What I learned this week, November 23, 2012

My dream is to some day write something that shows up on this list:

The 40 most gruesome deaths in literature

Blood Meridian is my “favorite” – if that’s the right word.

The fates of The Kid and Judge Holden are irrevocably intertwined. Although Holden slaughters The Kid (by now The Man) in an outhouse, we’re spared the repugnant details. We’re not spared the reactions of those that spy the hideous scene. The Man’s death was not a quick, nor was it a pretty affair.


This man is my hero.

When I watch that video, it’s amazing how many of the things that make Dallas livable are a direct product of this guy’s work.

One thing I thought interesting is that, as an example of what Dallas has that is bad – he showed a photo of the High Five interchange. What he didn’t know/mention is that underneath that giant monstrosity is a really nice bicycle trail. When they built the High Five, they thought seriously about providing alternative transport and added a way to cross both 635 and 75 – two of the frustrating barriers to alternative transport in our area.

It’s also a pretty darn impressive route to ride – along a little urban creek with almost a billion dollars worth of five layers of roadway stretching upwards hundreds of feet overhead.

The problem was that the cities on either side didn’t provide the support to build access to the High Five trail for years after it was built. Now it’s connected, but not as well as it should be.


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IT’S TIME TO REFLECT WELL ON DALLAS:

A CALL TO ACTION

Over the past 14 months, as this issue became known and stories about the damage Museum Tower is doing to its neighbors have appeared locally and nationally, many of you have asked us what you can do to encourage a positive resolution. If you live in the city of Dallas, I would ask you to make your Dallas city council representative aware of your opinion, whether by letter, email, or telephone. If you live outside of the city and care about Dallas’ cultural institutions voicing your support and opinion to our elected officials is also welcome. The leadership of Museum Tower needs to recognize their responsibility to our community, and your council representatives can play an important role in resolving this matter.

I’d like to reaffirm that we at the Nasher are advocates for the development of the Arts District and support the goal of Museum Tower to add residencies to this neighborhood. Ray Nasher has given our community an incredible gift by building an unparalleled museum in the heart of the Dallas Arts District and making his extraordinary collection accessible to all. The Nasher is an invaluable educational, cultural and economic resource for the people of Dallas and visitors from around the world and we need your support and your voices to ensure its future contributions to the region.

With thanks, as ever, for your interest and support,|
Sincerely,
Jeremy Strick
Director
Nasher Sculpture Center

If you would like to share your thoughts please contact support@nashersculpturecenter.org

The deadly solar rays burning down from the Museum Tower onto the Klyde Warren Park. The tower builders say this is not a problem, but take my word for it, it was nasty.

This bright shadow on the wall of the Nasher sculpture garden is not cast by the sun, but by the reflection off the Museum Tower.


Why are fountain pen sales rising?

Why? Because they are cool, that’s why.

You might expect that email and the ballpoint pen had killed the fountain pen. But sales are rising, so is the fountain pen a curious example of an old-fashioned object surviving the winds of change?

For many people, fountain pens bring back memories of school days full of inky fingers, smudged exercise books and piles of pink blotting paper.

But for others, a fat Montblanc or a silver-plated Parker is a treasured item. Prominently displayed, they are associated with long, sinuous lines of cursive script.

…..

Sharon Hughes, a buyer for John Lewis, says people relish returning to solid, traditional objects to make sense of a difficult and complex world.

“They are an old-fashioned thing but people like the personal touch. It is nice for things to be handwritten and not having everything via email,” she says.

According to Eva Pauli, from German manufacturer Lamy, the digitisation of everyday life has led to a change in writing by hand.

“Writing is becoming more and more exclusive and personal. This will probably be the reason that some people speak of a comeback of the fountain pen,” she says.

Sheaffer Pens

Sheaffer Pens


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What I learned this week, May 4, 2012

I have been writing about the ultra-expensive condominium Museum Tower cooking the Nasher sculpture center the same way a bully with a magnifying glass burns the ants on the sidewalk:
here
here
and here

The New York Times now has an article on the issue,

Dallas Museum Simmers in a Neighbor’s Glare

There are a couple of interesting quotes. First, from the Los Angeles based architect that designed this monstrocity:

Scott Johnson, the Los Angeles architect who designed Museum Tower, said he was willing to consider remedies but that the Nasher also had to be open-minded. “My responsibility is to fully vet solutions vis-à-vis Museum Tower — that’s my building,” he said. “But I can’t say sitting here now that the Nasher may not need to do something on their end.”

