CELEBRATE: Boston Book Festival

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Architectural Discussion with Frank Gehry at Trinity Church

The Boston Book Festival is an event held annually “to promote a culture of reading and ideas.” In the spirit of that promotion, an Architecture lecture is always a part of the event schedule. Two years prior, Norman Foster had been the guest, and what an articulate, comprehensive, and inspiring lecture it was. His descriptions of the projects presented were as structured and objective as his actual works of architecture are. So it wasn’t outlandish to hope that Gehry may provide some similar semblance of a great show.

That was not the case. He was not articulate. The first sentence out of the renowned architect’s mouth was met with shouts from the audience to speak up. It became clear, right away, that there was no lecture outline. As photos of Gehry’s work popped up on the big screen, he seemed as surprised as the audience. He was not comprehensive. Perhaps it was an effort to “dumb-down” the architecture behind the architecture for the sake of clarity, but that tactic only made Gehry sound ignorant. His comprehension of the work gave the impression that he has no association with it beyond a final sign off. Needless to say, he was not inspiring either.

I’ll admit I’m biased; I was not a fan of his work going in to the lecture, but I know that Gehry’s background has caused him to overcome much adversity in the profession. Unfortunately, his presentation of himself was lackluster. Sorry, Frank. Maybe next time, prep by reading the book about your work that the moderator kept pimping!

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Day 03: Montréal, Canada

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The picnic architecture:

Outdoor space, urban space, eating space: it can all be the same, especially when in a city that has the perfect spot for such a combo, like Parc du Mont-Royal in Montréal. Trying out restaurants for every meal is common practice when on vacation in a new city, but I always try to shop in a local grocery store to get a sense of how “the people” would eat. So on our last full day in the city, we picked up some cheddar, brie, a baguette, and a bottle of red wine to have a very “new French” kind of afternoon (it was very Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe if you will).

Parc du Mont-Royal is essentially a small mountain in Montréal. It’s a beautiful public park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, with wide, winding trails; the boulevards of the woods. There are plenty of grassy places to sit and picnic or play games. A constructed lake and folded-plate community center provide convenient public facilities as well. A vast green space is really the breath of fresh air that is needed when in a congested city.

Day 02: Montréal, Canada

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The missed-opportunity architecture:

To our fortunate surprise, May 29th happened to be the one day a year that almost all of the museums around Montréal are free to the public! So of course, the Centre Canadien d’Architecture / Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) was a must. The center wraps a new building around an old designed in 1874; an interior photo is shown above. What the photo also shows, however, is a complete misuse of this historical space. The CCA’s website describes the center as “an international research institution based on the fundamental premise that architecture is a public concern,” and yet it does nothing within this space to engage the public. I was disappointed to find rooms with great architectural detail holding merely a folding table and some folding chairs. These could be modern day salons, where the public can gather for community programs, exchange ideas, or at least reflect on their location and atmosphere.

To its credit, the newer building of the CCA does hold exhibits and has a book shop. There was even a space where visitors could learn how to artfully fold paper. But without a better integration of the old with the new, there is a missed opportunity.

Day 01: Montréal, Canada

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The old architecture:

We arrived in Montréal around 4:00 pm and decided to head to the old district right away. During the 45 minute walk from our Downtown hotel, we came across many historical landmarks of the city; Victoria Square and Basilique Notre-Dame, to name a couple. Reflecting on the day, it was these historical spots that clamour first to my memory. Old Montréal was absolutely fantastic; the food, the shopping, the atmosphere…and it was not suffocated by the tourism, but perhaps even enhanced. In my travel experience, I have come to find that it is the historic districts that tend to be most pleasant. Perhaps it’s the escape from the gridded city, like the winding streets of old Barcelona,or the spirited color of the buildings, like old Tryol, Austria, or just the variety of the cobblestones, like Boston’s North End; either way, it’s a welcomed change from the modern.

Keep your old districts safe!

CELEBRATE: New England SCBWI Conference

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At “The Power of (Re)Invention” in Springfield, MA

In February, I became a member of the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Every year, the society holds a regional conference for those interested in expanding their network and learning tricks of the trade. Being a self-proclaimed amateur illustrator, I was interested in both.

