Perambulating the Bounds

Friday, June 29, 2007

Put the blindfold on

This Sunday, the Spanish sound artist Francisco Lopez is going to do a performance at Ruby Green. Jonathan Marx’s article on it in the Tennessean did a good job of explaining the gist of the performance. Lopez constructs complex sounds from industrial and natural field recordings that he plays back in environments he plans carefully. I’ve only heard clips, but his recordings seem to push out a fluid stream of sound that takes on shifting characteristics that bring to mind various possibilities for source material but ultimately confound associations. His goal is to move towards non-representational sound. In a recent interview he described it in terms solidly rooted in cultural history:

“Ecstasy sounds good to me as one possible descriptor (there are some other possible ones) of the immersive experience in sound -not document- I'm often involved with in the work with sound, both in the solitude of the field recording or the studio, and in the live performances. I'm definitely engaged on a quest for 'losing myself' and being 'confounded' by that immersion. All of this speaks of an ineffable perception of the sonic/music experience, which was probably best described by the expression 'belle confusion' in the conception of absolute music of some poets of the Romanticism. Music/sound can be foreseen in an amazingly wide variety of ways, especially when the conception of music can include any possible sound and any possible way of using it. From all of these, I find particularly uninteresting those perspectives centered on communication and representation, and particularly appealing those focusing on the instinctive / non-rational aspect of sound. To me, this is precisely the best feature of music, to be away from language and specific meaning. It's a quality of immense potential and strength, and it is sadly dissipated very often by multiple attempts at connecting music with external purposes or unnecessary additional elements, like the multi-media fad. This is actually a historical debate that spans centuries of discussion, and I guess there's something natural in human nature that pulls music to other less-free realms. I naturally do the contrary.”

His reference to Romanticism makes a point I feel strongly about, that noise music and the like involve an extreme, almost unbearable commitment to the emotional potential of sound. To listen, you have to let yourself feel directly. You have to abandon rational guards. The music that passes for emotional, certain kinds of pop songs for instance, all involve tons of calculation and professional polish that gets in between people and sound for the most part. I think outsiders see this music in ways that the term “experimental” might suggest, pseudo-scientific and intellectualized. Of course I'm playing right into that with the picture I chose to include from the press materials. There was another one I was going to insert as well, but Blogger doesn't seem to like Tiff format.

To encourage this immersion experience, Lopez’ performances occur in darkness with the audience wearing blindfolds. This should push people to concentrate on the sound, but I would imagine it may also produce anxiety, and even some weird overtones of hostage-taking. The audience clearly has to surrender itself to the experience orchestrated by the artist. But isn’t that always the case, if a work has any power? Most of the time the art and artist take over the audience more unobtrusively, or within the bounds of familiar performance conventions.

One of the reasons to go to this show is because John Sharp is organizing it. Given the quality of his own sound work as Mr. Natural and the connections he has with musicians around the world, John is a trustworthy guide. If he thinks it is worth something, it probably is.

The show has a 9:00 PM start time, with 3 other groups on the bill, including Harmaline, Leslie Keffer and Black Natural, a collaboration between John Sharp and Graham Moore. Ruby Green is at 514 Fifth Ave. South, just off Demonbreun.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Crafts Third Stream

A couple of things converged in recent days. On Sunday, the style section of the New York Times had a piece on the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, a gathering of what you might call DIY crafters. Labels are always tricky. These are people I think of as operating in various corners of fringe culture, affiliated aesthetically with all of the musical successors of punk. Last week I got notice from Ali Bellos about Craft: A Creative Community, the monthly craft fair she organizes (or at least publicizes) that takes place in the parking lot of the Lipstick Lounge. The next one is the afternoon of Sunday, July 15. This is like Nashville’s local version of the fair in Brooklyn. And for good measure, let me throw in running across Tiffany Dyer-Denton’s booth at the American Artisan Craft Fair a week ago on Sunday—she has participated in the Lipstick Lounge event, as well as the Nashville Craft Mafia, a similar grouping.

Seeing Tiffany and fabric doll sculptures at the American Artisan fair surprised me a little, and made me think about the different worlds of crafts. I was at the show with my mother and 3 of her friends, all of whom are jewelers; they were on their way home from the Society of North American Goldsmiths’ annual conference in Memphis. In the world of groups like SNAG, crafts are done by highly trained people, with a hierarchy of success that leads into American Craft Council-sponsored fairs, high end design stores, and inclusion in the collection of the Renwick Museum or the Museum of Art and Design. Crafts in this sense are something you learn in university-level programs.

