Sunday, November 24, 2013

Divisionistic luminosity in glass: designs by Thirst for Skyline Design

Pictured above are entry doors to the showroom of Skyline Design, which is located in the Merchandise Mart, Chicago. Some of the artifacts that appear in these photographs are designs by studio Thirst and recently commissioned by Skyline Design. Gallery photo by versluis.

Information from Thirst states, “Thirst has four series in the Digital Glass Portfolio curated by Skyline Design. The portfolio is a collection of works by artists that transform public spaces, from Anne Lindberg to Bryan Nash Gill, all working on a large scale in the medium of printed glass for interior architecture. The portfolio won The Best of NeoCon 2013 gold awards by Contract Magazine in both Surfacing Materials/Finishes and Wall Treatments.”

Samples of the Thirst collection are displayed on the table in the foreground and include the facial profile on the wall. Gallery photo by versluis.

The effect of Thirst’s designs rely on optical blending which is determined by the division of color values into individual units generated by the developer’s code. Whether using the unit forms of dots (as in the facial profile image above) or tightly cropping typographic forms (shown below), the singular units are grouped in a regular pattern to form an entirety according to the principle of similarity that derives the image’s impact. The design becomes interactive because it requires the viewer to combine the colors optically.

Regarding this particular design, Thirst’s information says, “Phone photographs of the visual details found “classic beauty” from fashion and media are converted into a grid of circles, each punctuated by dots and lines of complementary colors.”

A close-up of the classic matrix of “dots and lines of complementary colors” that comprise Thirst’s “classic beauty” designs. Graphic courtesy of Skyline Design.

The Alphablox design, is shown above just right of center. According to Thirst, “Alphblox uses custom software to tightly crop and color letterforms in abstract, beautiful visual rhythms, inspired by the work of designer/artist Norman Ives and the foundation assignments of the Bauhaus.” Gallery photo by versluis.

The following passage from Thirst wonderfully expresses the sentiment of Alphablox: “The poetry of organic curves and rigid structures found hidden deep within an alphabet become amplified, turning a typeset phrase from Shakespeare’s famous sonnet from As You Like It which begins ‘All the world’s a stage…’  into pure pattern.” Graphic courtesy of Skyline Design.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

“a fine title, ‘Enlaced: a Burning Bush, Psalm 19’” —a quote from Calvin Seerveld at the Dordt College sculpture dedication

This past Monday afternoon, 4 November, the dedication of the Dordt College sculpture “Enlaced” took place with 25–30 people in attendance. The piece was recently installed west of Covenant Hall. The sculpture’s designer, Dordt College Art Professor David Versluis says, “The design is guided by a sense of an intertwining of a Christian perspective that’s found within Dordt College’s academic community.”

The dedication ceremony featured an introduction by Dordt President, Dr. Erik Hoekstra, acknowledgements by Versluis, remarks by Dr. Calvin Seerveld, and a prayer by College Chaplain, Rev. Aaron Baart. The photograph above and the one below shows Seerveld, who looks and sounds rather like a Rabbi, speaking at the dedication.

Seerveld was on campus that day as a First Mondays speaker (Dordt’s monthly speaker series). Regarding Seerveld, a Dordt news release states, “A prolific writer, speaker, and educator, Dr. Calvin Seerveld has dedicated his life to the study of aesthetics, redemptive art, and biblical wisdom.” Versluis says that the sculpture was inspired by Seerveld’s book Rainbows for the Fallen World where he characterizes Psalm 19 as all things are like “a burning bush of the Lord God.”

Here are Seerveld’s gracious remarks—taken from his notes:

Congratulations to artist Professor Versluis, to all who paid for Enlaced, and to Dordt College for promoting and receiving this artwork. It has a fine title: Enlaced: a Burning Bush, Psalm 19. 
This exceptionally good artwork, to my eye, is not strictly representational, but also not an “abstracted,” esoteric construction. 
It could be called a metaphor in COR-TEN steel. It sparks multiple suggestions:
Sure, the flames of a burning bush confronting Moses; the 7 (holy number) upright forms woven together suggest variety in unity…. Could there also be fingers of an unusual hand? 
This is not a monument, however—not pompous nor heavy set. There is upward movement; it appears almost airborne. Perhaps there is a letter design character behind it, telling you something, yet enigmatic…. It seems friendly to me, people-aware, safe, inviting, beckoning, sited for passers-by. 
Keeping in character with Professor Versluis and his modesty, quietly Christian…, redeeming [the want for] more attention—showing love for one’s neighbor, helping you to remember that your fellow student, prof, staff person cutting grass and cafeteria server, like Psalm 19 world-at-large are burning bushes! 
This is a very fine, larger-than-life, highly imaginative artwork. A surprise from such a quiet artist… that should remind generations to come: here at Dordt College, neighbors (Matthew 25), like trees and stones, are burning bushes—creatures of God’s grace for us to respond to with respect and love. We should thank God for the imaginative work/dedication that is present before us. (1)
  1. Seerveld, Calvin G. “‘Enlaced’ Sculpture Dedication.” Dordt College. Sioux Center, IA. 4 Nov. 2013. Address. 

Dordt College President, Dr. Erik Hoekstra giving introductory remarks at the dedication.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Alexander Girard: optical color blending suggesting the bright Mexican blanket.

Alexander Girard, American, 1907–1993
Manufactured by Maharam, American, founded 1902
Millerstripe Textile, 1973, reissued 2002
Wool and nylon upholstery
photograph by versluis

Reflecting the powerful effect of color this piece was displayed at the The Art Institute of Chicago in an exhibition titled, Sharing Space: Creative Intersections in Architecture and Design.

This exhibition, which occurred earlier this year, featured artifacts from the permanent collection of the Department of Architecture and Design.

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

“Spindles” / “Sprites”: Frank Lloyd Wright / Alfonso Iannelli

Concrete Spindle sculptures, Midway Gardens, Chicago. 1913-14.
photograph by versluis

This photograph was taken at the “Modernism’s Messengers: The Art of Alfonso and Margaret Iannelli” exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center. This important show ended in August 2013.

For these pieces the exhibition label states: “Often erroneously referred to as Sprites by today’s historians, these well-known Midway Gardens sculptures were referred to as Spindles at the time of heir creation. Frank Lloyd Wright largely determined the design, but the playful personality of the executed sculptures can be strongly attributed to Alfonso Iannelli.”

The following reflects the greater context of the Iannelli’s body of art and design work: “They weren’t looking for the rarified environment of galleries and museums,” said Tim Samuelson, Iannelli expert and cultural historian for Chicago, curator of the exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center. “They wanted to put vital, modern art where you could see it, just walking down the street or opening a magazine or going to a theater and seeing a poster on the wall.”(1)

  1. Burrows, Sara. “Art with a job to do: The Modernism of Alfonso and Margaret Iannelli.” Niles Herald-Spectator. Chicago Sun-Times, 10 Aug. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.

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