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BY ZACH MORTICE

Birdlink, at Sara Roosevelt Park in Lower Manhattan. Photo by Stephen A. Scheer.

BIRDLINK IS ONE PART ECOLOGICAL PUBLIC ART, ONE PART BIRD MIGRATION SCIENCE.

 

More than 300 species of birds migrate through New York City along the Atlantic Flyway each year. The goal of the art installation and avian habitat Birdlink, by Anina Gerchick, Associate ASLA, is to get a fraction of them to linger in the city for a bit.

Birdlink is an assemblage of stair-step bamboo and gabion planters stacked almost a dozen feet high, and intended to offer food and habitats for birds and other pollinators in urban areas outside major wildlife hubs such as Central Park or Jamaica Bay on Long Island. If you look closely, you’ll see bird varieties that shift with the seasons, as tides of migratory birds arrive and depart in New York City. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The Promenade at the Metropolitan is a 40,000-square-foot park space serving a mixed-use multifamily building. Photo by Design Collective/Jennifer Hughes.

The developer James Rouse planned Columbia, Maryland, as a tabula rasa New Town in the 1960s, including ample green space woven throughout, a robust public realm, racially integrated housing, and the ability to make a tidy profit. In many ways, this ambition was realized, but with one important exception: the lack of a lively downtown. An inward-facing mall sits at Columbia’s center, looped by a small ring road, but the city has struggled to bring activity back to its center in recent years.

Just across from the mall’s ring road is the Metropolitan, downtown Columbia’s first mixed-use multifamily residential complex. Its signature amenity is a 40,000-square-foot open space called the Promenade, a hybrid playscape and rain garden intended to be a didactic showcase for stormwater retention and native plantings. (The project won a Merit Award from ASLA Maryland last year). The Promenade encourages kids to have some rambunctious fun while learning a thing or two about how these landscapes can shepherd rainwater from the sky to the ground. (more…)

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BY JARED BREY

A landscape design course for Ohio middle schoolers could open new doors to the profession.

FROM THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

 

Scott Mental is a sculptor and middle school teacher from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a southeast suburb of Cleveland. Mental now lives and works about 65 miles due north of Columbus in a place called Bucyrus, which the mayor likes to call “the small city in the middle of everywhere.”

Between Chagrin Falls and Bucyrus, Mental made a few pit stops. In 2007, he earned a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture from Northern Michigan University. He stayed there until 2009 to work on a master’s in public administration, which he finished in 2010. Then he got an MFA in sculpture from the University of South Carolina in 2012 and, finally, a master’s in art education from Case Western Reserve University in 2015. At Bucyrus Middle School, where he has worked since 2015, his range of activities has not narrowed: He teaches art, coaches football and baseball, and advises both the art club and the yearbook committee.

In 2017, after the Bucyrus City Schools administration invited its staff to propose their own curricula for elective courses, Mental began leading a course in landscape design for seventh and eighth graders. (more…)

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BY JENNIFER REUT / PHOTOGRAPHY FROM THE PLANTHUNTER BY DANIEL SHIPP

The Planthunter finds an audience searching for connections between people and plants.

FROM THE MAY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

 

The Planthunter, despite its adventuresome name, is not about seeking bromeliads in the wilds, except that it kind of is. A web publication and now a book just out from Timber Press, The Planthunter is a platform for a community of designers and artists who have congregated around the landscape designer and writer Georgina Reid, and her aspiration to create a space where the many shades of our relationship with gardening could be unpacked. The Planthunter is for those who seek not specimen plants but a place to question the culture of people and plants.

Reid is based in New South Wales, Australia. She began looking for ways to upend her thinking after she had been designing gardens for about a decade and found herself frustrated with the publications she was reading. “I just got to a point where I was asking a lot of questions about gardens and design,” Reid says. “If you had a gardening magazine, you were being very practical and very horticultural, and there didn’t seem to be room to explore the wider context of plants and gardens in relation to culture and in relation to art design.”

“But there were no real conversations happening around why we garden.” (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The plan by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates retains the fundamental elements of Dan Kiley’s original design. Photo by Nic Lehoux.

