It Sold!: My House at 3216 Jacotte Circle, Dallas

3216 Jacotte CircleThe longer I have lived in this house, the more I have loved it–that must be one of the definitions of good architecture. The way the light comes into the house and changes throughout the day. The screened porch on the second floor that both protects the house from the southern sun and provides a wonderful sanctuary at all times of the day. The expanses of hardwood floor that are a foil for the lightness of the interior walls. The way that art looks hanging on the walls.

3216JacotteCircle Flyer

Real Estate Flyer for 3216 Jacotte Circle, Dallas

As a proponent of sustainable architecture and resource conservation, I have been amazed at how well the house is sited for the Texas climate. The louvered exterior doors and the screened sleeping porch allow for both ventilation and security. The orientation of the house catches the prevailing winds. The enormous Texas red oak on the west side, coupled with the glass blocks on the western facade, ensure that the hot summer sun is kept from heating up the house and provide privacy from the street. I’ve tried to enhance the house’s natural energy efficiency with my choice of heating and air-conditioning units, and my utility bills have been minuscule.

Architectural Record 9-40Howard Meyer was one of Dallas’s most significant architects and an early proponent and practitioner of modernism. Here are links to the documentary on his life: A Well-Made Object, Part One and Part Two. He designed the house for Eugene Kahn Sanger, who was president of the E.M. Kahn Company, one of the foremost mercantile establishments in Dallas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was published in the September 1940 issue of Architectural Record, as shown in this illustration.

The house is for sale at $739,000. Agents protected. Please contact me if you think this might be the house for you or for your clients.

Other Ways Foundations Can Help

Traditionally, foundations have played the role of funders to nonprofits almost exclusively. Lately, in the spirit of “give a man a fish…,” a number of forward-thinking foundations have looked at other ways to support individuals and community-based groups.for the longer term.

One group I have a lot of respect for is the Rhode Island Foundation. Rhode Island is a small place with perhaps a disproportionate number of artists (RISD is located in Providence) that is headquarters of the Alliance of Artists Communities, a group I became familiar with while I was working with La Reunion TX. The two groups are collaborating this year to present the annual Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowships, which are grants of $25,000 awarded to individual Rhode Island artists. The Foundation provides the funding and the AAC folks, who know the artists, administer the program. That’s refreshing: many foundations, in part because of tax laws, will not support individual artists. This collaboration supports both artists and a significant arts group.

The Foundation’s other individual-oriented program is a fellowship for mid-career nonprofit executives designed to give EDs the chance to take “productive, short-term sabbaticals from their organizations.” What a great idea, and in many ways of greater value to a nonprofit than a simple program grant. A gift that keeps on giving.

Good ideas for foundations across the country.

Art as Effecter of Public Policy

Three years ago, the Texas legislature was considering reducing the allowable rehabilitation period for patients suffering from traumatic brain injury. A worker in the field conceived of the idea of commissioning highly detailed photographic portraits of survivors of TBI, collecting the stories of the patients and their caregivers, and mounting a week-by-week campaign to send the photos to members of the legislature.

Funding was preserved. The photographs and the personal stories affected the legislators in ways words alone never could.

Now the Brain Injury Association of America is working on a nationwide campaign that we hope ultimately will result in broader exposure and then increased empathy for these individuals who have been injured in combat, in sports, through a momentary lapse of judgment, or through violence. Ultimately we hope to ensure that they have the support they need to lead the most productive lives they can.

Data-based Organizational Development

One of the best recent developments in nonprofit management is the collection of real data about fund development, including event attendance and what really drives it and what motivates donors. In the past, nonprofit boards and staff made assumptions that were not necessarily supported by facts but became the basis for decisions that sometimes exacerbated existing problems. A scary fact from the organization mentioned below:

  • From 2008 to 2010, over 40% of arts organizations failed to break even

We’re fortunate in Dallas to be the site of SMU’s National Center for Arts Research, which is beginning to help all of us make research-based decisions about the evolution of our organizations.

