Thursday, August 27, 2009

make do

A young French nutritionist was in my kitchen asking for a food processor. We don't have one, and I told her she'd just have to make do. "Make do"? How is that expressed by the French? When confronted with less than optimal circumstances, most humans will fashion tools from whatever is at hand. Folks seeking employment in the 30s arrived at the desert canyon of the lower Colorado to work on the Boulder Dam. Unemployed, European-trained craftsmen created terrazzo floors with Native American-inspired patterns, fashioned hundreds of cubic feet of copper cabinetry and machined larger-than-life valves and fittings in exchange for a pull on these big concrete teats. Despite heat, primitive living and scarcity of everything but rocks, these workers were making do, big time. And so were their bosses: Kaiser, Bechtel, et al.

road memoir#3

Leaving Arizona on US 93 brought us down to Black Canyon, an area that, save for the Colorado River at its bottom, is seemingly all rock and bereft of water. It's so close to the expanding basin-and-range province that one is easily disoriented by the pull of seismically-warped gravity. It just feels different there. We crossed over the Hoover Dam, an ambitious engineering design built under extraordinarily brutal economic and climatic circumstances. In this desolate corner, how celebrated can such a structure be? Can something requiring such calculation and cooperation be an unembellished industrial object? Or is it crafted to make our spirits soar? We crossed over and sketched for a while from a pullout halfway up from the dam road. I was a goner! I made this drawing and swore to come back and draw the whole thing, inside and out. The next year I did.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

are we there yet?

In its useful, static role, the horizon is an arbiter of space; assign it a numeric value in a perspective drawing, and one can draw in objects with believable proportions. In its metaphysical role, it's a tool for reflection to an observer. Go deeper: it's the edge of time on which we balance as we walk our lives, unrolling and revealing what only time will tell.
One summer dad drove us from Chicago to San Francisco on the not-finished Interstate 80 in our new Chevy. We were going to see mountains and ocean. My 5 yr-old flatland eyes trained on the horizon, waiting for the Disney-esque or Chuck Jonesian butte to appear. Every time my attention stalled, I'd ask "Are we there yet?" Poor mom and dad! That summer, horizon became linked to yearning: constantly there but out of reach, withholding but promising new information. We hurtled to California, toward our futures.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

road memoir #2

Elevation/defense. We scramble to a hole in a high wall to get away from danger. We build walls as monuments to our separateness, our vulnerability, our superiority, their madness, their sociopathy. I wondered what forces carved the shapes out, the forces that create Negative Space. The picture got really big for me, and the time line was geologic. (took years to follow up on that) In the meantime, we noted how things were not really so empty. There was the Desert Version of everything:

road memoir #1

 A friend and I met in Phoenix for a Western road trip in the early 80s. Here are my best shots of his Heitzness. He had a pickup, sketchbook, knife and movie camera. I had an SX70, sketchbook and garlic press. He possessed exquisite visual filters which recharged at the Flintstone Motel and fed on reptilian souvenirs. I hadn't yet marked spatial relations as my turf, but curiously, the most potent stops for me had everything to do with elevation, horizon line and engineering.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"look what I had to work with"
Sometimes this quote from the 1989 Batman comes to mind when a client's expectations are too high. It's a thrill to create a unified view based on data from several creative sources. Rough sketches made based on early schematics help disparate folks visualize a similar outcome for a project. This takes a reasonable amount of registration of data, and leaps of faith. To make the roughs, a good understanding of spatial relations and imagination fill in the gaps.
To make a fully rendered illustration, one needs better tools or the time to design the gaps where the data doesn't register.