For years, Barcelona Tapas has been a creatively successful culinary and social scene on a quiet cobblestone backstreet in the tropical, seaside, destination of Puerto Vallarta. The vertical profile of the sun-bleached white building is distinctive with its open spaces – dining rooms on each ascending level.

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It is a extremely popular, hip and happening, dining venue which has recently had a spectacular face-lift that brings the structure and open-aired/interior environment up to par with the culinary delights.

Upon arrival, the familiar, welcoming doorway opens to softly lit aggregate stairs that sweep up each tier of the towering edifice.

A massive Cantera stone fountain babbles gently amidst tropical plantings and an iron grill-work is indirectly illuminated for a dramatic effect. An expansive patio all with honed stone tile floors begins the layers of available spaces.

Next an intimate open-aired dining area with an adjacent chef’s table and luminous, full-wall wine cooler beckons with an inviting aura. The intense red drama of a bullfight is rendered in a large painting on the rear wall – a suiting backdrop to the Spanish theme.

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Continuing the ascension, the delightful glossy black ironwork railing follows along and up the open-to-the-sky aggregate staircase turning past the last landing.  Ahead, the beautiful,  warm glow of the new dimensional ceiling treatment accented with wood and indirect lighting draws the eye upward.

Upon arrival on this rooftop dining platform, what was always an exciting view of the city lights, both in the foreground and circling the bay miles around to the north,  now expresses the new architectural features and finishes dazzling the eye.

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Effective lighting, recessed ceiling details, a new clear glass railing, and modern ceiling fans dangling like detached white nosecone propellers present a whole new, fresh, modern look. The drama and effectiveness of the lighting paired with the wonderful surround sound, coming from eight Bose wall-mounted speakers and 2 sub-woofers recessed into the ceiling, result in an atmosphere and music that are seductive and sensational.

But wait – there’s more!!! Yes, an additional rooftop dining patio is revealed upon discovering the hidden staircase at the far end of the bar. New furniture and a billowing fabric-draped portico are soon to arrive!

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This new space not only increases the seating capacity, but offers yet another  panoramic view and trendy design-themed open venue – expanding the options even more!

The project is Chef/Owner Bill Carballo’s passion.

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He has been at it for years creating deliciously original and traditional Spanish tapas (here his exquisie presentations have been half eaten in the rush to enjoy)

from the immaculate exhibition kitchen at the start of the long bar, with a fine-tuned staff eager to assist and cater to your every need.

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This enchanting transformation has attracted new discriminating, trend-setting clients and welcomed the return of  loyal fans to experience this exciting new and stylish interpretation of Barcelona Tapas.

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The doormen Luis and his affable sidekick are there to greet and assist!

Thank you gentlemen and Buenos Noches until next time!!!!

Art and architecture meet all the time. Sculptural forms, building models, buildings themselves, sketches…but at this time of year, the fanciful world of gingerbread houses takes the spotlight and, in this recent scene we encountered, offered a beautiful fund-raiser while at it!!!

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As we pulled away in the pre-dawn hours of the  morning…we felt the chill in the air and the glow over the mountain sending us on our way.

We traversed across the terminal and before cutting over left to the escalator, we spied—at the same time—a wondrously tall Christmas tree adorned with airplanes and ribbon…and surrounded by an amazing collection of ginger bread houses on display in some sort of fund-raiser fashion.

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Upon closer inspection, the fantasy became tangible. The individual structures took on a form of expressive life in their individual attention-getting style. Each one was quite unique incorporating rivers and ponds, vehicles and foliage of all manner.

It is a Christmas tradition to create a gingerbread house full of fantasy and fear, hope and salvation. From the simple joy of baking traditions for Christmas, to the many versions of fairy tales that save children from the wicked ones in the woods creating and story-telling surrounding these magical edifices makes gingerbread houses a staple of the winter holidays – all the while offering architectural design and  construction projects for all ages. Below, see the Hanukkah version of this adorable house.

