Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Testing Priests´sermons at the Interior of Crypt of the Colonia Güell Church

Interior of crypt. Picture by Rolando Polo. From Rolando

I´d like to share with you this great article on the Colonia Güell church´s crypt interior. It is published in the book ¨Gaudí¨, by John Gill, p. 120. Parragon Publishing Book, 2004. Before the article, it says ¨Courtesy of AISA¨.

¨If, as seems likely, the Colonia´s churchgoers had difficulty concentrating on the liturgy while inside this Stygian marvel, Gaudí devised a way to help them focus on their devotions. In some of the most exquisite furniture he ever designed, he produced molded seats that were explicitly intended to keep the congregation alert, perhaps even on the edge of their seats. As with the organic moulding of the snake bench in the Park, the prayer benches were specially designed to keep the sitter erect and attentive. Or, perhaps to test the allure of the church and the power of the priest to keep his congregation interested in the same old sermons. With Gaudí it is sometimes impossible to tell if he is testing God, himself or everyone else on their belief. These interiors are possible evidence of Gaudí´s growing interest in the power of nature, of the existence of a very real threat to the idea of immortality offered by the church and absolute belief in God.

For the front at the rear of the chapel, Gaudí decided, for probably the first time in his career, to actually use a piece of raw nature, a giant clam-like shell, as itself rather than echoing it, copying it, or mediating it in any way. Held by three supports extending from a base of extravagant metalwork, and secured to one of the stone pillars, the font, meant to hold holy water, looks slightly impractical –but it also looks sublime. Is this Guadí´s great joke on God? In baptizing the innoncent child into the House of God, Gaudí had the priest immerse the baby in this very real and immense sea shell.
The use of the sea shell in paintings of mermaids and other creatures of the deep is a sign of the drowning power of sexual attraction –something that, apparently, Gaudí resisted his whole life, though not actually thoroughly (his one offer of marriage was rebuffed by a woman who then joined a convent). Gaudí´s intended wife gave up her sex life –and in doing so his- for God.¨

Exterior of crypt. From

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Terremoto en Chile. Earthquake in Chile

Terremoto en Chile. Foto de
Por este medio quiero expresar mis condolencias  a nuestros hermanos chilenos y desearles que las terribles consecuencias del terremoto sean superadas lo antes posible. Mi email está en mi profile y desde ya pueden enviarme links para pedidos de ayuda, con mucho gusto los postearé en mi blog.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Article: Focusing on Foreclosures

Foreclosures. From
In January 15th 2010, I posted about the foreclosures in a mobile homes park in Huntington Beach. I was so astonished to see one house next to the other for sale.
This is so bad to see that more than one month have passed since then, and the expectations are even worst. Los Angeles Times, editorial, has published in February 23 the bad news that analysts have provided.  From 2.8 million declared foreclosures last years, this year the projection is 4.5 million. If so, that would be nearly one out of every 20 homes. Analysts also estimate that there is a " shadow inventory" of 1.7 million to 7 million homes in foreclosure that lenders haven't yet put up for sale.

" The extremely high foreclosure rate is a problem not just for the individuals at risk of losing their homes, but also for their communities, the housing industry and the economy in general. And the problems are mounting despite the signs that fewer homeowners are falling behind on their payments, home prices may be hitting bottom and more troubled borrowers are benefiting from federal aid programs.
As of January, nearly 1 million homeowners  were receiving at least temporary help through the federal Home Affordable Modification Program.  But lenders are still moving too cautiously, hampered by financial complexities (such as mortgages that have been bundled and sold to investors), insufficient staff to handle the volume of modifications, uncooperative borrowers and loan servicing companies that profit from delinquent loans. " 

If you are strong enough to keep on reading, and want to learn more about California, click on the link below, unless you do not want to ruin your weekend.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


OffRamp showcase image from Auto Club Southern California's archives.

I came across with this article called Ship-Shape, written by Morgan P. Yates for the magazine Westways, March-April 2010 (p. 80). I've seen a kind of romanticism in this architecture, though I'm not defending to copy a ship's shape or a lighthouse. Anyway, this is an old nice story about the first front beach houses in Southern California.

