Hot Air: Out Of The Past

Every once in a while (and even more frequently during this holiday season) I fetch an old Big Talk feature from the past and expand it to fit into my half-hour time slot on Thursdays at 5:30pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM. See, Big Talk used to be an eight-minute feature on the Daily Local News but just about a year ago, we went all out and turned this Glab-gabfest into a stand-alone program. In fact, the first full-length Big Talk aired January 4, 2018 with my guest, the then-newly-named Indiana state poet laureate, Adrian Matejka.

So that’s what I’m doing today. I grabbed the raw recording of my interview with restoration architect Cindy Brubaker and turned it into today’s show. She and I sat down in December 2016 and yakked at each other for a good hour. Generally, my raw interviews last anywhere from an hour to almost two, so when the show was only eight minutes long, plenty of great chat went unheard by the listening public. Cindy also was the subject of my second Big Mike’s B-town column in the Limestone Post. For the deeply trivia-addicted among the jillions of Pencillistas out there, the first BM’s B-ton was Dan “Carp” Combs. (Here’s the Combs BM’s B-ton, here’s the original Combs WFHB feature, and here’s the recent, expanded Big Talk with him.)

Anyway, Cindy’s been at this restoration game for a few decades now. Her first big project was the structure on the north side of Courthouse Square that used to house Pictura Gallery and is now home of VR Gaga, a virtual reality game center. Pictura, BTW, has moved to 202 S. Rogers St.. That’s ironic because that little intersection at 4th and Rogers has become — thanks in large part to Cindy Brubaker — a real art gallery and hip shop destination just west of downtown B-town. Call it our own little Soho.

The I Fell Complex.

Brubaker restored and runs the I Fell complex at that intersection. The old structure, originally built to house a Duesenberg dealership, is now home to the I Fell Gallery and the Rainbow Bakery. The Fell is across the street from Pictura’s new digs as well as some other arty places. On First Fridays you can park yourself right at that general locale and partake of doughnuts, wine, sculpture, paintings, photos, and all other sorts of something an old artist friend of mine used to call “the useless objects.” Yep, that’s what that friend, herself a sculptor, called art. I get her point but I’d quibble with her about art being “useless.”


Brubaker On The Job.

I enjoy speaking with women who succeed and exceed in fields traditionally reserved for men. BTW: a woman named Louise Blanchard Bethune is generally regarding as the first female professional architect in America. She started working at it long before our modern system of professional architect accreditation became entrenched. Before 1876 when Bethune went to work as an apprentice draftsperson with the noted Buffalo architects Richard A. Waite and F.W. Caulkins, an architect was pretty much a guy who owned his own drafting tools and told people he was an architect. Waite, it must be added, was hailed as a revolutionary groundbreaker for hiring Bethune, a —gasp! — woman.  I imagine he was pilloried for same as well.

Brubaker was formally trained as an architect but is not licensed in the state of IN. She serves as a consultant, working mainly with Springpoint Architects, a firm that occupies yet another building she’s restored. Restoration architecture is a relatively newish field. When Brubaker studied the practice at Columbia University in the 1980s, it was a largely unknown, unheralded pursuit. Not so now.

Anyway, I’ll let her tell that story and others this afternoon at 5:30 on WFHB, 91.3 FM.

And Another Thing

What is it about Bloomington and its streets? First off, in many places hereabouts it’s a 50/50 proposition that a given intersection will be marked with street signs. I harp on this all the time but if Bloomington hopes to become a biggish city, as some elected officials and real estate developers around here clearly crave, it’s got to provide biggish city services. Curbs and gutters, for one thing. Immediate replacement of missing street signs, for another.

And our numbering system is all fercockter. I refer you to the Pictura Gallery citation above. As noted, it’s located at 202 S. Rogers St. but it sits at the crossing of Rogers and 4th Street. That’s just dopey. I’d expect a place situated there to be numbered, say, 404 S. Rogers, but no.

This kind of thing bugs the latent obsessive-compulsive in me.

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