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Home and Waterfall

Just because many galleries in NYC chose to go on vacation in August, it doesn't mean there isn't any art to be seen. Two events I've been looking forward to did not disappoint, Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling at MoMA and Olafur Eliasson's extravaganza The New York City Waterfalls.

After renovating several derelict houses, dreaming of someday building a sustainable home and studio, I've been an avid follower of the latest trends, technologies, and possibilities. Luckily in the D.C. area we get the ultimate green house competition, the National Sustainable Design Expo, on the National Mall each year to inspire us dreamers.

MoMA's Home Delivery takes us back to the future with a history of the prefabricated home, with models of Thomas Edison's Poured Concrete House of 1906, a very cool 2-BR, slightly rusted Westchester fixer-upper, a steel model home from 1948, and many architectural models and drawings.

Following WWII, the need was great in the U.S. for simple, efficient housing on a massive scale; the cozy military Quonset Hut hybrids would not surfice. For many reasons we have since lost our way, substituting simple efficiency and thoughtful design for the McMansion. Sadly, as an example, today's news mentions that Lance Armstrong's sprawling mega-estate in Austin guzzles 330,000 gallons of water per day. WTF? There is a revolution sprouting! It seems rational to me that a true sign of intelligent wealth would ultimately be a recycled property or a new dwelling that treads lightly, generating its own energy, selling the excess back to the grid.

In addition to the drawings, models, and photographs in the sixth floor galleries, MoMA commissioned four prefabs that have been assembled on the lot adjacent to the Folk Art Museum and are open for tours. There is no doubt the next generation of housing materials will rapidly change and include some of the principles found in this exhibit, but it will be a slow journey to alter the mindset of what Home, Sweet Home can and should be. I'm hopeful - change is good.

As for Mr. Eliasson's waterworks, I like any opportunity to get New Yorkers to appreciate the great bodies of water that surround them, especially the amazing naturally occuring water extravaganza where the Hudson and East Rivers meet up with the Bay. It's not easy to compete with Mother Earth, especially if you throw in a massive lightning storm, torrential rain, and a double rainbow (sorry, Olafur).

There are more images of the MoMA exhibit and Waterfalls on my Flickr site. I'm looking forward to the next gallery season after Labor Day, with -- count 'em -- five new galleries opening on the Lower East Side. I really enjoy walking around there: it's a real community, very intimate, but it's not the Bowery we once knew, for sure.


libby said...

Hi, Mark, we just went to the prefab MoMA houses thursday and enjoyed them, esp. the Kieran, Timberlake, and that's even over and above our Philly brand loyalty! As for the McMansion problem, it's part of a whole cultural greediness that's getting me down lately--gas, water, space, clothes, iPods, lawns, whatever! You're so right!

Mark Barry said...

Libby, I love being right! Look what a little conservation this summer did for gas prices, with little effort. Most of the world lives with a fraction of our wealth and consumer goods, down size, live with-in your means and needs, simplify.