Celebrating the Life of Artist and Curator Susan O’Malley (1976–2015)

This is personal: yesterday was my birthday and I attended the memorial of a friend, Susan O’Malley.

At the Montalvo Art Center in Saratoga, CA, several hundred family and friends became a colorful community to celebrate the life of an extraordinary person.  We cried, we laughed, we waved jazz hands, we sang and had a pep rally (Susan……O’Malley)…..

My life intersected with Susan’s when I worked with her for her Palo Alto Arts Center exhibition Community Advice.  Her social art practice was deep listening to unearth wisdom and present these words through vibrant text colors.  In this project she asked: “What advice would you give your 8-year old self?” AND “What advice would you give your 80-year old self?”  Using excerpts from recorded interviews, she created ten text posters displayed throughout the community as well as within the PAAC exhibition gallery. She looked to blur the line between art space and life space.

We remained connected after the project: Susan became a mentor and a muse.  I looked to bring her into a design workshop I was running for The Crosses of Lafayette.  I wanted to connect her listening and art to the fiery words of Korean War Veteran turned anti-war activist and poet Fred Norman.  The connection was missed.  I worried that it would be 80- year old Fred who would pass before the project would be completed, never thinking it would be Susan.

Dear friend, I will miss your light and delight.


The Dawn of Branding

Paul Rand’s Work Exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York

The designer’s exhibit encompasses the six decades of his career as a visionary of modern branding. Paul Rand, whose most iconic work includes the design of corporate logos, was a man whose name itself had been re-imagined as a corporate identity. Two- 4 letter names, easily remembered and difficult to escape from one’s memory—similar to his ABC logo, seen by millions on television screens for generations… Launching his professional career with magazine covers, he revolutionized advertising as an art director on Madison Avenue. The exhibition, on show at the Museum of the City of New York, is comprised of six entities, and features 150 pieces of Rand’s work, including his pioneering rebranding campaigns for IBM and UPS (unusual color combinations, bold typefaces, straightforward company messages).

<p class="p1" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">IBM pavilion at the  New York World's Fair, 1964. IBM logo and graphic identity designed by Paul Rand.</p>


 How Paul Rand Pioneered The Era Of Design-Led Business

We live in an era that acknowledges the business value of good design. Research proves it. But it wasn’t always so. Everything is Design: The Wrok of Paul Rand, a new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, reveals that today’s design-led businesses owe much credit to the work of visionary graphic designer Paul Rand. Paul Rand was the first and only designer Steve Jobs looked to.


“Everything is Design. Everything!”

Everything is Design: The Work of Paul Rand features more than 150 advertisements, posters, corporate brochures, and books by this master of American design. It was Rand who most creatively brought European avant-garde art movements such as Cubism and Constructivism to graphic design in the United States. His philosophy, as expressed in his work and writings, including the recently republished 1947 Thoughts on Design, argued that visual language should integrate form and function. Born in Brooklyn in humble circumstances, Rand (1914-1996) launched his career in the 1930s with magazine cover design and, starting in the early 1940s, he worked as an art director on Madison Avenue, where he helped revolutionize the advertising profession. He later served as design consultant to leading corporations like IBM, ABC, UPS, and Steve Jobs’s NeXT, for whom he conceived comprehensive visual communications systems, ranging from packaging to building signage, all grounded in recognizable logos, many of which are still in use today. Rand’s influence was extended by students he taught at Yale University. His visually stimulating, yet problem-solving, approach to graphic design attracted devoted admirers during his own lifetime and he remains influential today.


Light Conservation Trick of Time

Reviving Rothko

A cutting-edge conservation tool uses light to erase 50 years of damage to Harvard University’s famed murals by Mark Rothko.

Every day at 4 p.m., visitors standing in the special exhibition gallery at the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, Mass., can watch as a suite of Mark Rothko murals age 50 years in an instant. In that moment, a digital light projector switches off and what was a cohesive series of painted panels, known collectively as the Harvard Murals, suddenly looks disjointed. A beautiful, plum-colored background fades to different hues and the ravages of light and time on a delicate painted surface stand out. In an impressive trompe-l’œil, the murals painted in the 1960s by the famed abstract expressionist suddenly lose their luster.

This trick of time is the result of an innovative conservation tool created by the Harvard Art Museums and the for a special exhibition called “Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals,” on display through July. Rothko’s paintings had originally been commissioned for a penthouse dining room at Harvard’s Holyoke Center…The murals hung there until they began to fade. In 1979, they were rolled, put into storage, and rarely seen by the public. That is, until now.

