Monday, June 29, 2015

Frank Gehry’s subtle context: Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum


Frank Gehry’s first U.S. museum design “from the ground up”(1) was the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum. The museum, which opened in 1993, is located at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on the bank of the Mississippi River. The view above is from the Washington Avenue Bridge and displays the reflections from the environment while the full sun at noontime glistens off the curved stainless steel panels. Photography by versluis ©2015.


This is a photograph of one of the unconventional gallery spaces in the Weisman, indicating a mixture of natural and artificial light emanating from high ceilings.

The following is an interview with Frank Gehry by Barbara Isenberg in which Gehry discusses his design considerations of interior spaces for the presentations of artworks.

BI: How does the space affect the art in museum galleries?

FG: In the beginning there’s a space. Then you decide what to put in it. The space should have a persona when you walk into it. It doesn't have to, but it would be better if it does. There’s an emotional something that happens, whether you like it or hate it. Then you can hang the art, which brings in a whole set of criteria, but it is always the space as midwife to the art and viewer. It becomes the connector between the art and the viewer.

The space can either enhance the experience or run counter to it. The assumption is you’re going to hang the art in a way that people can see it at the proper height and so on, and that you’re going to light it properly. In any case, whether it’s in the bathroom, the dining room, or the Shrine Auditorium, whoever hangs the art is going to put it in a place so you can see it, and they’ll light it so you can see it. My premise is that as long as you’re making beautiful spaces, and as long as you address the technical issues, they can coexist and complement each other. The space can be an added enhancement to the experience. The most important thing is to break down the barrier between the person looking and what that person is looking at.

Bl: So you see the space as more of an enhancement than prime mover here?

FG: It’s ephemeral. It is sort of up for grabs. There are seven million possible solutions and no one is right. That’s what I like about it. (2)
  1. Isenberg, Barbara. Conversations with Frank Gehry. first ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 86. Print.
  2. Ibid. 97-99.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Integral structures found in nature


Weathered Birch bark found at Itasca State Park, Minnesota
photograph by versluis ©2015

This photographic close-up shows the decomposition of the thin Birch bark surface which has formed holes to let natural light in and become ornamental voids. The details suggest the functional and aesthetic philosophy of architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) who found how the grammar of “natural and organic forms no longer simply comprise[d] a kind of ornament superimposed on the building but [can] go on to constitute essential structural elements” of architecture. (1)

  1. Cirici-Pellicer, Alexandre. “Gaudì.” Encyclopedia of Modern Architecture. Ed. Gerd Hatje. 1964. 119-22. Print.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Vernacular OldType in Grand Marais


Bally’s Blacksmith Shop (built ca.1911), Grand Marais, Minnesota.
This close-up photo features the early signage (perhaps original) on the side of the building. The structure is undergoing renovation as a historical site. Photograph by versluis ©2015.

Perhaps the letterforms in this particular sign were generated by a self-taught sign painter, but the type fitting, letter spacing and classic layout on clapboards is especially interesting. The sign painter expresses ingenuity through the combination of condensed with regular and extended type styles in order to copy-fit the text within the space.

Writer Meredith Davis in her book Graphic Design Theory mentions that:

The often hand-generated and "crudely" designed vernacular faces were in stark contrast to the typographic precision and refinement of late modernism. They recalled the history of communication, distinctions of social class and settings, and associations with how and for whom they were produced. (1)
  1. Davis, Meredith. Graphic Design Theory. New York: Thames & Hudson Inc., 2012. 120-21. Print.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

“Northern Lights” — monoprint: new work


Northern Lights
David M. Versluis ©2015
10" w x 13" h
2015
Three-color monoprint

This is one of a series of 10 monoprints printed from Plexiglas plates using an inked roller and dab technique. The effect is painterly and structural where the pigment is embedded into the paper fibers. This results in an image indicating the integrability of medium and message.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

“Material Steps” — a hand cut and paste photographic collage


Material Steps
David M. Versluis © 2015
16" w x 20" h
2015
Mixed media

Material Steps comprises hand-cut and paste collage techniques made from various RC paper photographs taken earlier this year by Versluis. The collage combines gray and hot pink spray paint with other markings using lithographic crayon. All the elements are mounted to illustration board.

This piece reconsiders the metaphor of the ladder not as steps to heaven, but as doorsteps signifying the material and substance of our place on earth. Through the playful act the conventional photographic film images have been sliced into segments that are carefully reorganized to imply an informal structuring. The composition seems to imply a kind of evocative ambiguity.  In other words, does the repositioned hand railing symbolize a broken ladder or molecular model?

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dordt College Portfolio Review Night 2015


Poster design by Amanda Oberman, Dordt College Junior

Dordt College Department of Art and Design
PORTFOLIO REVIEW NIGHT! (not for students only)
Portfolio Review Night 2015 is featuring the talents of these great creatives:

Jamin Ver Velde
Creative Director, Dordt College
Creative Director, Brand New Web & Creative Development
Rob Haan
Marketing Creative Lead, Alpha Omega Publications
Ellie Dykstra
Creative Director, Rise Ministries
Brian Rykes
Graphic Designer, Creative Resource Inc.
Matt Van Rys
Creative Director, Van Rys Studios

Join us for Portfolio Review Night! 
Monday the 27th, 6:30-8:30pm.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

“bare” exhibition at Dordt College


Aubrey Pasker: Poster Design
©2014

Dordt College senior Aubrey Pasker will present her senior art show, “bare,” from April 6 to April 12.

A reception will be held in the Campus Center Art Gallery on Wednesday, April 8, from 5 to 6:15 p.m. The artist’s talk will begin at 5:15 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

“bare” incorporates photography, makeup artistry, personal statements, and real-life victims in an attempt to express the physical and psychological effects of sexual violence. The show, which began as a cathartic work for Pasker, quickly grew into an opportunity for victims to share their experience and find healing and support in one other.

“It’s definitely a combination of my passions,” says Pasker. “I love art, but I also have a passion for sexual healing. This show allowed me to use my gifts and talents to bring healing–both for myself and for the other girls involved.”

Pasker hopes that “bare” might serve as a starting point for more discussion on sexual violence. “It’s a bigger issue than most people realize,” she says. “And I think it’s time we acknowledged how many people are affected by it, even in our Christian community.”

Pasker, from Des Moines, will graduate in May with a degree in graphic design and worship arts. After college, she plans to attend a YWAM (Youth With a Mission) school focused on prostitution and trafficked victim ministries and hopes to continue her art within this field.

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