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It has been said the most efficient way to conduct fluids over and into a surface or body is through branching. You can see that in river veins, blood veins, tree branches, coral, etc. Going a specific distance, then branching, each branch going a certain distance, then each one of those branching. It is a concept of growth, physical and mental. In the brain we can make new branches, pathways to learning. The more often they are traveled, the easier it becomes. The cessation of growth is the inability, literally, to branch out.
Below are a few photos to illustrate branching systems. Again more examples of beautiful solutions.
Here are some examples of circles (concentric shapes) and arches. They work beautifully in nature and the are certainly appropriate for many manufactured structures.
Concentric shapes and edges
Nature shows us what works, it has evolved to be beautiful and efficient. It can inspire us to great things. It always puzzles me when people totally ignore this.
The radiating arms that support the concentric roof in the bottom photo are quite stable. However I cannot help wonder why circles were chosen to cover the rectangular shapes of cars.
The roof below makes more sense for the shapes it covers. However a lack of a gutter and down spout system and the rolled edges insure that rain will follow the curved edges and send it into the “protected” area. A look at the edge of a leaf will show a variety of ways to move the water off and away.
Ignoring what works-The Arch
The structure below was built to enable students to safely cross a set of two railroad tracks. Two flights of stairs on each side, two landings on each side. Many times I saw the fence cut on each side at ground level. Students walked directly across the tracks. Why? They apparently couldn’t stand the inefficiency of this crossover.
The next structure uses an arch. The materials are humble, but people use it without question. The term, “beautiful solution” refers to solving a problem in an attractive way, but here attractive does not mean pretty. If this arch isn’t pleasing to you, think about which one you would choose to get to the other side, two or three times a day.
This is not to say a beautiful solution cannot be attractive. Indeed, in nature is almost always is, but designers would do well to take a lesson from nature every chance they get. Sullivan’s “Form follows function” has been lost on some designers.
There are a few basic categories in natural designs. The arch is one. You stand on them every day. The chart below shows the others. Circles/concentric, Arch, Geometric, Meander, Branching, Spiral, Radial and Spindles. The next post will be about another system.
I admire Dave Brubeck, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, , Picasso and Paul Newman. Whether in film, music or art, these people lived well and long, did great work and were themselves. They had a sense of humor, a sense of place and good sense. They didn’t do drugs, Hollywood parties, etc. They weren’t saints but they treated people right. They were smart and were secure in their own skins. They traveled the world but they were grounded in the ability to steer themselves.
Artists in the Midwest have an advantage; they have a lot of these qualities for success. In The Zen of Tony Bennett, this 86 year old performer talks about the importance of knowing what you are good at and always giving your very best. That is why he is a class act. Artists who choose never to do schlock, to always do their very best, will eventually rise to the top.
I suppose there are many different reasons why artists stay here; the wrong reason would be that it is safe. Define safe….well, here safe means not much competition or risk. These would be bad reasons. Someone asked me if Picasso would have made it if he had been in Kansas. Well, he wouldn’t have been Picasso. There would have been an acute lack of cafe intellectuals to hang with. Nowadays someone in Kansas or Indiana could read Flash magazine or another art publication and see what is happening in lots of places. But that is not as good as talking and working with other artists and getting out of town and out of state once in a while.
The biggest boost I got was from going back to school and getting an M.F.A. This gave me a chance to really work with other artists. My fellow students were strong, dedicated people, and I learned a lot from them.
Back to the title, artists stay here for some good reasons. Grant Wood came home to Iowa after Paris. His paintings of rural Iowa people and places and his gumption owe a lot to him leaving. There is something about Kansas, Iowa and Indiana that stays with some people who happen to be artists. Whatever that thing is, it fosters an eye that looks harder, and eye that has a grin, something that doesn’t let you take yourself too seriously, and believe me, that it as very good thing.
I stay in Indiana because I can be myself here. I live in a very rural area, the nearest Starbucks 30 miles away, the nearest art museum 50 miles away. I can visit, but I find I can grow and make art that is true for me right here in the middle of farm country. Like I said to someone once, “If we are so creative why can’t we solve the problems in our lives as well as ones on canvas?” In short, a challenge is good. Living in Indiana for an artist is a big challenge, but that is a good thing.