So, you see his concern for the neighbor (The Museum) that actually made his project (The Museum Tower) possible. I would imagine it would have been a good idea to “fully vet” his design before the thing was built, don’t you?

And also, a fact I did not know, that helps to emphasize the whole political disgustedness of the whole thing:

Complicating matters is that the $200 million Museum Tower is owned by the Dallas Police & Fire Pension System, on whose board sit four members of the City Council.

Ok, that makes it even more clear how the developers knew they could get away with this without the city doing a thing to stop them. Remember, none of this went into action until Raymond Nasher died – then the powers that be moved in to devour the carcass of his philanthropic vision.

The final word is from the livid Renzo Piano… who just might know a little about this sort of thing.

“By doing this, they kill what they use to sell it,” Mr. Piano said.

I think that, right now, the tower should be requred to change its name (Maybe to “Death Star Condominium Tower”) and to remove all reference to the Nasher Museum from its sales pitch (where it, of course, figures very prominantly). Actually, they should be required to warn their potential residents of the skin cancer danger poised by the neighbor next door due to the reflected sunlight.

The Museum Tower Condominiums tower over Tony Cragg’s “Lost in Thought”

From Bloomberg: Dallas Museum Seeks to Shade Pension-Backed Tower’s Sunny Glare



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The Museum Tower Condominiums tower over Tony Cragg's "Lost in Thought"

I have been a huge fan of the Nasher Sculpture Center since it was built. I go there all the time. It is truly one of the most comfortable, wonderful, and amazing public spaces I’ve ever seen. Family friendly , educational, beautiful, and a marvelous host to public gatherings – it was a thoughtful and generous gift from Raymond Nasher to the people of the city.

One of the goals of creating the Dallas Arts District, of which the Nasher is a linchpin, was to attract the high-end buzz of the wealthy clientele that enjoy throwing their millions around in order to wallow in the coolness of timeless art. These folks are hard to pry away from the coasts or the ancient alleyways of Europe but a roadfull of expensive venues and billions of dollars of paintings and sculptures was the lure. And so they come. The first habitat for these rare birds is the shiny new Museum Tower, reaching skyward from an odd oval of property where a Woodall Rogers Freeway ramp arced up and around.

Now I have no problem with that. I’m not a wealthy person and will never be. I have to beg and save just to buy a pen, for example. Most of the art scene I enjoy comes on Free Thursdays and Half-Price weekend and such as that, when the upper crust retreats and allows the hoi polloi to enter and tread their hallowed halls. I depend on the charity or at least the indifference of the wealthy patrons – I exist on their scraps – like a roach under the cabinets I scurry out when they aren’t looking for any crumbs that might be left behind.

So if someone wants to build a tower and charge millions of dollars for a two bedroom apartment – so be it. I applaud their industry, toast their imagination, and do not begrudge them their profits. If they want to call their property The Museum Tower – in order to capitalize on its location right next to the Nasher, fine. If they want to charge an extra million dollars per unit simply so the residents can use the museum garden as their side yard – complete with landscaping and a billion in modern sculpture – great. There is plenty of room and if you don’t mind standing next to me, I don’t mind standing next to you.

But don’t forget what side of the bread you’re putting the butter on. Without the museum there is no Museum Tower. Without the arts, there is no Arts District. Do not roast the goose that lays the golden eggs.

It started out with Tending (blue). The high rise stuck it’s ugly head right up into the viewport of James Turrell’s skyspace sculpture, my favorite spot at the Nasher and the best place to watch the sunset in the Metroplex. But, I’ve written about that before. (go read it)

An oversight, perhaps… pretty damn sloppy, though, if you ask me. You spend that much money on a building, make that much profit, can’t you figure out ahead of time that it’s going to ruin a great work of art? Or do you realize it and simply not say anything until it’s too late. Turrell can fix it, maybe, but when? He’s got other things to do.

And now, it’s happened again. And it’s a lot more serious this time.

