Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mid Century Modern Scavenger Hunt - Zig Zag Roof

I've been doing some scavenger hunting lately for local zig zag roofs for a local modern residential consulting opportunity and thought I'd share some of my scavenger finds. The zig zag form, whether in plan, elevation, or section is signature character that evolved as an element of mid century modern aesthetics. Quite often the tails of the zig zag are left flipping up as can be seen in most of these examples. Part of my mission was to verify the better condition and also see what I could find.

The first building is the Ridge Road Urgent care building. It still has the old exterior bullet lights if you look close. I think this building was originally brick and has been covered over with EIFS on the majority of the exterior and painted the typical suburban 'what shade of beige would you like?'. If you look close you can see the original stacked courses of brick at the windows accompanied with the vertical protruding brick accents. Personally I think if this building was white with dark grey accents it would have more street appeal.

Next are a couple of MCM zig zags we pass by on the way to our Pediatrician's office in Finneytown on Winton Road. The first is a small traditional church that had a 50's entry addition. The architect of this project designed this entry that exhibits a 50's 'time of the now' approach. There is also an excellent obelisk put adjacent to the entry that's not pictured. Shortly down the road from this is a little dry cleaners I've always enjoyed. The cantilevered fly outs are awesome with the dark paint hefting the form over the storefront glass, I bet it looks great at night.

A trip up north in the Lebanon area revealed a small MCM elementary school with a zig zag entry canopy. The rest of the school is a very 'Cranbrook' campus style of school design. The majority of the rest of the building is typical low slope large overhang hip roof boxes connected by flat roof glass corridors. I'm sure the kids love the use of the colors throughout this project, it's good to see they are maintaining what they have.

Next is a recent renovation project of a formerly delapidated MCM building on Victory Parkway by Eden Park. Having gone by this one on my way to work for the past four years I've gotten to watch it sit vacant, then go through the pictured renovation. The original building had some unique aggregate faced concrete panels on the exterior that looked very dated and did not survive the renovation. The new building is a step in the right direction, albeit a bit of a suburban intervention probably developer driven. I'll admit the color scheme is not something I agree with, so I went black and white with my photos.

Last, and certainly not least is Princeton High School up in Sharonville. This is another Cranbrook style school with a cluster of building functions tied together by glass hallways. The building on first pass does not jump out, but a closer look makes a trip to see it worthwhile. The zig zag canopy frames the bus drop off similar to the Lebanon elementary school and is totally made of concrete. There are many playful MCM details and forms in the exterior treatment and daylighting techniques. The original exterior mosaic tiling accents clad angled reveals that are north oriented to avoid direct southern light. The gymnasium facade is folded with stone cladding beyond other numerous MCM details. Certainly it's worth the drive to take a quick exterior tour, it's right off I-75 at the Sharonville exit.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thrift Shop Scores - Polish Glass

The cat has been out of the bag for quite awhile. Beyond front porch stalking, Thrift shopping can provide some great modern treasure finds. This past weekend we had a yardsale complete with modern furniture we no longer need. Of course at the end meant a carload of donations to the local thrift stores. I can't just drive by these places either, I always, to the chagrin of Wendy, must go in even with the echo of her common call "We don't need anything else!".

Now I should be upfront, unemployment means lots of free time and no income. The yardsale was an effort to purge some old stuff and to maintain some cash flow. Really I had no place stepping a foot in the Thrift shop door. After donating I decided to roam the floor anyways and found a cool old 50's glass set, perfect for a friend collecting such. Then as I was walking out, this glass vase caught my eye from across the room. At first look, the piece was totally out of any price range (that being $0), so I snapped a picture with my cellphone and went home. There's a sticker on the side as pictured "Design Guild, Made in Poland". The piece is pretty hefty as well. The glass is really thick, and the striations in the glass lead me to believe it was hand blown. I didn't know I liked Polish glass.

