Friday, February 24, 2006

Santiago Calatrava

Milwaukee Art Museum

While I was at the Met recently, they had an exhibition of Santiago Calatrava. I was first introduced to his works when I was in Bilbao - actually to be accurate, I got the introduction just as I was arriving because the Bilbao airport is one of his works. He is also responsible for a footbridge just downstream from the infamous Bilbao Guggenhiem.

When I was in Chicago, I took a trip up to Milwaukee to take a look at his addition to the Mikwaukee Art Museum. It was well worth it, as it's quite an amazing bit of architecture. The 'wings' on the building, called the Burke Brise Soleil close each day at noon.

Calatrava is also responsible for the new PATH station at the site of the to be re-built World Trade Center in New York. His work lends itself to transportation, as it invokes speed, weightlessness and an ability to defy gravity and physics in the same way that our airplanes and cars seem to do today. Most of his works are bridges, stations and airports - but recently he has expanded to towers, and perhaps like Renzo Piano, this will move him towards the architecture A-list. His 80th South Street tower, located near the heavily-touristed area of South Street Seaport will surely bring mainstream recognition for such a bold project.

Both of Calatrava's (only) New York works are still in planning or construction, but you can expect a fair bit of attention and revisiting of his past works when they are complete.

Of course, to Canadians, Calatrava is best known for Toronto's BCE Place which is rightfully considered an architectural landmark, despite it's lack of marquee purpose (it is a public galleria, and not a museum or other high-profile building)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mark Rothko

In the interest of making semi-regular and smaller updates to my blog, as opposed to writing essay-length entries bi-monthly, here is a quick contribution.

In two weeks, it is the anniversary of the death of Mark Rothko. Most people will generally recognize Rothko as the abstract expressionist responsible - along with the likes of Barnett Newman - with the popularization of "colour fields". Personally I've always liked his works, despite what I feel is a lack of underlying talent in their making - however in discussing Rothko fully, I could easily go down the rabbit hole of the interpretations of art (a la Duchamp), and I will defer simply to the fact that I would hang a Rothko on my wall because I think they are nice to look at.

The Guardian Arts section has a fantastic article on Rothko's biggest commission, his subsequent rejection of the money and donation of the completed works to the Tate, which added a complexity to the man and his works I hitherto was unaware of.

To commemorate, my Flickr icon has been changed to a Rothko painting for the next two weeks.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

New website in progress

Just a quick FYI to everyone, I'm in the process of redesigning my personal website to be entirely driven by the Flickr API (so I don't need to update two sites with my photos)

Also, I am going to start selling some of my prints, framed and unframed. The list is up at Flickr.

The new site (splash page) template is up. It's running on my mac mini - so if it's down, don't be overly annoyed.

Meet the new boss...

Well, it certainly didn't take long for Stephen Harpers cloak of 'principles' to get cast off now that it's no longer needed. I always assumed that Harpers biggest problem would be keeping the crazies of the party in check long enough for the Canadian people to 'really get the know' the new party, now we know that his biggest problem is that he is full of shit - his second biggest problem will be keeping the crazies in check.

Allow me to run down a quick list of our new Prime Ministers first acts in office;

1) Appointing David Emerson as a cabinet minister only days after Emerson was elected as a Liberal. How long was this little deal in the works? Days? Before the election? Emerson must be feeling rather smug, knowing that he had a plum post regardless of whom was elected to the party in power.

Crossing party lines is an accepted fact of life - however the brazen act of doing it mere days after the election is an entirely new level of cynical. The Liberal riding association for Vancouver Kingsway has already asked for his $100,000 in campaign funds to be returned. They have every civil right to ask for this, and if there is any evidence that Emerson had contact or dealings with Harper before the election, I figure they have a criminal case as well. Gomery is about done with his current investigations, perhaps it would be fun (and by fun, I mean ironic) to sic him on this one.

2) Appointing Michael Fortier to be in charge of Public Works and Government services. Hey remember PWGSC? The department that is responsible for the oversight of government contracts? You know, the area that was lax in the Adscam affair? Oh yeah, we're going to appoint an unelected person to be in charge of that. And oh yes, Mr. Fortier is also going to be a Senator, despite the fact that the Conservative party campaigned on the idea on an elected Senate. Fortier hasn't been elected to fuck all and already he's got his fingers pretty deep into the workings of power.

3) Appointing Gord O'Conner as Defence Minister. I suppose this shouldn't come as a surprise, given that he was a General in the Canadian Forces - however the fact that he was a lobbyist for years afterwards taints him in a very, how shall I put this - "American" way? I think the revolving door of lobbyists and government is one of the biggest threats to democracy south of the border, and now we have it at home. Yippee.

Interestingly, Hill and Knowlton - the lobbying firm O'Conner worked for is quite upbeat about the prospects of a new government: "Canada has a new federal government! While we are still facing a minority Parliament, the Tories, under Stephen Harper, will drive a new agenda. Do you need help understanding it all and its impact on your business?" 'Cause we got an in! Give us some cash and Mr. Harper and company will roll over and let you rub their belly. You know Cheney and Halliburton - that us now! Ain't it great!

Stand up for Canada? More like 'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss'. Thank god the Canadian electorate saw fit to give Harper a short leash to work with because I think the government will fall even quicker than I predicted, if that is even possible. Most people gave Harper a chance to prove that he is different than the Liberals, while not being as scary as they portray him to be. In his first day, he has proven to be no different - and it will only be a matter of time before his facade of being a centrist falls to pieces as well. Rick Mercer, our favourite political comedian has a nice little article on the nutcase element of the party which I'm sure we'll be seeing more of.