On the other hand there are the crafty types, who make handmade things with a traditional design sense. It’s the kind of stuff you find in a “craft” store or a handmade gift shop on Main Street in a small town like the one I live in, or at the county fair.

Then there is this new world of crafts, largely self-taught people who start doing crafts with the spirit of DIY music. My friends in the Hawthorne Improvisation Collective in Houston had the belief that you should make music within the means available to you—don’t let technique keep you from making music, use whatever you’ve got. Within the broad visual arts world, you are running across people who seem to just say “why not make this.” They are not hung up on mastering some body of technique first, and only then exhibiting and selling (although many will have plenty of technique). They go ahead and run with their ideas. The aesthetics are also rough in a way that makes sense in comparison to various strains of fringe music and phenomena like self-published magazines and comics. But the aesthetic seems daft in comparison with the refinement of high crafts and the vernacular steadiness of Main Street crafts.

The new crafts people are creating something very much like folk art, put together by members of a community for use by other people in that community. Like our classic ideas of folk art, it is made by people who are not so different than other people in their community (although we are talking about an urban, artistically oriented community).

Like fringe music, these craftspeople are reclaiming the idea of a participatory culture. People make things. They make them based on their own designs. They don’t depend on metropolitan authority to dictate technique or aesthetics, or on distant companies to produce the goods.

It was surprising to see Tiffany’s work at the Centennial Park craft fair, a couple of feet away from a major jeweler like Tom Mann. Tiffany had art training in college, but she got to her current methods of working in fabric through non-institutional channels. She says she grew up around quiltmakers, so part of her background includes traditional family-based learning. And she describes the way she arrived at her current practices in a typically DIY, self-directed way: "About 4 years ago, I decided to pull out some fabric and I started cutting, piecing and stitching together recognizable images to be framed for an art show. I knew at that moment that this would become my true passion. I had wonderful response to this show and my new found love for creating with fiber emerged." You don’t hear “so I went to the Appalachian Center for Crafts to learn how to do this the right way.”

By contrast, jeweler Thomas Mann, one of the most well know people at the fair who had a booth a few away from Tiffany, cites teachers like Bob Ebendorf, Anton Cepka, and Hermann Junger. He also cites modern art movements like Cubism and Futurism, but it wouldn't surprise me to see artists in Craft Creative Community or Nashville Craft Mafia make similar connections.

The third stream of crafts has a strongly youthful energy, uninhibited and idealistic. Art and life seem tightly intertwined, and the artists seem to have a strong internal motive to make things.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Getting to alchemy

Connie Noyes is clearly a passionate artist. This takes the form of reusing leftover paint, collecting the merest scraps of debris for use in her art, and even the causes she supports like African AIDS orphans. They have something in common—multiple manifestations of a desire to find a place for what has been discarded.

All of the work in Noyes’ show at Estel (“Re-fuse/Ref-use”) incorporates debris of some sort–everything from fishing line filament and scraps of tape to small chunk of architectural molding and cast-off equipment parts. While it all inevitably uses collage and assemblage techniques, she has pursued 3 or 4 methods of composition and construction in this show, each with its own look.

One bunch of the works (or maybe two, depending on how you count), involves combining painting and found objects all encased in a thick resin. Several elongated panels are flat enough to be mistaken for pure painting until you see the objects embedded in them. A thin detail line comes from fishing line, not pencil marks. In another approach to using resin to meld disparate elements, she produced a series of small panels each of which incorporates a piece of material taken from a building near her in Paducah, KY that was being destroyed (she’s offering a portion of the sale of these panels to a charity that supports African AIDS orphans).

Noyes relies more on construction techniques in a series of panels that incorporate a single object or a small number into compositions with simple, often monochromatic color schemes. A metal brush from some machine sticks out of a surface covered with a sheet of perforated metal. The entire background is covered in gray paint applied with a dry matte surface—most of the pieces in this series have that paint quality, which contrasts with the slickness of the other pieces. These pieces share a compositional simplicity with the panels using the building debris, both of which contrast with the complex patterns in the other resin cased pieces.

