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Robert Irwin’s Big Visions, Barely Seen - The New York Times
"Robert Irwin is not a conceptual artist. But if he were, his trademark concept over the last half-century might have been devising hugely ambitious public installations that are virtually guaranteed never to be realized.

There was the 1981 proposal for a soaring walk-in aviary in a dilapidated New Orleans park, which thoroughly confused the city elders who awarded him the design commission. (“I won the thing,” Mr. Irwin recalled, “and then I never heard from them again.”) There were the plans for projects along the Ohio River in Cincinnati, a park in Fort Worth, Battery Park in New York, a transit station at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, a viaduct in downtown Los Angeles and the Miami International Airport — which he spent years trying to redesign and which, like all the other projects, stayed on the drawing board as civic will or money evaporated. What most people who dream of enlisting an artist to help them re-envision public space really want, “deep down in their heart of hearts,” Mr. Irwin once said, is “a Henry Moore.”

But Mr. Irwin doesn’t make sculptures or, for that matter, very many of what would be considered art objects of any kind. Instead, he has spent most of a restless career, based in Los Angeles and then San Diego, creating subtle, at times vanishingly evanescent, environments with plain materials — fabric scrim, glass, lights, plants and trees — “to make you a little more aware than you were the day before,” as he puts it, “of how beautiful the world is.” And now, at 87, after decades of often lonesome proselytizing for his brand of art, he may finally be seeing the art world coming around to his way of thinking."

"But she added that Mr. Irwin’s self-effacing approach, and disdain for much of the money-driven contemporary art world, has contributed to his under-the-radar status. “The absence of presence, as they say, means you kind of disappear. I’d say the same thing about a lot of women artists. If you’re not in the shows, if you’re not in the galleries, it’s as if you don’t exist.” (Mr. Irwin has long been represented by the prestigious Pace Gallery, but his presence in the permanent collections of American museums is muted at best.)

Many people who know Mr. Irwin, who lives in San Diego with his wife, Adele, and their grown daughter, Anna Grace, say he is slowing as he nears 90. But there was little evidence on display in Marfa. Mr. Weschler wrote that if Mr. Irwin were to be played in a movie, James Garner circa “The Rockford Files” would be the best choice, and he indeed exudes that kind of comfortable-in-his-own-skin charm, but also a bit of the flinty resolve of Paladin, gentleman gunfighter. As the sun blazed down on the project site that morning, Mr. Irwin spent the better part of an hour picking the brain of a local grass specialist, who had arrived for what was expected to be a quick consultation. Chinati workers, wilting, intervened and proposed moving the conversation to the shade, or breaking for lunch. “Yeah, yeah, lunch,” Mr. Irwin said and continued to buttonhole the specialist for another 20 minutes.

In a telephone interview in late December, after he had returned once more to Marfa to see the roof starting to encapsulate his installation, he said he was feeling a little better about how things were going. “Then again, you never really know until it’s done,” he cautioned.

He added that even with all the new attention directed toward his work, he finds it hard to shake the Don Quixote feeling that has shadowed him for most of his career. “I still feel like I’ve been spitting into the wind, and I’ve got a lot of spit on my nose,” he said. “But I guess I’ll keep on trying, for the same reason that’s kept me going before, which is this: People don’t realize that ultimately in this life, aesthetics really count.”"
2016  robertirwin  art  marfa 
january 2016 by robertogreco
What Reclaimed Wood Meant — Kate Losse
"But if I went to the desert for space, when I got there I discovered another element that is abundant in desert architecture that was visually startling to me in its newness after the hard, gray-green industrial tones of the Bunker. This "new" material-- wood-- seemed so interesting to me that in 2011 I made a Facebook album called Reclaimed Wood to chart the material and its aesthetic progress to popularity, of which I was already certain. The first photos I took were of the ceiling in an old Ice Locker that Donald Judd, the original gentrifier, had purchased in Marfa. Built in the early 1900s, the locker had heavy white stucco and iron walls but the most beautiful, heavy, old, vintage wooden railroad beams in its ceiling; the effect of the wood was to soften what would be a hard industrial space into a pleasing, welcoming, artisanal atmosphere, and this is why Judd bought the building and converted it into an artist workshop and studio space. Judd, in a sense, predicted Reclaimed Wood forty years before everyone else caught on. All of the buildings he purchased in Marfa are masterful, original, unstudied versions of what has now become a national craze: the American industrial building with a soft, artistic and artisanal side. In Marfa these buildings were built for the railroad and then abandoned, decayed, and converted to art functions later. Thus their combined hardness/softness has had decades to develop.

After some months in Texas, I returned to the city and noticed that wood was steadily appearing everywhere and spreading. It began in small coffee shops like Four Barrel coffee shop (along with its textile counterpart, nautical rope, which often accompanies wood as a nod to wood's ship-ly connotations of pirates and sailors) and spread to restaurants and finally, back to the same tech company offices that I had left in pursuit of space and more organic forms. That's to say that the irony of all of this is that no environments have been more committed to retrofitting themselves with reclaimed wood than the very spaces that drive the technology that drives people to seek refuge from technology in more open, organic spaces. As technology filled our lives, so did our lives become increasingly filled with soft wooden beams and forms, a kind of reverse de-industrialization of the technical space using organic materials. We now plant these warm-colored, gnarled wooden objects like talismans amid our screens, a reminder of organic shapes, something to touch that, reassuringly, can't be swiped on.

It is thus that we have reached Peak Reclaimed Wood, where some restaurants and coffee shops are so plastered in vintage wooden planks and beams that there is no room for a single new plank of wood (in these spaces, the wood becomes less an accent than an attempt to create the illusion of living in a cabin, which is a related desire to reclaimed wood, but not identical. The desire to live in a coffee-house-as-cabin-- or to import actual cabins into your tech cafeteria, as Twitter did-- is something like a desire to live in the country or the past, without actually living there). And so, because aesthetics have to shift when they become saturated, what is next?

