Skip to content

Posts from the ‘narrative’ Category

A Walk with Richard Sennett

January 30th, 2010

Daniel Pontius

A walk with American Sociologist Richard Sennet through the West Village. Sennet won the 2010 Spinoza Prize.

“The jury praises Sennett’s work. He has the ability to translate contemporary themes like individualization, lack of orientation and lack of power of modern man into accessible, guiding books. He is focused on superficiality and instability of relationships, and on the effects of power. His early work demonstrates strong roots in his native city Chicago, and his childhood in the infamous “projects.” His books bridge the gap between scholarly thinking and actual applicability…”

In this video interview Sennet says several things that had me take note: “I am interested in craftsmanship. I’m interested in how things get made and the social conditions that surround it.” As well as:

“One thing about the total ecological crisis that has struck me is…and that has to do with renunciation …with doing with less. Which means that a massive change in people’s cultural attitudes. What’s been in my mind about all of this is different models of sustainablity. We should really be focused on what is unsustainable. What can’t be sustained…”

Houses and Details

October 27th, 2009

Daniel Pontius

Hancock Park, last week. Within a few blocks of each other. I keep erasing what I write. I like the four trees in a row trying to change color.

Bill Traylor

August 9th, 2009

Daniel Pontius

Bill Traylor’s work is simple and spatial and to me somehow profound. He seemed to have been on familiar terms with the space around him; familiar with life in the margins as an observer.
Traylor was born in Alabama into slavery. It was not until the end of his life in Mobile; living the life of a transient, that he started to do drawings and paintings of the scenes and people around him. He spent his days sitting on a sidewalk painting and putting out his pictures for people to see.
His art to me seems to illuminate the position of the observer not contained by one’s physical environment. Perhaps he is freed to expand beyond his experience and beyond his own physicality through observation and imagination.
It is our bodies that contain us, but we also try to contain them. We buy property, build homes, hire designers and purchase things to help us contain our bodies. By doing this, we also expand our body and our psychic importance through these things–what we buy and build– to become part of our singular narrative. These things work to develop the expansion of our narratives. We make a mark and people see the mark and recognize and relate in what ever capacity one is able.
We also, in this same vein, have the ability to consciously not choose anything–no one said we have to buy. In this way, we may also expand ourselves beyond our physicality. By taking this route, it might be said that we can expand beyond our things and our four walls; move out beyond the interior environment, to fill up the infinite space around us which is limited only by our imagination.
This is why I’m attracted to Bill Traylor’s work. If you are also attracted to it, these can be found on 1stdibs. Where for hundreds of thousands of dollars, they can be purchased and help you develop your own ever expanding narrative.

Monterey Park

March 19th, 2009

Daniel Pontius

The color swatches are my tinkering with the colors from a recent outing. We can call it a color narrative. From left to right: Peri-Blue, Lino Green, Samarkand Rose, Cash Register Gray & Froggy Yellow.

These go far into the dusty muted colors of the Omega & Bloomsbury which I have been loving recently as opposed to the bright not unlike Easter colors of the Shanghaiese restaurant (I’m told if you are in the know it is referred to as Wu Cuisine which is the regional name in the classic tradition) It was last Friday evening and I was in Monterey Park. The restaurant was painted two colors that although at odds with each other somehow worked. The space felt soft, relaxed and fresh even with all the tables full and staff running about.

The industrial works at the lofty ceiling had been painted out a periwinkle blue which wrapped down the walls about three feet. Below the walls were soft lavender. The floors had an industrial dark gray green carpet and the benches in the waiting area were upholstered in mint green vinyl. White commercially laundered tablecloths were on round tables that were packed comfortably together. The colors help to set off the colors of our food like the orange of the pumpkin and glutinous rice cakes the pink of the shrimp and the bright green of the loofa.

On the walls, decoration, the tiered red and gold printed Chun Lian were hanging from the ceiling welcoming the Spring and there was an appropriate amount of beaded screens made out of some kind of faux raffia in bright orange and hot pink at the door openings, as if someone might have said about their placement, “They will visually screen the dining room but not make the space feel heavy.”

The standard-light-bulb-shaped-pendant fixtures were spaced out evenly on a grid pattern and the bright whiteness of the glow matched the rice cakes. The whole place had a delightfully non existent approach to “art” and in the toilet there was a surprising lack of granite of juxtaposed colors that seem to be favored in many of the restaurants that I have visited in Monterey Park.