Wednesday, April 27, 2011

life in a glass house

All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.
Philip Johnson (1906-2005) architect

the wall for today's wall wednesday post is of a mural at the cuyahoga metropolitian housing authority (cmha) offices on w. 25th street. it appears as though the mural is a commissioned piece of public art. unfortunately and surprisingly, I couldn't find anything on who created it or when it went up - in my cursory examination of the piece I couldn't find a signature and date and I couldn't find anything about the work on the internet (truth be told, I didn't devote hours looking). the offices were closed the sunday I walked by, otherwise I would have popped in to see if I could find out out the skinny on the mural.

the mural is a fun bit of trompe l'oeil, I especially enjoy the shadows cast by the viewers of the "paintings" - incidentally, the paintings showcase various cmha properties - I recognize a few of the buildings. the sign on the wall reads - cmha: the interactive art of public housing

today's quote comes from philip johnson - a very influential american architect who is known for many architectural and design innovations, among which is his use of glass. johnson was born in cleveland ohio - he was trained in europe and at harvard's graduate school of design. in 1930 he founded the department of design at moma in new york - a few years after establishing the department he resigned his position at moma and embarked on a number of other careers - journalist, social critic, and then he eventually returned to harvard to be trained as an architect. the list of his buildings and structures is long - not surprising given the length of his career! however, the crown jewel of his oeuvre is one of his relatively early works - the glass house which he designed and built in 1949 on his estate in new canaan, connecticut. in addition to the glass house, the estate features a number of other structures.

johnson died in his sleep at the age of 98 while living in the glass house. his life partner of 45 years, david whitney, died just a few months later. since the deaths of johnson and whitney, the 47-acre estate in connecticut has become part of the national trust for historic preservation and is open to the public. the glass house is definitely on my bucket list! sounds like a wonderful place for a wander. until I get there, at least I can gaze at some of johnson's works here in cleveland - however, the only building of johnson's in town is the cleveland play house, the other structures of johnson's are a group of sculptures on the case campus.

unfortunately, the long-term fate of the play house is up in the air. in 2009, the parcel of land on which the play house rests was sold to the cleveland clinic - the clinic has a local reputation for purchasing land, demolishing buildings and putting up brand new structures that suit whatever fancy they have the moment! re-purposing and recycling buildings does not seem to be something the clinic embraces very often! but the good new is at least for now the playhouse is still standing and is still the site for theatrical and musical events (it's great space by the way!).

radiohead's life in a glass house - which can be found on the amnesiac album (2000)

photo: w.25th and detroit, cleveland, april 2011


karen said...

Pretty neat wall. You have me searching for these works of art here in Illinois. They're so interesting. Wonder who did this one?
You nailed it on the faves! Like the team up for this song. Anything with a little brass in it seems sexy to me.
Here it is mid week already...hope it's running smooth. xo

Watson said...

Love that mural kimy. You have me appreciating more some of the ones around here.

Dot-Com said...

That's a very cool wall!

Alan Burnett said...

Wonderful pictures and quotes : I do so admire these murals - inventive, brave and delightful in equal measures.