April 14, 2003
Journalist J. Sterling Morton stood on a grassy Nebraska plain in 1885 to dedicate the first official Arbor Day, now celebrated on the last Friday in April. "Each generation takes the Earth as trustees," Morton said. "We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed. " Pioneers missed the beauty of the forests back east. Plus they needed shade and wood. Nebraska offered neither. So Morton, determined to plant trees where there were none, founded Arbor Day. He understood trees' value beyond aesthetics - their power to block wind, prevent erosion and filter water.
October 11, 2002 |
It's flashback time again at the Seraphin Gallery, where California assemblage artist George Herms is showing constructions that span nearly 50 years. Herms' sculptures, many dating from the last decade, are classic in being created from obviously cast-off junk, from rusty license plates to old shoes. This process is supposed to be transformative, to demonstrate that just about any dross can be invested with aesthetic value. This was a radical strategy when Kurt Schwitters was pasting together used bus tickets in the 1920s, and it was still provocative when Robert Rauschenberg stuck real objects onto his "combine" paintings in the mid-1950s, about the time Herms began to work.
October 10, 2002 |
The flap over New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka's absurd assertion in a poem that Israel had advance knowledge of the attack on the World Trade Center is reminiscent of a controversy nearly four decades ago. Then, as now, the country had just experienced a major trauma - the assassination of President John F. Kennedy - when another African American known for his radical views caused a nationwide furor. Less than a month after the 1963 shooting of Kennedy, Malcolm X implied that the President had twiddled his thumbs when South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem had been assassinated and concluded that Kennedy's assassination was a case of "the chickens coming home to roost.
March 5, 2002 |
The dispute over a proposed Walgreen's in Cheltenham would be just another "not in my backyard" controversy except for one thing: For those people living in many of the "inner-ring" Pennsylvania and South Jersey suburbs, it relates to what's happening in all their backyards. Change. Not the "sprawl" gobbling up the once-wide-open spaces of the outer suburbs, but its aftermath, which has the 50-year-old suburbs struggling to stay viable as homebuyers and businesses look elsewhere.
March 25, 2001 |
The experts assure us that houses are getting bigger. Gopal Ahluwahlia, chief statistician for the National Association of Home Builders, said the average size of a new detached house was 2,300 square feet of living space in 2000. In 1950, the average was 983 square feet. In 1970, it was 1,500 and in 1990, it was 2,080. Further, Michael Carliner, an economist for the association, insists that every time builders try to build smaller houses, they lose their shirts. Perhaps, it is true that many people do want bigger houses.
September 7, 2000 |
Planners have decided that, when it comes to reinventing the depressed Route 130 corridor, looks count. After years of talking about industry and economics, the Burlington County freeholders, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, and state Department of Transportation are embarking on a study of the aesthetics of the corridor. The study, expected to cost the Department of Transportation more than $300,000, is to recommend ways to improve the appearance of Route 130 where it passes through seven municipalities.
July 28, 2000 |
If you're looking for proof that the Asian aesthetic has hit the mainstream, look no further than Ethan Allen. A bedroom from the company's contemporary Horizons collection shows a cleanly designed dark-wood bed with a grid of horizontal slats for a headboard. Above it is Oriental calligraphy framed as art. Fabrics are pale and muted, textures played up. The few accessories include a shallow bowl filled with pebbles, and a bamboo-shaped vase. The effect is nothing if not Zen. Window-treatment manufacturer Smith + Noble has also interpreted the Asian influence with a variety of shades made from such natural materials as grasses, bamboo and rattan, and introduced interior shutters for closets, windows and cabinets inspired by Japanese shoji screens.
July 9, 2000 |
Attempting to maintain a "building aesthetic appropriate to the township," several residents have formed an Architectural Advisory Board. Since the beginning of the year, the five-member board has screened building projects for the township's Planning Board, of which it is a subcommittee. Residents who want to modify their building's facade in any way or businesses hoping to build in the town must first convince the panel that their buildings will "integrate harmoniously into the architecture of Medford," said Councilman Richard W. Wright, the board's chairman.
April 15, 2000
The perpetual Center City debate over aesthetics vs. profits once again has reached high decibels. At first, the fight over plans for a multistory parking garage on Sansom Street was over whether some old but undistinguished buildings should be razed. Now, with demolition begun, the brawl is over how tall the garage should be. On a deeper level, it's over just how far a historic downtown should bend to accommodate the car. The developer, Wayne Spilove, who also chairs the city's historic commission, wants to create 320 self-park spaces.
March 31, 2000 |
One might call Museum Towers a work of art. From the imposing entry arch - a steel sculpture by Albert Paley titled Synergy - to the neoclassic architectural forms both outside and inside, to the contemporary art on the lobby walls, and the units themselves, carrying such names as the Matisse, Rodin, and Calder, everything about the place is arty! Even the trees in the center of the circular driveway display an artistic flair - not just birch trees, they're river birches, wrapped in bark gracefully peeling and curled around their trunks.