Archive for May, 2007


They build magic mountains in L.A.

and across the street, lakes

over parking lots.

It’s a lovely fantasy for now.

Freeway stripes on the floor of L.A.’s cathedral?!


L.A.’s about the light.

Moneo’s Cathedral can be luminous/numinous.

Take one adobe church,

add Ronchamp by Corbusier,

and you get Rafael Moneo’s pretty wonderful modernist cathedral in L.A.
But the light on the floor can look like freeway stripes, no?


Freeway to heaven?


Sod your town square!

London has.
Temporarily. But it’s a start. I wish they would never sod off.
The idea should grow, like crabgrass.
The Beeb has more.



The people erect a memorial, suitable
for Memorial Day.
Arlington West
on the beach in Santa Monica, California

Each Sunday since February 15th 2004, a temporary memorial is erected in the sand just north of the pier at Santa Monica Beach in Los Angeles, California by the local chapter of Veterans for Peace and other volunteers … ”

Today’s holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service. At “Arlington West” you can sign a comment book, and people do.

— + — + — + —

L.A.P.S.> This being California, right next to ‘Arlington West,’
“Bubbleman” is hard at work.


Disney Hall for DJ Spooky, Amon Tobin, and
Cut Chemist.

You want fries with that?

For the LA Phil’s Shadow of Stalin series they and other artists remixed Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Mosolov. While other parts of the series look fascinating, this event didn’t explore much about Stalin, or the former Soviet Union. Sampled video clips from ‘Nevsky,’ ‘Potemkin,’ etc. played on two large screens front and rear, but they weren’t synched with the music and repeated too often and too randomly. It all felt random: music about music, about dance, about trance – forced into the LA Phil’s Stalin series.

One of my favorite parts was Norton Wisdom, (nice website.) He painted to the music, live onstage, as he has done with Butoh dance, Tibetan, Indian and Indonesian music, and various genres. You can vaguely see him in the bottom of the bad cellphone photo above. It seemed he had a large glass, onto which he brushed or used his fingers or a cloth to create dark, brooding, sexy images; with a bomb surprisingly added or an Uncle Sam arguing with Uncle Joe Stalin. Nice to watch them grow, and when you thought he should stop he’d make them better. Then Wisdom would wipe the images away glass with a cloth and beautiful back and forth gestures. (I always love to see window-washers work.) And he did listen to what the musicians were playing and trying to work with it. He made me think of opera, in which music and images blend.

If you like loud, I hope you were in Disney Hall last night, between about 10 pm, when it started, to past 3 am when it might have ended. I’m glad I was there. But the musicians wasted an opportunity; there they were, in Walt Disney Concert Hall with its miraculous acoustics, given an important theme to explore. They ignored both.

A side performance in a ‘side chapel’ in the arts cathedral of
Disney Hall:


Greetings from sunny L.A.!

I’m here in far-out LA at a USC Annenberg / Getty Fellowship
with the fab Sasha Anawalt. In fact I write this from the University of Southern California Digital Media lab. We’re listening to the one and only Douglas McLennan of ArtsJournal. com – the single best site on the web for my money. But Doug is so much more than just that site – classical pianist, lived in Rome and China, and is launching many exciting new projects, some with audio and video components. Is he the next American media mogul? Right now he’s trying to convince each of the fellows to start a blog. Because, he says,

1. There will be a business model for this, and
2. You’ll be involved in conversations that interest you and others interested in the same topic will find you.

He’s also reviving, in a new, different form – NAJP – the National Arts Journalism Program. Look for news in about two weeks.

I’ll post more about what we’re doing as time allows – but I warn you, they run us hard. (Awww… =] )

Every time I come to L.A. I’m impressed with, believe it or not, the lush public space here. Lots of nice small public areas, many with fountains, many away from the traffic, scattered all about. The problem is with few pedestrians, not many people stop to sit in most of them.

Tonight we see Eschenbach and the Philadelphia Orchestra at Disney Hall. Dang! I didn’t get that ticket to the taping of American Idol.

But Disney Hall is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. And the stainless steel gleamed gorgeous under today’s grey sky.
Wish you were here.



Bruce Mau told me last night,

at the superbly fun benefit for Stanley Tigerman and Eva Maddox’s Archeworks,

that he is moving with his family to Chicago in July. He’ll open a school called
“The Institute for Massive Change.”

He’ll put it in Louis Sullivan’s inspiring department store building on State Street. Carson’s – the store in there for decades, recently vacated. Mau’s school will be in the same building as, and he will team up with Tony Jones and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which recently began teaching architecture on the top floors of the Sullivan masterpiece.

