Thursday, June 30, 2011

Meet Roy T. Decker { 2011 AIATN Convention Speaker Series }

Memphis is an amazing array of speakers from across the street and around the world.
Meet Roy T. Decker, AIA / Duvall Decker Architects /
Jackson, MS
Speaking Thursday, August 4, 10:15 - 11:45

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In one sentence, how would you describe architecture to those outside the field?
Architecture is the making of forms and spaces that awaken and enliven us as individuals while serving and extending our culture.

Who or what most inspire your creative side? / How do you spark creativity?
I am inspired by the potential to serve the “public good” by promoting civility and growth. More than any other aspect, I am always interested in the effects of our work. I worry sometimes that architects allow service to displace leadership. These two activities, both so important to a successful practice, should complement and challenge each other.

I think creativity is sparked by being a close observer of nature and our habitation of space. When we see the complexities and subtleties of our world, and allow them to be our media, we can build spaces that are engaging and challenging.

What are you currently reading, whether it be books, magazines, or blogs?
I am currently reading “Teaching as a Subversive Activity” by Neil Postman. This is a second reading as we prepare for an educational project. I have been a teacher for many years, so I generally see most problems through a lens of education. It seems like we could do so much better as a society if we could institutionally allow excellence to replace minimal standards as our measure of success. I also enjoy online reading early in the morning – a series of sites; NYT, Wired, Local News, Local Free Press.

Different cities have different problems or dynamics. What’s the best thing about designing in your city?
Jackson, Mississippi is a typical middle-sized capital city. It suffers from a shrinking tax base, struggles to maintain services, and has a high vacancy/empty lot ratio and many other similar American urban problems. Despite these typical challenges, it is diverse and rich in cultural capital. It has a good art community, great restaurants, and good location. As an architect in Jackson and Mississippi, I have found willing community partners and clients interested in helping to solve some of our toughest urban problems. We have found interest in imagining what the next generation of our city will be and how neighborhoods will have to be transformed.

How do you balance work life and social/family life?
My wife, Anne Marie Decker, AIA, is my partner. We have two children, 10 and 5. Between our practice, home and children’s needs we strive for balance though achieving it can be elusive. We are both equally responsible in the practice and equally responsible at home. We juggle our time, often have our children with us, text each other a lot of updates, and have learned to be efficient.

Have you been to Memphis before? What are your current impressions?
Anne Marie is from Humboldt, Tennessee, so we travel through Memphis often on our trips to visit family. We have friends and family in Memphis and love to visit. One of our favorite stops is the Peabody lobby at Christmas time.
 We have watched an impressive renaissance in Memphis, and though this economy has challenged it, we find it to be a hopeful example.

What are some things you most look forward to in your trip to Memphis? In this response, can you be specific about what exact food you are looking forward to?
Visiting Memphis is always an opportunity to hear great music. The Blues clubs on Beale Street are a draw I hope to have time to visit. And it is always great to catch some barbecue at the Rendezvous.

What can we look forward to in your presentation at the AIA TN convention?
Anne Marie and I have been working for some time exploring the idea of public work designed from a local perspective. Most historic public buildings borrow their culture, expression and appearance. We strive for our buildings to be borne from the local conditions. Using some of our projects, we will explore the value of cultivating local circumstances and knowledge in service of genuine cultural growth.

Any fellow speaker(s) you look forward to seeing present?
AIA Tennessee has assembled a very good group of speakers; all have great work and are impressive architects. I look forward to seeing them all.

What other hobbies, interests do you have outside of Architecture?
I am a Sunday painter. I enjoy painting quiet landscapes; places where there are no words. These paintings are a sort of research to consider moments and spaces in buildings when there are no words, explanation or instruction, just feelings, qualities and maybe a little inquiry.

Do you also have a formal position in teaching architecture or design?
For the first 15 years of practice, I was also a teacher. I lived a double life, not wanting to give up full time practice for teaching, nor wanting to shortchange teaching. When Anne Marie and I started Duvall Decker Architects in 1997, I left full time teaching to focus on our practice and to find some of that balance I lacked. Since then, we have taught together in visiting and adjunct positions, the most recent being the 2009 Paul Rudolf Visiting Professorship at the Auburn University School of Architecture. Attending reviews and serving on design juries are also rewarding and educational experiences.

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We look forward to his presentation entitled “public work.” Read more on Roy in the convention  brochure and through the links below.

Facebook DuvallDeckerArchitectsPA
Webpage http://www.duvalldecker.com/

Thanks so much Roy and Krystal for pulling together the responses and images for us.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Meet Javier Sánchez Corral { 2011 AIATN Convention Speaker Series }


Memphis is an amazing array of speakers from across the street and around the world.
Meet Javier Sánchez Corral, HON. F. AIA / JSª / Mexico City
Speaking Thursday, August 4, 3:00 - 4:30

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In one sentence, how would you describe architecture to those outside the field?
It is a social discipline that creates spaces that seek to enhance and stimulate human activity.

