Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Through An Architect's Eyes" Summer Workshop

This summer, (June 22nd-July 27th), four students participated in a PONSHOP workshop which was an introduction to architectural design and how it shapes our everyday lives. Sessions were weekly two-hour classes where participants used drawing as a means of further investigating their environment - in this case, Fredericksburg's downtown.
I engaged the students in a design exercise where they studied a public plaza adjacent to the Virginia Historical Museum in downtown Fredericksburg. The students became familiar with the project site by creating maps, perspective sketches, and analytical sections. We used these drawings to generate a discussion of what the current condition of this public space is and how we could improve its function and quality.

Some issues and questions that were raised during our workshop were:

1) The plaza does not seem to be used avidly by pedestrians and local merchants. As a public space, the plaza is "inside out," meaning that all the businesses and buildings which envelop the plaza turn their back on it - resulting in a backyard condition. The students immediately commented on how the perimeter buildings are in a state of disrepair. How can we change this?

2) The historic downtown, albeit rich in historical sites and posessing a viable commercial district, doesn't offer a place in the center of the city for kids to interact and play. How can we create a space for children and their families to hold activities?

3) What makes a good (and safe) public space is not the amount of fences and street lights, but rather the integration of several activities: dining at restaurants, shopping at stores, a place to recreate and meet other people, as well as providing habitation so that residents feel a sense of "ownership" of the public realm.

The images below illustrate the students' solution to improving the plaza by transforming it into an outdoor theatre. One student remarked on how we can bring the spirit of a Drive-In movie theatre back. Architectural features like glass partitions and wood canopies would be a means of creating a richer sense of scale to the plaza while concealing some of the visual "clutter" of the existing buildings. In addition, one of the existing buildings would be reconfigured to open up to the plaza - activating the space as a place to enjoy a meal or read a book. The plaza can be multi-functional: an outdoor theatre and concert pavilion, a restaurant patio, a place to see and be seen.
Congratulations to Ty'Rel, Sabrina, Rebecca, and James - their enthusiasm and hard work resulted in a great summer workshop.

For a current PONSHOP class schedule, click here

Saturday, September 09, 2006

"Uniquely Fredericksburg" Art Show 2006

Scarlett and I both placed in this year's "Uniquely Fredericksburg" Juried Art show held at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library (1201 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg,VA).
Scarlett's piece "Sixty Acres A Day" received First Place in the Mixed Media category, while my painting, "Water Is Our History" came in second in the Mixed Media category. When it came time to make these pieces, we both wanted to reflect on the town that we recently moved to as well as give some kind of commentary on where the city has been and where it's going.

Below is Scarlett's piece "Sixty Acres A Day" followed by her artist statement:

Sixty Acres a Day was inspired by all the development that is happening in our area. Therefore, I wanted to create a piece where the traditional contrasted the new. The layout of Sixty Acres a Day is a traditional pinwheel quilt pattern that is constructed out of photographs taken of local construction sites.

To initiate this piece, I spent a week with my son Diego and my mother Marleine driving around our county looking for construction sites to photograph. It wasn’t very difficult and I didn’t have to drive very far before I had a 100 or so photos. The most surprising realization that I made during that week is the amount of destruction that occurs to create this new semi-urban landscape that Fredericksburg is quickly becoming.
The amount of dump trucks and 18 wheelers carrying freshly cut trees and construction equipment is astounding. The progress of leveling our hills for a new fast food restaurant or super store that already exists twice over in a 20 mile radius is overwhelming. It’s the pace really that is hard to grasp. I have to ask, ”Is it worth it?” Replacing our dogwoods and cedars, our wildflowers and cardinals for another pharmacy? According to my research if we continue developing the way we have been we will be destroying an average of sixty acres a day in the Commonwealth."

