Posts tagged schickel
Light and Color
Jake, Meg, Martha, and Rebecca

Jake, Meg, Martha, and Rebecca


Meg's and my journey into the legacy of William Schickel continued this week with a visit (with Jake Hodesh) to Schickel Design in Cincinnati's Over-The-Rhine neighborhood across from Washington Park. Schickel Design is the same company that William Schickel ran, and his father, and his father's father. It's now led by William Schickel's daughter Martha Schickel Dorff, AIA. Her daughter Rebecca Cadena, R.A. works there too, and so, thankfully, Schickel Design will continue another generation. 

Unlike William, Martha and Rebecca are licensed architects. Like William, these women have not confined themselves to their degrees and certifications. As the picture above reveals, their work encompasses (but is not limited to) building design, urban planning, painting, sculpture, stained glass, and drawing. What inspired Meg and me in their father/grandfather was the diversity of his work; a seemingly fearless nature toward new and different projects and mediums. It's obvious that a similar openness and curiosity is very alive in Martha and Rebecca as well. 


Even on a cold and gray day the studio is full of light and color. 

Start Small

Inspired by the previous two posts (These Days and Moleskine Hunt) Meg and I decided to use our open Sunday afternoon to make things. We didn’t exactly know what we were going to make. We just felt the urge to create. 


David Day spoke of how his former boss, William Schickel would give him tiny thumbnail sketches to work from for more massive pieces. For instance, Schickel would draw a stained glass window in a small format that Day would turn into a much more extensive final project. I like that idea because there’s freedom in the constraint of a small size. You don’t have to worry so much about the details. That inspired Meg and me to work from smaller canvases like the inside of Moleskine (above) or the small sheets (below). 


We clicked “I’m Feeling Adventurous” on Google and pictures nebulas came up. The studies above are an abstract representation of one of the nebulas. When in doubt, let chance be your guide. 

It’s easy to show the results only, but the process (not captured on camera) was difficult for Meg and me. We’re both hyper-focused on productivity and, to be honest, don’t like feeling lousy (i.e., not so perfect) at what we're doing. Making just to make, with no expectations or pressure, is healthy for us. It loosens us up, helps us expose our more buried emotions, and takes us to strange places like crafting a nebula from construction paper and Crayola markers. 

These Days

Meg and I learned about a collaboration between William Schickel and Cincinnati artist and designer David Day during our visit to the William Schickel Gallery last week. We met David and his wife Barbara a few years back and decided was time to pay them another visit to say "hi" and learn about their work with Schickel.

You may know David and Barbara from their book Vanishing Cincinnati. They also designed the tower at the entrance of Over-The-Rhine, a mosaic on the floor at the center of Findlay Market, and the mural of Pendleton next to The Pendleton Art Center where David and Barbara work. 


David shows his current work-in-progress, a study of old Woodward High School in Pendleton, the first public school west of the Allegheny Mountains. He says it will take a year for him to complete the project after multiple studies and drafts. Stacks of fodder stand Behind Davidas a timeline of his continuous pursuits.


David’s desk. It was given to him by Barbara’s father. A prototype of the Over-The-Rhine tower sits at the top right. David has a mostly simple toolset. (Notice that there’s no computer at his desk.)

You can’t hear it from the picture, but a Red’s spring training game sounded from an old radio. The Day’s love for Cincinnati is thick. Being a Red’s fans now for 70+ years is almost as dedicated as you can get.


David showed us a book he created with William Schickel.

The Day's worked with Schickel in Loveland, Ohio for six years. It was their first jobs out of graduate school. They say he was tough and continually challenged them to do their best work. When David and Barbara left Schickel, they say that they were ruined (in a positive sense) and couldn’t imagine working for anyone else. That's why they started their studio. 


A spread from inside the book.

We talked about the apparent diversity of their work. Schickel and the Day's are not confined or defined by a specific medium or skillset. Stained glass, drawing, architecture, graphic design, interior design, you name it. David called the practice “comprehensive design.” That’s what he learned at Cincinnati College (now University of Cincinnati) and graduate school at the University of Southern Illinois under the instruction of Buckminster Fuller. I asked why students aren't taught this anymore. It seems designers nowadays, both professionals and students, are hyper-focused on one concentration. David said that design these days is too scientific. I think he means we’ve become too formulaic. Design starts to look like a step by step process. There's not a lot of room for discovery and play. I saw this in the classroom last year. Students desperately wanted to know how to get an A. Anxiety brewed when there wasn’t a fixed line connected to a clear path. I can’t be too critical because I’m just as guilty. I’m a product of a similar binary education system. I want to know the right and safe path to success. Just let me know what the rules are, and I'll follow. Experimentation becomes threatening because the results are unpredictable. In this way, the design disciplines risk becoming automated, which makes me less concerned that robots will take our jobs because it's designers that have become the robots.

David and Barbara's practice and worldview nudged Meg and me to question the boxes of security we most often reside. As you’ll see in the post from two days after our visit, that inspiration led us to do something uncomfortable. We made designs, art, things, or whatever you want to call it, just for the pure pleasure of making. We embarked without a destination in mind or being that good at what we were doing. It's a modest start for us both, and hopefully, it's a habit that will grow inside and outside our professional practices.

Schickel to Sichuan

Having so much enjoyed my first visit to Loveland to see the work of William Schickel, I went back for a second visit in the same week. This time on a date with Meg. 

William Schickel and local Cincinnati artist David Day designed the poster above. In the interest of saving money, Schickel did studies for paintings on the backside of posters like these.


I noticed new details like the WS logo stamped near his signature on some pieces. 


Meg and I stopped by Plaid Room Records and picked up several records, one which included a hammer dulcimist. 


Following many recommendations, Meg and I went to Sichuan Chilli for dinner.  Anthony Bourdain piqued our interest in Sichuan cuisine during Parts Unknown episode 3, season 8


The food was incredible and far too much for me and Meg to finish ourselves. 


Our date closed with a stroll through the CAM International Market.