"In 1930, when this photo was taken, drivers who traveled the Roosevelt Highway (later renamed Pacific Coast Highway) between Oxnard and Malibu experienced a wide view of uninterrupted expanses of beach with pearlescent combers rolling gently over the sands. Beachfront homes were just beginning to sprinkle the shoreline then, including these nautical neighbors -Pasadena businessman Freeman Ford's land yatch, dubbed Colema, moored next to silent-screen star Pauline Frederick's lighthouse.
Ford employed a maritime theme throughout the landlocked ark's interior, which included a gallery kitchen and berths with bunks in place of bedrooms. He explained his motivation for creating his unique residence to the Los Angeles Times: "I like the simple, primitive life of ships. It is my belief that all kinds of people like to get away from the stuffiness and stupidity of conventional houses."
The complementary design of Frederick's beacon house hinted at the owner's acting career, with an outdoor patio that resembled a stage, complete with wings and a row of dressing rooms.
Californians have subsequently discovered the pleasures of beachfront living, and homes jammed cheek by jowl now occupy this stretch of shoreline, where whimsical structures once turned the heads of travelers along the scenic coastal highway".

Peter Calthorpe and How Slums Can Save the Planet

Proposed urban center on the Tunis waterfront by Peter Calthorpe, recipient of the 2006 J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. Image: Calthorpe Associates. From

In 1983, the British born architect, Peter Calthorpe gave up on San Francisco, where he was not successful at organizing neighborhood communities and moved to a boat house in Sausalito, a beautiful town on the San Francisco Bay. This 400 houseboats community of South 40 Dock is a very dense place. There, all residents know each other, including their pets, they pass each other on foot daily. It works as a community because, in Calthorpe’s words, it is walkable.
Based on this insight, Calthorpe became one of the leader proponents of New Urbanism, also called Neotraditionalism, along with Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and others. He is the author of Sustainable Communities, The Next American Metropolis, and most recently, The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl (co-authored with William Fulton).
In 1985 he introduced the concept of walkability in “Redefining Cities,” an article in the Whole Earth Review, an American counterculture magazine that focused on technology, community building and the environment. Since then, new urbanism has become the dominant force in city planning, promoting high density, mixed use, walkability, mass transit, eclectic design and regionalism. It drew one of its main ideas from the houseboat community.
In his 1985 article, Calthorpe made a surprising statement: “The city is the most environmentally benign form of human settlement. Each city dweller consumes less land, less energy, less water, and produces less pollution than his counterpart in settlements of lower densities.”
Years after, in his interview, hosted by Scott London, 2002, Calthorpe stated (excerpts):

 Pedestrian pocket design, by Peter Calthorpe assoc. From

Calvine project, Sacramento, California. By Peter Calthorpe. The Specific Area Plan, defines a  compact and integrated land use pattern with a mix of different building types. In the northern portion of the site, around the light railway stop, there is major office development and an entertainment-oriented retail complex, within walking distance of 1.400 homes. At its centre is a triangular village green, surrounded by the transit stop, day-care and retail.  From

London: Most metropolitan areas seem to be moving in the opposite direction. For example, in Seattle the population grew by 36 percent between 1970 and 1990 while the developed land area grew by 90 percent. Cleveland’s population actually declined during that same period, but the city continued to spread outward.
Calthorpe: Yes, it’s because we’re building lower density suburban subdivisions at the periphery of regions. We’re not going back in and repairing and recycling older neighborhoods in inner-city areas, or even older suburban areas. It’s a disposable-society strategy to building cities — basically you use them then throw them away and move on to some virgin land. It’s a pioneer ethic. There’s no question that it’s in the blood of America. But at some point we have to recognize that we’re no longer pioneers on a frontier.
London: Will be able to turn things around?
Calthorpe: Democracies tend to be self-correcting, and I think we’re in a self-correcting mode now. We see the problems. The first and most profound sign of it is the anti-growth movement. People are saying "I don’t want any more development."
London: You’ve pointed out that we should be narrowing our streets and roads, not widening them.
Calthorpe: What is a street? It’s not just a utility for the car. It’s everybody’s most immediate neighborhood. At least that’s what it used to be — a place to walk, a place to bike, a place for kids to play, a place to park cars, a place for trees, and therefore a place for birds. To think of the street as just a utility for cars is so absurd. And yet that is exactly what is happening because we have segmented design so that the traffic engineer designs the streets and the civil engineer designs the utilities and the architect designs the buildings. Nobody is thinking about the whole composition. Narrower streets win in every way. They make cars go slower, which means that the neighborhood is safer for kids and more enjoyable for pedestrians.

