Oxford Arts Alliance spotlights the art in architecture
By J. Chambless
Anyone who thinks that architecture is all about heavy construction and not about art will have their opinion changed by visiting the Oxford Arts Alliance this month.
“Architecture,” which opened on April 3 and continues through April 25, shows the huge amount of art that goes into a thoughtfully designed buildings. Eight local firms get a spotlight, with wall-filling panels of photos and sketches, as well as three-dimensional models, showing how spaces are transformed from ordinary to extraordinary.
There's a quote on the wall by Constantin Brancusi: “Architecture is inhabited sculpture,” and there's certainly truth to that statement. The finely drawn plans for each aspect of a project are dazzlingly done. Faced with the task of turning vague ideas into bricks, mortar and wood, architects have to be very good at putting their thoughts onto paper.
That's clear in a plan and model for a Caribbean home by Townsend Moore, which incorporates everything from quick, back-of-a-napkin ideas to razor-sharp drawings and a model of the home, sitting in its gently sloping terrain overlooking the sea.
There's a spectacular collage of drawings and photos by Wayne Simpson filling one corner of the gallery, and Ed Rahme showcases models and plans for the transformed historic building on the campus of The Lincoln University that became the Danjuma African Art Center. Rahme's finest moment, though, is his breathtaking design for the Perch House which, on a lot 50 feet wide, creates a bird's nest-like modern dwelling that's open to nature on all sides.
Melton Architects shows off before-and-after images of Philter and the County Butcher in Kennett Square, which began as very uninspired, dead spaces and ended up as bright, hip locations that are now destination shops. The Melton design for a proposed Art Works Center is a futuristic, open glass pavilion that would blend a theater, gallery, stores and office space.
There's a display about the expansion of the Oxford Library, which is taking place about a block away from the gallery, and the interior photos give a great idea of how the new space will look.
Scott Edmonston of Sea Studio Architects shows plans and photos of a beach home that was designed to be energy-neutral, combining appealing spaces with up-to-the-second green design.
Even if you've never given a thought to what architects actually do, you'll leave the exhibit with a new appreciation for how they blend several artistic disciplines. And you may just have an itch to remodel your own home after seeing what these designers can accomplish.
The Oxford Arts Alliance is at 38 S. Third St., Oxford. Gallery hours are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit www.oxfordart.org.