Archive for March, 2006


Snapped by Mistake

Why does everything look more interesting through a frame?

And especially on those backlit screens, now in digital cameras, on video iPods, even in cellphones.

I notice that when I turn on my cellphone camera, whatever it’s pointed at looks interesting. Because it is framed. And because the backlighting of the screen accentuates the colors and makes the scene look important.

If the lens points down, the pavement looks interesting, especially with your shoes. If the lens points up, the the skyline always looks interesting, especially surrounded by blue.

The other day I put my bag on a window ledge and took out my phone to make a call.

The camera turned on since that was the last thing I had done with the gizmo.
The lens pointed down at the window ledge on which sat my bag, and all by itself (I fantasize) it snapped a photo. The photo above.

It’s not too bad for a total mistake, a random shot, is it?

It’s got a little Mondrian going for it, a little Maholy – Nagy (an artist we were just talking about here.)

So it’s derivative of groundbreaking artists, and we’ve now been conditioned to appreciate what they saw as art before we did, but it’s interesting that whenever we frame something, even with these little ditigal apparati we carry around, it can turn it into what this society considers art.

This, “snapped by mistake #1” interests me.

Look, now I’ve even titled it.

Wonder what it’s worth? lol – now it’s really contemporary art!

I’ll post interesting “Snapped-by-mistakes” as they happen.
Collect the series!

Send me yours.

con amor,


Beckett would have loved this.

This morning I received an urgent e-mail, from Curious Theater Branch. It read:

From: Mary Jane Maha- []
Sent: Fri 3/24/2006 8:29 AM

I love it.
As Mr. Beckett profoundly said,
“Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won’t come this evening but surely tomorrow.”


By the way, Happy Centennial Birthday to Samuel Beckett.
Born April 13, 1906

Not Beck, Beckett.

“He brings forth a body of beauty.” — Harold Pinter

“Waiting for Godot” by Curious Theater Branch is now set to open April 28 at Prop Thtr. 3502-4 N. Elston. Performances Friday and Saturday at 7 pm, Sunday at 3. Tickets are $15 or pay what you can. I like that.


Wanna buy a Frank Lloyd Wright?

The Heurtley House in Oak Park, Illinois.

What some consider the the first fully mature Prairie-style house, and perhaps the finest restored Prairie-style house in existence, is now for sale.

It’s on one of the greatest streets in America, and perhaps the most American great street in this land – Forest Avenue, in Oak Park.

Just to stand on the sidewalk and look at it, when the sun from the west hits those red bricks atop that green lawn, is to drool, to lose control and to want it. The house seems to sail across the lawn, and across the prairie, attracted to the western sunset like early Americans attracted to California. A manifest of Manifest Destiny.

Each red roman brick, shaped long and narrow, signifies a person, stacked up together artistically, they form an idea and embark on a voyage. And they do so together, as a house, and “house” is the basis of society.

It’s a far more positive experience this house, than say, “Moby Dick.” Is that due to its Midwest nature?

Yours for $5,750,000. Wonder why they’re selling…. ?
Think of the memories in a room like this…

I too grew up in a beautiful house. Though not like this. Someday I’ll tell you about it. Go ahead. Have at this one. I probably can’t swing it on my public radio salary!


What is it about light this weekend?

Everything looked great, especially in the afternoon. Does it have something to do with spring starting on Monday?

I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art. At about 4:30 pm, it looked to me better than it ever has.

Look, the building seems to dematerialize.

Speaking of light, I’m glad the Dan Flavin room, “Alternating Pink and Gold” is still up on view too.

Leaving the MCA, I drove west a little. Towards the sun. Turned around. And saw this:

That’s all natural. Shot with a cell phone camera! That’s really how it looked. Glowing gold.
Enjoy it while you can.


A shame what they’re doing to Evanston, isn’t it?

Nice graf by Robert Campbell in the Boston Globe this morning:

I’m not an opponent of skyscrapers. They can be wonderful examples of human aspiration and exuberance. In a city, they’re a sort of natural plant species, sprouting wherever they can get purchase, as opposed to the tame formal parterres of a designed garden. They are welcome exactly up to the point where they begin to choke out other forms of life.

So if you’re interested in why the towers sprouting in Evanston are wrong for that heretofore humanist, leafy, wooden, Queen Anne kind of place -is Oak Park next?- read Robert Campbell’s article in today’s Boston Globe. (via ANN. Queen Ann? :))

Or go back a few years. To “The tall office building artistically considered,”
by Louis Sullivan, 110 years ago.

“Problem: How shall we impart to this sterile pile, this crude, harsh, brutal agglomeration, this stark, staring exclamation of eternal strife, the graciousness of those higher forms of sensibility and culture that rest on the lower and fiercer passions? How shall we proclaim from the dizzy height of this strange, weird, modern housetop the peaceful evangel of sentiment, of beauty, the cult of a higher life?

And part of his answer was:

…when we know and feel that Nature is our friend, not our implacable enemy,-that an afternoon in the country, an hour by the sea, a full open view of one single day, through dawn, high noon, and twilight, will suggest to us so much that is rhythmical, deep, and eternal in the vast art of architecture, something so deep, so true, that all the narrow formalities, hard-and-fast rules, and strangling bonds of the schools cannot stifle it in us,-then it may be proclaimed that we are on the high-road to a natural and satisfying art, an architecture that will soon become a fine art in the true, the best sense of the word, an art that will live because it will be of the people, for the people, and by the people.”

I love this part too,

“…it is lofty. This loftiness is to the artist-nature its thrilling aspect. It is the very open organ-tone in its appeal. It must be in turn the dominant chord in his expression of it, the true excitant of his imagination. It must be tall, every inch of it tall. The force and power of altitude must be in it the glory and pride of exaltation must be in it. It must be every inch a proud and soaring thing, rising in sheer exultation that from bottom to top it is a unit without a single dissenting line,-that it is the new, the unexpected, the eloquent peroration of most bald, most sinister, most forbidding conditions.”

Boy, the more you read Sullivan, the more you see he’s the equal of Whitman, Thoreau, and Emerson. And he could design pretty good buildings.

But I also needed this last graf to aesthetically, make this post, tall, tall, tall. With a top, a middle, and a base. As nature (and Sullivan) would have it. Exalt in its beauty!

So here’s “the base” of this designed blogpost. Complete with photos.
The more you think about it, the more Evanston is erecting bad imitations of Sullivan. To wit (or witless):

L- Carson’s. R- Hilton Garden Inn, Evanston

L- A Sullivan small town bank. R- Research Park, Evanston

Which do you prefer? jk