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Archives: March 2009

A 21st Century WPA? Shepard Fairey Is Game

In this the springtime of our global financial discontent, we dare you to get through an entire day without encountering mention of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the sprawling New Deal agency that employed everyone from Berenice Abbott to Zora Neale Hurston. Is the country ready for another round? Shepard Fairey is. “The idea of a WPA-type program is actually something I’m extremely excited about. I think it could be very useful…I’d like to see that happen,” said Fairey during his recent appearance on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (see the full interview in the video posted below), “I’ve actually talked to some people in the Obama administration about a concept like that.”

Presidio Museum Registers New Complaint: No Parking

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So we finally got through all the fighting and back and forth planning over Donald Fisher‘s Presidio Contemporary Art Museum and landed in a spot that seemed to at least quiet down the the general uproar for nearly a whole month. But a ha! While you were all collectively basking in the warmth of not having to read another story about this troublesome museum, there were forces at work trying to find something new to raise issue with. And so we have arrived and here is the latest complaint: there is no room for parking and public transportation doesn’t get nearly close enough. Of course, this makes sense, as you probably want people to come visit the thing if you’ve gone to this much trouble over the past few years to just get it built. But it also seems like this could be another clever plot to get Fisher away from the Presidio all together, as casually hinted at in the closure of this op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle:

New developments are being nudged to areas where transit is readily available: South of Market Street and south of the Bay Bridge, near the Transbay Terminal, at or near Mission Bay with its new UCSF campus, sites adjacent to Caltrans, Muni Metro and freeways.

Indeed, it is in transit-served locations such as those that a Fisher museum could provide a rich cultural addition to San Francisco, more accessible to all. That, indeed, would be a generous and exciting proposal.

Proposals Unveiled for National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Speaking of architecture, as fewer big, big projects to pitch on land on firms’ desks across the world, it’s now even more exciting when such a project starts the shortlist review process. Such is the case in Washington D.C. with the proposals released for the National Museum of African American History and Culture by six firms, among them a couple of super-pairings like David Adjaye and Davis Brody Bond working with The Freelon Group and I.M. Pei and partners teaming up with Devrouax & Purnell. Though for our money, we think we’re going to side with Norman Foster‘s plans, as most of the rest seem either a) to look like most of the major museums in DC: square blocks with some disjointed piece of wobbly artsy-ness outside, or b) maybe just trying to hard to stand out. The sketches of Foster’s work seems to buck both those trends, yet we can see it fitting very comfortably into the landscape. From up top, it also looks like a huge model of the game Simon, so it has that going for it too. And there’s our bet on who will win the commission. If we are proven right, you each owe us $5 (you entered into this betting contract by first clicking on our site — sorry — you really should start reading more fine print).

Architect’s Newspaper Return to Thinking About Publishing a Chicago Edition

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If you’re a regular reader of The Architect’s Newspaper, like we are, and happen to live in Chicago, where one half of us does, you’ll be excited to hear that the paper has decided to possibly reverse its decision to not start a separate Chicago-focused edition here, something they’d decided last year when the economy went south. While they haven’t made any big moves yet, just plans to release something of a “test issue” in June that’s Windy City-centric, it certainly does give one more strength within those crossed fingers. Here’s a bit of analysis from Blair Kamin:

The more voices Chicago has monitoring and analyzing its vast, energetic, ever-contentious architecture scene, the better. The Architect’s Newspaper already has Northeast and California editions, which provide a sophisticated mix of news, criticism, commentary and gossip. With Chicago’s wealth of architectural activity and absence of a critical design journal, the city seems to be a natural for this publication, whose Northeast edition comes out two or three times a month.

New Frontiers of Graphic Design in Two Minutes

Mediabistro.com marketing guru Amanda Barrett and video wizard Weston Almond whipped up this mini-movie, featuring a couple of quick highlights and audience reactions from Thursday’s New Frontiers of Graphic Design panel discussion, including the part when Doug Jaeger showered the audience with bubblegum pink balloons that are thehappycorp‘s business cards. “People immediately blow them up and then pop them, losing my contact information,” explained Jaeger, whose handsome visage is printed on each of his inflatable businesscards. “Which gives me a good excuse to get their e-mail address and follow up with a personalized message.”