Once home I showed Wendy, who approved "why didn't you buy it?" and did some quick searching on the internet to see what I could find about the 'Design Guild' and Polish glass. The search came up empty which got me excited, usually unknown stuff has more value right? She handed me some yardsale cash and sent me back to make an offer. Quick negotiations indicateded that the vase had been on the floor at the thrift shop for 2 months, which means discount apparently. The manager took 50% off the asking price. Within a half hour I had the piece cleaned up and on display near our white Ikea dining set. Speaking of Ikea, they sell a very similar vase: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/70124506, Ikea does mock-offs sometimes of more famous pieces don't they? Nonetheless this piece is 28" tall and 10" at its widest.

The monetary value of any modern purchase always plays weight in our decision making process of what we should and shouldn't buy. Ikea stuff is easy, it's cheap. A $3 Eames fiberglass armshell chair yardsale grab is a no brainer. More expensive things tend to weigh on my mind, call me frugal. First and foremost, we have to like the piece, if it has good value, that's a bonus. Honestly, I prefer investing in our artwork, I know if I had to sell our collection of modern furnishings, we'd at least break even. I have referred to our Charlie Harper prints in the past as being like hanging savings bonds on the wall to enjoy. For now, I think we'll enjoy my little find. If anyone knows anything about the piece, I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Modern Artworks

Long time with no posts. Excuses aside, it's been a crazy month, I'm now unemployed, and I should have plenty more time to post more regularly. Upcoming posts will feature 'MCM furniture finds', the concrete front porch I poured out front, the complete bathroom remodel we recently completed, and the lurking studio remodel that's currently gutted and in need of a new roof. I thought it might be nice to switch it up a bit and explore the various pieces of MCM art we've acquired and one we made over the past year.

Our first introduction to Mid Century Art was simple, Charlie Harper. As soon as we realized our modern furniture collection was just the beginning in our house, I bought our first Charlie Harper print, Praying Mantis 2, for Wendy's birthday in 2005. After collecting several of his prints we realized we needed to expand our horizons, though I'd be perfectly fine with only Harpers in the house. The first piece, 'Laguna Aurora' is a serigraph I bought at a local auction house downtown. I walked by this place daily and this print jumped off the wall of artwork at me. The print is 10/60 and the artist's name I still have yet to identify. It's either 'Deinstag' or 'Dreustag', but the cursive signature is not legible. Anyone have any ideas? The colors on this and graphic simplicity currently make this my favorite piece in our house.

The second piece I picked up recently is this small oil on canvas painting. It looks as if it was a college students work with the self made frame. The frame is painted wood very rougly nailed to the stretched canvas. Obviously, we veer towards abstract graphical type of work. We also like sculptural objects, we were overwhelmed by tedious repetition at the recent Tara Donovan exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Center downtown. Nonetheless this piece is signed 'Robert Walder or Walden', November 1971 on the back, so period appropriate. I actually found an artist in NYC Robert Walden Jr. who suggested it might be his father's work, but it ended up not being his work after a few emails. I'm still in the dark on this artist, but the piece works great adjacent to the front two toned grey wall, the colors are almost exact.

The final piece is a recent installation Wendy and I came up with while cleaning out the office for demolition. The piece is simply two weathered copper panels juxtaposed on a seafoam colored wall that anchors one end of our large dining / living space. Daily, the sun caresses an array of reflection and color off the pieces. Quite often at dinner I find myself seeing a beach wave crash to shore or a mountain range lurking through the mist. It often inspires a dinner discussion, there's always a different interpretation by different people.

The humorous part is I almost took these panels to the metal scrapyard to be cashed in for their weight. These use to be orchid trays filled with gravel, and over the years the bottoms oxidized slightly and created the complex visual seen in the closeup. When I was cleaning them out and hosing them off outside, the weathered underside of them was discovered. After several mock-up configurations, including a couple angular and vertical ideas, we decided to let the sloped ceiling counter the horizontal shift of the two panels. Viola, trash turned to treasure.