Calthorpe´s theory is followed by others, and urban designers have a new point of view about urban overpopulation and density that is opposite to the traditional one. After all, they explain that it is not so bad the concentration of people in the cities.
Stewart Brand, one of the world´s most influential and controversial environmentalists, co-founder of The Long Now Foundation and the Global Business Network, also living on a houseboat in San Francisco Bay, exposes the reasons in his article  ¨How slums can save the planet¨, published in Prospect. Issue 167. January 27th, 2010. I am showing here some of them.

 Dharavi, Mumbai, where population density reaches 1m people per square mile. Image from

¨The reversal of opinion about fast-growing cities, previously considered bad news, began with The Challenge of Slums, a 2003 UN-Habitat report. The book’s optimism derived from its groundbreaking fieldwork: 37 case studies in slums worldwide. Instead of just compiling numbers and filtering them through theory, researchers hung out in the slums and talked to people. They came back with an unexpected observation: “Cities are so much more successful in promoting new forms of income generation, and it is so much cheaper to provide services in urban areas, that some experts have actually suggested that the only realistic poverty reduction strategy is to get as many people as possible to move to the city.”….
¨The magic of squatter cities is that they are improved steadily and gradually by their residents. To a planner’s eye, these cities look chaotic. I trained as a biologist and to my eye, they look organic. Squatter cities are also unexpectedly green. They have maximum density—1m people per square mile in some areas of Mumbai—and have minimum energy and material use. People get around by foot, bicycle, rickshaw, or the universal shared taxi.
Not everything is efficient in the slums, though. In the Brazilian favelas where electricity is stolen and therefore free, people leave their lights on all day. But in most slums recycling is literally a way of life. The Dharavi slum in Mumbai has 400 recycling units and 30,000 ragpickers. Six thousand tons of rubbish are sorted every day. In 2007, the Economist reported that in Vietnam and Mozambique, “Waves of gleaners sift the sweepings of Hanoi’s streets, just as Mozambiquan children pick over the rubbish of Maputo’s main tip. Every city in Asia and Latin America has an industry based on gathering up old cardboard boxes.” There’s even a book on the subject: The World’s Scavengers (2007) by Martin Medina. Lagos, Nigeria, widely considered the world’s most chaotic city, has an environment day on the last Saturday of every month. From 7am to 10am nobody drives, and the city tidies itself up¨……
¨The Last Forest (2007), a book by Mark London and Brian Kelly on the crisis in the Amazon rainforest, suggests that the nationally subsidized city of Manaus in northern Brazil “answers the question” of how to stop deforestation: give people decent jobs. Then they can afford houses, and gain security. One hundred thousand people who would otherwise be deforesting the jungle around Manaus are now prospering in town making such things as mobile phones and televisions.
The point is clear: environmentalists have yet to seize the opportunity offered by urbanization. Two major campaigns should be mounted: one to protect the newly-emptied countryside, the other to green the hell out of the growing cities¨.

