Amidst the Gaudís

Antoni Gaudí, perhaps more than any other architect, represents the triumph of genius. Not because his designs are better than anyone else’s (though some might argue they are), but because they are so utterly idiosyncratic yet so monumentally visible in the city of Barcelona. Gaudí’s intensely personal vision prevailed in a field that, because of its visibility, has a tendency toward conformity. Gaudí, though, is not just tolerated but celebrated — indeed, funded, in the case of Sagrada Familia’s continuing construction.

Here’s a stroll through his greatness.



The Mushroom Houses of Charlevoix

Mushroom Houses of Charlevoix, Michigan

Earl Young’s Half House, 1947


Charlevoix, Michigan, developer Earl Young’s constructions showed a personal vision almost from the first house he built, starting in 1918, but fortunately the vision had several decades in which to fully flower. Even without their wacky appearance, the “mushroom houses” he went on to plant in Charlevoix would be interesting as examples of progressive residential architecture ahead of the post-war building boom. But their oddity makes them a unique case of one man successfully expressing a highly idiosyncratic vision across a whole swath of city. Continue reading

Souls Grown Deep — Art Gone Wild

A recent visit to the Souls Grown Deep/Bill Arnett art warehouse in Atlanta was even more mind boggling than reports had led me to expect. Souls Grown Deep warehouseThe space was bigger and the profusion of work more out of control. A modest selection was more or less set out for easy viewing, but that represented only a fraction of the collection. There were boxes and racks and cases and cartons of work spread around two massive rooms, corrals of sculpture, stacks of drawings, piles of books — just what you’d expect from a collecting mission that has outrun any efforts to organize it. Continue reading

The Sidewalks of Paradise Garden

Among the most stunning features of Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden in Summerville, Georgia, are its sidewalks.  Some bear representational images of buildings, others are abstract aggregations of potsherds. Some bear text messages, others are virtual encyclopedias of Finster’s tools.

These mosaic ribbons threading through the garden are a potent representation of how his creativity found expression in every aspect of the environment around him. Continue reading