The protection of modernist design is a relatively new topic in preservationist circles. And in many cases, landscapes have lagged behind modern architecture in receiving formal recognition and valuation.

But over the past several years, the modernism preservation nonprofit Docomomo US has used its primary awards program to bring visibility to the vulnerability and value of historic modern landscapes. The projects recognized by Docomomo US’s sixth annual Modernism in America Awards show the ways that all disciplines of the designed environment come together as a defining element of modernism: architecture, landscape architecture, art, interior design, and more. That’s been a recurring theme through the years, though this year’s awards were the first time it was “expressed so clearly or comprehensively,” says awards juror and Docomomo US President Theodore Prudon. Several projects honored put the preservation of historic modernist landscapes front and center: the rehabilitation of Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, honored with a Design Award of Excellence, and the restoration of Olav Hammarstrom’s Pond House in Massachusetts, which received a Design Citation of Merit. (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY GABRIELLA MARKS

With her one-woman practice, Radicle, Christie Green works to repair our relationship with nature—including the animals and plants we eat.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The stars were still out when Christie Green, ASLA, parked her Tundra and turned off the engine. We were somewhere near Glorieta Mesa, Game Management Unit 45, about 30 minutes southeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the moonlight, I could make out the bristle-brush tops of ponderosa and piñon pine. I grabbed the camouflage gear Green had lent me and got out of the truck. The April air was just a few degrees above freezing, and the only sounds were the howls of coyotes and the quiet murmurs of cattle somewhere in the valley. As the chill began to seep in, I tugged on my gloves and cowl. I had no idea how long we were going to be out there.

Green, who for the past five years has run a one-woman landscape design practice in Santa Fe called Radicle, had agreed to take me turkey hunting. Almost all of her projects, (more…)

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REVIEWED BY MELISSA S. RAGAIN

FROM THE DECEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In 2000, the German artist Reinhard Reitzenstein suspended a tree from a pair of abandoned hydroelectric towers in La Gabelle Park in Quebec. Hung upside down, the 55-foot spruce tree contrasts tragicomically with the immense structures beside it, as though they had seized the tree and subjected it to this humiliating inversion. This arresting image flips (quite literally) our expectations of the landscape, even a human-altered landscape like the escarpment of a hydroelectric dam, and dramatizes the clear-cutting that makes such sublime industrial monuments possible. Reitzenstein relies on those expectations in order to subvert them. The cultural baggage of landscape, both pictures of the landscape and the land’s design as an aesthetic object, is the ground against which a work like Transformer appears. The urgency of climate change and mass extinction has made it necessary for anyone who works with natural materials or images to rethink the historical conventions that govern our perceptions of the natural world.

I was choosing a new survey text for my course Contemporary Art and Ecology when I was commissioned to review Mark Cheetham’s new book, Landscape into Eco Art. To judge by the title and the array of evocative illustrations, it looked like a viable candidate to replace my go-to anthology, Jeffrey Kastner’s Nature (The MIT Press, 2012). Though Kastner’s book offers an excellent selection of short primary documents perfect for an undergraduate seminar, it lacks what many art history textbooks offer: the lure of chronology, the analysis of individual artworks, and an authoritative narrative to help navigate the last 50 years of ecological art making. And yet, as I thumbed through Cheetham’s Landscape into Eco Art, I began to realize that it was not a survey text. Neither was it the kind of fine-grained history of a single object or movement we have come to expect in contemporary art history. Other texts in the genre take the standard contemporary art historical model of diving deep into a subject only to pop back out of it again with a new perspective on the long history of contemporary practices. For instance, James Nisbet’s Ecologies, Environments, and Energy Systems in Art of the 1960s and 1970s (The MIT Press, 2014) tells a history of land art and systems thinking by tethering it to a lengthy analysis of Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977). Similarly, Suzaan Boettger’s Earthworks: Art and the Landscape of the Sixties (University of California Press, 2003) takes a wide-angle lens to land art in a chronological survey of the era’s greatest moments to shed light on the complex network of artists, gallerists, and collectors who motivated land art’s monumental minimalism.

Instead, Landscape into Eco Art might be more readily compared to work in environmental aesthetics, a subfield of (more…)

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