This post was made adapted from and based on:
Stewart Brand. “ How slums can save the planet” in Prospect. Issue 167. January 27th, 2010
Interview to Peter Calthorpe, hosted by Scott London. Published in the Fall 2002 issue of the architecture journal CriT. (This interview was adapted from the radio series Insight & Outlook)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

El Artista y su Técnica Vol. I. Revista Digital de Luis Makianich

Dear Readers, though this magazine is mainly focused in digital art, in page 5 you´ll find some work on architectural competitions. DO NOT MISS IT.
If you´d like to find out more about digital books and magazines, go to this specific label in my new blog

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Artículo: Luján vuelve a exhibir la memoria histórica del país

Plaza frente a la Basílica de Luján, las alas de los museos a la derecha. Foto de
Sala Aborigen. De
Considero a este artículo de Susana Reinoso publicado en el día de hoy, como una buena noticia. He ido a la hermosa basílica de Luján varias veces, pero a los museos sólo dos, la última vez a principios de los ´90, tal vez en 1993.
Siempre disfruté de los museos, y con respecto a los museos en los pueblos argentinos, si hay algo que rescato –más allá de las colecciones- son sus características lugareñas, suelo sentirme como que me han transportado a la época de los gauchos.
Justamente ese fue el punto de discusión, cuando en aproximadamente1993 (¡!) estaba trabajando con mi socio y esposo en un anteproyecto de remodelación de la plaza que encierra los museos de la basílica de Luján, contratados por un inversor privado que -probablemente- tuviera conexiones con el gobierno de la provincia, para animarse a coquetear con semejante empresa. Dicho sea aquí, jamás se nos pagó por ese trabajo de ideas preliminares que incluía renderings en 3 dimensiones y creo que mis colegas argentinos saben bien lo que significa trabajar con expectativas que nunca se cumplen, con la ilusión de que uno está haciendo algo bueno y productivo por su país. El proceso es bien sencillo, un supuesto inversor contrata a jóvenes y pujantes arquitectos que no podrían costear un juicio, se les encarga un proyecto, el cual va a parar al político de turno involucrado en el tema. Punto y aparte, sin comentarios.
Entre tantas premisas, los cuestionamientos más difíciles eran cuánto conservar de esas plazas, y hasta dónde intervenir en los museos, y cuál sería el carácter final que ofreceríamos al público. Me duele saber que aún hoy, luego de 17 años quedan tantas salas cerradas, es como si no avanzáramos en el tiempo. Pero al menos, esta noticia es un indicio que se intenta ir por buen camino.
Copio abajo unos párrafos de la nota, y quisiera enfatizar el comentario de Juan Carlos D´Amico quien nos deja entender que no tiene sentido tener semejante colección si están en depósitos, y más abajo, me interesa destacar el comentario del lector nmigueliz, quien hace referencia a la falta de un plan integral, palabras mías desde el punto de vista de una arquitecta con gran experiencia en licitaciones argentinas, no me extrañaría que las remodelaciones sean más bien de estética con el fin de promocionar políticos para el Bicentenario. Como no estoy allá para verlo y evaluarlo con mis propios ojos, agradecería a los lectores de este blog que me dejen su opinión.
Imagen de las arcadas al frente de los museos, la basílica como fondo de perspectiva. De
¨Al hacerse cargo del Complejo Museográfico el más grande de América del Sur, que ocupa cuatro hectáreas a escasos pasos de la basílica de Luján, sólo cinco de las 35 salas originarias estaban en funcionamiento, según cuenta Bellotta a La Nacion. Y ni noticias de los indios vivos ni del gobierno de Rosas.
Lo primero que se hizo, con financiamiento del Instituto Cultural bonaerense, a cargo de Juan Carlos D?Amico, fue reacondicionar y reabrir al público varias salas cerradas. Con una inversión de $ 350.000, hoy son trece las que están en funcionamiento, incluida la novedosa Sala Aborigen, que está musicalizada. El 27 del mes próximo se abrirá la Sala Federal, que recoge el período de Juan Manuel de Rosas.
Ambas tuvieron su espacio en la primera mitad del siglo XX, pero los avatares de la política argentina las borraron del guión museístico.
"Este complejo tiene entre 50.000 y 60.000 piezas y documentos, que estamos digitalizando. Esas cifras incluyen varios fondos documentales y el acervo de la biblioteca. Tenemos una copia completa del Archivo de Indias y documentos originales de San Martín, Belgrano, Rosas y Mitre, entre otros". Sólo el 3% de todo ese acervo está expuesto en la actualidad. Hasta el momento se han digitalizado 29.043 piezas............
El reacondicionamiento del Museo de Luján es parte de la puesta en valor y restauración encaradas con motivo del Bicentenario. Una partida de $10 millones de la Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación ya está licitada para proseguir con la puesta a punto del complejo.
D?Amico dijo a La Nacion: "Es importante tener 50.000 o 60.000 piezas y documentos en el museo, pero no que el 95% esté en depósito". Y explicó que el reordenamiento de las salas también se hizo "de acuerdo con los procesos históricos, para unificar un sentido". Agregó que "el relato histórico comienza con los pueblos originarios, ya que del período aborigen hay un patrimonio importante".