I just read a great piece by Tori Avey in which she summarized the history of gingerbread. http://toriavey.com/?s=gingerbread

She references architectural design with the fact that: Elaborately decorated gingerbread became synonymous with all things fancy and elegant in England. The gold leaf that was often used to decorate gingerbread cookies led to the popular expression ‘to take the gilt off of gingerbread.’ The carved, white architectural details found on many colonial American seaside homes is sometimes referred to as ‘gingerbread work’.

Having been raised on the east coast, describing houses with ornate “gingerbread” detailing was part of our vocabulary. I now see it in Rocky Mountain Victorians and California seaside cottages. It always conveys a quaint, welcoming feeling.

Avey further states: Gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century. The elaborate cookie-walled houses, decorated with foil in addition to gold leaf, became associated with Christmas tradition. Their popularity rose when the Brothers Grimm wrote the story of Hansel and Gretel, in which the main characters stumble upon a house made entirely of treats deep in the forest. It is unclear whether or not gingerbread houses were a result of the popular fairy tale, or vice versa.

Recently the record for world’s largest gingerbread house was broken. The previous record was set by the Mall of America in 2006. The new winning gingerbread house, spanning nearly 40,000 cubic feet, was erected at Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas.

Everything is bigger in Texas!!!

The house required a building permit and was built much like a traditional house. 4,000 gingerbread bricks were used during its construction. To put that in perspective, a recipe for a house this size would include 1,800 pounds of butter and 1,080 ounces of ground ginger. Sounds more like a gingerbread resort!

So as we walked around this wonderful display at the ABQ Sunport and marveled at the colorful creativity, I knew this was the story for today.

The cartoon in the paper that morning also found  humor in the subject.

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And to further galvanize that thought, we arrived in San Diego to find Keira proudly presenting their half-eaten, already picked apart gingerbread project in the center of the kitchen table. T’was the joy of gingerbread houses—post construction, eating them!!!

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Resourcefulness in the Field

November 19, 2016

A bird in the hand or resourcefulness pays off – this is just a quick bit of designer humor for your Saturday morning. As I flew on an early bird flight to Phoenix for a couple of projects last week, I was sitting on the flight taking stock of what I wanted to accomplish, what was on the agenda and all the tools of the trade and accouterments and finish materials that I was taking with me. After feeling well prepared, I settled into the always enjoyable Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine.

Arriving in Phoenix was a climate change right off the bat as the outside air seeped into the jetway with a warm, welcoming temperature in the high 70s at that already early hour. As an aside just to continue the story, we had been alerted from the flight deck that there was a delay in the concourse and that we would be held at the gate until the disturbance was cleared. Sure enough, upon deplaning and entering the gate area, hundreds of people were jammed together facing to the right in anticipation of learning what was happening and hoping to soon be released. So I took my place among the hoards of travelers and occasionally stood on my tip-toes to see the TSA barrier of agents keeping us at bay.

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After nearly an hour we were herded to the adjacent gate and led single file out onto a mobile ramp staircase down to the tarmac and into buses which wheeled us to the D concourse where we could get to baggage claim and ground transportation. Half of the travelers making connecting flights were still held risking connections and trying patience.

Nobody was offering an explanation and when asked the response was merely that there was a security breach. Until one young SWA agent whispered to me that there was a suspicious package and that security was waiting for the dogs to investigate and until they arrived the package could not be touched. So that answered that.

Excitement over, I retrieved my bag full of engineered stone and laminate samples, paint fan decks and fabrics. Grateful that an earlier mishap at security required that I check my would-be carry-on rolling bag (which weighed a ton and would not have been fun to stow overhead) when I had forgotten about a lovely little jar of local Heidi’s Chile Raspberry jam that I was taking to my client as a hostess gift. Stopped and searched by TSA the agent kindly offered that I check my bag to save the jam – she escorted me out so that I could retrace my steps back down to the main level and check my bag.

At the SWA ticket counter I hoisted the bag onto the scales and began telling the agent about my return from TSA with my contraband and I began unzipping the bag. Clumsily juggling my purse and holding the jar of jam it flew from my hands dropping with a crash onto the brick floor and rolled away as she and I stood saucer-eyed with horror. Miracle of miracles it did not break – even crack- how that was possible, falling from that height onto a brick floor, we will never know. But it appeared after having been discovered and confiscated at security and surviving a fall from about 24 inches above a brick floor that it was destined to get to Phoenix.

