SOILED Magazine (see “Shameless Promotion“) had their opening at our “In the Table” gallery. The editor, my son (co-editor), and the art director spent the day putting their artwork and interactive stations together in preparation for the big event. As I was mopping and straightening, I was listening to them all working together as a team, deciding where a piece should go, how it should hang, where the lighting should be put. Some of the other contributors to the magazine showed up a little later in the afternoon and they all established their mini-turfs within our house. There was shopping to do, food to purchase and prepare, last minute problems to solve. Some stress and a bit of last minuteness (ah, to be twenty-four again), but it all came together, as it always does, in an impressive display of creativity, enthusiasm, and exuberant idealism.
Some 50 people came to celebrate the opening of this awesome magazine. Lots of animated conversations, explanations, interactions.
When you walked into the house, the first display in the front room, was an installation my son put together inside the table: Familial Desire Lines 1987-2011. String. Steel. Soil. (see photo above) These are his descriptive words:
Mapping the paths my family and I have made both together and individually over the past 23 years.
The 54 locations used were chosen for their frequency of visitation and/or importance. The soil came from my parents’ garden, where they are going on 23 years of delicious organic produce.
The locations are numbered North to South.
A list of these sites was posted on the side of the table.
As one turned from the table, the mission statement of SOILED Magazine was on the risers of the stairs:
the role that the built
environment plays in
social issues of
earthly but margin-
alized proportions; it
ideas, from the
arable to the obscene!
Then there was a big pan of dirt in the center of the house filled with treasures: a jar of honey and balls of chocolates wrapped individually as small earths buried inside the soil (see photo below). The dirt gave a humousy smell to the room.
In the living room, there was an exhibit of land patties. Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmayer of the Chicago Institute for Land Regeneration had a wall describing their ideas for growing more land using circles of pods at shorelines and in water. They were making buttons of stalled construction projects in Chicago and possible configurations for creative land regeneration using the sites as is.
In the hallway on the way to the kitchen, one wall sported the work of Dan Weissman, who advocates for landfill urbanism which is landfill mining specific to particular industries- a provocative and intriguing idea.
Then there was a small exhibit on Bee City, a study of urban bees. By the way, I thought that all bees were social bees and had no idea that there were such things as solitary bees, where every female has the ability to procreate, as opposed to social bees who defer procreation to a singular queen.
In the kitchen, Katherine Darnstadt steeped DIRTea, a tea made from montmorillinite clay. It was tasty, though I thought much more delicious with a little honey added. A small side effect: one should drink some water first because it can constipate you. Hmm…kaopectate makes much more sense to me now.
And on the back porch loads of food and more good conversation.
Oh, did I mention the video playing on the wall above our heads (we have a cathedral ceiling) of all the features inside the magazine? Specifically the video focused on Documenting Decrepitude by John Szot Studio which claims that “decrepitude in its various manifestations (vandalism, dilapidation, abuse) is not experientially bankrupt.”
It was great to have the opportunity yet again (see our first “In the Table“) to convert our living space into an actual gallery type space. It was wonderful to share this flexibility with the very talented, creative, and visionary team at SOILED.
(All photos by Isaac Bloom except the last one taken by JB)