Artículo completo en

Monday, February 22, 2010

Introducing Arch. Cosmin´s Work on Urban Fractals

Fractal Urban simulation of Vienna.
Chirvasie Cosmin is an Architect from Bucharest, Romania, with a master degree in "Fractal and urban planning", 1994. For his thesis, he worked with Cantor fractals and graphs theory applied to the center of Bucharest in 1850. His finding was very interesting, as the set of Cantor he generated, showed that there would be needed a connection between two streets. Those streets were created in 1879! He regrets that they were destroyed when communists opened an archaeological site there and reconstructed an old palace.
Since then, he has been working in modeling ¨urban series¨.
The origin of this research was a modified Julia set. He agrees with me that one can generate infinite configurations but, if attractors, iterations and algorithms cannot be controlled through real contexts, they become just theory and beautiful images. That´s his main objective, to develop tools to find accurate urban simulations and similar applications in fractal urban planning.
After experimenting with attractors, he made his first generation of vectors in 2009, what allowed him to open a new field of research. His work is now based on the second generation of ring and infinite vectors. He states that, based on a good management of the environment and the socio-cultural-historical contexts, fractality can generate a convenient urban design.
In the meanwhile, he has just opened a third generation to introduce ¨time¨, and hierarchies, what is not an easy task. And of course he understands that he must be an architect concerned about people and their habitat,  more than a mathematician.
Below, we´ll see some examples of his work on the 1710 medieval Vienna. The last picture is an urban simulation of Vienna urban fabric in 3D, compared to a drawing of Vienna in 1640. He uses a free software Chaos Pro 3.3, that can be downloaded at
This software has a compiler where you can introduce your own fractal formulae in order to improve fractal urban simulations. The generator programs have 3 bits and Cosmin can acquire up to 23Mb images.
All pictures posted here belong to arch. Chirvasie Cosmin and were downloaded with his permission. Please do not reproduce them without his permission.
Publications: Review: "Secolul 20" - Brazilia
Number: 8-9-10 / 1998
Editorial: "Uniunea scriitorilor din Romania si Fundatia Culturala secolul 21", in translation " The  Romanian Writers Union and 21-th Century Cultural Foundation"
Title: "Orasul - un sistem complex", in translation " The Town - a complex system"
Authors: Chirvasie Cosmin and Andrei Barbu Multescu
pages: 297-304