Who or what most inspire your creative side? / How do you spark creativity?
Visiting architecture inspires me. Working in teams discussing architecture's possibilities sparks our creativity

What are you currently reading, whether it be books, magazines, or blogs?
I like to read books, Peter Zumthor's book atmospheres and Juhanni Palasmaa 'the eyes of the skin' are my favorites.

Different cities have different problems or dynamics. What’s the best thing about designing in your city?
Mexico City is a transformable living organism where anything can happen.

How do you balance work life and social/family life?
Every part of life goes into a separate drawer.

Have you been to Memphis before? What are your current impressions?
I have never been and am very looking forward to it, including going to Graceland.

What are some things you most look forward to in your trip to Memphis? In this response, can you be specific about what exact food you are looking forward to?
I heard Memphis is famous for its barbecues.

What can we look forward to in your presentation at the AIA TN convention?
It will be about urban architecture, architecture that responds to very different levels and scales, architecture that disappears within the city.

Any fellow speaker(s) you look forward to seeing present?
Brian MacKay Lyons

What other hobbies, interests do you have outside of Architecture?
Reading, traveling

Do you also have a formal position in teaching architecture or design?
As often as I can, I try to spend part of my time teaching to architectural students: through conferences, workshops and by receiving trainees in my office.

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We look forward to his presentation entitled “urban acupuncture.” Read more on Javier in the convention brochure and through the links below.

Facebook JSa Arquitectura
Twitter @JSaArquitectura
Youtube jsajaviersanchez
Webpage http://www.jsa.com.mx/ or www.jsa.com.mx/en (available in Spanish and English)

Thanks so much Javier and Virginie for pulling together the responses and images for us. Stay tuned for more interviews from the great collection of speakers at this year's convention.


foodiememphis at Las Delicias { Sneak Peek }


Forty people gathered for foodiememphis' gathering last night for a great tasting of Las Delicias. More photos and the full review later on the foodiememphis blog. Special thanks to owner Antonio and crew for a great dinner.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

YoLo { Currently Snacking }



Among the many great birthday gifts Atticus received this past weekend, one stood out to Christopher and I - the YoLo gift card. (Thanks Lanie!) These cards were also the party favors we gave out since we, too, know a gift of YoLo's frozen yogurt equals instant happiness.

Photos by Sophorn. Special thanks to Margaret.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Place { Panama City Beach / Part 1 }







Moments of calm as we move into the weekend. We'll share more photos of our beach vacation next week. 
Photos by Sophorn.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Las Delicias { A Memphis Favorite }


I have never had so much positive response on a restaurant after mentioning it on the blog. Clearly, Las Delicias is a favorite among locals, most of whom are passionate almost to the point of fanatical about this restaurant. Las Delicias is sort of a rediscovery for us as over three years separates the first visit from this second visit. I’ll blame the distance and its south Memphis location, that we never happen to find ourselves in. Now, with the second Las Delicias located much more conveniently to us, there’s no telling how many visits we’ll be taking. In fact, the foodiememphis group will have its next gathering at the second location next Tuesday. You'll want to go if you want a large sampling of the menu selected by owner Antonio Martinez.  Go to foodiememphis.blogspot.com for more details on the group and upcoming Q&A with Antonio.

Food Details: This meal, of course, started with house-made tortilla chips and guacamole, freshly chopped in large tasty chunks when ordered. We then split the Alambre fajitas – grilled steak, onions, cheese, and bacon served with corn tortillas. The plus about this Mendenhall location is that the shop that makes and sells the chips and corn tortillas is right next door. Luckily for midtowners and downtowners, you can also find Las Delicias at the Memphis Farmer’s Market selling those delicious chips, salsa, and chunky guacamole.








Don't forget to tip the pig. Atticus is watching.

Las Delicias
Mexican Bar and Grill
4002 Park Avenue (Near Getwell)
Memphis, TN 38111
ph +1.901.458.9264
or
3727 S. Mendenhall
Memphis, TN 38115

Photos by Sophorn

Las Delicias Mexican Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Turning 5


5 is HUGE. Listening to Atticus talk about turning 5, you'll wonder if he believes he'll turn into someone important, equaling "grown-up" status, with a higher intelligence and great physical strength. Although we'll make sure he's not let down when the physical strength doesn't suddenly appear, we'll be sure he knows he's pretty important and very intelligent already. His big birthday party with fellow schoolmates is this weekend so before then I promise to post pictures from last year's party at My Big Backyard (oops) and even try to post a sorted list of Atticus' best tweets. Invite cover design/illustration and photo by Sophorn with assistant art direction by Atticus. Photo: This has been the best look Atticus will give me. Not much cooperation in front of the camera lately.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Adjusting


Oh my, unplugging for a week and returning to a crazier schedule than before will take some adjusting. First though, I should probably wake up.