As the time unfolded, we found ourselves in a meeting with the architect to do a plan review and some minor revisions prior to beginning construction. The place was demolished and debris was all about.

We found a table and spread the plans. As we began discussing the details, I realized  that with all my preparation that I had forgotten the roll of flimsy. I never travel without flimsy – trace – the roll of translucent paper that is the quick-study tool for sketching over plans. Dang.  So there we were and all of a sudden Felicia looks over a few feet away and spies a blue cardboard box covered with drywall dust. There sitting on a planter ledge in the elevator lobby of the third floor was a forgotten box of toilet seat liners!!!! Yes, how funny – she offered “won’t this work?” And we tore out a few sheets and began our work tracing options over the plans. Brian, the architect, will surly enjoy seeing himself here in today’s blog hard at work over his paper toilet seat cover!!!

We look forward to a fabulous interior for Dr. Farhan Taghizadeh’s new Arizona Facial Plastics office scheduled for completion in January!!!

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While in D.C. last week, in this most unusual season of the American Presidential election, it seemed more than appropriate, if not imperative, to visit Mount Vernon – the estate of our first president, George Washington.

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This historic property has been painstakingly maintained and developed into an exceptional educational facility on unspoiled grounds with uninterrupted, breath-taking views. Experiencing the beauty of the surroundings is magnificent. Learning about the history and minute details of this extraordinary man’s life is fascinating.

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Did you know when Washington was elected our  first President in the initial forming of the United States, presidents were selected only through the vote of the Electoral college, rather than by popular vote? The 69 votes that Washington received in 1789, and the 132 he received in 1792 were all of the available Electoral College votes, and resulted in thereby making Washington the only president in United States history to have been elected unanimously.

Did you know that Washington’s presidency founded the United States Navy, established the nation’s official currency, created the State Department, and established the Supreme Court?

Gary S. Smith wrote in March 2010: While praising his military and political record, many scholars contend that Washington’s genius lies principally in his character. The only other American president who has been so highly extolled for his character is Abraham Lincoln. Since Washington, all presidents have been ultimately measured not by the size of their electoral victories or the success of their legislative programs, but by their moral character. His character helped sustain his troops throughout the travails of the Revolutionary War, convince delegates to the Constitutional Convention to assign significant powers to the presidency, secure ratification of the Constitution, and enable the new republic to survive in a hostile world….He took the standards of his age very seriously and diligently strove to be virtuous. To many, the crowning achievement of Washington’s character was his simultaneous resignation in 1783 as commander in chief o the American army and his retirement from the world of politics. Throughout the western world, his unprecedented relinquishing of power (which he did a second time when he declined a third term as president) was widely heralded. Unlike other victorious generals, he did not expect a political or financial reward for his military exploits. Washington’s character, Jefferson argued, probably prevented the American Revolution from subverting the liberty it sought to establish. The Virginian had a sterling reputation for integrity and honor, dedication to duty and his country, and remaining above the fray.

It is with such depth of character and broad view of his world that he was unanimously regarded as the only man who could effect change of the magnitude required to bring people together.

This many years after his death he still has a powerful effectiveness for bringing people together. The tour of this amazingly preserved property is intimate and familiar – even on one’s first visit. It’s partly scale and partly due to the well-versed guides that are scattered in every pocket of the place. They bring the historic home and it’s people to life.

While attending my Alma Mater, Mount Vernon College (no relation), in the interior design program, we toured this historic interior with rapt attention to decorative art and architectural details. One expects the facade to be white painted wood – but as you see it up close, you realize that it reads like beveled stone blocks. It is actually wood, shaped to replicate stone, with a sanded coating that gives a stone-like texture.

Interior finishes also reveal faux artistry upon closer inspection, with the paneled walls and doors painted with wood grain creating stunning matched patterns. Superficial treatments of faux finishes were elegant touches of the day.

