Upcoming Appearances

Richard Reep’s upcoming appearances include:

A Design History of Winter Park, October 17 – Mr. Reep will present a history of the urban design of this city, from its earliest form as “Lakeview” to the 1930s. Casa Feliz, 656 Park Avenue, Winter Park, FL 7pm.

Underpinnings of Good Design, November 14 – Mr. Reep will host Brooks Weiss and David Hardison, who will share the government’s role in creating a climate in which good design can flourish. Casa Feliz, 656 Park Avenue, Winter Park, FL 7pm.

AQUA International Contemporary Art Fair Miami, December 6-7, 2017. Mr. Reep’s concrete sculpture will be featured at AQUA Miami, the contemporary art exhibit that will take place at the Aqua Hotel at 1530 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL.

The Monument as Art, April 2018 – Mr. Reep will be keynote speaker for an exhibit opening at the City Arts Factory, speaking about the role of monument architecture and art in our city. 29 S. Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL.


Dimishing Art Venues in Central Florida

The venues showing fine art are significantly diminishing this year, as public and private financial wells are drying up everywhere.  Central Florida is experiencing a regression in the quantity and quality of fine art outlets, which will make it more challenging than ever for emerging artists’ voices to get heard.  Even the newbrow world has not been immune to the economic transitions that have befallen the mainstream.  With the gusto of a newcomer, however, street artists seem undaunted in their quest for the attention of the public, and could eventually take over as the dominant art form as Central Florida’s art scene evolves.

Redefine and Bold Hype may come and go, and the future of Latitude Zero appears to be tentative at best.  Running a gallery and mounting a show are not cheap tasks, and require deeper and deeper pockets as the requirements steadily increase:  rules and regulations are getting more and more onerous; utility costs are going up, and the threshold appears to be getting higher and higher for those wishing to share fine art of any sort with the public.  While a gallery is a fine thing and a mark of a cosmpolitan culture, it is also quite possibly a thing of the past as we move through the Millenial Depression and set our sights on the New Normal. 

Surely, virtual space has already taken a significant market share out of “meatspace”, with online galleries and discussion venues.  An opening reception for an artist was an opportunity to have a conversation, meet and talk about art and the greater meanings behind it.  Even if 90% of the conversations in galleries were about pop culture and personal experiences, that left 10% of the conversations interpreting and reacting to what they saw.  Now more than ever these conversations appear to be online.

As far as “highbrow” art goes, only higher education and civic institutions appear to be capable of sustaining their momentum through this period, harvesting the crops they planted before.  With no money to mount a new show, a museum or a gallery is forced to display its permanent collection.  If they collected something broadly worthwhile to see, then community engagement will continue.  If their collection was driven by a narrower agenda, they will likely suffer.  Thus, decisions made in the heat of the moment do have long-term ramifications in the world of art.

Ironically, consumers today have less money to spend and are turning towards more modest pursuits of escapism, and the viewing of art could be one of these.  Once upon a time after World War 2, art viewing was a broad public activity for Americans sure in their present and confident in their future.  Today, with less confidence and less surety, Americans appear to be increasingly timid in visual challenges, preferring only the safety of tradition.

For those brave enough to expose their retinae to something new and different, art provides one of the many clues to the present and the future.  Artists, traditionally operating outside of the mainstream of consumer society, are excellent at observing and documenting what is going on.  Provocative art, and the reaction to it, tells us a lot about our society’s present and future state as we struggle to understand our own culture.

For this reason, the art itself is more important than the venues that come and go.  Street artists, with little to lose, will continue their boisterous and edgy documentary while those laboring in their studios over linseed oil, or tinkering on the computer, will find fewer places to capture attention, increasing competition.

And thus, as the economic clouds appear darker and darker, the seeds of transformation appear to be gestating under the surface, awaiting the coming rains.

 This article first appeared in The Winter Park Examiner.

Marsa Island, Abu Dhabi

EMAAR was tasked to propose an expansion to Abu Dhabi’s port access channel by revitalizing this island into a resort residential district.  Modeled after Miami’s Fisher Island, the island is less than 4 km from the heart of Abu Dhabi and will be home for approximately 8,000 residents.

The city center will include a mixed-use marina with retail, dining, and entertainment at the base, and urban residential units above.

                                                                                                                            individual experience

Florida and Oil

Ixtox 1

Some say it took Mrs. O’Leary’s cow to make Chicago the city of great architecture that it is today:  after the fire of 1871 that destroyed many of its buildings, leading citizens recognized the critical importance of their built environment.  Today, we have a city that boasts some of the world’s best architecture.  If BP’s oil disaster is a new millennium cow starting another conflagration, the nation may ironically benefit from seeing the ominous oil slick spreading across the gulf, spelling the end to our dependence on oil as the dominant energy source for the nation.

