Category: Composition - AM Musings
 
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Calligraphy by Zhao Mengfu (趙孟頫) 1254-1322
The character "wu" by the great Chinese Calligrapher Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322) from his copy of the Lotus Sutra means "nothing"   Wu is central to the Buddhist concept of non-attachment and freedom from desire.   Apart from its meaning, look at how beatifully the composition of the character is balanced and the elegance of the brushstrokes.   
 
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Magnolia Petal
Hard to avoid thoughts of the 10th anniversary of 9/11.    Life is a gift.  How shall I spend this precious day?    
 
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Homage to Edward Hopper
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Detail from Edward Hopper's NightHawks
I snapped this photo at Bar Jules and when I looked at it, I thought of a Edward Hopper painting of people staring vacantly in a restaurant.  These two people are at separate tables and both seem lost in thought in their own worlds.  In my mind, the person inside looks out at a light that shines on a world that he wishes he could be part of (actually I cropped the other person out of the photo - but that wouldn't be as interesting).  

 
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Demonstration Sign from the Vietnam War era
Richard Nixon is perhaps the most controversial 20th Century political figure in American history and his flawed "reign" seems to herald the modern era of  deep distrust of  leadership.  This silk screen poster on cardboard was used in an anti-Vietnam war  demonstration and is a brilliant example of political commentary.  Its prescient commentary, draftsmanship and composition are superb.  My compliments to its unknown creator.

Almost 40 years later, just change the person and it still seems relevant, when pulling strings behind the scenes affects the destiny of millions.   
 
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San Francisco City Hall Renovated under Mayor Willie Brown
Driving down Hyde Street in the late afternoon, I glimpse San Francisco City Hall.  Most tourists take pictures of the City Hall from the plaza directly in front of the building capturing the dome and full details of the building.  This photo taken a block east at the edge of United Nations Plaza, catches a view of the James Lick/Pioneer Memorial Statue in the foreground. 

In  this light,  the gray granite fades to a gray shroud.  The statue adds perspective, scale and distance,  directing attention to the silhouette of both.  Built after the earthquake of 1906, Former Mayor Willie Brown renovated it in 1998.  He did a great job and the City should be thankful for the sensitive attention to preservation.
  

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Accessible Drinking Fountain
The renovation triggered code upgrades throughout the building including accessibility requirements.  Mock/Wallace partner Ron Wallace was at City Hall to appear before the City Planning Commission.  He sent this photo of an accessible drinking fountain. 

The projecting drinking fountain is an obstruction.  With these metal scrolls extending to the floor, a person with poor vision using a cane could detect the obstruction and walk around it.  If new, the water fountain would probably be recessed into a niche.  In this case, it was probably not possible and the designers came up with this solution.   You probably won't see this solution used in many places, but it works here.

 

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White Çhalk on Red Wall



















I came across this section of red wall on Folsom Street anonymously "decorated"  with white chalk.  It's structured yet lively and spontaneous.  Funny how chalk continues to be used even though other drawing materials are more convenient and readily available.   

Stylish restaurants sometimes use chalk on blackboards to show the changing menu and perhaps to evoke simpler times and establish a happy mood. Most people have used chalk at some time in their lives -- probably as a child and for most those were happy times.   You can't use chalk without being aware of its sensual and tactile qualities, the way it engages the surface and reveals textures, the sound of chalk grinding on the surface, the way it breaks if you press too hard, and  the way it leaves powder on your hands so you know you have drawn.   

I try to think about architecture and how the design of things and  materials can evoke feeling within ourselves.  My first courses in architecture at UC Berkeley explored just these concepts and although it didn't seem "serious" at the time, those exercises still inform my work at Mock/Wallace.

 
 
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Photo - New York Architecture
Architectural  Record recently announced the sale of the  Folk Art Museum (completed 2001) in Manhattan to its adjacent neighbor, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

MOMA plans to use the space for needed expansion and there is fear the building will be demolished.  I saw the building when after it was done and thought it was a masterful composition of space and materials.  Sad to think that the building's life may be so short.  Click here for more details.

 
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Yesterday was Mother's Day.  In reality everyday is Mother's Day.  Once you are a parent you are a parent always - your kids always in your mind and heart.

Katie created this arrangement  to honor her mother Chris and picked colors she thought would please her.  There's a nice range of texture and scale of elements.  The large white lilies sets everything off and pulls it together.  It's not too self-conscious.  That's good.  

 
 
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Here's another accidental photo on Folsom Street.  Sitting in my VW at Vega Cafe, I notice the diagonal shadow of a post on the sidewalk.   I snap the picture and look at it.  The different elements in the photo connect with one another.  
The shadow on the window sill of the car merges with the diagonal line and then again merges with the shadow of the building leading the eye back for forth.  The building green recalls the green of the car.  Not a great shot, but enough to think about for a bit.  

 
 
 
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In the battle between the two San Francisco free weekly papers, there's no question my loyalty is with the Bay Guardian.  I have a long history with them dating from 1977  when my office was in the same building .
 
I happen to see the covers of the two papers side by side when I was getting my coffee this morning.  No question who is winning the battle on the graphic design front.  Sorry Bay Guardian.