Monday, July 14, 2014

lord of the [bachelors]

bachelor parties should be as unique as the bachelor they're intended to celebrate, and my buddy tim's couldn't have fit him better.  the best man secured a large house on the shores of the lake of the ozarks for 15 of us to enjoy a long weekend.  time was spent fishing, grilling, floating, watching soccer and of course drinking. for the most part we all lived like complete bachelors for a few days have no contact with the outside world.  most of us spent the majority of the time covered in a mix of sunscreen and bbq sauce, using the lake to rinse off occasionally.  meals consisted of grilled meat of all shapes and forms and beer.  with this group of hob heads we probably had the best selection of beer on the lake, and as much as we hate to admit it, the occasional "mangarita" thrown in for variety.  the only thing missing was a conch shell. 

all in all it was a perfect way to send tim, a guy who loves the company of his brothers and friends, off to get married.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

manmade [conections]

what is it about bridges that makes them so intriguing?

i think there are several reasons, ranging from simple reasons like "they're cool" to the more philosophical like "it's a physical connection between two places nature separated."

i just think they photograph really well.  here are some shots of the lake overholser bridge near oklahoma city.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

what [gear] in history

by some strange series of events, the wonderful people in charge of the wichita riverfest asked me to lead an architectural bike tour last saturday.

i agreed, i mean, why not? i've lived downtown for the past eight years! how hard could it be to talk about a bunch of buildings in front of people?  

i knew some stuff.....


the more i thought about it, the more i realized my "stuff" wasn't exactly what you'd call "facts." i couldn't "bs" the wonderful people on the tour. by some fluke i had been placed in a role where people might actually believe what i say, a position i was not familiar with.  thankfully we live in a modern world with access to the wonderful information available on the internet.  a glorious place where even the most inane mind, can appear wise.

the days before the tour found me scouring the net, searching for details, facts and stories on some of my favorite buildings downtown. between information from the kansas historical registry and some fascinating articles by local historian michael carmody, i was able to piece together enough information to not look like an architectural ass.  thankfully the tour went we'll, and those who rode their bikes down douglas last saturday seemed to enjoy it.

finding all this information fascinating, i wanted to share the few facts i've learned about some of the architecture of our city.  i hope you enjoy!

also, if you have history to correct or add to any of these buildings, please feel free to comment!

broadview hotel
year: 1921
architect: Ed Forsblom
style: ?
notes: named the "broad view" because of the broad view it offered of wichita.  the basement held a speakeasy which could hold 600 people.

century II
year: 1969
architect: john hickman and roy k. varenhorst - both apprentice's to frank lloyd write
style: usonion?
notes: color and shape of pillars meant to mimic wheat stalks and fields. blue doomed roof meant to mimic the vast sky over the prairie

central library
year: 1967
architect: schaefer, schirmer and eflin
style: brutilist
notes: one of only a few buildings in kansas to have won a national award - an aia merit award for library design 1968

wichita city hall
year: 1892
architect: proudfoot and bird
style: romanesque

carnegie library
year: 1915
architect: crowell anthony allair
style: beaux arts
notes: the cities library until the new central library was built across the street

kress building
year: 1929
architect: g.f. mackay
style: gothic revival
notes: one of many kress buildings around the country

caldwell murdock building
year: 1908
style: early modernism
notes: wichita's first building with a steel structure, making it the cities first "skyscraper." also the tallest building in the city when it was built. built by louise caldwell-murdock in memory of her husband.

douglas building (ambassador hotel)
year: 1926
architect: vizthum and burns
style: chicago school
notes: site of the 1958 dockum sit-in 

fourth financial center (bank of america center)
year: 1974
architect: skidmore, owings and merrill
style: modern
notes: the large reinforced concrete pylons house the fire stairs as well as mechanical and electrical systems.

eaton hotel
year: 1887
architect: terry and dumont
style: late victorian/ 2nd empire
notes: in 1900 carrie nation took and axe to the hotel bar

union station
architect: louis s. curtiss
style: beaux arts

keen cuter building (hotel oldtown)
architect: mauran,  russell and garden
style: warehouse

year: 1922
architect: john eberson
notes: atmospheric theatre

scottish rite building
year: 1887
architect: proudfoot and bird
style: romanesque
notes: original ymca

Monday, May 12, 2014

finding downtown [rappelling]

i love that downtown wichita is increasingly becoming a place where you never know who...or what you may run into.  here's  a few pics of what i discovered last saturday morning.

Friday, May 02, 2014

man[ly] pedi

for my birthday, my girlfriend decided she'd surprise me. she didn't tell me much, only that we had to be somewhere at 3pm one saturday.

i was in suspense.

what could it be? had she made late lunch reservations at my favorite steak place? had she found an old schwinn bicycle on craigslist and we were going to pick it up? was there to be an amazing sale on some vintage vinyl?  had she rented out a small venue so my favorite band could play for me and my closest friends? a private screening of "back to the future?" the possibilities were endless, and i couldn't wait!

as the time neared, we got into the car and traveled east. not giving a hint, she drove and my mind raced. eventually we pulled into a lot and parked in front of several store fronts.  reading the signs, i analyzed each one trying to solve the mystery.  eventually my eyes stopped at the shop right in front of us which read "beau monde spa and boutique."  my mind went blank, for there was absolutely nothing i could possible want in that store. surely this wasn't it.

as it would turn out, it was. we walked in; the place smelled of a french vineyard. hints of lavender blossoms and wild poppies filled the air. my girlfriend then spoke the words cementing my fate.

