Topic: New England (4 posts)

Louis Kahn Exeter Library

Ever hear of Louis Kahn? A few years before contemporary architecture moved into its Postmodernism, Deconstructivist, Post-Post Modernism, etc. phases
Louis Kahn, one of our most brilliant architects, designed late in his career a library for Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH in 1970 that stands as one of his greatest pieces.

A friend and I took the day and headed up there from Boston,  11/2 hours away.  Had a good lunch too, at the Green Bean Restaurant, right in town (highly recommended).

With some ideas from the Coliseum in Rome, the library, named the Class of 1945 Library, is a brick and glass cube that integrates with the other 19th century buildings nearby on campus, also in brick.

Minimal and understated, the exterior stands in service to the library's function, almost neutral, as a counter to what's inside.

Which is a tour de force of innovation, engineering, warmth and solemnity.

Huge supporting concrete blocks formed as large circles or openings letting in light, keeping the space open and spacious. Circles within a cube: simply breathtaking and elegant.

Look up and you find this:

With a prevailing palette of concrete, oak and beige carpet with a little hint of marble  thrown in for good measure, the building exudes quality, class and impeccable pedigree,  appropriate to this high-end and rather exclusive boarding school.

We were there in June so things were slow, virtually no students at all. But I can't imagine the library being raucous and loud, as it felt more like being in a tomb or place of worship to me. Whispers came almost without thought, in regards to the  place itself, a kind of reverence and respect for being in a place of  truly exceptional design.

I found a few of the details wonderful:

Yes, but Neal, I hear you asking, isn't this a Photo Blog? Well, yes, it is but in something like what I call a creative life (same category when I wrote last spring about Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water) inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. This is about input and seeing what happens from it and, mixed in, sheer joy. 

It is my pleasure to bring this to you. 

Want to read more about Kahn? There's a great piece in the New York Review of Books about him, here, written by Martin Filler. 

Topics: Falling Water,New England,Color,Digital,Architecture

Permalink | Posted June 24, 2017

WET

This is pretty much what I had for three weeks at Martha's Vineyard this spring. This is the table we sit at outside the kitchen on the deck in bright sun at breakfast sipping our coffees. Some of our conversations can go on for hours here with seconds and even thirds on coffee so strong that thirds are only for those made of hardier stuff than me. But today, in contrast, there is a "gale force winds" warning, it is 48 degrees and yes, it is raining.

Mind you, I am not complaining, for a cold rainy day at the Vineyard is a far cry better than the same almost anywhere else, but it has been like dodging bullets the past week or so trying to make pictures. I keep the camera in the car ready to go. Plus the clock is ticking on my time left as I have just a few days. It is always like this, I am beginning to get some work done and I have to leave.  Visual ideas are coming as needed these days and this place is certainly gorgeous. But really, looking at it through the car's window isn't quite the same as being in it. But, like I said, I am not complaining. It has been exceptional as flat light can be gorgeous.  A lot of my landscape work over a long career looks like it was made in optimal conditions, but not this new work:

Update: I  am now back on the "mainland" for two days and fully immersed in a life with traffic jams, lines to wait in, deadlines to meet, people to see, emails to answer, book proofs to review, prints to make and bills to pay. Spending time on the island puts much of your regular life on hold, a benefit in some respects but a detriment in others. The character of the island makes you step off, disengage, take a vacation and recenter your daily life to a different set of priorities. To be honest, for me, much of the mainland goes away. Although, I admit, I did watch the Comey testimony last week, it came through with the peculiar filter of watching something distant as though coming from a different country, amazing to hear what he was saying but not directly important as I  wasn't really there, was I?

Ah, Martha's Vineyard. Thinking of visiting? Try it off season, spring or fall. It is even amazing during the worst weather months January-March although come prepared. Summer is a form of siege on the island, not my favorite.

Topics: Martha's Vineyard,New England

Permalink | Posted June 11, 2017

Boston Athenaeum

Boston Athenaeum:

The Boston Athenæum is one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States. It is also one of a number of membership libraries,[2] meaning that patrons pay a yearly subscription fee to use the Athenæum's services. The institution was founded in 1807 by the Anthology Club of Boston, Massachusetts.[3] It is located at 10 1/2 Beacon Street on Beacon Hill.

Resources of the Boston Athenæum include a large circulating book collection; a public gallery; a rare books collection of over 100,000 volumes; an art collection of 100,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, and decorative arts; research collections including one of the world's most important collections of primary materials on the American Civil War; and a public forum offering lectures, readings, concerts, and other events. Special treasures include the largest portion of President George Washington's library from Mount Vernon; Houdon busts of Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Lafayette once owned by Thomas Jefferson; a first edition copy of Audubon's "Birds of America;" a 1799 set of Goya's "Los caprichos;" portraits by Gilbert Stuart, Chester Harding, and John Singer Sargent; and one of the most extensive collections of contemporary artists' books in the United States.[4]

The Boston Athenæum is also known for the many prominent writers, scholars, and politicians who have been members, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., John Quincy Adams, Margaret Fuller, Francis Parkman, Amy Lowell, John F. Kennedy, and Edward M. Kennedy.

Source: Wikepedia

The Athenaeum has frequent exhibitions, showing works from within the New England region. Its current show, Called "Works on Paper" includes a couple of photographs of mine from Peddocks Island in Boston Harbor that I made in 2005. The library purchased the full portfolio in 2011.

Peddocks Island is on the gallery page of my site: here.

Catharina Slautterback, the library's curator of prints and photographs, chose works from the permanent collection for the show. This exhibition emphasizes recent acquisitions.

It is a very beautiful show. It is up through mid September.

Although the Athenaeum is a private library for its members, it is free and open to the public on its first floor. It is also one of Boston's great resources, practically across the street from the State House with real charm  and an old world presence. Never been? Seize this opportunity to see  some great art set in a great place, a retreat from the noise and fast pace in downtown Boston.

For more information go to: Boston Athenaeum.

Topics: Shows,New England,vintage,Black and White

Permalink | Posted May 14, 2017

From the Inside

In an effort to give back and hopefully to be helpful I have been on the boards of two non profit local photography organizations for the past several years: The Photographic Resource Center at Boston University in Boston and the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA. On the Griffin I am a non voting board member, called a corporator.

Some of you will know these two organizations well. They provide extensive programming, excellent exhibitions, yearly portfolio reviews, awards, auctions and a variety of services too good to lose. And they both need our help in order to continue. As I have learned, it is very hard to raise funds for "continuing operating expenses" as this doesn't sell well and isn't sexy. But it is exactly what they need. Another thing I've learned: many people think they are supporting the organizations by being members. But this doesn't help sustain them, membership just pays for services.

I am making a plea here for a contribution, be it small or large, to the organization of your choice (or to both). If you don't know each one check them out here:

Photographic Resource Center

Griffin Museum of Photography

and take a look at what they do and plan to do. If you do know what they offer consider this: imagine New England without them. It is inconceivable, at least to me. I back up my passion for these two places with my volunteering to help however I can but also with cash. Can't send them much? Fine. Send them $10 along with a note saying thanks. Can send a lot? Then please do. They need your help very much.

Thank You




Topics: PRC,Griffin,New England,NonProfit

Permalink | Posted November 29, 2012