Washington was truly a Renaissance man. He worked with the finest minds in agriculture and technology to develop new techniques for farming, implements and gadgets around the property. He recognized the toll tobacco took on depleting the nutrients in his fields paired with the time it took to grow and harvest and heavy taxes that were levied during trade and changed his operation to grow wheat which had limitless less expensive outlets for marketing and was easier on all counts of growing.

On the advice of his Scottish farm manager he created a distillery which produced more whiskey than any of its kind in his day. You too can purchase a bottle of Washington’s whiskey today for a mere minimum of $100 per.

His sensitivity to art and architecture, entertaining and hospitality, paired with the strength to lead the noble cause of freedom, managing troops, raising morale and keeping promises while always at the helm risking his life alongside his men and participating to the fullest in his every endeavor speaks to the moral character and brilliant creativity of this extraordinary man.

So,  to sum up this unprecedented level of discourse in the current election season and questionable characters on the part of our  candidates, I was left with finding levity in the Mount Vernon gift shop…

 

 

So, in direct contrast to discovering art in unexpected places such as a simple series of brush strokes painted on a course concrete curb, (last week’s pattisays blog) this week, as fall leaves fill the air and pumpkins pop up on every surface, my observations are about discovering art occur in an actual art gallery, specifically the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.. Imagine that! The city has been abuzz for months in anticipation of the recent unveiling of the updated East Building.

It was in 1978, the year I left my home town of Washington that I.M. Pei’s exciting new modern edifice was presented to an anxious art-loving public. So very different from the West Building and all others in the historic vicinity, some people were astonished but most were thrilled. This sleek angular sculpture of a building was a statement in and around which to display the growing modern and contemporary collection. An art-piece of its own accord. Yes, the building was at once regarded as its own work of art.  We eagerly raced to touch the famous wedge of geometry that came to such an acute angle that it begged to be touched.

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Nearly 40 years later that same fine edge is silently showing its age missing little chunks of compound and lovingly discolored with all the hands from around the world that have touched and smiled at the towering stone form in contrast to the rotund, ornamented and domed Capital in the background. Both majestically iconic, but stylistically so very different.

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But wait – this elegant aging beauty has had a three year rejuvenation treatment! New stairways and elevators connect galleries making the flow of exhibits more enjoyable. The tunnel connecting East to West sparkles with light and all the subtle changes result in a seamless passage through and enhanced experience for visitors.

The glassy, crisp, stark, expansive lobby where the enormous Calder mobile is suspended defying its enormity and weight as it gracefully, almost motionlessly, moves silently with the subtle, indiscernible stirring of air is the fulcrum of the building. Exhibit halls tucked away but newly connected are exciting to frequent visitors who know the building so well.

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I naturally had to have a little fun and in keeping with the season made a couple of entertaining discoveries. Here Four Square and oil on Canvas by Franz Kline in 1956 is noted by The Art Story/Modern Art Insight “a fine example of  his gestural approach to painting. The viewer is led to ponder the canvas, seeing as either a close-up of a linguistic symbol, or perhaps, a set of open windows.”

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Really? Linguistic symbol or a set of windows? Well, maybe it’s the season…but I instantly saw a cat – a crazy black cat, an abstraction of James Dean’s “Pete” perhaps, which made me want a mask and to be that crazy cat and prance about for Halloween!

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In another piece, Portage, by William Kentridge of South Africa born in my birth year of 1955, a folded accordion-like book with torn  black figures of paper affixed to encyclopedia pages resulted in my seeing another black cat! I do think it was of human figures bearing weight, carrying, moving through various poses. Call me Halloweeny – but this one was decidedly a black cat. Don’t YOU think?

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It was fabulous, exciting, fun and emotional to see the colorful Matisse cut-outs once again in such close proximity with Matisse’s placement marks and rough cut pieces – crude yet refined – rough yet lovely. Seeing these incredible compositions up close again is breath-taking.

Oh, and might this be another seasonal mask?

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From awestruck to silly…to a quiet reverence at coming to the black and white photo of this enormous piece in Hotel Regina in Nice in 1953!!  Seeing it in the setting of its day and captured in a photo all those many years ago was one of many moments of reverence.

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Once again, pay attention to the little things, be surprised, let yourself be amused and enjoy discovering art wherever you might find it – unexpected and very much expected places!