Finally, there are several pieces in which Noyes builds up a central circular form that crowds the frame by piling up bits of shredded material slathered in multicolored paint. Each work uses something different for that shredded material—plastic bags, plastic bottles, roofing paper, email messages. While the material is different in each piece, the effect comes out the same. They all look like thick impasto oil built up to the point where the paint is three dimensional, like a Jay DeFeo painting.

The first 2 (or 3) series are carefully composed and polite. The steel brush is placed carefully just off center on a square background, tastefully asymmetrical, with a circular pattern in the background to echo the brush. In compositions where she uses roofing paper, it is incorporated into calm abstractions. The color of it is heavy and dark, but the resin reduces the visceral sense of texture, smoothes it out. The safe abstractions in combination with slick surfaces are aesthetically offputting. The resin casing gives the pieces the cold feel of having been manufactured. Some pieces include graphite powder, but the organic graininess is lost under this surface. And the matte surfaces in the assemblages are so even, they seem air-brushed. The artist’s hand is hard to discern and missed.

The variety of materials is entertaining – look at what I’ve found, let’s see what we can do with it. But once you accept the materials as parts of an art work (and Lord knows artists have been picking up material and sticking it in art for a long time), they are less surprising in terms of composition, the range of sensory experience and meaning.

Where Noyes really lets go are in the pieces with the masses of shredded material. These are messier, more complex, and more effusive. All of her pieces tend to equalize materials as they become part of her collages and assemblages, but the equivalence goes furthest when she shreds the material and piles it up. In the other pieces, the incorporated objects are still identifiable. The shredded stuff could be anything, and it takes on completely different characteristics. Heavy, spiky, and complicated even though it might have started out as light, smooth, clear plastic. Thanks to associations like Jay DeFeo, the many kinds of material all look like paint. It’s at this point that some alchemy starts to take hold, and it raises the stakes in Noyes’ work.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sounds right to me

Margaret Renkl, books editor at the Scene, pointed out this blog post. Pretty well sums up something.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Annie Sellick -- at Twist Gallery no less

Always up to something different, Twist is hosting a concert by Annie Sellick this Saturday (7/23). They’ve had pretty extensive performance before in association with openings (Todd Greene’s band Bulb or variations on it for one), but this is a pure music event. Annie is a remarkably good jazz vocalist, arguably the best in Nashville (I say arguably because there’s a number of other jazz singers in town, and there are the definitional questions of who you include as jazz singers). The times I’ve heard her she performed standards, old-school style, done really well—technically on, well-chosen songs, interpreted in interesting ways. She’s accompanied on this show by a piano trio. Apparently the guys in the trio are all from Atlanta and this is their first show in Nashville.

Of course a performance at Twist is the very definition of intimate setting, and the art will have a strong presence. I assume Kristina Arnold’s installation will still be in place in the front room, and that’s not exactly a bunch of pictures that will fade into the background. She’s made this garden of real plants – those spindly wildflowers with the small white flower with a yellow center – positioned underneath some of her acryllic globes hanging in long pink netted socks.

They’re charging $12 at the door for this, scheduled to start at 7:00. (The Arcade can stay open only so late.)

Monday, June 18, 2007

New Acquisition

I picked up this nice little pot at the American Artisan fair on Sunday. It’s a small raku pinch pot by Tim Weber. Tim was for many years a program director at the Tennessee Arts Commission and then had a short tenure as director of the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Smithville. When that didn’t work out (one assumes that’s the case with a short time in a job like that), Tim stayed in Smithville to focus on making and selling his own work.

My wife pointed out that I am enamored with organic surfaces on pots, and that’s just what got me interested in this. The colors and are textures are varied and subtle, rough, not shiny, like animal skin. One pitfall for raku pots is that sometimes the color can be garish, but Tim avoids that. There are shades of yellow and iridescence here, but not too much.

Like any craft artist trying to make a living from his work, Tim makes usable pieces like vases, covered jars, and platters, wheel-thrown with less delicate surface treatments. But he also goes in a more sculptural direction with things he calls “Neo-Primitive Objects.” A lot of them have the general shape of tea pot or some other vessel, but for the most part their lids don’t open, and they are definitely not functional vessels. He impales bits of bamboo through the sides or works them into the lid as if were a handle (but it's not). In the past I had the feeling these pieces were too busy, too much going on, but I didn’t feel that way with the pieces I saw in his booth Sunday. It seemed like he is using a more limited range of surface coloring (I may be misremembering the older pieces), with the primary colors coming from the carbon smudges produced when the pieces are put red hot into sawdust or whatever combustible material Tim uses at the end of the firing process.

