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All of us are born with more than enough imagination. It is not exclusive to people who go on to write novels, paint pictures, make movies, design buildings, or start a fashion label. Just look at any child under 10–look at what they are doing.
Middle photo, children drawing on panels, Japan, 1909 b7 “F Carpenter”. Top photo and lower one, kids on the street in New York, by Helen Levitt. Lots more here.
But if you ask people over 20 about their imagination and how they use it, you’ll find them frowning while they try to come up with something that won’t sound stupid.
It seems that once we get it into our heads that we are grown ups, most of us abandon the inventive use of our imagination and only call on it when hankering for something we don’t have: a tropical vacation, possession of a winning lottery ticket, a cigarette, a cheesecake, a white Christmas, dream girl/guy.
Fine, but isn’t there something a bit more useful you could do with this amazing tool that takes you beyond the here and now and the run of the mill?
It doesn’t have to be the invention of an alternate reality or a re-imagining of the modern metropolis. It could be your choice of an outfit for a walk downtown.
Like this inventive and still playful woman. The Japanese, bless their hearts, take their imaginations to the streets as a matter of course.
And they are not alone.
Above The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas of NYC, photo by NPR found here
More than anyone (as we at the RofL noted before) we have the amazing Bill Cunningham to thank for finding and photographing people who set their own standard every day in New York.
These are people who wouldn’t be caught dead in some other persons clothes. Above from here
But, hey, public displays of originality aren’t for everyone, of course. And plain clothes have been the choice of some of the most imaginative humans who ever lived.
Mr Einstein at the beach, almost blending in, seen here
The point is: somewhere in all our lives there is an opportunity to do what feels right to us and what we strongly suspect is not what most people are going to do.
Don’t we have some sort of responsibility to do something, sometime, that is all our own, a demonstration of our DNA writ large?
All we need is the courage to let loose our imagination, our playful side, and put it out there.
Start small, start with lunch. This is a sandwich, a baby grandwich. Bravo, and bon appetite. After lunch, maybe go outside and paint the house, pushing yourself beyond taupe with charcoal trim.
Nice building, personalized, and you won’t have any trouble finding it again. It was given a lick of paint by Stanley Donwood, pen name of an artist and is the London office of XL Recordings. More here
Tired of hauling a spruce into the house or the landlord just won’t let you?
We all have an oceanful of ideas–some bright, some wacky, some spooky, some great–floating around in our heads. Giving ourselves permission to dip into that ocean a bit more often would make the world a bit more interesting, don’t you think?
Paris, the 1920’s, letting it loose, 24/7. Photo from here
Happy New Year. Go play
Everyone should live alone–at least for a while, we think. It teaches you how to take care of yourself and your cave. It will make you a better roommate when the time comes. If you make the choice–or it is made for you–to live on your own, you mostly have to make do with a place designed for two or three or seven. Unless you get lucky.
A few designers have, luckily, turned their heads to solo living. Above dwelling (“close to transportation”), is in Tokyo (of course) and is a solo abode designed for a 60-year-old woman above a tobacconist shop. Architects : Hideshi Abe / Avehideshi Architect and Associates. Photos by Hiroki Kawata. Viewed at dezeen here
The cost of land being what it is, the building has a small foot and lots of stairs to climb–beautiful stairs in this case, so take your time.
This drawing shows where the living quarters (or eighths) are, but how the solo householder has arranged it all is her secret.
Nor is this little lady telling us how she arranges her life and her bonnets inside this tiny red place. Chances are it’s either neat as a pin or a spectacular mess.
If you want some space around your home alone, here’s a nice little cube among the trees and rocks to call your own.
This is a tiny onesy tucked right into the woodsy countryside for the winter. Fits right in (“Maybe I should have the Birches over for hot chocolate”). Seen here.
Back to the future, this prototype for one is designed to supply food, energy, heat and oxygen to its occupant. Its maker calls it Oogst 1 Solo. Sadly for us, no mention of it providing wine and potato chips. Seen at polychroniadis on tumbler.
This is Piiri house, mostly wood, just for one, good for thinking about where you are and where you aren’t.
And if you aren’t yet sure where you want to live, consider the mobile option. This one in Lego colours folds up into a trailer and folds out into different rooms. More here
Mmmm. Designed for one, maybe but surely occasional sleepovers are allowed. APH80 tiny home designed by the Spanish design team at Abaton,
Once you start looking, it turns out there are more people than we thought, professional designers and just plain soloists, who have considered the uni-dwelling:
Blob VB3, Designed by Belgian architectural firm, dmvA above.
A bit of a cliffhanger, by Front Architect
How will you spend the first day back at work now that the summer holiday season has slipped away for another year? Just having a job is a reason to feel pretty good for lots of us, when you think of the alternative. But let’s face it, some jobs are just more photogenic than others. Above photo found here of someone’s great Granddad looking pretty nifty at a Buick auto factory in 1930.