The conference was fantastic. It began with a keynote address by author Wendy Mass, who spoke of her career through hilarious anecdotes and personal interests. Each attendee was able to choose hour-long seminars all with unique topics. Because I identify more as a picture book illustrator, I chose to attend “A Crash Course in Hands” first. It was helpful to learn that drawing realistic hands starts with understanding the anatomy of the hand (though I will probably continue to draw them as mittens…). The second seminar, “Picture Book: Concept to Print,” was excellent. A presentation by Kendra Levin and Jim Hoover, editor and art director at Viking Press respectively, AND writer/illustrator Deborah Freedman, that chronicled the process tackled to take Deborah’s book concept from sketch to consumable product.

Lunch followed the morning seminars, and a second keynote address was presented by author Patrick Carman. Like earlier, Patrick recalled his efforts to self-publish and publicize his work. The third seminar I attended was “Marketing Using the Free Short Story” by middle-grade author Natasha Sass. The seminar provided a lesson in how to better sell your work on Amazon by selling a supplemental work for free. My last scheduled event for the day was a manuscript critique with Zaneta Jung of Sterling Publishing. Zaneta was great with her feedback for my first work, One Banana. She expressed how the current story is a bit disjointed because it contains what appears to be three stories in one, but that the main character and illustrations are overall a lot of fun. So my next steps? Zero-in on one of those stories for a more complete work, and build an illustration portfolio.

CELEBRATE: Peripatopia Turns Heads

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Outside Thompson Gallery, at The Cambridge School of Weston

After surveying the work within the Thompson Gallery on Friday, I passed by Peripatopia to take a few photos of its setup. As I watched, a group of students passed by and one so casually ran his hand along the component closest to the walk. As he did so, I heard him distinctly whisper, “I’ve been wanting to touch that”… I was so pleased he had. Interacting with the work is encouraged while it is being hosted on campus, but I suspect the clean platform and elegant podium display may be presenting the opposite idea. Only further observation will tell!

CELEBRATE: “Nowhere, Everywhere” Gallery Show


Nowhere Everywhere—Card Front

Overjoyed to report that my work has been selected for the upcoming exhibition, “Nowhere, Everywhere,” a show curated by Todd Bartel at the Thompson Gallery in Weston, MA. Check out my Artist’s Statement below, and the information card describing the details of the upcoming show, opening April 1!


Julie Rahilly, Peripatopian Architecture4, 2014

Poplar wood, piano hinges, wood screws, and blue-green stain

48 x 48 x 48 inches

$3000

“A vast, green structure, different in character than any I had hitherto seen…the face of it having the lustre, as well as the pale green tint, a kind of bluish-green…This difference in aspect suggested a difference in use, and I was minded to push on and explore.”

H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

A human-scaled architectural work, Peripatopian Architecture4 explores utopia through the 20th century concepts of the fourth dimension. Just as More’s “Utopia” questioned society, the Wells’ fourth dimension—described as the passing of time across a direction within the third dimension—represented liberation from tradition for the great physicists, artists, and writers of that time.

Published in Paris in 1936 on a loose sheet from a magazine, the “Manifeste Dimensioniste” contained signatures of the highest regarded avant-garde artists of the early 20th Century. These artists proclaimed that literature leave the line and enter the plane, painting leave the plane and enter space, and sculpture leave immobile form for four dimensions. Playing off of the original proclamations of the Dimensionist Manifesto, as well as the great dystopian literary work of H.G. Wells, Peripatopian Architecturechallenges the three-dimensional architecture of today to go beyond the static. Peripatopian Architectureasserts that architecture has gone beyond structure to the kinetic, beyond program to the purposeless, beyond beauty to the visually ambiguous, and beyond site to the peripatetic. Intending to incite imagination through interaction, “Peripatopian” comes from peri– meaning “around” +patien meaning “to walk” +topos meaning “place” or, simply having an undefined place for an undefined space. This idea is explored through a series of six visually ambiguous, purposeless, flexible pieces that can collapse and expand or assemble and disassemble, offering flexibility in its arrangement.

Nowhere Everywhere—Card Back