Wandering and Wondering

Wandering around different areas in Pittsburgh, I stumbled upon multiple examples of community art projects, and individual senses of aesthetics. I found multiple attempts with good intentions but, poor executions. Even though it may look poorly done, I could still appreciate it if I understood the underlying value or intention.

Clash between Values and Aesthetics

For instance, badly maintained, rusty, old cars. They maybe an eyesore to some but, I appreciate that they are out on the streets. It’s a joy to see an old car. It makes me wonder about how much attachment the driver must have and the times they spent together. But, how the history and the value overweighs the visual aesthetics is dependent on the audience’s personal preferences and eyes. I guess aesthetics make it easier to understand and accept the hidden value of the object by visually showing some value. In a furniture store in Lawrenceville, I came across a series of lamps made from old pipes. The idea of it is quirky fun, and inspiring. But, I always have doubts about the aesthetic limits these vintage, mix-up artifacts have. Of course, there are many with beautiful end products. And the lamp in the photo is great but, definitely not $148 worthy.

Experiences at a ‘Deeper Level’

I love the idea of art classes that teach you how to paint even if the class sometimes gives a formula, sketch with a grid and instructions that’ll lead to a generalized outcome. I appreciate the experience it offers of having a creative time made readily available to the public. But, it does seem to create an illusion of creativity and art. Doesn’t quite get to the core of creative practice and mastery of the arts.

Despite the growth of e-books, hardcopies of literature will always have a sentimental to humanity. I love just going inside a bookstore to look around, pick out few books to flip through and end up purchasing one or two, which most probably will end up just sitting on my bookshelf, unread. Literature and books need to be shared among people and passed on through generations. But, the medium, a few hundred pages of words on paper, may seem like it’s falling behind the evolving communication methods. A closed book is as good as a museum from the outside. It holds wonders inside but, no one will discover them unless they take the initiative to take time and thoroughly explore. Whereas the murals, cars, and plant on the streets catch the audience’s eyes just through short visual exposure, books and museums require first hand discovery, initiative, time, and willingness to explore and absorb. How can design make the process of approaching and absorbing books and museums easier?

Diversity and Resonance

Community design projects are easy to find now a days. Some of the easily identifiable ones are making the streets cleaner and prettier. In Lawrenceville and Strip district, found examples of putting plants on the streets, murals, etc. I appreciated the uniqueness of each storefront and the harmony they create together. Especially in urban areas, having flashy signs can become a competition and end up in an ugly eyesore. But, on Butler st., they had variety yet, everything blended to create a share atmosphere for the area. I found several stores with plants outside the stores and remembered a village I worked with over the Summer in Siena. They really wanted to have community design projects and one of the projects they had was having olive trees out on the streets. Residents donated to the project by placing a pot of olive tree or a different plant on the street near their houses. Some had sponsored pots and had unity, some were placed in different orientations for variance, some were well kept, some not, etc. There were differences and that’s what made the fun factor. Still, there was an underlying idea and shared understanding and effort across every plant out on the street.