Object Guerilla on the Move

I did it. I moved again. A new place to live for the sixth time in six years. But, as moves go, this was an easy one. OG HQ moved just around the corner; the new building literally shares a wall with the old one. With a year in Chicago now, and steady employment wafting over me like a cool, comforting breeze, it was time for a little more space and a bedroom with a door you can close. 

The move coincided with my trip to Rabbit Island, which put a crimp in the whole unpacking-and-organizing dance that generally takes place in each new residence. However, since I had some time and space to plan things, I did have a chance to knock out a bunch of new furniture, and photograph some old furniture that deserved better representation. 

Moving each year is kind of a scorched-earth policy. You must be ruthless with your things, gutting the junk, eviscerating the sentimental, and slashing the useless. The continual shedding of things allows for growth. After years of nomadism and making do with temporary fixes (like milkcrate shelves and plastic cutting boards), I am trying to focus on making things that are still portable, light, and cheap but also are more permanent fixtures. I often moved and made do -- putting my mattress on the floor, for instance -- instead of moving with a precise suite of well-rendered nomadic solutions. After all, the most durable solution is frequently the most sustainable.

Now, I have two kitchen tables, a work table, a bed, and a set of bookshelves that come apart into flat-pack pieces, prepared for the next guerilla campaign. What follows is a photo tour of the new pieces, ready for action. Another post may follow as new things come into use.

The Knock-Down Shelves. 


Rabbit Island: The Trip

Object Guerilla has been a bit slow in posting this month due to a move of HQ, resultant internet issues, and because I spent a week in the woods. 

Back at the end of March, I entered an architectural competition for an artist's retreat on Rabbit Island, a 90-acre slab of sandstone and conifer off of the Keewenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior. The Keewenaw (now technically an island itself, after being cut off by the Portage Canal beginning in 1868) is part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, first settled by whites in search of copper in the 1840s. Long known to native peoples, rich copper deposits were commercially exploited in Houghton, Hancock, Calumet, and other towns well into the 1950s, driving the local economy. However, once the most easily-recoverable deposits played out, and copper prices declined after World War II, the mines shut down. Many people left the U.P. in search of work downstate, joining the steel and auto plants in Detroit, Flint, Milwaukee, and Chicago. The current economy is still based on natural resources -- extracting timber and importing tourists. 

Panorama at the point.


Black Cinema House II

Since the last post on the Black Cinema House, back in May, much progress has been made. 

Two weekends back, there was a a great cookout in the back of the library house, where the garden has been expanded and newly bordered in the back with a substantial brick wall. The lady and I toured the now-empty garage next to the library house, which has been gutted.

Across the street, the BCH is slowly taking shape. Finish carpentry is a painstaking craft, and the whole building is a piece of art. I feel like that is often said about buildings, usually referring to some starchitect museum complex or luxury condominiums that use imported marble and titanium cladding. This, however, really is a work of art, marked with the evidence of a dozen skilled craftsmen.

6901 Dorchester Avenue is a different, truer piece, made by hand from the bones of old buildings. Just last week I glued together a broken maple stair tread, added a piece of walnut flooring to fill it out, attached a piece of poplar to shim it up, blocked out a new structure in the stairwell, sanded it down, and re-fit it. This is not about speed, or modernity; it is about resurrecting something fractured, reuniting something split, and rebuilding with the remnants of something long since past.
The library house.