They have put the mirrored cladding on the building and it is reflecting so much extra sunlight into the building at the Nasher that they are having to install shades simply to allow the newest sculptures in the room. Sunlight destroys art – but is necessary for art and the Nasher has always been very proud of it’s carefully engineered sunscreen roof. The architect spent a lot of time and effort designing a structure that allowed light for viewing in while blocking the damaging direct rays of the Texas sun. It was a brilliant triumph of design and construction and made for a world-famous light and airy museum that was a strong point of pride for the entire city.

It was a brilliant triumph until a few weeks ago when someone installed a giant mirror reaching five hundred  feet into the sky right next door that shot laser beams of killer sunlight into the Nasher from an entirely unexpected direction.

Read the articles:

Nasher to Museum Tower: Watch Your Glass, It’s Frying Us

Watch Your Glass, It’s Frying Us, Continued

Museum Tower Reflected Light Study

Nasher Sculpture Center says glare from Museum Tower is causing harm

Museum Tower Begins Visual Assault on James Turrell’s Tending, (Blue)

Mayor wades into uproar over Museum Tower’s glare

Museum Tower Glare Threatens Nasher Art

Nobody ever clicks on links, so here’s the skinny from the Dallas Morning News:

Officials at the Nasher Sculpture Center say that reflective glass recently installed on the exterior of Museum Tower, its new, 42-story neighbor in the Arts District, is compromising its indoor galleries, destroying its outdoor garden and threatening its future as a Dallas landmark.

Now under construction at the corner of Olive Street and Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Museum Tower heralds its proximity to the “tranquil garden” of the Nasher as a prime selling point for its residential units, which cost between $1 million and $5.4 million.

This makes me so angry I could spit. There is a city code that says, “A person shall not conduct a use that has a visible source of illumination that produces glare of direct illumination across a property line of an intensity that creates a nuisance or detracts from the use or enjoyment of the adjacent property.” For years I have had city inspectors quote much more obscure bits of code than this and made places I work do all sorts of crazy stuff.

But then again, the places I have worked have only employed thousands of ordinary people. They haven’t been home to a handful folks that can afford five million dollar apartments. They haven’t been owned by the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (that’s who bought the tower).

When the Nasher was built, there was an agreement with Raymond Nasher, part of the covenant that helped him agree to build the museum and give his personal collection to the people of Dallas that stated the building next door would be a maximum of 21 stories and have a maximum reflectivity of 15. Now it is 42 stories with a reflectivity of 44.

So here we have a story of corporate greed and hidden scandal. Men like Raymond Nasher are no more.  I notice that mere months after he passed away – a new LA based architect was brought in to fuck things up and the tower doubled in size and reflectivity, causing all these problems -, about the time the City Pension System decided to make its purchase. I guess they knew then the city would not put up a fight. Mary Suhm, the Dallas City Manager says, “It’s not something we have jurisdiction over.” Well, she certainly knows which side of her bread is buttered.

Meanwhile, the art continues to bake and the goose that lays the golden egg is cooked. At least they are using green solar energy to do it.

A pole-sitting sculpture in front of a new Condo Tower going up.

The condominium tower going up next to the Nasher that is ruining Tending (blue).

Lost in Thought and luxury living

The Museum Tower Condominiums tower over Tony Cragg's "Lost in Thought"

The Tony Cragg exhibit is about to end down at the Nasher. The Museum Tower outside continues to stretch its mirrored mass skyward, now plainly visible through Renzo Piano’s semitransparent roof. I still haven’t heard what they are going to do about the fact that the tower is intruding on the skyspace of Tending(Blue)… if anything.

The tower will have 122 condominiums priced from 1.2 to 4.1 million dollars a pop – plus a custom priced full floor residence. I’ll never set foot in the place, that’s for sure.

Take a look at their advertising. The Nasher Sculpture Center features in every scene of fine bred humans smiling their way through their artistic day. They are using the Sculpture Center to hawk their condominiums. At the same time their tower has already destroyed what was, to many, the crown jewel of the museum experience.

I have nothing against rich people, and I applaud their luxury. But if you are going to spend that much for an apartment… can’t you throw out a dime or so and figure something out… give us back our art installation? Why did they not think of this beforehand? Tending(Blue) was the coolest place in the city. It was the best place for the ordinary citizen to watch a sunset. You can have your multi-million dollar views, but let us have our own little piece of the sky.

Please?