23 March 2011

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

It is 99 years from the fictional start of the book. Francie Nolan's family were intensely poor. There is no glamor in how they lived. But there was an intense economy and gratefulness for those things they had. I would not welcome that level of privation. But I would welcome, as a society, that level of thrift, and a focusing of resources on those things that are important.

"The one tree in Francie's yard was neither a pine nor a hemlock. It had pointed leaves which grew along green switches which radiated from the bough and made a tree which looked a like a lot of green umbrellas. Some people called it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement. It grew lushly, but only in the tenement districts."
-Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

21 March 2011

Paul Hawken via Janine Benyus

"Government, in its role as tax collector, might play a natural role in rewiring our economic steering wheel to its drive train. Paul Hawken thinks we've had it backward. Instead of taxing good things like income, Hawken would like to see government tax bad things like pollution or excessive use of energy or virgin materials. Taxing fuels based on carbon content, for instance (more carbon is more damaging), would encourage use of low-polluting fuels like natural gas in every stage of a product's life cycle."
Janine Benyus, Biomimicry

This is a further argument for a carbon tax. Taxes were originally conceived as a way to pay for government services - the military in particular. The Egyptians most certainly used it as a way of creating stability. Grain acquired via taxation would be stored and dispensed in times of famine. Thus the wise ruler used the system to benefit her/his people, and to plan for the vicissitudes of nature. A tax on the carbon dioxide content of fossil fuels would have much the same effect - we would conserve more of it.

16 March 2011

Form Poems - Composite Pieces

These drawings make up the composite posted earlier this month. The drawings are part of a larger drawing started in the last millennium and never completed. I cut it up into 6"x6" pieces and tackled each one as an individual drawing. Much like an exquisite corpse, I then reassembled the pieces into the composition again. I did not do the pieces in order, but rather took them on as to how they interested me.

09 March 2011

Doug Aitkin - Living Word

I like this piece. I'm not that crazy about Aitkin's work in general, but this piece has some intellectual and formal potential. There's the whole green wall thing that he has appropriated, and through that appropriation brought this green technology into another sphere of awareness. Then there is the use of language, which recurs in my own work. We really cannot separate the form from its representation. In this case, "sex," brings to mind a whole lot of complicated relationships. It is also a provocative word/concept. I have to ask the question, are the content (sex) and the vehicle (the green wall) really furthering an idea? Or are they simply cohabiting? My take is the latter. I was minimally trained in graphic design, and I learned that message and vehicle needed to share some common intent - that there should be a symmetry or symbiosis. To some extent, I have evolved past this, and accept a level of ambiguity. I am glad that it doesn't say "green," or "life," or something else predictable. But in this case the provocative content overshadows the ambiguity of the relationship.

08 March 2011


I found this drawing started almost twenty years ago. It was on a 36x36 sheet of Strathmore. It was just a pencil outline. I cut up the live area into 25 pieces of 6x6 paper (my preferred format) and completed each as an individual drawing. Here I reassemble. The fragments were interesting problems, but also gave this snap shot like compositional feel to each that I rather enjoyed.

06 March 2011


I took this picture a few years ago. It seems to embody American building. We have the traditional pitched roof structure (the "housey-house," or "Standard American Dwelling"), and it is tied to a source of electricity. The building is windowless, shutting out the natural world - and it is not just the point of view of the camera.

It is also of note that we call electricity a source of "power." Indeed, energy companies control much more power than the ability to do work.

03 March 2011


I was just listening to NPR describe the current increase in gas prices. The attached image was taken 2 September 2010. Gas was $2.33/gal locally. It is currently $3.39. Six months. I think it should be far more, like $6/gal. My problem with the current situation is that the prices go up because of speculators sucking money out of our pockets. I would far more prefer a tax that sets a floor. If gas prices rise, the tax goes down, but the cost is consistent. This is what investors in renewable energy want. As per a previous post, a mere $0.78/gal tax would start to make a difference. From all reports, we are looking at $4/gal again this summer. It's odd, if we had a gas tax which could potentially offset other taxes, like income tax which would be good for both businesses and individuals, that is considered government over-reaching its authority. Yet we can have commodity speculators taking the money out of the system with no benefit to the country, yet that is the free market at work.

02 March 2011

Beautiful People

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."
-Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

I owe my awareness of this quote to Jennifer Hudson's Facebook status.