Tim needs to get a website so I can show some of these images. I’m sure I’ll acquire one of the neo-primitives one of these days, and I’ll post pictures then.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Matt Mikulla's Nashville Postcards

Matt Mikulla is showing his best series of photos so far. Matt, for anyone not familiar with him, has workspace and spacious gallery for his own work in the Arcade. He opened up in that big round of new activity last summer.

Sometimes Matt seems overly caught up in the technical process of his photogrpahy (a lot of what he does is interesting) and the aesthetics are not taken as far as I’d like. But the current series has plenty going on.

These are color shots of Nashville scenes—some landmarks like the Country Music Hall of Fame, others more anonymous streetscapes. He manipulates them in Photoshop, and that’s where things get interesting. First of all, the focus on the images is handled so that a few details come out in sharp definition, with the rest fairly blurred. He’s also manipulated the colors so they don’t look quite real—the green leaves of trees look like the lichen used in model railroads. The combination of these elements, and also the lighting/exposure, make it look like he has photographed miniatures. The palette is also similar to old postcards with their colored black and white photos. (BTW, these are not postcard sized prints, but normal sizes for photo prints.)

A photo like this one, of the Country Music Hall of Fame, could be a postcard image, almost, except for the odd effect of the Hall of Fame standing out clearly and background elements like the crane on the apartment building fading into a blur. The grass in the foreground seems a little too yellow, like a color print that has faded (although taken at the right time of the year, this might have been close to the actual tone).

In this one, the Customs House seems to have a flat exterior surface with details painted on, and the light seems artificial, somehow too even or too white.

He also finds unlikely landmarks, like this metal scrapyard. But the same thing, the mid-ground building and the pile of metal in focus, the rest not.

In this shot of the intersection at 5th and Commerce, taken from high in one of the buildings on Church Street, the cars look like nothing so much as toys.

Things seen from a height often seem like toys, so try this one from Broadway with street-level perspective, especially the trolley and the frontloader.

I don't know if the sensation of these as miniatures comes out over the web, but the effect is very strong in the gallery.

On one level these photos are Matt’s entry into the scenes of Nashville photography market, with a nice twist to differentiate them from the many other versions of some of these scenes. Commercially, it's a good idea to have something like this to offer people who walk into his gallery. But his twist turns the images into imagined ersatz versions of the landmarks and streetscapes. And that suggests the idea that downtown Nashville, like any place that caters to tourists, has become a sort of Disneyland recreation of a place where music is produced and performed, empty facades and too obviously mass produced surfarces. And in the context where the urban downtown becomes the scene for spectacle, which both celebrates consumption and itself becomes an object of consumption, even the gritty, “real” places like metal recycling plants get swept up into this spectacle landscape, somehow playing into the overall drama of consumption that is the purpose of these spaces in the contemporary socio-economic order. (Thank you Guy Debord)

It makes these photos right odd as momentos of downtown, with their subtle reference to the artificiality of spatial relationships mediated through a speculative and spectacular economy to such an extreme degree that the living city seems replaced by a brittle representation of the city.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Killer of Sheep

This is one of those join the band wagon posts. My wife and I went out to see Charles Burnett's film, Killer of Sheep, at the Belcourt. Every single reviewer has raved on this film, and I have no dissent from that.

I'm not sure what I thought it would be, but it surprised me how non-narrative it was. There are events, but not really a story line. It's a few days in the lives of a working class black family in LA. These events provide a context for watching the rhythms of these people's everyday lives, whether it's some men negotiating to buy a motor or playin dominos, or kids engaged in perfectly random kid behavior. "Hey man, let's pile up these railroad ties." It also allows for beautiful black and white images -- like a stream of kids one after another leaping between two rooftops, shot from below.

The word that came to mind was "tone poem." It's hard for a film to pull off a poetic method of juxtaposing images. In film it is more likely to end up feeling like unassimilated clips.