Sunday, February 21, 2010

El Niño Borges: Descubrimiento del Infinito y las Distancias

Mati Klarwein  "Aleph Sanctuary" vista del cielorraso. 1963-1970 Imagen de

Desde que leí el libro El Aleph, quedé fascinada con Borges y si hay un texto que disfruto de leer una y otra vez, es su descripción del Aleph, el punto que encierra todos los puntos, la primera letra del alfabeto sagrado.
¨¿Cómo transmitir a los otros el infinito Aleph, que mi temerosa memoria apenas abarca? Los místicos, en análogo trance prodigan los emblemas: para significar la divinidad, un persa habla de un pájaro que de algún modo es todos los pájaros; Alanus de Insulis, de una esfera cuyo centro está en todas partes y las circunferencia en ninguna; Ezequiel, de un ángel de cuatro caras que a un tiempo se dirige al Oriente y al Occidente, al Norte y al Sur. (No en vano rememoro esas inconcebibles analogías; alguna relación tienen con el Aleph.) Quizá los dioses no me negarían el hallazgo de una imagen equivalente, pero este informe quedaría contaminado de literatura, de falsedad. Por lo demás, el problema central es irresoluble: La enumeración, si quiera parcial, de un conjunto infinito. En ese instante gigantesco, he visto millones de actos deleitables o atroces; ninguno me asombró como el hecho de que todos ocuparan el mismo punto, sin superposición y sin transparencia¨.
Es interesante notar que el Aleph del sótano había sido descubierto por el niño Carlos Argentino Daneri, y me pregunto si Borges habrá sido ese niño y si así imaginó el concepto de infinito cuando su abuela se lo explicó por primera vez.
En su entrevista con Stephen Cape y Daniel Bourne, Borges cuenta que su abuela de Junín –al Oeste del fin de la civilización- le hablaba de los indios Pampas, y que de hecho, su aritmética, tenía el siguiente principio: ella levantaba una mano y decía ¨Te enseñaré la matemática de los indios Pampas¨.
¨No entenderé¨, respondía el niño Borges.
¨Sí¨, decía la abuela, ¨mira mis manos, 1, 2, 3, 4, muchos¨.
Notemos también que Borges contiene al Aleph en un espacio definido claramente, en un baúl, y le da una medida bastante precisa, como la restricción de los dedos de las manos:
¨El diámetro del Aleph sería de dos o tres centímetros, pero el espacio cósmico estaba ahí, sin disminución de tamaño¨.
Así que el profesor Borges consideraba que el infinito se encerraba en las manos de su abuela, y que había notado en lo que los hombres de literatura llaman ¨los Pampas¨, que la gente apenas tiene la noción de las distancias, que no piensan en términos de millas, leguas.
Ante tal comentario, Daniel Bourne le dice que un amigo de él proveniente de Kentucky, le cuenta que los lugareños hablan de distancias en montañas, como ¨una montaña o dos más allá¨, resolución lógica para quienes viven en espacios abiertos y no cuentan con elementos físicos como unidad conceptual de medida.
A lo que el maestro, defensor de su idea de distancia matemática, responde, con su conocida sorna: ¨¿Realmente?. Qué extraño.¨

 Para leer la entrevista completa, entre a este link
Safe Creative #1002215574719

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Independent Group

Richard Hamilton. “Just What is it that Makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing?”. 1956. From
The British Pop was launched by the Independent Group (IG) in 1952. I bring up the subject because some of the participants were architects, and it is always interesting to see the relationship between architecture, urban culture and arts.
They were intrigued by technology and automobile design and mainly focused on happenings rather than painting and comics.

House of the future. By the Smithsons. From

“This is tomorrow” exhibition. A page from the catalogue.

“But the young artists, architects, and critics who met informally at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts in the early 1950s were actually embarked on a far more subversive and constructive mission than the founding of an art movement. Street-smart, anti-academic, and iconoclastic, they embraced Hollywood and Madison Avenue and rejected the traditional dichotomies between high and low culture, British and American values. They used their meetings and exhibitions to challenge the official modernist assumptions of British aesthetics and to advocate instead a media-based, consumer-based aesthetics of change and inclusiveness - an aesthetics of plenty” . (From
From the book “Movements in art since 1945. Issues and concepts”, by Edward Lucie-Smith, we can learn that (p. 128):
“ It now seems to be generally agreed that Pop art, in its narrowest definition, began in England, and that it grew out of a series of discussions which were held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London by a group which called itself the Independent Group. It included artists, critics, and architects, among them Eduardo Paolozzi, Alison and Peter Smithson, Richard Hamilton, Peter Reyner Banham, and Lawrence Alloway. The group were fascinated by the new urban popular culture, and particularly by its manifestations in America. Partly this was a delayed effect of the war, when America, to those in England, had seemed an Eldorado of all good things, from nylons to new motor-cars. Partly it was a reaction against the solemn romanticism, the atmosphere of high endeavour, which had prevailed in British art during the 1940s.
In 1956 the group was responsible for an exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery which was called “This is Tomorrow”. Designed in twelve sections, the show was designed to draw the spectator into a series of environments. In his book on Pop art, Mario Amaya points out that the environmental aspect probably owed something to Richard Buckle’s exhibition of the Diaghilev Ballet, which was held in London in 1954, and which seized on the excuse of a theatrical subject to provide a brilliantly theatrical display”. 

