Charlie Watts’ drawings and the Columbus exhibition
Photo: Clockwise from top left: Courtesy Design Within Reach, Charlie Watts, Courtesy Poster House, Hadley Fruits
Every two weeks, I will collect and share objects, designers, news and events to know.
Robert Girardin, a film and television scout, moved to Yorkville from Los Angeles last year. He has always appreciated the city’s public spaces and public art, but during the pandemic he relived them. He decided to research and photograph as many sites as possible so that more people could easily discover often overlooked works of art. The result is Materialism, a map and an online database. So far, Girardin has compiled 250 public art sites – including commissioned works of art for corporate places, sites from New York’s Percent for Art program, classic and modern park landmarks – and it is increasing every week. For my part, I hadn’t realized that the enormous piers in Battery Park that I sat in front of several times during lunch breaks were sculptures by Martin Puryear. The materialism of the construction changed Girardin’s relationship with the city. In his words: “Visiting these sites was frustrating, like when I went to Far Rockaway only to find the room covered in construction netting; calming as I sat on the shore of Roosevelt Island waiting for the sun to rise high enough to light up a Tom Otterness room; surprising when I spotted Joseph Kiselewski’s pieces on Parkchester Houses while driving the elevated train 6; and even tedious since I had to revisit parts of the city center five or six times before the unpredictable light of our urban canyons lent itself to the photo I needed. But above all, it’s a lot of fun. Finding the sites yourself can also be.
On August 24, the world mourned the passing of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (and better dressed member). Design consultancy Pentacle shared a tribute that also revealed a little-known nugget from Watts’ life: he once aspired to be a graphic designer and worked at Hobson, the London advertising agency where Bob Gill, one of the co-founders of Pentagram , was artistic director. I called Gill, who is 90, to see if he could remember anything about Watts’ design work. It turned out to be nothing memorable. “Charlie was not very good,” said Gill, bluntly but affectionately. “He was doing ordinary pasting in the agency’s bailiff pen.” (In the days before Adobe, layouts were cut and glued by hand, and the lift pen was the top floor, where this kind of mechanical work took place.) Gill and Watts became quick friends at Hobson’s. “We were both completely crazy about jazz,” says Gill, who is also a pianist. Still, Watts wanted to be a great designer and for Gill to teach him how. Gill didn’t support that idea and told him, “You’re a great drummer, but you’re a dumb designer. In 1962, Gill left Hobson to found his own agency, Fletcher / Forbes / Gill. The same year, the Rolling Stones were formed, with Watts on drums. Still, Watts couldn’t shake the urge to conceive. In 1964 he wrote and illustrated a children’s book about jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker entitled Ode to a high-flying bird, a sweet story filled with his doodles. Watts also illustrated a comic that accompanied the Stones’ 1966 US tour program that featured Mick Jagger on a stage that gradually rose in height as a crowd shouted insults at him like, “He’s very. well… if only he cut his hair ”and“ He doesn’t wash. While they’re both endearing endeavors, I’m glad that Watts gave up on his design ambitions for a chopstick set.
Each year the city of Columbus, Indiana, known for its impressive collection of modernist architecture, including the buildings of Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, IM Pei and Robert Venturi – becomes a huge outdoor art and design exhibition. The 2021 edition opened at the end of August, and this year the focus is on deepening our understanding of the history and future of cities. I did not visit the exhibition in person, but one of the works that I find particularly evocative is Colomb Colombia Colombo Colón, an installation by Dream the combine harvester. It is made up of 58 steel poles in the Mill Race Park and meditates on different cities in North America named after Christopher Columbus. Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers, the founders of the studio, researched the history of these towns and villages and carved them into the metal posts, all of which look a bit like Walter de Maria’s land art sculpture from 1977. Lightning field. The one depicting Columbus, New York, tells the story of a tree in the area that symbolized a peace treaty between the Oneida, Mohawks, Seneca, Onondaga and Cayuga, while the marker for Columbus, Georgia, mentions the work of the slave architect. and builder King Horace – meaningful and unique stories that are flattened by their city names. After a year of moving statues and protests often centered on the emblems of Christopher Columbus, this book shows how evidence of colonial history lasts beyond monuments, and how removing them does not repair all of this damage. Until November 28.
Photo: Courtesy of Design Within Reach /
These very beautiful striped table linens also have a cool story: they were designed and hand-woven by students from Berea College, a tuition-free Kentucky school. One of his work-study programs focuses on crafts – ceramics, woodworking and weaving – and in 2018 designer Stephen Burks worked with students to develop a line of cotton table linens. which is now available at Design Within Reach. Placemats ($ 140 for four) and runners (starting at $ 215) are all slightly different, due to the personalization by the students who made them.
1969 poster by pushpin designer John Alcorn 7Up / Uncanny in Cans.
Art: Courtesy of Poster House
When modernist graphic designers were obsessed with perfect typography and ideal proportions, Pushpin Studios – the inimitable studio founded by Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, and Edward Sorel in 1954 – was more concerned with entertaining and have fun. They made playful and visually exciting ads and posters and never followed any rules. You will find Day-Glo colors mixed with a classic artwork (like this Bob Dylan Poster) or designs supposed to resemble a ruined mosaic (like a Promotion of the PBS series for his Masterpiece Theater series by me, Claude). It was a sensibility for a style, and it’s still exciting today – especially given the fact that so much graphic design has now embraced a very seamless (and safe) Instagram aesthetic. This week, I learned that some of that magic came from browsing the files of the New York Public Library’s Image Collection, which is at risk of closing to the public. An exhibition that shows the immense scope of this studio’s work is on display at Poster House until February 6, 2022.