There is a subtle arc and structure to the piece, like an abstract painting formed from minimal gestures in a limited palette. The film switches between scenes of the neighborhood lives of this family and their relatives, friends, etc., and scenes from the slaughterhouse where the main character works. Each of these elements has a subtle arc--the slaughterhouse scenes work up to the point where the sheep are killed--the preliminary scenes show what comes before and after. And the neighborhood and home scenes end with the character experiencing the slightest bit of relief from the emotional darkness that weighs him down. It's not much, he does not end up liberated or saved. It's just a point of release, a subtly flexed emotional arc.

The film is showing through the weekend at the Belcourt in Nashville. If you live here, go. If you're in another town, the film's website lists where and when it will be screened.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Art in a trailer in Memphis

Hamlett Dobbins has a really sweet setup on Broad Avenue in Memphis, not too far from Rhodes, the Brooks, and Memphis College of Art. Hamlett’s got a building in this short stretch of old commercial buildings, cut off from the main thoroughfares by confusing traffic patterns. In the front room of the ground floor he has a gallery space which he calls Material, which has a regular series of monthly shows. Hamlett’s studio is in the back of the ground floor, and he and his family live upstairs.

I got a chance to drop by over a year ago, but basically I don’t make it up to Memphis very much so I don’t have much to say about the shows. But I’m on his email notice, and I couldn’t pass up a mention of one thing taking place on the night of the reception, this Friday. Piecing bits of Hamlett’s announcement:

Nathaniel Parson’s show will be in “Chuck,” the artist’s 1964 Serro Scotty camper trailer parked in front of the gallery for the exhibition reception. The artist is moving from his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio to San Francisco, California and will present I’M FROM WHERE I’M GOING at a number of venues along the way.

About I’M FROM WHERE I’M GOING, Parsons writes:
“The project locates a portable artist’s studio in a town’s public space, where the artist’s door of solitude can be opened to encourage all who visit to participate and view that which has been created previously. Using the traveling road show format, I wish to demystify the production of art by creating a showcase of a town’s excitable talented citizens.”

I don’t know quite what’s going to be in the trailer (at least one of Parson’s previous shows recruited local artists in Memphis for a sort of performance. Look at the description on his site). But this has got to be fun.

This is just one thing Hamlett’s got going Friday night at Material. Amy Enkelmann-Reed and Tom Reed are also showing work—I was able to find GIFs of his work, and it looks good. All three of the artists are University of Iowa MFAs, like Hamlett.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The creative class, who needs 'em

Just saw this article in the Houston Chronicle, a dissent from the ideas of Richard Florida about how to promote the development of a city. Florida is the “creative class” guy who argues that cities prosper when they attract high-skilled people engaged in creative pursuits, broadly defined. It means making the place attractive to artists, but also to people like web designers and ad agencies. I think he would include programmers and industrial designers, but it tends to be discussed in terms of folks who would create gaming systems, not so much applications for back office processing of banking transactions.

Joel Kotkin says no, this is crap, what you need is low taxes, limited regulation, and vocational education. According to him, parks and cultural institutions come from prosperity, don’t cause it. Big surprise from a report sponsored by a Houston booster group—Houston is an exemplar of the success of this approach.

He makes a distinction between superstar cities which can pursue an elite-oriented strategy, and every place else which seems broad-banded. I think that distinction is valid. The concentration of capital in the global economic centers puts them in a different class. But I’m not sure Kotkin’s really dealing with some of Florida’s ideas, to the extent I understand them. One phenomenon behind the creative class concept is that as income disparity and real estate prices take off in places like New York, places with a slightly lower cost of living become attractive to various kinds of creative workers. Especially artists, who are not particularly well-positioned to hang on in the highest cost cities unless they start selling art to the hedge fund managers. As I understand, Florida’s idea is that a leveling effect occurs, and in that environment cities can attract some of these people which will allow some towns which are not New York to differentiate themselves from their peers.

I think the “creative class” idea gets oversold, and there’s a lot of murkiness about what categories of activity count in that. It also seems to skip right over class--there's a difference between a poor musician trying to make ends meet and a well-compensated employee, perhaps more difference than similarity. But Kotkin’s argument just encourages cities to pay no attention to their artists, a neglect that really isn’t benign in a place like Nashville. The almost complete lack of governmental engagement in promoting the arts makes important parts of the art scene extremely vulnerable. The visual arts struggle to establish footholds, the Frist Center notwithstanding, and even the famous music community has more gaps than not. Kotkin’s case is stronger for Houston, which has a good range of arts institutions, and reasonable living costs that provide the capacity for people to survive and work at the margins. But the laissez-faire qualities have a lot to do with making it a rough city, with bad air, infrastructure and services that seem constantly at risk of succumbing to the elements, and an impressive homicide rate. Houston may be a place where people can make money and can make some interesting things happen, but you’ve got to be careful how far you go in making it your model.