Photo by Sophorn.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Photography by Atticus




Photography by Atticus. More specifically, digital photography from the Fisher-Price camera he got from his Grammy last Christmas by Atticus. He's taken over 300 photos over the last six months, and these are the best ones he and I chose to "exhibit." You'll see his hand in abstract photography, portraits, food photography, and architectural photography. It's funny to watch him take photos as he sometimes directs people to hold things to get the shot he wants. Favorite example from his twitter stream: (With his new camera, directs Mommy & styles photo) Look back at me. Wait. Here, hold my dirty sock. Good. (Reviews shot.) I love it.

Anyone need a photography assistant? or emerging photographer for that matter. / Thanks Grammy for the camera! If anyone has suggestions on the next camera he should get for his 5th birthday around the corner, let me know.

Flashback Photo No. 1 { Cambodia }


My parents are pretty incredible people. They've embarked on another mission trip to Cambodia, using their retirement savings and travel time to help build churches in the poorest parts of the country. Have a safe trip! Love you. / I may start posting photos from way back before I started the blog as filler content. Hopefully, always good photos.

Photo taken in 2005 in Battambang. From right: My grandmom, mom, nephew, sister, and brother-in-law.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

To Crave ~ Las Delicias Guacamole and Chips


Yesterday, I was really early for a dinner meeting at Las Delicias. 24 hours early I found out. Unashamingly though, I'll be back to order more of their cravable chips and guacamole at the meeting tonight. Stay tuned for the full review.

Las Delicias
Mexican Bar and Grill
4002 Park Avenue (Near Getwell)
Memphis, TN 38111
ph +1.901.458.9264
or
3727 S. Mendenhall
Memphis, TN 38115

Photo by Sophorn

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tasted ~ The Cove Cocktail and Oyster Bar

The Cove had been on my wish list for food, music and just bona fide Memphis atmosphere for over a year now. It seems that if a Memphis checklist of how to be a local were to be created, hanging out at the Cove would be probably be in the top 5. Tucked in the middle of the Broad Avenue arts district which characteristically seems like a piece of midtown set adrift in unchartered seas, the Cove wouldn’t necessarily be a place you’d stumble upon.

Smoker-friendly, and from the looks of the décor, also pirate-friendly, it’s a place we could never go with Atticus, the main reason why it took so long for us to give it try. My craving for oysters finally found a way to plan a night out specifically to try the oyster dishes they were known for – Jim’s Ultimate Oyster Pizza and Oysters Casino.  Both dishes paired the oysters with just enough bacon to add flavor but not overpower the oysters. I really do love the taste of oysters, and based on what we heard from Evan, who works behind the bar most nights, the Cove has the freshest oysters in town.  Maybe next time I’ll try them raw.






Check their website for the music and event schedule. Tuesday nights, tonight are trivia nights. Thursday nights (the night we went) feature jazz. / Thanks Evan for taking care of us that evening. Miss seeing you and Kerry at the dinner groups. / Photo above: Title photo option looking a little too much like a '70's tv show title theme.

The Cove 
Cocktail and Oyster Bar
2559 Broad Ave
Memphis, TN
ph +1.901.730.0719

The Cove on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 3, 2011

Meet Singer/Songwriter Tristan Clopêt



I discovered the beautiful voice of Miami based musician Tristan Clopêt when searching for cover songs to feature for my song of the day. My very selective musical ear was sort of blown away by his cover of the Cee Lo Green song with that very frank message “F*ck You” which was cleaned up for the radio version to “Forget You”.  Oh, it’s so not the same in the context of the song to replace that word, and loving the unedited version, I’m convinced, also has a lot to do with the voice delivering that harsh message as sweet as honey which goes back to my original introduction to Tristan - his voice is just beautiful. 

After exploring his work further, you’ll find more to the package than just vocals.  Tristan is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter that just happened to be working on his first full length album when he saw that I mentioned him on twitter (note the power of twitter).  He thanked me for the song feature and in seeing that I did graphic design asked about my interest in creating artwork for his new album.  Um, yeah! I kept telling him that as a passionate music lover this would be the coolest thing ever.   

It was quite convenient then that I got an interview out of this pitching the questions as part of my prep for the album design.  See the Q&A below. / Thanks Tristan for trusting a stranger with this project so important to you. Tristan starts his “Name It What You Want Tour” tonight in Miami. The album will be available June 6. (Some of my favorite artwork for the album is inside the cd pack which of course you must buy to see.) See the video for the album's first single "A Chat With My Brain" here. See the full tour line-up of cities go here. He’ll be in Nashville June 27 at the Mercy Lounge for a show I’m hoping to attend.  If you happen to want to take that trip with me, let me know.