Los Angeles: About the Mural Conservancy

Farewell to Rosie the Riveter," a detail from the 1950s section of The Great Wall of Los Angeles mural, 1983. Mural: © Judith F. Baca and The Social and Public Art Resource Center 

If there is something that characterizes the city of Los Angeles is the beautiful murals it has on its walls. In some buildings, the murals are not exactly what we expect for a piece of art, but anyway, even being advertising, they are really nice and impressive.
I am sorry to say, that since the last weeks I have been going to Los Angeles, usually taking the 110 freeway, and the murals that we could usually see on the freeway walls, next to Moneo’s cathedral, are completely covered by graffiti. Go ahead, and you’ll see whatever mural, on the freeways, on the buildings, in containers, in construction enclosures, also covered by graffiti, up to the freeway signs.
This excerpt below is taken from, in the section “about mural conservancy”. They state that the program of murals conservancy is sustained by donations and tax deducible dues. Is the current problem an issue with budgets? Or taxes? The bad economy we had since 2006? Or a control problem?
I wonder what’s going on with the so hard Los Angeles police. Mike Davis tells the story about the young men who were killed by the police while attempting to write on L.A. walls, some years ago. We do not need such brutal extremes, but maybe some streets control. These graffiti take hours to be completed, and whoever is doing so, is absolutely exposed to the public, in the most visited areas of Downtown L.A.
Is it that nobody is compromising to protect those murals? Do gangs have such an impunity?
I apologize I don’t have perfect pictures, imagine it is very difficult to take them at speed.

Graffiti in downtown LA. Picture by Myriam B. Mahiques

Graffiti in downtown LA. Picture by Myriam B. Mahiques

Murals. What art form is more visible to the public eye? At the same time, what art form is there that is more exposed to the elements, more vulnerable to vandalism?

Until the 1960s, public murals in Los Angeles were few and far between, isolated instances of commemoration or appreciation. During the sixties and seventies, young artists began to look at the early-century Mexican mural movement. Such notables as David Siqueiros, Diego Rivera and Jose Orozco helped inspire a new generation of Angeleno muralists such as Kent Twitchell, Terry Schoonhoven, Judith Baca, Frank Romero, Alonzo Davis, East Los Streetscapers and many others. Today upwards of a thousand murals have been produced in L.A., with new ones appearing on a regular basis. It has been widely acknowledged that we are one of the world's mural capitals. Murals that serve as significant area landmarks have been created by both famous and anonymous artists.
All of this creative activity has served the public and enhanced the image of Los Angeles at little cost to the public. But it has also presented future generations with the problem of deterioration and vandalism. MCLA's mission is to deal with this problem NOW in order to prevent it from becoming extensive and embarassing--and expensive--to the City; and to give this art its deserved due as a significant part of our cultural legacy.
L.A. is often singled out as the Mural Capital of the World because of the number, variety and quality of murals here. Not to mention the Southern California weather, which lets muralists create pretty much year round. As new murals come into existence every year, you can count on this site being in a state of ongoing dynamic development no matter how seemingly complete it gets. We put the emphasis on murals located outdoors and in public locations (those located in private homes or other restriced access locations are excluded unless they are of unusally special note).
Just use your mouse to launch yourself into any of the sections listed and you can learn about and see the murals hundreds of thousands of Angelinos view on there daily commutes, the muralists who make them, and MCLA itself.
The programs of the Mural Conservancy are made possible by the generous tax-deducible dues and donations of our members, the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, the California Arts Council, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and the Brody Fund of the California Community Foundation” .