Tom Wills at Portland Brew

It was good to see Tom Wills’ work up at Portland Brew/Murphy Road. In addition to a series of his pastels (I think most of these are older pieces, but I could be wrong about that), he is doing one of his projections of clips from his huge collection of old home movies. These aren’t from his family, but footage he purchases like the family photos you find in antique stores and flea markets (I think Tom’s flea market is more of an on-line thing). He puts clips from them into compilations from time to time, sometimes for art shows at Downtown Pres, sometimes for services, Belcourt events, etc. This was the first time I’d seen one of his films in conjunction with his pastels, and this will give me something to think about. He maintains a blog where you can see the raw material.

Tom’s pastels are mostly of the marginal, overlooked spaces on highway borders, places occupied by a few forlorn cedar trees. A lot of the scenes are in winter, not with snow on the ground, but the grasses dried out and the light overbright in the dry winter air. Sometimes his own shadow is visible, which echoes the shape of the trees. It’s been a while since I’ve read his statements about these pieces, but as I recall he talks about these spaces as representing a transitional point between the self and the divine. I think it was something like that. At any rate, over the years his images have caused me to be much more alert to the landscapes on the side of the road as I’m blasting down I40 into town.

And it’s going to be interesting to think about how those images relate to the home movies, with their images of families, but lost families, families who have forgotten about these documents of themselves or who have fragmented and splintered in the ways families can over time. Tom doesn’t do much to these films—there are probably a lot of choices about sequence that would be apparent if I took a bit more time to watch them, but to a great extent he collects and then puts them out there. I always feel like Tom is trying to let these films speak for themselves. It might suffer in certain regards from the lack of a stronger authorial hand in the composition and presentation, but there is something humble and humane in the act.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Now that was a magazine

Got this note today from Scott Marshall:

"My pal Ethan's latest project; four old issues of Paul
Krassner's legendary magazine The Realist posted
online every month until all 146 issues are compete. "

I've heard of the Realist (I think my friend Warren Leming knew Krassner), but never seen the issues. It's off-the-chart sharp, subversive on multiple levels, finds common ground between Lenny Bruce and R. Crumb.

Also, check out my wife's post about John Rogers and his awesome new Ornette Coleman tatoo.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Another group

Continuing the theme of artist/activist groups gets me to something that struck my fancy in the Beyond Green: Toward A Sustainable Art show at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati. It was organized by the University of Chicago, which as a UC grad I was glad to see, and it made me sorry I wasn’t on campus while it was going on. From the information provided for some of the pieces in the exhibit it sounded like there was a lot of activity related to the show.

The show of course includes Dan Peterman, a Hyde Parker who works with the neighborhood’s long-established recycling program and makes out of a seeming endless cache of flotsam and jetsam discarded from labs in the area. Many of the pieces are clever solutions to problems (like Michael Rakowitz’ ingenious inflatable shelters for the homeless that appropriate exterior ventilation ducts of buildings for heat and to sustain the structures) or public information or education campaigns (Free Soil’s fruit wrappers). You might ask is this art or design, but that of course would be narrow-minded and categorical. Ok, ok. I won’t ask.

My favorite idea here was the underground mushroom farming system (and here) developed by The Learning Group, a collaboration of people from Denmark, Mexico, and the U.S. They’ve built these growing structures that could be installed under the streets of a city like Chicago. I could just see these pods appearing in the nooks and crannies of Lower Wacker Drive, or in the crawlways underneath houses. I love the idea of making such dead spaces productive, and of anything that causes life to grow in places where the city’s concrete, steel, and grease would seem to have blotted it out. Gardens and crops intertwined with people in dense ways. What's the phrase: urbs in hortus? Or maybe better hortus in urbs.

ICI has picked up this show and is traveling it around. Maybe it will make its way to the South. It would be great to see it in Nashville, to spend some more time with it. My trips to Cincinnati are always a bit on the run, so I didn’t look at everything as carefully as I could have.