, Gomez has plans to move to Chicago and pursue an acting career and to receive her Actors Equity certification after graduation.

“My parents aren’t super thrilled about the idea of me focusing on acting as a career,” Gomez said.  “I either want to go to Los Angeles or Chicago, but my parents really want me to have a ‘real’ career.”

Gomez realized about halfway through college, (around the beginning of sophomore year) that she wasn’t as interested in public relations as she originally thought. Since acting was something she had been thinking about for a while, Gomez decided that a beginning level theater class would be a good starting point.

“In high school I was really interested in theater but refused to admit it,” Gomez said. “I didn’t want to tell anyone that I wanted to act because then I would have to pursue it, and the possibility of failing was always looming.”

After making the decision to pursue theater arts more seriously, Gomez decided to add a theater art minor to her public relations major. She pushed herself to take a beginning level acting class, to become comfortable acting in front of others and since sophomore year, Gomez has tried her best to become immersed in the theater arts department at the University of Oregon through plays, Pocket Playhouse performances, acting classes and various other activities

One of the biggest roles Gomez has played was as Elizabeth Procter in the UO Theater Department’s production of “The Crucible” during winter term. The play was shown at The HOPE Theatre on the UO campus and ran for two weekends, packing in eight performances. Gomez claims it was one of the most intense experiences of her life.

“By the time the last performance came I was so done,” Gomez said. “I was so into my character that I couldn’t help but cry uncontrollably at the end of each performance. I was Elizabeth Proctor, and afterwards it was hard to separate myself from that role.”

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At the beginning of spring term, her final term of college, Gomez stands in her kitchen chopping onions, tomatoes, and avocados for guacamole. She moves quickly and efficiently as she combines her ingredients to provide a delicious snack for her fellow Pocket Playhouse performers. Gomez who always using her hands to emphasize her point (and adjust her large-frame Ray-Ban glasses) discusses her love for the arts fervently.

Gomez attended a theater workshop in Ashland Ore. over spring break and said that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was a life-changing event.

“I saw the play White Snake when I was at this workshops and was like ‘Yep. That’s what I need to do, for the rest of my life,’” Gomez said.  “I just want to work, and make enough money to live, and to do what I love to do.”

With light music playing in the background Gomez intermittently sings with the Juno soundtrack as she talks of the importance of theater programs and classes, and how they have changed her life.

“I think that everyone should have to take Acting One (a beginning level acting class at the University of Oregon) everyone,” said Gomez emphatically. “I learned more about myself in that class than I could ever have with years of therapy.”

Gomez has participated in a myriad of impromptu performances since becoming involved in theater, and is also a part of the UO Theater Department’s Pocket Playhouse performances on the weekends. She compares the process of becoming a part of theater to gaining a new home. As she finishes up making her guacamole, Gomez talks about how she anticipates her parents reacting to her career choice. According to Gomez, her parents tend to think of her theater participation as more of a hobby than a future career, and because they are paying for her college education, Gomez doesn’t want to disappoint them. With plans of moving to Chicago after completing her undergraduate degree, Gomez isn’t sure of how to approach her parents with her potential plans.

“I know my parents don’t really take my acting seriously, but I hope they see that it’s ultimately what makes me happy,” Gomez said.

Lisa Gomez, Antonia’s mother says that she approves of her daughters choice of a major and minor, and also loves the fact that Gomez is doing something she enjoys. At the same time, Lisa says she hopes that Antonia can still make a career out of her degree.

“Who can say what the future will bring?” Lisa Gomez said. “We hope she is happy wherever she lands. Maybe a job in the development office of a theatrical company would be a good fit for her interests and skills.”

Later that afternoon, Gomez walks into Villard Hall – the theater department’s main building – and starts dancing down the hallway toward the doors of the Pocket Theatre. She opens the door and starts singing a line from Les Miserables (opera style) to her fellow actors and actresses. She gives the group her freshly made guacamole along with a bag of chips and makes her way back stage.

The Pocket Theatre is small, but cozy. Gomez has a small role in this particular short play, but her presence dominates the scene. With her hair pulled back into a long ponytail, Gomez waltzes out in a black t-shirt, dark skinny jeans and black vans. She looks simple but sophisticated as she walks out on stage and shouts “NONSENSE, NONSENSE I SAY,” and continues with the short play. The premise of the play, titled “Actors Nightmare,” is supposed to be a play within a play. Gomez bosses people around, shoving actors to and from the scene in her role as the stage manager, and commands attention for the brief amount of time she spends on set.

John Schmor, a professor in the Theater Arts Department at the University of Oregon, had Gomez as a student for a two-term Shakespeare class during fall and winter term, and currently has her in a cinema studies class.

“Antonia started out a little self-critical and even shy at the beginning of the fall Shakespeare course, but she quickly took my coaching and was always willing to try,” Schmor said. “She has great gifts, including what acting teachers call “emotional access” and she’s not afraid of feeling out loud.  She’s funny, boisterous, openhearted, smart and very courageous, Schmor said. “I truly admire Antonia and feel lucky to have had her spirit and her efforts in three classes this year.”

After her performance at the Pocket Playhouse, Gomez drops off some paperwork with one of her group project members and proceeds to run down the giant flight of stairs that is Lillis Business Complex (singing the whole way).

“I think theater, and the arts in general, are still very important and relevant to the world we live in today,” Gomez said. “Theater is something I love, and I want to continue to pursue that love, even if it means I never get rich.”

With a passion for acting, and a degree in public relations, Gomez says has plenty of options for the next step of life. Boisterously walking down Hilyard Street after a long Saturday, Gomez laughs and sings with her fellow classmates – content with where life has taken her for now.

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