Mural of Mercado La Paloma. Photo by Myriam B. Mahiques

Enjoy more murals, from the book Wall Art:

Friday, February 19, 2010

The City and the Crowds

The man of the crowd. Painting by Brian Pedley

In an article published on August 15, 2007 at  The Independent. Opinion, there is a letter titled ¨Hurrying city crowds bump into people of all colours and creeds¨, as follows:
¨Sir: Margaret Busby (Opinion ,13 August) asserts that her blackness makes her both invisible and highly visible, causing people in London to discourteously bump into her and afford her disproportionate attention or suspicion.
Might I suggest that people bump into each other every minute of the day in London because there are lots of people in London trying, in vain, to get somewhere quickly? They lead busy, stressful lives and try their best to avoid or ignore others in an attempt to mitigate the aggravation and anxiety of living in such a congested and pressured environment.
I have suffered humiliation, rejection, disappointment, suspicion, and people bumping into me but I do not have the luxury of blaming all my frustrations on my skin colour or gender. Life is trying for everyone and very few achieve their aspirations regardless of race, gender, sexuality or creed.
The next time a stranger "crashes into" you it is worth considering that the offending person is probably cursing your discourtesy in "crashing into" them.
Implicitly, I find here the anonymity  of the crowds in the city, a non guilty unity of deformed mass, that feeds into spontaneity and violence; but suddenly, somebody could be an expectant spectator, who feels like an outsider, an alien. Nevertheless, the spectator may also be entangled by the crowd again, in a never ending process, being outside, being inside, being one, but never being one in all. The idea that crowds demonstrate bizarre, almost pathological behavior was launched by the eminent French sociologist Gustave Le Bon. He discussed that a crowd was more than just the sum of its members, it was a kind of independent organism. It had an entity and a will of its own, and it often acted in ways that no one within the crowd intended. A crowd could be brave or cruel, but never smart. ( James Surowiecki, The wisdom of crowds, 2004). Benito Mussolini said "The mass, whether it be a crowd or an army, is vile"

The subject  was treated many times in literature, and I´d like to show some examples:
 Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937), the inventor of ¨cosmic horror¨, was an ardent scientific materialist that developed a psychopathic social and political and racist ideas. In his letter to Frank Belnap Long, in 1924, recounting his visit to Chinatown in New York, two years before, he describes it as a ¨nightmare of perfect infection¨ in Hitlerian words:
¨The organic things –Italo-Semitico-Mongoloid- inhabiting that awful cesspool could not by any stretch of imagination be call´d human.  They were monstrous and nebulous adumbrations of the pithecanthropoid and amoebal; vaguely moulding from some stinking viscous slime of earth corruption, and slithering and oozing in and on the filthy streets … They -or the gelatinous fermentation- of which they are composed seemed to ooze, seep and trickle thro´  the gaping cracks in the horrible houses … and I thought of ….unwhole –some bats crammed to the vomiting point with gangrenous vileness¨. (De Lévy, 28-29)

From Eliot´s ¨The Waste Land¨, I read

¨Unreal city,
Under the brown fog of winter dawn
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street….¨

It shows a lack of individual will, the flow suggests an inform organic matter, and the eyes before the feet, suggests a zombie like vacantness. (Jack Morgan)
This is Edgar Alan Poe description of the rush hour in London, in his tale ¨The Man of the Crowd¨, and the location of his  story is not casual,  by 1840, London was the largest city in the world with a population of 750,000 (data from
This latter is one of the principal thoroughfares of the city, and had been very much crowded during the whole day. But, as the darkness came on, the throng momently increased; and, by the time the lamps were well lighted, two dense and continuous tides of population were rushing past the door. At this particular period of the evening I had never before been in a similar situation, and the tumultuous sea of human heads filled me, therefore, with a delicious novelty of emotion. I gave up, at length, all care of things within the hotel, and became absorbed in contemplation of the scene without.
At first my observations took an abstract and generalizing turn. I looked at the passengers in masses, and thought of them in their aggregate relations. Soon, however, I descended to details, and regarded with minute interest the innumerable varieties of figure, dress, air, gait, visage, and expression of countenance.
One of the interpretations of this story, is that the mean old man who the narrator pursues, is the dark side of his own personality. Is this a way to lose one´s anonymity?
Safe Creative


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