Daydream Nation | Part 1: Arcosanti

April 08, 2017

Heading off on a journey alone is exhilarating and a little scary. I have been so committed to my business and creative endeavors; I was grateful to have an opportunity to only focus on how to process both the internal and external world (for nine days!). It was a way to overcome my habitual indecision and confront my ego, but also nurture the creative side. The side that was seeking this solace. Leaving Los Angeles, the landscape was familiar; the towering windmills of Palm Springs and the dusty horizon emboldened by wildflowers. As I began to drive north, I knew I was entering unknown territory as the flat roads began to wind around the mountains and the clear sky darkened with rainclouds. My first destination was Arcosanti . . .

Located about seventy miles north of Phoenix, Arizona is Arcosanti. Created by Italian Architect & Philosopher, Paolo Soleri in the 1970's. Arcosanti combines both architecture and the ecology of surrounding land, known as arcology. A desert Utopia that is not only modern in its design but there also an undeniable humanist quality to the entire place.

Drawings by the architect, Paolo Soleri.  (side note his mentor was Frank Lloyd Wright)

One of the principles intrinsic of the Arcosanti philosophy is the idea of creating meaningful work. This principle struck a chord with me. Living in the modern world where most things are mass produced; it is easy to disconnect the object from the maker.  As I was taking photos with my iPhone; I couldn't help but feel superficially connected to my world but painfully disconnected from nature and my own community. I don't know that I have an answer or if there is truly a way to escape that feeling, existing in a world that at times feels so manufactured.

Pictured above is the foundry, where artists are invited to create art objects sold at the Arcosanti gallery. The bells are symbolic the Arcosanti. The foundry uses only local clay and bronze as well as silt from the river bed. No plastic or chemicals are used. 

 

The arches and circular shapes are definitive of the Paolo Soleri style. These shapes are visually harmonious.  Arcosanti is designed to create a strong physical community; the idea of multi-use spaces is present. It feels like a miniature city.  Above is the amphitheater used a concert space (it has amazing acoustics); musicians are invited periodically to play at Arcosanti.

There is a nostalgia to this place. A retro futurism.  An idea that we could evolve without damaging the world arounds us. It may seem that this world could only exist in a bubble. I had that thought initially. But as drove onto my next destination, I asked myself why was I being dismissive? I was challenged by the philosophy and I couldn't help but look at my own life critically. 

 




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