Below are my entries "Water Is Our History" and "La Caballera"

The painting Water Is Our History is a reflection on the prominence of the Rappahannock River in the area and it's relationship to the history and culture of Fredericksburg. Studied closely, the composition is a theoretical cross-section of our city's history - a town strategically placed by the river for trade, a city ravaged by fire, flood, and war. Today Fredericksburg is at a critical cross-roads in its identitiy. This small "Civil War Town" has great cultural and historical precedents manifest in the environment, yet it is also experiencing the growing pains of being consumed as another suburb of Northern Virginia. Fredericksburg as a city is in danger of being enveloped by its own suburban sprawl - where shopping malls rename themselves the "Town Center" and the locals no longer look to the river for their orientation, but to the interstate.

La Caballera was going to be titled something totally different - but unavoidably awkward. This piece is a culmination of visuals and text that I imagine our son would be dreaming at night. Diego is nine months old now, and I could only think that language and symbol must penetrate his dreams - where everything appears a beautiful and unending landscape.

Friday, September 08, 2006

PONSHOP Commissioned Work

I was recently commissioned to design and paint a set of decks for Scientific Street Fighting. SSF provides athletic gear specialized for martial arts and "Vale Tudo" (anything goes unarmed combat). Based off of SSF's original logos, I created a set of three different stencil patterns and applied them to 8.25"x32" skateboard decks using spray paint. The greatest challenge of this commission was maintaining a cohesive color palette between all four decks while still having enough freedom to explore different color combinations.
Special thanks goes out to Ron of Scientific Street Fighting. His interest in the PONSHOP decks brought about a whole new deck series for his business.

For inquiries into commissioned work, contact:

Sunday, September 03, 2006

August Workshops: Intro To Street Art & Skate to Create

August was a busy month for us. The PONSHOP held a combo "Intro To Street Art" and "Skate to Create" workshop. These classes were three 2-hour sessions where students either took a stab at creating poster-size spraypaint murals or designed and appplied a stencil graphic onto a skateboard deck. Good Work Guys!
Ty'Rel used spraypaint and paint pens to create his "Tee-Kay-Oh" piece. According to Ty'Rel, this workshop was just the beginning of his endeavors in large scale compostions.Brandon took a stab at using paper collage, spraypaint, paint pens, and stencils to execute his "ACE" piece. Brandon's biggest challenge was practicing a variety of line thicknesses with the spray can.

The "Skate To Create" students had a very clear idea of what they wanted to do with their skateboard graphics. Their ideas were rooted in Grafitti murals, yet they had to reconstruct their sketches to accomodate three different stencil patterns.
Robert's "Lost" Graphic incorporates a red to green gradient with a silver outline to contrast with the slick black background.Tristan's "Core" graphic is inspired by the Grafitti's "Wild Style", incoporating stylized lettering and symbols like arrows and crowns.

For a current PONSHOP Class Schedule, click here.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

PONSHOP T-shirt Saga: Episode II

The PONSHOP T-shirts are on their way up to New York City to make an appearance at The Market NYC, a weekly indoor designer's market featuring anything from clothing to handbags and jewelry. If you're in Manhattan, visit 268 Mulberry Street the weekend of September 9th and check it out. Thanks go out to Logan Jones once again for carving time out of his schedule to head up to the city and spread the PONSHOP flavor.
Meanwhile, the PONSHOP shirts are available at Fresh Air Designs in downtown Winchester, Virginia (10 South Loudon Street). Maureen Limon owns a fine shop that features original artwork, clothing, and "design for the senses". I made acquaintences with Maureen one year ago when we contributed to the Warren County Skatepark/ Exit Six Skateboard Auction. Since then, Maureen's been totally supportive of our efforts to create and market our work. Scarlett and Fresh Air owner Maureen Limon: Chilling on a Saturday Afternoon in downtown Winchester, Virginia.
Shirts are also available at Fred Skates in downtown Fredericksburg as well as the PONSHOP Studio. If interested in purchasing a shirt, contact us at