Shepard Fairey Goes to Huffington Post to Plead His Case Against the AP

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Another follow-up story we promise to be brief about. As his ongoing battle with the Associated Press continues, Shepard Fairey, as a man of the people, has decided to go to the most “of the people”-esque outlet, The Huffington Post, to file this lengthy essay, pleading his case. Along the way, he described his process, his problems with the AP’s complaints over his Obama poster, and describes his battle as a fight “to protect the rights of all artists.” There’s not a lot new here, nor does he make a particularly strong case for himself at points (the part about his not wanting to feel forced to collaborate with photographers when he’s using their work feels like fairly murky logic), it’s very interesting to hear the whole thing straight from the source. And we particularly enjoyed his calling out all of the other pieces of art floating around out there that were clearly referenced from photographs, but haven’t caught the ire of anyone in particular like his Obama print has.

PR Teams Work Hard to Patch Up Frank Gehry’s Atlantic Yards ‘Misquote’

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So as to give you a bit of a breather from these bits of Frank Gehry news until at least after the weekend, you have our promise to be brief. After saying he doesn’t have much hope of seeing the Atlantic Yards project ever completed, Gehry, developer Forest City Ratner, and most specifically, both their PR departments, have been working in overtime to repair any damage caused from this brief, off-the-cuff remark. Gehry released a statement saying his comments were being misconstrued and the Ratner people are doing the same:

“Frank Gehry is still the architect of this project,” [New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark] insisted on WFAN radio. “He loves it. It’s very dear to his heart, no different than it is to all of us.”

“Frank was just venting probably,” Yormark added later.

Though we wonder how “I don’t think it’s going to happen,” which were Gehry’s words, is exactly “venting.” Maybe if he’d yelled it, flipped the table over, and poured hot coffee all over the interviewer, that would be “venting” (at least that’s how we do it). To us, his original quote sounded more like “resignation” which tends to be a little more genuine and grounded in reality.

The Cindy Sherman Disapproved Guest of Cindy Sherman Opens Tonight

If you aren’t too warn out from last night’s barn burner with Stephanie and the gang at the “New Frontiers of Graphic Design” panel, we highly recommend hightailing it over to either Cinema Village in Manhattan or the Sante Fe Film Center in New Mexico for the first day of (a hopefully wide) release of Guest of Cindy Sherman, Paul Hasegawa-Overacker‘s documentary about what it was like being the boyfriend of one of the world’s most successful living artists. From the trailer, it looks terrific, and last year’s interview with Paul H-O over at Slate, while the film was making the film festival rounds, makes us want to see it all the more. Plus, it’s extra juicy because Sherman, once a supporter of the film, has since distanced herself from the film in any way. So there’s that extra little bit of “ooooh” for you blood-thirsty heathens. Here’s the trailer:

A Million Theories About the ‘Ikea Car’

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First there were the Ikea houses, their line for more affluent customers, the recent sustainability launch, and a bit of Illeana Douglas thrown in for good measure. But it’s their most recent announcement, or lack thereof, that’s perhaps receiving the most attention yet, the question of “Are they launching a car called the Leko?” The whole thing was launched on a French website the company had created, with a cloth covering a car-like object, with the promise that all would be revealed come April 1st. That date, of course, has thrown a few red flags up at the speculation that this is in any way real (also: why would Ikea get into the car business?!), but it certainly hasn’t slowed down the internet from asking “What’s under that damn cover?!” Theories abound, picking apart every single detail on the site, and mostly all collected and listed in detail by Leo Hickman over at the Guardian.

Hanging Around with Kurt Andersen and Family

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Late yesterday we received an excited e-mail from the esteemed David Bukszpan from WNYC sharing with us a story that popped up at the LA Weekly about Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen, his brother and professional piano tuner David, and (very briefly) Susan Orlean‘s house. All of it centers around Kurt’s recording a piece with his brother (which you’ll find below) and their interaction with one another along the way. What exactly this has to do with design, other than Kurt’s show which features big shot creatives of all kinds and we love it to death, we’re not entirely sure. But it’s worth reading, and when you get an email from Bukszpan, you do as you’re told. Here’s the Studio 360 story:

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