 

As we explored the hidden pockets at the Renwick Gallery (see last week’s blog) where upcoming exhibits were concealed by various obstructions and drapes, we made some interesting discoveries. We peeked behind a barrier where another exhibit was in the process of being installed. There we spied a variety of objet d’art and standing amidst, in the center of the disarray,  was what appeared to be a draped Grandfather’s Clock. My cousin who had previewed the show informed us that it was in fact the drape that is the art – it is not a drape – not fabric – but an exquisitely crafted art piece  of its own accord. P1150073 The ladders and other tools of the installation unintentionally supported the amazing trompe l’oiel effect. It was not a piece under cover at all – but the cover formed to suggest that there was a statuesque clock beneath it WAS the art!

At the opposite end of the staircase that we ascended is a rotund space dedicated to the history of the Renwick. 20160618_114404_resized Here we found the story. It is a story of passion for the arts, dedication to preserving and presenting, offering to the public these rare opportunities and during its life it has been confiscated and re-purposed for wartimes, protected by Jackie Kennedy and preserved under the official order of Lyndon Johnson that it be returned to its original purpose to be “Dedicated to Art” as a the unique exhibit space it was designed to be. 20160618_114310_resized

Read along the wall and you will learn about Powers’ Greek Slave 20160618_114122_resized and look up and you will be dazzled by a permanently exhibited Chihuly chandelier dangling with droplets of green glass that looks like it was dispensed from a frozen yogurt machine – soft and spiral, layers of iridescent and luminous forms.

The exterior is also fascinating to examine up close. It has whimsical and interesting details of relief and components, modern wave patterns all topped off by an unfortunately “tacky” sign beneath the upper pediment of the entry facade. P1150085 Oh well…

Please make the Renwick a must see when next in DC.

WONDER at the Renwick

June 19, 2016

At 4 years old my teeny cousin, Katherine whom I nicknamed Katie-belle, took my hand as we ventured forth with great discovery stepping down into the carport of our beach house. With commiserating whispers, like the two adventurers that we were that night, we exchanged queries about where we were headed and what we might find and she said ” I Wonder…”

“So what?” you might say. What’s such a big deal about that? Well the concept of wondering, being able to ponder with amazement at what might result, was astonishing to me coming from the mouth of such a young child.

When we returned upstairs to join the group, I was eager to share my amazement about her simple phrase, “I wonder.” I exclaimed  “She wonders!” Repeating it incredulously about 5 times!

Today she is a dedicated grown-up pursuing exciting adventures in education as she navigates the University system and teaches students with a creative approach that captivates and engages beyond their expectations.

What is wonder? What is wonderful? Yesterday I visited the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. . The current exhibit is called WONDER. P1150084It truly is a wonderment for all ages. This architecturally magnificent building designed in 1859 by James Renwick, in the then chic Parisian Second Empire Style, is the elegant backdrop for a most progressive and creative collection of present day modern artists’ works. Diverse examples, of spectacular displays using simple materials,  brought to life in forms unexpected – of grand proportion and thrilling magnitude. Although my learned and previewer cousin had introduced me to the exhibit in advance, it captivated and engaged beyond my expectations.

This grand yet intimate edifice welcomes and encourages close observation of both itself and its contents. The spectacular main staircase, centered upon entry, presents a brilliant coral red carpet installed with a curvy,  serpentine migration up to the second level. Ooh – if copying is cool and emulating is the greatest form of compliment – I will be looking for an opportunity to specify a similarly whimsical installation. P1150052

Glittering overhead, spanning the entire length of the staircase, is a rectangular chandelier of mirror-like stainless steel punctuated with little LED lights blinking in random patterns. P1150066 The glitz and bling make such a striking, formal, contemporary statement in this expansive volume that it startles with joyful contrast. The artist, Leo Villareal of whom I had heard in advance, was originally from Albuquerque – where we now call home. A remote desert origination transplanted into the fast pace of the urban centers of the east coast resulting in this shiny experimentation with light, form and wonderfully reflective surfaces. Villareal melds basic high-tech coding to use his own algorithm of the binary system 1s and 0s communicating to the lights when to turn off and turn on – yet sequences that are never exactly repeated .P1150064 It’s not just your linear code of characters that is read on a screen –  here it is an artistic experience shared by all who look up in this gallery’s exciting exhibit.