In my next post I will address what comes after Reclaimed Wood and why I think the next turn will be to 80s Hilton-esque business hotel stylings and what that means about us and what we need now."

[via: ]

[See also (referenced within: "Facebook IRL: A Short History of Facebook's Design Aesthetic"
katelosse  wood  texas  marfa  technology  materials  software  2014  aesthetics  donaldjudd  design  trends 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Land Arts of the American West
"Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech is a transdisciplinary field program investigating the intersection of geomorphology and human construction. It is a semester abroad in our own back yard. Each fall students venture across the American southwest camping for a two months while traveling six-thousand miles overland to explore natural and human forces that shape contemporary landscapes—ranging from geology and weather to cigarette butts and hydroelectric dams. Sites visited include Chaco Canyon, Roden Crater, the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Double Negative, Sun Tunnels, Spiral Jetty, the Wendover Complex of the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Bingham Canyon Mine, Lake Powell, Jackpile Mine at Laguna Pueblo, Chiricahua Mountains, Cabinetlandia, Marfa, the Very Large Array and The Lightning Field.

Land Arts situates our work within a continuous tradition of land-based operations that is thousands of years old. Analysis of sites visited provides a basis for dialog and invention. Issues of spatial and material vocabulary, constructional logics, and inhabitation serve as the foundation for an investigation through making. Students construct, detail, and document a series of site-base interventions in a context that places emphasis on processes of making, experiential forms of knowing, and transdisciplinary modes of practice. The immersive nature of how we experience the landscape triggers an amalgamated body of inquiry where students have the opportunity of time and space to develop authority in their work through direct action and reflection. Land Arts hinges on the primacy of first person experience and the realization that human-land relationships are rarely singular.

Land Arts was founded in 2000 at the University of New Mexico by Bill Gilbert with the assistance of John Wenger. From 2001 to 2007 the program developed as a collaboration co-directed by Bill Gilbert and Chris Taylor, then at the University of Texas at Austin. In the fall of 2008 Taylor moved to Lubbock and now Gilbert and Taylor operate the program autonomously at the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico and College of Architecture at the Texas Tech University. For information about the program at UNM see In January of 2009 the Nevada Museum of Art announced the creation of the new Center for Art + Environment and the acquisition of the archive of Land Arts of the American West.

Operational and curricular material about Land Arts at Texas Tech is located on the College of Architecture website. This site is regularly updated to include current information and hopefully will be widely updated to provide greater access to the program archive. Please contact Chris Taylor for any additional information."

"Land Arts of the American West is a field program investigating the intersection of geomorphology and human construction. Land art or earthworks begin with the land and extend through the complex social and ecological processes that create landscape. Encompassing constructions that range from petroglyphs to roads, dwellings, monuments and traces of those actions, earthworks show us who we are. Examining gestures small and grand, Land Arts directs our attention from potsherd, cigarette butt, and track in the sand, to human settlements, monumental artworks, and military-industrial installations. Land Arts is a semester abroad in our own back yard investigating the American landscape through immersion, action and reflection.

Land Arts 2013 field season at Texas Tech was made possible with generous operational support from Andrea Nasher and student support from the James Family Foundation. The 2013 Texas Tech field crew was composed of a sculptor, designer, architect, art historian, musician/painter, and performance artist. Future years will continue to broaden the interdisciplinary involvement from students across the Texas Tech community and participants from outside the university."
art  classes  education  landart  texastech  landscape  west  americanwest  texas  centerforlanduseinterpretation  cfluirodencrater  spiraljetty  robertsmithson  marfa  billgilbert  johnwenger  christaylor 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Listen: Young Writer’s Group | KRTS 93.5 FM Marfa Public Radio
"On this episode of Talk at Ten, Tim Johnson of the Marfa Book Company interviews six students from Marfa International School’s Young Writer’s Group about their upcoming poetry and prose reading. The reading will take place on Thursday, May 30, at 6pm at the Marfa Book Company."
writing  teachingwriting  marfa  marfainternationalschool  2013 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Video: Marfa: The Light and the Land | Watch Arts in Context Online | KLRU Video
"Explore the remote Texas city of Marfa which attracts visitors including those interested in literary pursuits, fine arts and the metaphysical. Known for its mysterious lights, colorful characters, ranching roots and tourism, Marfa is fast becoming a thriving and eclectic creative community."
art  video  pbs  2011  chinatifoundation  texas  marfa 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Marfa, Texas: An Unlikely Art Oasis In A Desert Town : NPR
"Johnson runs Marfa's bookstore, with an unsurprising emphasis on art books, art theory and poetry journals. Yoga classes are held there in the morning. It's the only place that sells The New York Times. But even though the Marfa Book Co. makes the town more tourist-friendly, Johnson does not believe Judd would approve of Marfa's emergence as a chic art world destination.

"He thought that making an arts-based cultural tourism was necessarily carnivalesque, which was, for him, anathema to the experience of art," he explains. "He knew that people would come see it, but he did not want that to be a large part of the economy, because he thought, socially, that would have a negative impact."…

We've never marketed…No marketing plan…No marketing director…

Unlike other towns that try to reinvent themselves as arts destinations, it has happened organically in Marfa…

…most newcomers are incredibly well-intentioned, but there's a give and take.

"Sometimes it feels like there's more taking,""
travel  tourism  2012  donaldjudd  cultureclash  revitalization  art  chinatifoundation  marfa 
august 2012 by robertogreco

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