Tuesday, June 30, 2015

thinking [inside] the box

i'll be honest, i think the wichita architecture scene lacks "hipness." recent graduates looking for starchitecture careers in the field rarely put our city on the top of any lists. being a part of our local aia organization i wanted to change that opinion, even if just slightly.

at the beginning of the year, i told our board, we should do something for the community, some sort of a show to appreciate architecture.  not only did they agreed, but they said i'd be the perfect person to head this "show" up.  i agreed and immediately hoped my butt could cash the check my mouth just wrote.

around march i had the idea we should participate in"final friday" a community event where all the art galleries are open to the public. i wondered though, what could aia show that people would be interested in seeing? renderings...photographs....drawings.....sketches, that's it! people love sketches! incredibly easy yet something architects don't do enough of. how could we get people to contribute this type of art?  it had to be as simple as possible; quick sketches, simple sketches, napkin sketches. boom! i would ask people to contribute napkin sketches! simple enough, but there had to be something more, something to put this idea over the edge of "cool" into full fledged "hip." why not host the event in a "pop-up" gallery! a place appearing out of nowhere, was there for one night, then gone the next!  quick sketches, pop-up gallery, everything was celebrating being spontaneous! that's it! this was the art of spontaneity!

it was this idea i presented to the board in march.  thankfully they were all excited about it.  with wonderful help from all the members the pieces quickly fell into place.  we found a shipping container company willing to donate a unit for the weekend, we found the owner of an empty parking lot downtown who said we could house it there, furniture was supplied and we even found a company who donated cork for the make-shift gallery walls!  the only thing we needed was the artwork.

figuring up how many napkins it would take to fill an empty 20 foot container put us at needing roughly 300 tiny sketches. for the past month we bugged everyone we knew for sketches. friends, family members and co-workers couldn't hide from our requests. napkins were drawn at desks, bar tops, airplanes and dining tables.  the pestering paid off; as we pinned up just about 300 filling the majority of the container. we also provided napkins, pins and markers the night of the show, so people could participate and help the gallery grow.  an activity that was a hit, as by the end of the night we had close to 500 on the walls.  by all accounts, the show was a success and, in my opinion, made the wichita architectural community reach the hipness levels of austin, brooklyn or portland, even if only for a few hours.

i'm absolutely amazed at what a simple idea, along with amazing help from wonderful people can create. a sincere thank you to anyone who came to the show, contributed art or helped in any way!


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