Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Truffle by Ensamble Studio

Multidisciplinary architectural firm Ensamble Studio created an amazing structure using poured cement in a kind of symbiotic relationship with the land and earthen elements. Read their description below from their website about this little jewel of a shelter, located in Spain, they call The Truffle.

"The Truffle is a piece of nature built with earth, full of air. A space within a stone that sits on the ground and blends with the territory. It camouflages, by emulating the processes of mineral formation in its structure, and integrates with the natural environment, complying with its laws.

To build it, we made a hole in the ground, piling up on its perimeter the topsoil removed, and we obtained a retaining dike without mechanical consistency. Then, we materialized the air building a volume with hay bales and flooded the space between the earth and the built air to solidify it. The poured mass concrete wrapped the air and protected itself with the ground. Time passed and we removed the earth discovering an amorphous mass.

The earth and the concrete exchanged their properties. The land provided the concrete with its texture and color, its form and its essence, and concrete gave the earth its strength and internal structure. But what we had created was not yet architecture, we had fabricated a stone.

We made a few cuts using quarry machinery to explore its core and discovered its mass inside built with hay, now compressed by the hydrostatic pressure exerted by concrete on the flimsy vegetable structure. To empty the interior, the calf Paulina arrived, and enjoyed the 50m3 of the nicest food, from which she nourished for a year until she left her habitat, already as an adult and weighing 300 kilos. She had eaten the interior volume, and space appeared for the first time, restoring the architectural condition of the truffle after having been a shelter for the animal and the vegetable mass for a long time."

The result is a fascinating piece of architecture. It looks like a truffle or something that came from under the ground. The interior feels like a hollowed out boulder, a hermit retreat in the forest. And the view is stunning!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

BEAUTY: Sculpture--Livio Scarpella

Italian artist Livio Scarpella works in many mediums but perhaps his most startling works are done in marble. He created a series of classical busts but each figure is embedded with a quartz crystal or mineral "heart" as it interesting confluence of two natural textures, but also an arresting metaphor that links us to something much older and more visceral. These ghostly, veiled figures are clearly still moving, but are not quite of our world anymore...

There are many examples of his work on the net but I can't find a dedicated site for him. If anyone finds one, let me know: I'd love to post the link.

Monday, April 28, 2014

"Dedications" by Adrienne Rich

In honor of National Poetry Month, I have been posting every Monday work by poets I admire. Since this is the last Monday of the month, it seems fitting to close with this breathtaking piece, for all of us who read and love poetry. Here is "Dedications" by Adrienne Rich.


I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a gray day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plain’s enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the Intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

BEAUTY: Sculpture--Robert Cannon

Robert Cannon combines sculpture with landscape design in his marvelous Terraform pieces. Seams and fissures in abstract or classical figures hold moss, lichen, succulents, tiny plants... it is a magical yet simple approach.

His company Opiary, in New Jersey, sells Terraforms.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

BEAUTY: Painting--Ben Smith

Australian painter Ben Smith has a penchant for placing incongruous objects, people, and animals together in a scene, and using forced size disparity as a statement element. It is compelling, surreal work that commands study...

Top to bottom: After Hours Paper Work; An Invitation To Dine; In Two Minds; Sarah Blasko; Still Night, Racing Mind; The Influence. Rembrandt Passes Francis A Note; The Voyage For Direction

Friday, April 25, 2014

"Welcoming The New Ones"

In honor or National Poetry Month, I have been posting new work by myself every Friday (previously here, here, and here).
This is the last Friday of April, and I present "Welcoming The New Ones."

Welcoming The New Ones

You packed what you could, all you could carry.
What you left behind is gone.
Exodus, an ebbing—
cry if you want, but keep moving.
It’s gone for good.

Our names are written in the ground,
in the sky, visible from any point.
What you know, you can’t unknow.

The young people circle you, eager
to help, to steady, to guide.
The old people surround you,
extend their hands to touch,
cover, you feel wafer-thin, porous
as you transmit where you’ve been,
what you’ve done, what you’ve lost.
You’re done now. You can relax,
settle in, find a spot. You’re
going to be here a while.

© JEF 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Poem In Your Pocket Day 2014

April is National Poetry Month and today is Poem In Your Pocket Day, a day when people take a favorite poem with them through their day to share with the world. And this is the one I will be carrying with me to share with others today. It is a lovely, mysterious, transcendent piece by poet, scholar, and my old friend, Joel Long.

Cliff Dive

Measure the depth of water with your hands.
Arch your fingers as though they could not be broken.
Consider the gradual darkness underwater as an equal
to depth, the murk, the pressure on your ears, the cooling
of your eyes as you begin to see outlines of stones,
a tree branch, waterlogged, wedged in silt.
Consider the height of these lichen-spotted cliffs,
above the water as a gauge for what is underneath,
that kind of distance inverted in the water,
that kind of weightlessness converted to weight
of river and earth, not lift but fall, a boulder
you'll never move, deep shade nothing will break.
The undertow they warned you about keeps you
under like a water plant, hands now fronds
measuring the speed of the current, the strength
this time of your spine burrowing in the bottom,
the dark polestar, the anchor inside it.
We will want to know when you return to the surface.
Send word. Bring back data, a brief description
from that far down. We will wait for you on shore.

--Joel Long

"Poet In My Pocket"

In honor of Poem In Your Pocket Day today (part of the April's National Poetry Month), here is Grant Snider's "Poet In My Pocket."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Welcome, Daniel!

Actor Daniel Franzese came out yesterday! He appeared in "Bully," "Party Monster," "Mean Girls," "War of the Worlds," and on television shows "CSI," "Burn Notice," and "Party Down."

Continued success to you, Daniel!

BEAUTY: Painting--Rick Amor

Australian artist Rick Amor has had a long illustrious career and deservedly so. He is a fantastic hybrid of Edward Hopper and Salvador Dali. His work contains references to Symbolism and deals with images and narratives from the pre-verbal consciousness. His work is haunting, dealing with lone or isolated figures, or objects that stand in for a human presence.

Top to bottom: untitled; Burning Café; Burning Car Under The Bridge; Miss Prosser And The Albino; Roman Life; The Anteroom; The Quiet Days; The Room; Transit; The Tower AK