The Disappearing Face of New York

I recently stumbled onto James and Karla Murray's book capturing mom and pop storefronts of New York (i'm slightly embarrassed to admit I found it surfing Amazon, instead of actually at an independent bookstore). On their site, they have a video of the making of Storefront, a project over the course of 10 years, where Karla admits that she was initially drawn to simply the beauty of these signs, the neon, the typography, the worn colors, but as they continued to shoot the stores, they'd get to know the owners, their stories, how they got into the business, it's glory days and now why the stores are closing, with the cultural phenomenon that wraps this point in history together with these lives.

Their progression of discovery reminds me of my friend Laura who memorizes poetry that she finds beautiful, but that she doesn't fully understand, so that as she takes it in, she can grasp it's meaning and relevance over time, internally. It's amazing what you can discover through dedicated looking and listening over time.

Sadly, more than half the shops captured in Storefront's pages have closed. I'm grateful that the Murray's took the time to make these photos and can't wait to study them all with the book in my hands.


Tel Aviv

Berlin and New York

Lausanne and London

I'm late on the scene with this one, but want to share anyway, because Jan Vormann's Dispatchwork is fantastic. What began as patching World War II bomb and shrapnel wounded buildings around Europe with legos bricks, has crossed continents, enlisting volunteers around the world to fill the vacancies of  neglect or trauma in their own towns. I adore the idea of filling reminders of struggle, violence, or simply apathy in our surroundings with this rainbow of creativity, play, and childhood (in essence, the material of hope). You can see images from all the towns in which Vormann has practiced his dispatchwork along with images from volunteers world wide on his site devoted to the project.

via createyu and pinterest

The Layers of a Place

I first became acquainted with the work of Seth Clark when Julia Rothman wrote about his brilliant house flip book on her blog Book by it's Cover. When I clicked over to see the paintings/collages on his site, I was even more impressed. He's explored the idea of the ways buildings, particularly homes, age from several angles, many times maximal with layers upon layers of collaged elements, but sometimes quite minimal and restrained, like his flip book; but he always manages to say something new about the spaces in transition.

I think especially after being a part of two renovation projects his work speaks to me. The connection between space and inhabitants seems more real than it ever has before. As we've renovated our current home, we've collected the stories our neighbors have shared who've been here decades (even generations).

There are the glory day stories; in our case, when the house belonged to a couple named Bud and Ellie who lived here into their nineties after Ellie had been born in the home around 1880. Everyone likes to talk about how meticulous a house keeper Ellie was, sweeping the front porch almost daily at 90 years old (I've got no excuses!), their fancy victorian furniture, and their grape trellised path to the garden. After they died, the house was rented for decades and severely declined. So of course, there are the stories of brokenness, not only shared by neighbors, but clearly evident on every wall of the space itself when we first purchased our home from fanny mae back in 2008. As we proceeded with the renovation, mixed with our hope for our home's renewal, there was also sadness for the adversity the previous inhabitants had obviously felt, and though we never knew them, a hope for healing in those lives too.