We’re down to three Husker-football-free Saturdays left in the summer. Which means our Hail Varsity schedule posters will be delivered from the printer shortly. At 18″x24″, they’re big enough to cover one entire miserably taupe wall of a cubicle. They should be easy to pick up around Lincoln, or stop by the Hail Varsity World Headquarters in the basement of the old Rock ‘n’ Roll Runza later this week to grab a copy.
Omaha’s Landmark Heritage Preservation Commission has been updating its expansive site this summer. In addition to hundreds of fairly recent (but still historical) photos of homes and buildings, they’ve added more than 500 building plans filed with the city between 1907 and 1926. It’s easy to get lost in the archive, but it’s worth it.
Among the highlights are a dozen or so churches (including Our Lady of Lourdes, above), dozens of schools (including Omaha Central), tons of old theaters (only a few of which remain standing today) and even a handful of residences.
The site is a magical combination of all the things I love: good design, local history and hopelessly giant archival databases. Go dive in here.
Former Union Pacific Headquarters facade. This amazing building was torn down in 2008 and has remained an empty lot since.
Former Union Pacific Headquarters lighting.
Former Union Pacific Headquarters door details.
Today marks 125 years since the building permit for my house was issued. Both the Omaha World-Herald and Omaha Bee reported on June 4, 1890 that Michael Lee, City Council president and owner of what was likely a brothel near the Union Stockyards, pulled a permit for this house the previous day. The address on permit is a little wonky, combining both Woolworth Street address and the address of the South 30th Ave. house whose lot my home was built on. Lee had purchased the house at 1242 S. 30th Ave a month before and tore down the carriage house to make room for a new home.
I suspect Lee built the house as an investment, and his investment went south quickly. By December of 1890, builders Francis Bailey and Ole Olson claimed a $659.80 lien on the house for failure to pay for construction and in July of 1891 Lee sold the home. A year later the new owners finally paid off Bailey and Olson.
The Hail Varsity yearbook is on newsstands now and in the mail to subscribers. Annually, it’s one of Hanscom Park Studio’s most challenging, rewarding and fun projects. It’s a nearly 200-page magazine full of amazing portraits, fantastic writing and a few of my original illustrations. What’s not to love?
One of this year’s longread feature stories (in addition to profiles of De’Mornay Pierson-El and Maliek Collins) is on the need for reform of the NCAA. It’s a difficult concept to illustrate and make visually engaging, but I landed on the idea of a whole mess of pipes channeling money all over the place. And I think it works.
Getting the stippling just right on all of the elements took some real commitment to the look, but I think it was fitting texture given the simple pipes and basic three-color palette of the images.
Hail Varsity’s annual yearbook, a 175+ page in-depth preview of the Husker football team and its opponents went to press earlier this week. It’s one of the most challenging and gratifying projects of the year, and it’s exciting to see in print. There’s great photography and writing and an illustration we had a lot of fun doing for the main feature.
We did a matching set of double covers, both with gatefolds. They’ll be on newsstands in a little more than a week, and always available at HailVarsity.com
It’s pretty nice getting to see your work lit up in neon above one of your favorite spots in the city. Nite Owl opened at 39th and Farnam last fall, and I was privileged to design its logo. Stop in for one of the best happy hours in town (bring your own records and not only will they play them, they’ll give you a PBR for a buck) and take a look. Odds are I’ll be out on their soon-to-open patio, so say hello.
I sold an old china hutch and secretary on Craigslist Sunday. While cleaning out the drawers, I came across the previous owner’s stamp collection (along with her Social Security card). It seems most of them date to the 1940s and ’50s, and nearly all of them are awesome designs. I had to scan them in to get a closer look.
“Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit – all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”
– Brian Eno, A Year With Swollen Appendices
A few weeks ago, I came across this Brian Eno passage that’s been rattling around my brain. Like a sizable segment of my age demographic, I’m drawn to the qualities of antiquated media, and have always been interested in how the analog meets the digital.
I built my first pinhole camera out of cardboard and a 110 format film cartridge when I was in grade school, and have tinkered with the decidedly lo-fi format off an on since. This past Christmas I made a few prime pinhole lenses of varying focal lengths out of PVC, tin foil and a camera body cap for my brother and his Canon SLR . This weekend, I modified the plans slightly and made a handful of lenses for my Lumix GM1, and today I made some test images with them. I sort of love the 8 mm quality to them, even if they are grainy and blurry.
Earlier this week, I (mostly) finished a ten-week-long renovation of the first floor of the house. There are still some more things on the long-term to-do list (strip and refinish the mantle, the pocket and interior doors; build transoms for above the interior doors; finish hanging the crown molding; buy new couches, etc.), but the bulk of the work is done.
Improvements shown in the slideshow above include: New paint on all the walls and trim, addition of picture rail and crown molding, rebuilding of the window seat under they bay window with oak flooring, two custom-built bookcases with lighting using black pipe and 1×12 wood salvaged from a barn near Wisner, Iowa, rewiring and adding decorative switches and plates to every light switch and power outlet, rewiring and rehanging the original chandelier that for the dining room, rewiring and hanging a chandelier purchased from the Johnston Funeral Home auction in the living room, new art work (including a collage of original plaster from the home) and the addition of a hand-painted “3060” on the transom above the front door.
These three rooms (the foyer, living room and dining room) mark the fourth in six months I’ve managed to refinish. Still, there’s a bathroom, a kitchen, a stairway and a couple of bedrooms that need attention. Plus a basement. And outside I need to build the front porch, realign/rebuild the garage and redo the roof and exterior paint. It’s never-ending, but worth the effort.
For a peek at how it looked before, click here.