Daily digest: Artist Chuck Close dies, mapping New York’s heat island inequalities, and more

Gimme Shelter

Daily digest: Artist Chuck Close dies, mapping New York’s heat island inequalities, and more

A Chuck Close mosaic rendered in ceramic tiles for the 86th Street subway station as part of the Second Avenue expansion. (Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York/Flickr)

Greetings and welcome back to another Friday, the second-to-last before September and a chance to catch up on the news and long reads you might have missed before the weekend.

Here’s what you need to know today:

Artist Chuck Close is dead at 81

Large-scale photorealistic portrait painter Chuck Close, who later transitioned into a more “pixelated” style that broke down subjects into swirls of color at close range, has died at 81. The cause was reportedly cardiopulmonary failure.

Close, born on July 5, 1940, found widespread acclaim in his massive airbrush recreations of large-scale photographs in the 1970s, creating tableaus that from afar appeared as photos but became landscapes of brush strokes up close. In his more recent work, Close took that process even further and began realizing his subjects as bursts of color that only took recognizable shape after a certain distance—site-specific tile translations of his paintings can also be found all over the new 86th Street station on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. In 1988, Close suffered a spinal artery collapse that left him paralyzed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair. During his subsequent rehabilitation, he learned to regain control of his arms and hands and continued to paint though he would need to grip the brush in both hands in the years afterward. Close was a constant fixture of the New York art scene and could often be spotted attending high-end gallery show openings, even after his diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia (originally thought to be Alzheimer’s) in 2013.

H/t to the New York Times

Check out the architectural vernacular of national parks around the world

There are thousands of national parks, spaces simultaneously carved out of the natural world for preservation and recreation purposes, around the world. As with any landscapes created to entertain and educate, though, eventually offices, visitor centers, dining areas, and even gift shops are all required to maintain a presence. Matthew Maganga runs through not only the rustic stone-and-log national park buildings of the U.S. but comparable structures around the world that seek to blend into their natural surroundings.

H/t to ArchDaily

Mapping tree cover, heat pockets, and inequality in New York

Ever wonder why certain New York neighborhoods are noticeably hotter than others? The answer lies in inequality baked into the built environment, and effects will only be exacerbated as the city grows hotter thanks to climate change (it’s already become a subtropical climate zone as of last summer). A lack of tree cover and green spaces can create heat island effects in poorer neighborhoods (typically those with BIPOC residents), which is exacerbated by the higher rates of asthma and obesity endemic to the same areas. Combined with lower rates of air conditioner ownership, those neighborhoods are at a greater risk of heatstroke and other ailments.

H/t to the New York Times

In Malibu, artist Cara Levine is digging a hole for grief

Pick up your grief over the pandemic, police violence, racism, losing loved ones, and anything else from the last two years and chuck it in a big hole. That’s the conceit of artist Cara Levine’s Dig a Hole to Put Your Grief In, a weeklong installation and performance piece in Malibu, California, slated to end tomorrow. Inspired by the Jewish practice of sitting Shiva for 7 days of mourning after the death of a loved one, Levine has been out every day over the last week digging a hole alongside anyone interested in helping. Participants are encouraged to write down the source of their grief on paper embedded with flower seeds, which will be distributed in flower pots at the end of the installation. The hole is currently four feet deep and will be filled with water tomorrow to create a Mikvah—a ritual bath used for purification through total immersion in the water.

H/t to Hyperallergic

Long Beach wants to streamline the shipping container to housing pipeline

Long Beach, California, is home to the second-busiest container port in the U.S., and the city is, perhaps not coincidentally, trying to speed up approvals for new housing developments built from metal shipping containers. The Long Beach Planning Commission is currently considering staff recommendations to remove approvals of shipping container construction (whether it be for a large housing complex or accessory dwelling unit) from the Site Plan Review Committee, which has added another layer of complexity to building with containers in the city since 2011. The same measure would also allow shipping container developments in historic districts, though with exterior modifications to help them blend in better.

H/t to Urbanize LA

The School of Architecture continues its shelter building tradition at Arcosanti

The School of Architecture is continuing a tradition carried over from its previous tenure at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin campuses; one year after relocating to Arcosanti, students have erected the first generation of hand-built desert shelters at the school’s new home. Part occupiable shelter and part architectural folly and design study, the six shelters range from tall, rammed earth cabins with James Turrell-like sky windows to timber structures with mycelium insulation panels, to a spiraling, crystallized foam hideaway.

H/t to Designboom