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"Songwriting allows me to use me as the instrument. And that’s something no one else has. So really, I’m focusing on practicing and improving the relationship and communication between my mind and my fingertips and vocal chords because that will create sounds that no one else in the world is capable of. That’s what I feel I can contribute to the arts."
~Tristan on the importance of songwriting to his work.

Musical Beginnings
When and how were you introduced to music to have led you to where you are now? I have an almost 5 year old who loves music and wants to learn an instrument, so I always wonder how to create an encouraging experience for him.
I always tinkered with music thanks to an early fascination with sound but I was about five when my mother forced me to choose an instrument to learn. She had played piano and my grandmother was a singer so she believed in music as a strong foundation for children. I chose piano because of how large it was. The low notes were so different from the high notes. So much possibility. I took lessons until I was 16, when I was really into guitar.

When did you begin your musical career? What were the key ingredients in making that happen?
I always planned on being an engineer/producer because I was too shy to perform. Looking back now at my childhood, which was full of performances, that logic still baffles me. It might’ve been just a stage of insecurity coupled with being in an uncomfortable transition to maturity and the real world. I was on a plane to Toronto, my birth city, when I realized that I was crazy if I was to do anything other than perform.

Can you give a rundown of the instruments you play in chronological order? Any others yet to learn that you seriously will soon?
Piano, Guitar, Bass, Harmonica, Violin (for only one year), Voice, Drums, Trumpet. I’d like to get a lot better at horns.

Songwriting
Is songwriting (the more psychological aspect of music it seems) a very important aspect of your music career?
The most important. Because I’ll never be the best piano player or the best guitar player. That’s not really what I care about. Songwriting allows me to use me as the instrument. And that’s something no one else has. So really, I’m focusing on practicing and improving the relationship and communication between my mind and my fingertips and vocal chords because that will create sounds that no one else in the world is capable of. That’s what I feel I can contribute to the arts.

Beyond writing a song because it’s sort of your job, how does songwriting help you personally and mentally? Is there an element of therapy, resolving things in life, or gaining insight?
I went through a phase where I wanted to be an actor. Right around high school. Then I went to acting college in New York. Then I went on a few auditions and realized I hated the process. It was mainly because I never felt comfortable unless I can prepare my art. I’ve never felt comfortable improvising anything. Not because I’m incapable but because its part of my psyche. I need to be prepared at any challenge I take on. I just feel more comfortable. So basically, the idea of preparing something; writing it all down, trimming the fat, adjusting the rough edges then baking it in the oven and adding frosting for one big presentation is really exciting for me. Songwriting allows me to do that.

Life
You write songs about things in your life, correct? So let’s discuss your life outside of music where you draw your inspiration from. Tell about your family, your other passions, and possibly you love life? What makes you happiest? What terrifies you?
Some of the songs are about my life but a lot of those written in first person are not. I just think it will resonate and create a better line of communication with the listener if I tell the story in first person. It’s very comforting to write about things that aren’t myself. All of a sudden, you’re way more proud and a little less worried about people rejecting it if it’s not about you. Performing to a full room of cheering fans makes me the happiest. Performing to a full room of cheering fans that all look like John Malkovich terrifies me.

Audience/Fans
How much do you think about your audience and what they will think during your music process?
A whole lot. And any songwriter who says otherwise is lying.

How do you prepare yourself for a live performance? Do you interact or meet the audience at all beforehand?
I used to just go up there and do it but now I take it slightly more seriously; warming up my voice, stretching, drinking a lot of water, getting on the same energy level as my band. I like to avoid anything but the people I’m performing with beforehand because I tend to lose my voice easily. Especially on tour. Afterwards though, it’s very nice and important to say hello to the people who have supported you.

Listening to Music
It’s a personal thing for everyone. I really listen to music. It’s mostly the foreground not the background. Can you talk about how you listen to music? Are you analyzing every element of it?
Oh yeah. And there are pros and cons…Now that I’ve pulled back the curtain and seen Oz, most of music isn’t nearly as magical as it once was. But having said that, the great stuff, Mozart, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, that stuff is otherworldly. It’s way better than 95% of the population realize. So I feel privileged that I can connect with it on a completely different level than I was able to before.

What’s your next cover song session going to be?
Not too sure. Maybe something from the Alex Turner solo disc. He’s as good a songwriter as they come these days.

Tristan Clopêt   Web / Twitter / Facebook

Banner Image and Album Cover Design by Sophorn McRae
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