Cries of “drill baby drill” are suddenly silent as the horror of rusty streaks spreads from MC252, and Florida’s governor Charlie Crist has already viewed the oil slick twice – aware that the tourism industry, already on its knees, will suffer yet another blow amid unemployment, the credit freeze, and state depopulation.  The massive disaster looming in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be a giant, ugly metaphor for some choices that America will make in the near future.  If we are going to stay dependent upon oil as our energy source of choice, we better grit our teeth, clean it up, and hope for a technological fix to reduce the risk of this happening again.

Instead of reducing our dependence upon foreign oil, this disaster is causing many in Florida to question whether we should depend on oil, foreign or domestic.  Ironically, in a state that has consistently banned offshore drilling to prevent such as disaster, Florida’s beaches are likely to suffer from environmental damage anyway.  4,000 or so oil rigs exist in the Gulf of Mexico making this event likely to occur again in the future, and as the engineers experiment with one repair after another it is evident that we are a long way from making these   risk-free.

Over in Florida, the dismay over this event is palpable, and since nothing can be done about it, there is only speculation about what direction to head in the future.  Despite the “sunshine state” moniker, the oil industry’s grip on the state is so strong that solar energy is losing market share, rather than gaining, as an energy resource – the legislature, starved for money to balance the budget,  had to kill a rebate program  that subsidized building owners when they add solar energy systems to their property.   Florida, despite its abundance of renewable energy potential, has yet to see policy that diversifies the energy needs of the state, and sources like solar energy require extraordinarily heavy subsidies to be palpable to most owners.

While the recession is pushing most prices downward, energy costs are rising across the country, whether fossil fuels or not.  Florida is heavily dependent upon fossil fuels, making renewable energy resources someone else’s profit center, judging from California, Oregon, Washington, and Minnesota’s contribution to the top ten cities  using renewable energy.  Florida, with vast agricultural lands beset by freezes that destroyed much of the cold-sensitive citrus crop this year, has yet to consider energy crops like sugar cane, sorghum, switchgrass, or other biofuels.

So while Florida sits and watches the oil slick move closer to its shores, some big questions deserve to be asked, and answered.   Individuals without the means are generally conserving energy by driving less, biking more, and slowing their lives down to match the pace of their income.  All of this is natural conservation of energy without nannies and big brother shaking a code book at people and may, in the long run, do more to reduce energy consumption than anything else.

It will take a fundamental shift in thinking   to really abandon oil, foreign or otherwise, in Florida or elsewhere.  It will take recognition of the incredible abundance of other forms of energy that exists, and a passion to seek out ways to use this energy effectively for our needs.  This will be only successful with a combination of grass roots and top-down thinking, and perhaps the disaster in the Gulf of will have a legacy similar to the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, after which came the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air and Water Act, and galvanized the fledgling environmental movement.

Sustainability is about preserving the future generation’s ability to choose its own destiny.  With this criterion, we should move forward with a pluralist approach to finding energy sources, and consciously step towards them.  We won’t abandon oil tomorrow, or the next day, but we can begin to say goodbye to atrocious wastes of nature like the one unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico right now, and we can begin to say hello to a transformation of our lifestyle to embrace different forms of energy for different needs.  If this disaster is truly Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, then future generations must truly benefit from the event in order for it to have meaning.

This article first appeared in The New Geography.

Josh Garrick writes about oil spills and oil rigs

Regarding my upcoming solo exhibition at the Lake Eustis Museum of Art, writer Josh Garrick draws some conclusions about how the show is raising awareness of oil rigs, a timely event given the recent oil disaster at BP’s MC252 rig off the coast of Louisana.

The shallow edge of the Gulf of Mexico supports a current, the fabled “Gulf Stream”, which will carry the oil spill eastward to the shores of Florida, diffusing around the tip of the isthmus and then riding up the coastline.  If BP contains the oil slick today, global environmental changes will be on a scale far larger than the Exxon Valdez, simply because the well just spews and spews, while the relatively small hold of the Exxon Valdez only polluted the coast of Alaska for about 470 miles.

Around 4,000 oil rigs exist in the Gulf of Mexico; something like this was bound to happen.  The sooner we can decommission these oil rigs and convert our technology to cleaner energy sources, the more sustainable our society can become.

The simultaneous horror/fascination with these technological constructions stimulated a great deal of contemplation within me and I chose to start making art out of oil rigs in 2007.  None of the oil rigs that I depict in my paintings are illustrations or direct copies.  They are inspired by actual rigs but are my own constructs, and the basis for a series of questions I ask about the urban future. 

The paintings and drawings that will be on display at the Lake Eustis Museum of Art show oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and in the North Sea, as well as other locations.  Just like we have divorced the reality of butchery from our consumption of food, we have divorced the reality of oil rigs from our consumption of oil.  Bringing this awareness back into the mind is a good exercise in understanding the implications of our own actions as consumers.  Contrary to Sharon Begley’s assertion that individuals cannot hope to make a difference.  Instead, the opposite is true:  I believe that individuals are the only ones who can make a difference.