AIA exhibit demonstrates art’s versatility (DJC article)

Photo by Sam Bennett

Studio Art Direct president encourages architects to try to integrate fine art into their buildings

POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Wednesday, June 11, 2008
BY SAM BENNETT as written in the Portland Daily Journal of Commerce

At Hotel Modera, Janelle Fendall Baglien put a nude drawing in every bathroom. For good measure, she also placed a few in the lobby of the recently opened downtown Portland hotel.

“Hotel Modera has a modern shape with clean, masculine lines,” said Baglien. “I thought the hotel needed some curves. And what better curves than a woman’s body?”

As president of Studio Art Direct, which helps architects and interior designers place art in commercial buildings, Baglien said art is playing an increasingly important role in the built environment.

“Art in the built environment is more important than it ever used to be,” she said. “People just expect to see nicer buildings and they want a nicer finish and artwork.”

Baglien demonstrates how art, technology and the human figure intersect in a new show called “Naked: Art on Raw Surfaces” at the American Institute of Architects’ Portland gallery space at 403 N.W. 11th Ave. The exhibit hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The show is designed to educate architects, interior designers, trade professionals and artists about new ways of integrating fine art into buildings. The event will showcase new techniques that allow art to be reproduced in almost any size on a multitude of surfaces, including green/sustainable surfaces.

The show features a nude painting reproduced on a variety of materials, including bamboo, eco-friendly paper made of elephant droppings, panels made of sorghum and resin made of recycled plastics.

Last week, during the exhibit’s opening night, which coincided with the Pearl District’s First Thursday art walk, AIA Portland was bustling with art lovers and the curious. They watched as local artists William Park, Aimee Erickson and Sidonie Caron portrayed a partially nude model in chalk. The artists generated about 80 figure drawings that are on display and on sale at the AIA.

“We are excited to merge so many elements into this show, including demystifying figure drawing, experimenting with sustainable surfaces and most importantly, encouraging designers to incorporate art in the early phases of design using fine art created by local artists,” said Baglien.

She said her clients are turning to Studio Art Direct as more architects are thinking about the finishes of the building and not just what she calls the “hardscape” of the building. In addition to walls, art can go on ceilings and floors, she said.

“I’m giving architects ideas for how to integrate art into the built environment, not just use plunk art – art that you plunk on a wall.”

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