Bruce Mau said he intends to focus his activities on cities. He plans to develop “Chicago prototypes.” He hopes city planners and leaders around the world will note his achievements here, come here to study them, and then replicate them where needed. He told me that a developer working on a project in Korea wants to fund the prototype here, and if or when it’s successful, replicate the solution in Korea. I have no more details on that.

Mau will live on Chicago’s North Shore; he’s looking for a grand old house to turn “smart.” With all the visitors he expects he joked it’ll be something of an “eco-resort.” Tell that to the good ladies of Winnetka.

How did this come about? Bruce Mau said that he was gratified by the welcome he received in Chicago when he brought his exhibtion “Massive Change” to the Museum of Contemporary Art. He had lunch with Stanley Tigerman. Tigerman asked him, “What are you doing? Why aren’t you here?” Tigerman told Mau he could accomplish in ten years in Chicago what it would take him forty years to acheive in Toronto. Next thing you know, Mau’s moving his family to Chi-town and opening a school here.

Bruce Mau says he’s a big fan of Mayor Daley and the work he’s doing to make Chicago more “green.” Daley is also a fan of Mau and his work.

Finally, Bruce Mau says it’s too late to tone down the expectations people have for him, but that he’ll work here to realize his dreams here.

The “City of Broad Shoulders,” “the City that Works;” the city of “Make no Little Plans,” and “Build, Don’t Talk,” welcomes its latest big thinker. I’m so glad to see him come here and help spur the Chicago Renaissance.

Remember, Chicago’s motto has always been, “Urbs in Horto” – “City in a garden.”

Welcome Bruce Mau and family. Make the place grow.


That great ‘Japanese’ architect, Mies van der Rohe.

At Crown Hall, especially since the restoration, the translucent glass looks like Japanese screens. The shadows of twigs dancing on them from behind are living calligraphy.

One of the joys of living in a Mies building is its zen-like simplicity, derived from a sensitivity to space and materials, and pared down seemingly over many lifetimes.

(I spoke about all of this once on Japanese television. But of our long conversation I think the part the producers liked best was about how Mies loved martinis!)

A favorite book on my shelf is West Meets East / Mies van der Rohe

in which the great photographer of modernism, Werner Blaser, posts a photo of a work by Mies and on the facing page, a photo of a piece of architecture in Japan. They are enchantingly similar.

I’m pleased to report that beginning June 16th, the Mies van der Rohe Society and IIT will put on an exhibition of Blaser’s work,

West is East is West / Mies van der Rohe
IIT exhibits photography studying Mies’ concepts
and Eastern philosophy

The Mies van der Rohe Society presents an exhibition created by Swiss architect and author Werner Blaser opening June 16. Ten pairs of large-scale black and white photos by Blaser compare the work of pioneering Western architect Mies van der Rohe and the building traditions of the East. Blaser has published 101 books, 15 about Mies or his buildings. He is a former student and colleague of Mies’.

West is East is West / Mies van der Rohe runs through July 29 at the Mies masterpiece, S.R. Crown Hall, 3360 S. State St., Chicago. Hours are 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. daily. Admission is $5.00, or free for those taking the tour of campus.

Lucky us, the exhibition will be right there- in the temple – Crown Hall.

-Edward Lifusanu

(as they called my father and mother, when they lived in Japan after the Korean War. They brought some prints, sculptures, fans and other artwork home, so I grew up with that aesthetic. And I heard wonderful tales of the beauty there, and the Japanese love of, and respect for beauty. Maybe that’s partly why in Chicago I live in a Mies?)


Palm trees around the “Monadnock?! “

Here’s Chicago’s

And in sunny southern California, Henry Cobb will give us this

“The architecture was inspired by the Monadnock building in Chicago, built in 1893. I believe that 700 West Broadway will be elegant, characterized by calm, timeless and classic architecture that will be fresh and functional in 100 years,” he said. “It will stand with quiet authority, and be a pause in the visual landscape, a cornerstone.”
Henry Cobb, in a written statement.

Read more here. [via]

And, while we’re Monadnocking about,
here’s the original original,

Wiki says,

“the building’s name is taken from the New hampshire mountain that gave its name to the geological term indicating a freestanding mountain surrounded by a plain.”

And, how is this for high – just say yes

More on Chicago’s Monadnock here, here and here.

By the way, Mr. Cobb, with all due respect, from the above image and the video, I’m not sure I see enough Monadnock inspiration in your new building.



The hard times are over when …


(I’d like to photoshop these boxes onto the ragpicker’s cart.)
One of these photos is by Atget. The other is by me.