Monday, December 24, 2012

Solstice Soiree

Well… the world didn’t end, so I decided to attend a party. Not a party, exactly, but the winter solstice edition of the Baltimore Design Soiree, a gathering of architects, artists and other creative visionaries who meet quarterly on the heliocentric transitions to present their latest projects to each other in a round-table format. Once presented, typically via power point presentation or physical display, their projects are subjected to questions and friendly critique by the entire group. The host and location of the soiree change with the seasons. I have hosted the meeting at my home in Baltimore County in the past, but usually the informal assembly of about a dozen people takes place at the studio or gallery of one of the members.

Friday night’s gathering was hosted by sculptor David Page at his Area 405 gallery in downtown Baltimore. Everyone is expected to bring a libation and finger food, so I cooked up a batch of my popular "baked cashew-artichoke dip" before heading out with crackers and a bottle of wine under my arm.

The December air was frigid, barely 35 degrees, and I knew David’s warehouse-style studio would be cavernous and icy, having attended a soiree there before, so I chose my warmest sweater, a tightly woven turtleneck by venerable ski-apparel maker Meister which was a Christmas gift many years ago from my best friend, Kari’s, parents, Joyce and Lyle, in Spokane, Washington.

I paired the sweater with INC leggings from Macy’s, also a gift from Kari’s mom, and pulled on vintage high-heeled boots by Pleaser, which I’ve owned since the 1970s. In a nod to the upcoming holiday, I chose green jingle-bell earrings tied with tiny red bows, a brilliant red crystal fashion ring and a Swarovski bracelet handmade by my high school chum Lily Williams in northern California, and thrust a festive Dea Dread hair accessory by Thea Osato of Baltimore ( into my locks.

As always, the presentations were diverse and fascinating. Architect Peter Filat showed off his design for the modernization of a block of storefronts near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor shopping plaza, soliciting input about possible façade schemes from the group. Danny Barnese, an incredibly talented graphics and brand-identity designer, presented his innovative take on new signage for Marriott Hotel on Times Square in New York City.

But I was most impressed by architectural model-designer Jesse Turner, who wowed the attendees with a four and a half minute "video Christmas card" by photographer and filmmaker Clark Vandergrift depicting a young man’s trek to a rustic log cabin in the Colorado mountains. Rather than describe this amazing interpretation of a bucolic holiday vignette, brought to life by Jesse’s talents as a model-maker, he has given me permission to post the recording here so you can see the master’s sleight-of-hand for yourself: Silverton.

One of the great pleasures of attending these periodic get-togethers is to experience firsthand the sheer genius of the various members as they reveal the latest examples of their work. It was a satisfying evening, indeed, making me glad the world did not come to an end.

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