"we're here for our 3 o'clock pedicure."

i was in all out panic mode. i had no idea what happens in these "so called" pedicures, but i knew it involved strangers touching and rubbing my feet and i wanted nothing to do with it.  the complementary lemonade they offered did nothing to calm my anxiety...i needed whisky.

surveying the situation, it wasn't hard to noticed i was the only male in the room. outnumbered, i backed myself into a corner of pumice stones so no one could sneak up on me.  my protective position only lasted a moment as minutes later two women came out and called our names. i downed my lemonade as if it were a shot of jameson and entered into unknown territory...a spa.

i was placed in some sort of contraption with a bucket of water at one end; naturally i assumed it was for the water boarding about to commence. i was then asked to remove my shoes, obviously so i couldn't run.  i hesitantly removed my boots and placed my feet in the warm water. i was now trapped. seconds later the poor soul sentenced to touch my feet went to work.  i closed my eyes and dug my fingers into the arm rest.

then the true surprise happened. i was not in pain, in fact far from it. the contraption i was forced to sit in was actually a message chair and it was hitting all the right spots.  somewhere between the lumbar pulses and the exfoliating foot massage i started to relax, almost falling asleep.  time flew by and an hour later the ordeal was done.  my soul and my new found baby-like feet were in heaven.  getting out of , my now favorite chair in the world, the pedicurist said i had beautiful feet for a man. i'm not sure if she says that to every poor sap who visits the spa or not, but i'm a sucker for flattery.  i blushed and said thanks.

in every sense of the word my girlfriend had surprised me. never in a million years would i have voluntarily gone to spa, and she knew that.  i not only received a pedicure that day, i also got a very relaxing reminder to always keep an open mind. i loved it so much, i might actually go back again, although i still think a shot of whiskey would be nice.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

downtown [do]nation

any idea what the greatest nation in this world is? 

it's do-nation.

last saturday the wichita downtown development corporation held their annual downtown cleanup day.  a morning filled with painting, landscaping and trash collecting. having missed the event previously, i made sure to mark it in my calendar this year.  all together 113 volunteers came out to help clean.  113 people gave up their time to help clean and "beautify" the city they love.  113 people.

i'm a big believer in the power of volunteering, because anyone with time has the ability to do it. there are several people in town who can make large scale projects happen in the downtown area.  there are also individuals who have the means to make sizable donations to downtown organizations.  most of us can't do that, we can however donate our time.  the older i get the more i believe time is money.  to see 113 people donate one of the most valuable assets they have, their time, was incredible to see.  

as i was painting, i was trying to figure out what value to place on this "time" donated.  figuring 113 volunteers worked 3 hours, you have 339 collective hours. about 8 and half weeks of work for one person.  trying to put a monetary value to those employer might pay between 10 and 15 dollars an hour for the work involved, meaning the total cost for labor is anywhere between $3,390 and $5,085.  averaging that out, the city received a $4,200 donation last saturday.

not a huge amount of money when it comes to city budgets, but it was absolutely free. $4,200 worth of value going towards downtown without having to cut budgets or increase taxes.  a nice deal for the city and it's citizens for sure, but i would arguer the sense of civic pride slowly growing in this town, really is priceless.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

koozie [culture]

i'll admit it, i'm a little late coming into the koozie culture, therefore i'm not sure i fully understand all the social boundaries surrounding these beer blankets.

hanging out by backyard pools and college tailgates, i've known of koozies for some time, but in the last few years i've found these little thermal accessories in new places.  i have several friends who can be found using their koozies in public establishments. after receiving their pabst from the bartender, they'll reach into their back pocket or purse and pull out their personal koozie. sitting around our favorite patio, enjoying great weather, it's not uncommon to see a couple cans sitting in a collection of their own condensation, while others are neatly nestled in neoprene. apparently in the hot summer land of lagers, the one with koozie is king...or at least is kept cold the longest.

is this a wichita thing? a kansas thing? a midwest thing? does our local climate cause this culture or are the coasts covered with koozies as well?

so i ask you this, is it culturally acceptable to bring a koozie to a bar?

should this form of beer bedazzlement be banned, or is it cool to clothe your coors in comfort.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


all cities fascinate me; washington dc amazed me.

walking in a city as well planned as washington dc, means every intersection is picturesque. having only a day to explore it's urban landscape meant every minute found me in [architectural sensory overload].  in school we studied kevin lynch's book "image of the city" which discusses "imageability" and "wayfinding," terms which identify what elements of a city make it more memorable in your mind.  walking through dc i discovered just how memorable well defined paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmarks make a city.  all these elements worked in perfect harmony and left me with a better appreciation for thoughtful urban planning.  i also enjoyed the sensitivity to the sense of scale. along the mall, buildings and monuments tower above you, but walkways, landscaping, patios, and seating make you feel comfortable at a more human scale.  little spots perfectly placed to interact with other people while enjoying the monumental backdrop. i could go on about how much this city surprised me; hopefully the pictures do a better job.