Street Art XI

June 11, 2008

One of the great aspects of the Drive is the amount and quality of public art that is available. This delightfully happy example featuring a dildo and lube delivery lady is on the Venables Street wall of Womyns Ware.

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The Market Is Working

June 11, 2008

Long time readers will know from postings in my earlier incarnations that (a) I don’t much care for cars (having given up my last car back in 1991); and (b) I think Vancouver’s transit system is swell and keeps getting better (I use it every day). I am, therefore, interested in gas prices only in so much as I see higher prices as a fulcrum against which behavioural changes can be leveraged.

And so far, the mechanism of high gas prices seems to have achieved at least one laudable objective. Transit ridership in the US continues to increase at a fast rate — 85 million more trips in the first quarter of 2008 than in the same period last year. They are on track for an annual total in excess of last year’s record 10.2 billion trips.

“There’s no doubt that the high gas prices are motivating people to change their travel behavior,” said American Public Transportation Association president William Millar … In a survey released last month by IBM’s Institute for Electronic Government, a total of 31% of commuters who normally drive to work said they would change their transportation habits if gas were to cross $4 a gallon. IBM also found that a total of 66% of drivers would seek other means of transportation if gas hits $5 a gallon.

I haven’t seen local figures, but anecdotal evidence and personal experience indicates a greater ridership on the buses in Vancouver, too. This is good stuff!


The Value of Design

June 11, 2008

Great examples of industrial and furnishing design can be very expensive.  But they don’t make the sort of money that fine art pieces do, for a number of reasons.  Phillips de Pury in New York seeks to change that with an auction tomorrow night.

The auction catalogue indicates the kind of prices they are expecting for lamps, furniture, shelves, tables, teapots, etc.  Lot #1, for example, is a “rare” side table by George Nakashima from 1976.  From the catalog image it looks like the sort of thing a cottage vacationer might knock off one weekend from driftwood on the lake.  Expected price range:  $25,000 to $30,000.  A similar table by the same maker is looking for $90,000.

I love this piece:  a brass and ebony “important and rare” three piece set by Marianne Brandt from the 1920s.  Anticipated price, $250,000 to $300,000.  And then there is Lot 96:

Made of aluminium and oak by Charlotte Perriand in about 1950, this is a fine example of the kind of Geometricism that governed much of 1950s design.  But is it a fine enough example to be worth the projected price of $600,000?  (Contrast and compare with Lot 144, a single shelf anticipating $100,000).  The same designer (Perriand) has a blocky Ikea-style table looking for $42,000 (Lot 98).

The central banks of both the US and Canada have this week declared themselves concerned with price inflation.  Looking at this catalogue, I fully understand what they mean.