These guys look like they don’t mind working for a living too much, but maybe they’d rather be on a raft drifting down the Mississippi. They are Doffers (Doffers??) at a cotton mill in Macon Georgia, 1909, photographed by Lewis Hines. More here.
Women have a long tradition of factory work in North America, and people were always taking pictures of them. These at a Cadbury’s candy bar factory in the 1950’s seem to have things well in hand. Why no men? Maybe they didn’t trust them around all that chocolate.
This color photo of a young woman working in an airplane plant is from a recently released archive of US government commissioned photos from 1939 to 1944 now in the Library of Congress. Flicker set here.
Here is another hard working woman. Never mind the dishes, I’ll wash the locomotive. See Flickr set above.
Artists work hard and they have a deep respect for hard work. Some, like American painter and photographer Charles Sheeler found art and mystery and beauty in the hard working factories and plants of industrial America. Above from a great collection presented at the Detroit Institute of Art. More here.
In Europe, Bernd and Hilla Becher have been roaming the countryside for years in search of industrial buildings–the places where hard, bone-grinding work happens day after day. Their work is in a class by itself and provokes wonder and amusement, with a fair bit of bewilderment too. For us, these 3 images above are portraits, and like the best portraits of people, we keep looking. And looking. You can see more at Artnet here
But let’s hope wherever you go to work this week, you will face less potential danger than the man above. Pic from here.
Work hard, yes, be photogenic if you can, yes. Don’t let the work own you. Be free.
We are big fans of small at the republic of less. We just are. So we keep our eye peeled for little joys in every season and every where.
Above little guys are were found in a local store specializing in things Scandinavian. From Kosta Boda, maker of eye-catching things in glass since 1742. More here.
Big time artists have been known to work at times on a small scale, particularly in three dimensions. Above is a little dancer sculpted by Edgar Degas, found here.
Aristide Maillol is the man behind those large bronzes lying around in unexpected poses in the gardens adjacent to the Louvre. Not far away is the Musée Maillol, a great little museum with lots to like, including the small figure above we saw there.
This we found closer to home base. It is a lovely small figure by Antoniucci Volti (1915 1989) that lives at Vancouver’s Gallery Jones.
In our view, no artist of the 20th century was bigger than Alexander Calder in either imagination or output or playfulness. He too could work small, producing amazing portraits in wire and, as a present for his wife Louisa, a swell set of miniature mobiles in a cigar box, seen here .
Making art large or small is not a modern invention. Humans have been at it for ages.
This pre Columbian terracotta cutie was found in Columbia and is said to date from ca. 600-1200 AD. She’s about 5 inches tall in her bare feet. See more here.
Strike up the band: these little fellas are from Cyprus and they are even older–600 BC. They are now performing at the MET in NYC. We first featured them in a post called Small is.
What’s cuter than a doll? Well, a doll created by the guys and gal at Winnipeg’s own Royal Art Lodge, gone but never forgotten around here. Top group done by Michael Dumontier and Drue Langlois (see here) and lower group by Mr Langlois single handed. Small wonders.
Another doll, no less sweet for being made of clay, we found at the 2011 Venice Biennale. It was part of an exhibit by sculptor Dominik Lang which he called The Sleeping City, a tribute in part to his father Jiri.
Sometimes you spend time looking at children’s books because there is a child in your life that you want to please, and sometimes you just want to please yourself. Above is from an edition of the Wizard of Oz illustrated by Lizbeth Zwerther seen here.
Happily, books are alive and well in stores for kids, and if you go looking, you will find in these little books the work of some of the most gifted and imaginative artists/illustrators/cartoonists from around the world. Above is from a recent book called ICE written and illustrated by Arthur Geisert who is very fond of little pigs, as are we. Read more here.
Above three books are just a sliver of Mr Geisert’s shelf of wonderful work, which has plenty of pig tales, but plenty of pigless wonders too. See more here.
Once you start down this path you will find yourself with a lot more than you bargained for. If you could only have one, how would you choose between a pig tale by Arthur G or a rabbit tale by Komako Sakai?
Ms Sakai is certainly something special. Her simple stories and beautiful way with line and colour will fill your eyes and pinch your heart. She has worked in the textile industry in Japan, they say. More about her books here.
Bears of course have a solid place in children’s stories too. Thanks to Jon Klassen, there’s a new bear on the block and he wants something.
Nice review of Mr Klassen’s book in the NYT here
Along with creatures of the farm and the woods, book artists have found plenty of inspiration among the critters that become part of the household.
Like the wonderful Max brought to life by the wonderful Maira Kalman. Go here
People who love picture books love them as much as other people love chocolate or ABBA–i.e. totally. There are many wonderful websites with tons of these books to show you, including Children’s Illustration, which you’ll find and feast on here.
To send you off, we selected Paul Thurlby an artist from England who, among lots of other things, has made an amazing alphabet, which you’ll find on his site here. Books and pictures, sentences and pictures, letters and pictures, they all go together like summer and running through the sprinkler.