Posts Tagged ‘artist


Giving Back to your Community

What do you give back to your community? Maybe you volunteer at your local food bank, or mentor kids after school, or serve on the board of a non-profit organization.

The key to volunteerism is getting involved in something that you’re passionate about.
Although one may get an occasional pat on the back from others, most of the reward of volunteering is internal – one’s own sense that they’ve helped others, for a cause they strongly believe in, without asking for anything in return.

Giving Back in 2013
For this year, I’ve decided to give back to the community I feel most strongly a part of:
the design community. That may sound pretty abstract, but it’s not. Let me tell you why. One of the most universal themes of the human condition is the contrast of youth versus age. The former is associated with agility and speed, the latter with deliberation and wisdom. As I look with admiration to the nimbleness of recent design program graduates in producing slick imagery, I also am reminded of the accrued wisdom of real world practice. As an architect practicing for over 25 years, I’d like to offer back a distillation of some of that experience.

Recording of, and Learning From Experience
Starting with my freshman year of architecture school, I was exhorted to keep a design journal. I’m not sure how many journals and scrapbooks have accrued since then, but certainly enough to fill several filing cabinets. Looking back through some of them this past year, I was struck by how some design themes have remained quite constant through the years of education and practice, while others were momentary enthusiasms which were quickly abandoned. Through the lens of time, some patterns have become visible.

The Wisdom Project
The process of identifying these recurrent patterns has become an endeavor I refer to as “the wisdom project”. The goal of the project is to articulate the essential elements of design practice. While my experience and resulting ideas of practice are specifically shaped from the arena of architectural design, my belief is that the wisdom is rather applicable to all areas of creative endeavor. Although some of the concepts may be of use to the lone artist toiling in the garret, the emphasis is on artistic pursuits in a commercial and social context. In other words, my focus is on applied design, where clients and collaborators are an integral part of the process toward realizing a finished work of art/architecture.

A Peek Toward What’s Upcoming at axdblog
My intention therefore is, over the course of 2013, to essentially produce, in serial fashion from A to Z, a primer entitled: the wisdom project: essential elements of design practice. It is my hope that students and practitioners alike will find helpful insights to better their own artistic endeavors.

Ed Barnhart, AIA; principal, Always by Design


“Nothing to Fear” Facade

Recently we were commissioned to do a design-build facade installation for Peter G.-Ray’s 2009 ‘Nothing to Fear’ painting exhibition at the Bridge Gallery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Two years earlier we debuted his work in the U.S. at AxD Gallery with a solo show entitled ‘CUT’. For that exhibition we built rolled aluminum panels on the exterior of our gallery, creating the appearance of their being cut and peeled away.


Views of finished window at Bridge Gallery, and the painting "Cut" by Peter G.-Ray, displaying similarly hand-rolled aluminum panels.

The designs for both gallery fronts flowed as fairly direct extensions of the artist’s interests in concealing, cutting, peeling and revealing. In his work, openings, whether rendered physically in cut materials or graphically with painted surfaces, are invitations for engagement. Simply put, Peter’s work invites curiosity. As art critic Ken Moffett has noted: “G.-Ray has combined the hallucinatory surrealism of Dali with the vigor and freedom of Jackson Pollock, metamorphosing these into something startlingly new. He hungers to unite extremes: Precision and free improvisation, the intensely graphic and beautifully painted, exquisite refinement of detail and pictorial force.” All in all, there is plenty in Peter G.-Ray’s work to sustain interest and wonder.

Our design-build exercises to date have all been conducted as “charrettes” of a week or less. In the case of the Bridge Gallery façade installation we had the added constraint of performing all of the work in a single day, including round trip transportation from Philadelphia, with materials and equipment fitting inside a mid-sized sedan.

Fortunately working conditions were absolutely perfect. The weather was very mild for late February. The trickiest part of the project was securing our work to the Bridge Gallery without permanently altering the existing marble façade. We accomplished this by working the head and a jamb of our frame into existing security gate hardware and bolting the base into the concrete sidewalk. Interest in our installation piece increased dramatically as the first aluminum panels were screwed onto the frame. (See “before” and installation photos below.)


Neighboring shop owners, tourists and random passersby stopped to ask us what was going on. We handed out quite a few postcards for Nothing to Fear during that Spring-like afternoon. As we finished up at dusk, Peter G.-Ray was quite pleased with results … the debut for both of us in NYC. Two days later, it snowed at the March 1st opening reception!

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