Panel One, Panel Two, and Panel Three (Harvard Mural Triptych).


Sound Architecture

Wooden poles randomly strike the ground at Zimoun’s installation in New York

Vertical wooden laths cyclically pummel the floor of a cavernous New York factory building in this installation by Swiss artist Zimoun…(has) hung 250 wooden poles from thin ropes attached to the 12-metre-high ceiling beams of the Knockdown Center NYC – a 1903 factory building in Queens that has been restored as an art and music venue. This process is repeated at random intervals, creating a choreography of uneven jostling and a cacophony of thuds.

Studio Zimoun installation at Knockdown Center NYC


Zimoun uses motors to create moving cardboard installations

Zimoun collaborated with architect Hannes Zweifel to install 81 boxes between two levels of a room at the Mannheimer Kunstverein gallery.

Zimoun interiors installation



“Using simple and functional components, Zimoun builds architecturally-minded platforms of sound. Exploring mechanical rhythm and flow in prepared systems, his installations incorporate commonplace industrial objects. In an obsessive display of simple and functional materials, these works articulate a tension between the orderly patterns of Modernism and the chaotic forces of life. Carrying an emotional depth, the acoustic hum of natural phenomena in Zimoun’s minimalist constructions effortlessly reverberates.”


Play it Forward

At the National Building Museum, Construction Toys Get a Second Life

From blocks to logs to connecting gears, construction toys are an unequivocal childhood stepping stone. Made from metal, wood, plastic, composite, and even paper, the best among them have transcended time for one reason: They work…In 2006, the museum acquired a stock of 2,252 architectural toys from an amateur toy collector in Illinois. Currently, 38 of them are displayed in the museum’s Play Work Build exhibition. In total, the collection contains more than 260,000 bits and parts, which have been inventoried and are now in the process of being cataloged by hand.


Play Work Build

Only at the National Building Museum can the concepts of PLAY, WORK, and BUILD be combined to create a new exhibition that will enthrall kids and adults alike…this exhibition combines a presentation of the Museum’s world-class Architectural Toy Collection, a hands-on block play area, and an original digital interactive that allows visitors to fill an entire wall of the exhibition with virtual blocks—and then knock them down.


Lighting the Way

Classically Deep

L’Observatoire International has designed an integrated lighting scheme for the Metropolitan Museum of Art that reveals the depth of the building’s Beaux-Arts façade and assists wayfinding in its new Olin-designed plaza.  The museum’s Fifth Avenue–fronting public space has been transformed with people-friendly amenities (new allées of trees, modern water features that replace the old fountains, and permanent and temporary seating options). Lighting now illuminates the presence of the museum’s architecture after the sun goes down, while discretely providing a safe and easy-to-navigate environment in the plaza.

The museum's entry stair adds to the architectural spectacle of the facade and the plaza.


Shylights: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Lighting Installation

 Shylight is inspired by the principal of nyctinasty, whereby certain types of flowers close as night for self-defense and to preserve their resources. Studio Drift interpreted this natural phenomenon in the design of the silk-wrapped, luminous hanging sculptures by exposing a motorized drive at the top of the lantern so that they open and close to various degrees as the fixture moves up and down its cable structure.

<em xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">Shylight</em> by Studio Drift


Architecturally Exhibited

“Soundscape” Audiovisual Interpretations of Architecture at the Museum of the City of New York

The installation draws upon the auditory experience of architecture, a visually-based discipline. The Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) announced the opening of a new installation, Soundscape New York, which explores the audiovisual experience of iconic buildings in the city, including Grand Central Terminal, the Rockefeller Center, the Seagram Building lobby, the New York Public Library Reading Room, and the Guggenheim Museum. The exhibit—a collaboration between University of Virginia architecture professor Karen Van Lengen, FAIA, and artist James Welty—will involve recorded sounds from inside each of these buildings, as well as the interpretive animations of those noises projected onto a screen.An animated interpretation of the Guggenheim Museum.


Icons of Knowledge: Architecture and Symbolism in National Libraries

Harvard University Graduate School of Design exhibition, Icons of Knowledge: Architecture and Symbolism in National Libraries, is a pilgrimage through some of the world’s most significant guardians of knowledge: national libraries.  The exhibition highlights the comparative study and decodes architectural language to reveal common cores.

Reading Room, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.<br />
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