Not all fundraising is intuitive. We’re looking forward both to providing information to the NCAR and getting helpful analysis back. In the meantime, here’s a recent piece on how to use newsletters effectively. Hope it’s helpful to you.

Unfinished Spaces and New Connections

At the Latino Cultural Center

More than 150 people attended the screening of “Unfinished Spaces” this week, a film about the masterpiece Escuelas Nacionales de Arte in Havana, Cuba, unfinished for many years because of political disfavor.

The sponsoring groups felt as though the film warranted a broader audience than the architectural community, so we held it at the Latino Cultural Center.

Finding the audience was a lot of fun for me.  Although I knew a few folks in Dallas of Cuban origin, there seemed to be no organized Cuban-American groups, so I had to rely on networking to find individuals.

Unfinished Spaces Panel

Unfinished Spaces Panel: Rick del Monte, Hector Garcia, Rolando Diaz

One of the folks I came across was Rolando Díaz, a Cuban-born Dallas artist whose first return to his native country was chronicled in a 2007 documentary, Recapturing Cuba. Ro, along with architect Rick del Monte, and actor and musician Hector García, created a thought-provoking panel for the post-screening discussion. And we had a great audience: architecture aficionados, preservationists, past and future travelers to Cuba, Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans.

As with my work as public participation consultant for the Asian-American Cultural Center, there is nothing I love more than using my existing connections to make new ones, and sharing a deeper understanding of people and communities as a result.

Business Council for the Arts: The Leadership Arts Scholarship

Many thanks to the Business Council for the Arts for awarding me their 2012 scholarship to the Leadership Arts Institute. I am very much looking forward to meeting a new cohort of leaders interested in furthering the arts in Dallas and North Texas, learning more about local organizations, and working with my classmates to create a specific impact on one organization.

Flower of the Prairie at the DMA–and West Dallas

On exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art from May 20 to August 19 is Flower of Prairie: George Grosz in Dallas, an exhibit commemorating Grosz’s impressions of Dallas in the 1950s.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the DMA will be showing Dallas-related films. One of those, Bonnie and Clyde, will be shown on Thursday, July 12. Because of the couple’s strong association with West Dallas, the DMA has asked me to give an introductory talk on the history of West Dallas and its relationship with the rest of the city. I’m looking forward to it.

Good Art

This morning I listened to a video a friend sent of work he is doing with a new band. About a third of the way through the five-minute video, I realized I had a big grin on my face. When the video was over, I had to play it again immediately.

This made me think of what I consider to be the one best criterion for determining what is good art, and that is: if listening to, viewing, or being inside of a music, art or architecture piece makes you feel really good–and want more–then that is good art. Whether you understand it or not is irrelevant.

And that is why I work with La Reunion TX, rehabbed and live in this Howard Meyer house, and volunteer for organizations like Friends of Fair Park, DOCOMOMO and Preservation Dallas: because encouraging and protecting good art makes the world a better place.

The Parade of Giants

Have to say that the Parade of Giants was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever been associated with. To celebrate the opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in March, 14 community groups worked with 15 La Reunion TX artists to design and create giant puppets representing figures they chose as important to the evolution of West Dallas.

Hundreds of volunteers participated in the giant building over the course of just over a month: multiple generations, multiple ethnicities, West Dallasites and folks with no connection who just wanted to be part of it. Children helped paint, seniors sewed costumes, engineers created support systems. Dickey’s Barbecue fed everyone.

When all was said and done, the very best moment was the parade onto the bridge: the community groups and artists carrying the giants together wearing their organization’s t-shirts, thousands of Dallasites cheering the giants and asking questions about who they were, what they did, and what the groups did. Such a wonderful counterpoint to the folks who called the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge the “Bridge to Nowhere.” At the end of that parade, everyone involved understood that West Dallas is Somewhere.

And this shows us the power of artists working together with the community to help it find its voice. It was a real honor to be involved.