Straight ahead, through the massive opening to the next exhibit hall, was the wispy fishnet-like rainbow of woven warm-colored fiber representing both  wonder and danger. Artist Janet Echelman’s inspiration is from a map of the energy released across the Pacific Ocean during the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.  A natural disaster so devastating that it shifted the earth on its axis and cost us a fraction of a second in time. Surreal? Sci-fi? No, it really happened.  Beauty and grace depicting a horrific event. P1150063 Large scaffolding at the end of the room suggests the manual installation that was required to suspend this wondrous drape catching light and glowing with golden aura. P1150068

The lower level still had wonders to explore starting with the magical woven willow saplings – creations of artist Patrick Dougherty. He has wound these great lengths of supple branches to form Hobbit – like holes of imaginary forest habitats. P1150056 We were at once drawn into these cozy nurturing cubbies of what appeared to be nature – not forms created by man. Nature. Organic and raw, elegant and graceful winding toward the far reaches of the very high ceilings. Like a sculptor who says that the stone dictates what it wants to be and how he carves it – Dougherty knows that the long willow branches have a true will and bend their own way challenging him to work with them toward that goal of partnership with nature. The beauty is in the end result.  People of all ages wandered in and out, peeking through window-like openings pretending to be exploring an enchanted forest of wonder.

Next – stacked index cards- really? P1150061 Have you ever experienced Tent Rocks?  8-24-12 Placitas lunch, Tent Rocks Heather, Tricia, Zeke 044Have you ever looked upward and around and through the magnificent forms created by nature eroding the earth’s strata revealing layers of color and creating spires of rocky towers? It is a magic land just south of Cochiti in a very unexpected pocket of nature’s magnificence in our Land of Enchantment. And the spires that artist Tara Donovan created with stacks of index cards – an overwhelming accumulation of millions of index cards suggest grey spires replicating nature’s wonders in the canyons among the spires of the Tent Rocks. P1150062 It’s as though a photographer captured this natural formation in black and white.  Donovan’s interpretations are tones of grey as a result of the stacked white index cards with slivers of shadow sucking away light in between each of them. Clustered and staggering in height, the “Untitled” towers are inviting to walk amidst and pass between, winding around them like a  tourist or explorer or perhaps inhabitant in ages past and present as they have stood for ages.

Snap out of it and see what is glowing like a fine fiber sail in the sunset in the next room. Stretching upward and crossing midway are thousands of incredibly fine threads woven from small hooks on the base. P1150059How could a human working only by hand – without computer generated machines digitally fabricating such perfection create this finished piece that we are studying with such wonder? How can this fine tedious seemingly impossible count of thousands of threads be executed with such grandeur and grace by one mere mortal? gabriel-dawe-plexusa1-wonder-renwick-gallery-washington-designboom-03 The artist Gabriel Dawe transcends our ability to comprehend the exactness of his beautiful accomplishment with extraordinary patience, precision and creative foresight to imagine the end result and bring it to fruition.  It is a wondrous, luminous sculpture of rainbow colored threads inspired by the skies of his native Mexico and current home in East Texas. The fine weavings also inspired by his Mexican heritage are interpreted, stretched and exaggerated here reflecting the light and spectrum of color from its base to ceiling. P1150060

We missed a couple of early installations of WONDER but were thrilled by today’s adventure. We had many opportunities to wonder…wonder how the artists conceive of their fantastic ideas and actually build their dreams to share with the world. We wondered what it takes to spark that creativity and passion that requires commitment and demands such unfailing determination. We wondered about those who collect these talents and curate these exhibits for the joy of so many. We wondered about the practical side of marketing these concepts to support the artists and this amazing  accommodation started so many years ago by a true visionary William W. Corcoran.

My next blog will trace the history of this wonderful architectural treasure, the Renwick, and share more of the day’s discoveries that you might visit and experience as you tour my birthplace – our Nation’s Capital.