Thursday, September 30

One last detail: Mark Phillips is maybe moving

With the big back story to this wall drawing, I somehow forgot to tell you a very important and timely detail: Mark Phillips, who spent about six months recreating Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing 1211 with colored pencils in his bedroom, may be moving out of his apartment. In need of more space and less noise, Mark has been looking around for a new home -- perhaps one with nice, smooth walls. This much is true: he can't take the beloved replica with him. So what will become of it?
If you listened to the Studio 360 segment that he produced about this project, you know that Sol LeWitt works are accompanied by a certificate. A work isn't authentic unless it's documented. In the podcast, Mark explains what happens in the surprising buying/selling process, as the work can't actually be packed up and shipped to the new owner:

"You pay whoever owns it for the certificate, and then they actually have to paint over their drawing. Only then does the LeWitt estate send over their trained assistants to draw the new version on your wall. Theoretically there's a one-to-one ratio between drawings and certificates."

If you lose the certificate, well...

So, of course, there's no certificate to Mark's work, but he will have to paint over it before he moves (likening his landlord to LeWitt). "And yes," he says, "I do think I'll have another go at this drawing in the new place, especially now that I've mastered the technique and learned a couple secrets from the Sol LeWitt installers. I might try something new, though." Hmmm.

In 1968, when it came time to destroy the first wall drawing at the Paula Cooper Gallery, where the first drawing was exhibited, the task landed in the hands of owner Paula Cooper. But she couldn't bring herself to do it. LeWitt painted over it himself.

Tuesday, September 28

...and Mark's music studio

 In between Mark's living area and bedroom is a great little room he uses as a music studio. Foam that he wouldn't really let me photograph is pushed up into the corners near the ceiling to improve acoustics. He doesn't look as bad as he thinks, and hey, it serves an important function. A Wurlitzer and various keys are lined up along the walls....
OK, a small mention of the foam:

Mark's kitchen--amazing found photos

Mark has a thing for beverages. Above, his Sodastream home-soda maker. It carbonates anything in seconds, so Mark transformed my tap water into a sparkling, cool refreshment. When we worked together, before he left WNYC to freelance, I'd run into him in the kitchen filling his thermos with hot water so he could continuously refill his gourd of yerba mate all afternoon. Guess who's now walking around WNYC with a gourd of mate (with a gigantic this-can't-be-legal smile on her face)? 
Above, the rest of the kitchen. A gigantic Bialetti. Have I mentioned we're in Clinton Hill? Below, sweet vintage mushrooms. Aren't they just...familiar? 
 Across the kitchen on the opposite wall are a series of photos, below. They continue into the living area, of which, for some reason, I don't have pictures, but where there is a well-preserved vintage Eames recliner. Anyway, these photos have a very interesting story. As Mark puts it (see caption below):
"I was working at a professional B&W lab and this fashion photographer found a 6x6 camera at a garage sell with an unwound, undeveloped roll of film. It would be one thing if it was just undeveloped, but being unwound it was extremely unlikely that anything would show up on the film. But he gave it to us to develop just in case. And the images on the film were perfectly exposed and amazing. It seems like it was a roll that was half from a mission (or bootcamp) and half from a leave of absence with his lady. I'm not sure what war it's from (if any) since it seems too new to be WWII and too old to be Vietnam. Perhaps Korea. Anyway, they're so well lit and composed that it's clear this guy knew what he was doing and that's why the fate of these images is so mysterious. Did he lose the camera? Did he get killed? Seems like something must have happened to prevent him from getting the roll developed." 
 Last but not least: stray gourds awaiting yerba mate. And filtered tap water, pre-fizz. 

Monday, September 20

Instructions for installing a Sol LeWitt...

If you listened to Mark Phillips' Studio 360 podcast about his attempt to recreate a Sol LeWitt drawing in his bedroom, you'd know already a bit about the authentic artworks, and how the assistants come and prep the wall, and about significant details like the widths of the pencil markings, and you'd know that Sol LeWitt pieces come, like any purebred, with paperwork. 

Mark, a freelance radio reporter who was a producer at On the Media for four years, showed me some of the instructions for a LeWitt installation as outlined by the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York City. Paula Cooper represents Sol LeWitt. The gallery opened in 1968 with a show that included the artist's first wall drawing. 

As you can see below, the wall must first be painted with a specific primer from Benjamin Moore, a paint manufacturer trusted by top professionals in the art and design worlds (like architect Wayman). Apply the paint with a roller, not a brush, please.
Above, a meditation pillow, and my glass of water. In college, Mark studied Buddhism in Japan. Below, guitars and a keyboard next to the bed. When not gazing out windows, Mark plays keys, does sound design for films, and makes music under the moniker Sono Oto.

Monday, September 13

Mark Phillips and his "Sol LeWitt"

Voila, here it is, Mark's replica of Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing 1211, an installation at Dia Beacon in New York. The shot above was taken by Mark from the head and center of his bed. He elevated the grid a few inches higher than it should be -- there's more space at the bottom than at the top -- so he can gaze at the whole golden thing in its entirety, over the tops of his feet, as he wakes in the morning (as seen below, except the picture was taken at 6 pm). "In the glow of the morning light," he says, "it becomes tones, not individual lines. It's like a sunrise."
Mark explaining. "Some people knit. I drew lines on a wall."
Mark began the project two years ago. It was tedious: holding a ruler against a wall takes quite a bit of stamina. Forty-five minutes in and he was exhausted, though he says he never left a square unfinished. "That would bug me. I wouldn't be able to go to sleep with it facing me."

The entire drawing took about six months to finish. While he was compulsive about finishing individual squares once he began them, he didn't mind the Tetris-like work-in-progress. "It was still beautiful unfinished."

"It's fun having ambient tasks. I've taken up running, since..."

Wednesday, September 8

First day of school! Homework for Homebodies

Happy back-to-school! So...for my next Homebodies would greatly help if, before I expose you to some wonderment, you do some homework and listen to a quick audio segment about the subject's home project--which, as said subject points out, involves colored pencils, the ultimate back-to-school supply. This isn't the DIY you might expect.

Mark Phillips, a reporter and producer for On the Media, and my colleague at WNYC, took on quite a challenge in his bedroom: replicating a pencil drawing by the artist Sol LeWitt. He asked big questions, and so did Studio 360, the radio show that aired his findings: "Is it real, or is it plagiarism?"

Listen to the ten-minute piece below. Photos to come!

Friday, September 3

Shannon's kitchen

Happy Friday! I'm ready to start posting a new place, but I'm going to wait until Monday or Tuesday so I can post photos all week. In New York, it seems like everyone's left town to enjoy the long weekend--or escape the torrents of Hurricane Earl

Earlier this week I (re)posted pics of my friend Jessica's place, because it makes me so happy to look at them. I feel the same about Shannon Kim's kitchen! Shannon and Jessica were two of my first Homebodies, and they let me trial-and-error all over their homes. These pictures of Shannon's kitchen were some of the first ones I took that felt right for Homebodies. See many, many more pics of this adorable apartment here.

Update: Hairstylist Shannon hasn't just moved from this West Hollywood abode, but she also switched salons. She is now practicing her fabulousness at Art Luna, and I highly recommend sitting in her chair. If you're not in the Santa Monica neighborhood, at least follow her awesome new blog: Radiant Beauty.