Distance: 20 miles
Ludington State Park, Ludington, Michigan.
Most Ann Arbor residents have a vague notion that a Frank Lloyd Write house exists somewhere in town but none seem to know of its exact location. When Kate's uncle was in town a couple weeks ago we decided to figure it out once and for all.
It's called the William and Mary Palmer House, and we found it waiting patiently, nestled under mature pines, at the end of Orchard Hills Drive, a long residential dirt road off Geddes Ave (just East of the Arb). It's a classic Usonian example, with a long cantilver roof, unusually shallow carport, and a quirky triangular layout. During our research we found that it's available for rent.
This past Thursday a group of WCC students joined me in visiting a retrospective of Ed Fella’s work at CCS in Detroit. It was the first event in an optional day-long field trip I created to replace the typical last-day-of-the-semester activities for both of my current classes: History of Graphic Design (GDT-101) and InDesign Graphics (GDT-107). Ed’s retrospective dovetailed perfectly with our Postmodern lecture in the history class.
Despite arriving later than planned, the trip went smoothly and included a nice long DIA visit, a quick MoCAD walk-through, a Utrecht supply run, and finally, a ridiculous dinner at Fatburger. The day in Detroit was time well-spent for everyone. Leaving the classroom is important for a number of reasons.
First, it gives students a wider sense of the industry they’re pursuing. Graphic design instructors have a responsibility to expose students to the field as quickly as possible: the more they see, the better. This is particularly important at the Associates Degree level where field prep-time is condensed to 2-years. Second, the perspective shift helps to reenergize interest in the subject matter. It helps punctuate and galvanize classroom topics. Physical objects always reveal more about themselves than their on-screen counter-parts.
It's easy to get a sense of Ed’s eclectic style by Googling some of his classic work, like the black-and-white posters he did for the Detroit Focus Gallery in the early 1980’s, but his camera-ready mechanicals tell a more complex story. Clearly, he found as much enjoyment in his working process as he did the end results, which must explain the endless hours of cutting, pasting, and assembling. The layers of paper highlight his organizational priorities, the mistakes he made (and maybe corrected), and also his deep familiarity with the reproduction process. Despite the random look of the final products, there’s not a single ill-considered pen stroke or paper scrap—even if it’s an accidental bit of random chance that Ed simply allowed to exist.
This past week (September 4–8, 2014) I had the opportunity to visit New York City with Kate. She graciously arranged the entire thing, including our accommodations at her uncle’s stylish four-hundred square foot condo in Chelsea.
Dave is an architect and knows the history of New York’s skyline like the back of his hand. He’s also a cyclist and took us out on his Brompton folding bikes for a couple of bike tours. Below are a number of photos from those rides along with a number of other shots from our museum visits and walks around the city.
It was such a monumental trip for me, having only been to NYC once before on a class trip that consisted of design studio visits and a trip to MoMA for an hour. It's hard to pick a favorite moment, although seeing two Gutenberg Bibles in one day was a highlight. So was seeing Ray Johnson Designs at MoMA. I had heard about that show several months ago and resigned myself to fact that I wouldn't get to see it. When Kate mentioned her plans to take us to NYC I realized I would see it after all.
Falling in love with the early NY skyscrapers was another highlight. Each one was the tallest, the most expensive, or the most brilliantly designed building in the world at the time it was created, making each distinct and memorable.
This month I'm moving down the hall into a larger studio space. It's going to take some effort to whip it into shape, and the asking price is a bit higher than I'm used to paying (although I've been given a generous), but it's going to pay off in terms of usable, productive space.
I've posted some photos here of the first big day of progress. I'll be slowly making little pushes like this for the remainder of the month. My new lease officially starts December 1st.