Archive for November 2009

Makula

November 27, 2009

Christopher learned a lot about the country of Uganda through his good Boston friend Hugo. Hugo grew up in Uganda during the reigns of Idi Amin and HIV/AIDS. He has seen more suffering and poverty than anyone should. He studied at the University of Nairobi, came to America, and studied at Harvard to name just two of his accomplishments and changed his destiny. He now is a distinguished professor at Simmons College School of Social Work. His resume is outstanding, but Christopher believes that his wife and two girls are his pride and joy.

Hugo never forgot Uganda. He built a home there to be close to his family, and he travels there with students from Simmons every year. One year Hugo brought a group of students there including then graduate student, Paul J. Brown. With this visit, the idea of The Makula Fund began.

We have wanted to talk about The Makula Fund since we began this blog, and thought Thanksgiving was a perfect time. We are very honored to interview Paul Brown for this holiday. It is an amazing organization, and we hope that you will be inspired by this group as much as we have.

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No captions needed The smiles on these children are all we need to show.
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Design Brothers: How did The Makula fund come about?
Paul Brown:
In 2003 when I was 51 years old, I returned to graduate school to study social work. I went to Boston College and had this charismatic professor, Hugo Kamya, who was leading a summer trip to his native land of Uganda. I thought to myself, when else would I ever get another chance to go to Africa, so I signed up.

I had worked on AIDS issues in the US during the since the 1980’s and my brother died of AIDS in 1991. While in graduate school, I was the director of a housing program for people dealing with HIV/AIDS and substance abuse. So I was familiar with the American side of AIDS. Hugo spoke of the impact that AIDS was having on his country, particularly on the children many of whom were orphans and raising themselves as best they could.

AIDS in the US seemed to be evolving into a chronic illness, but in Uganda it was still a death sentence for parents and children and a disaster for the children left behind. This sounded like “real” poverty to me and I thought that experiencing the situation first hand would somehow help to mold the kind of social worker I wanted to be when I completed graduate school.

In Uganda we kept meeting children who were not in school because they didn’t have the money for the school fees. We were also meeting children who appeared malnourished and who were not getting proper medical care. I couldn’t quite rid my mind of these children when I came home. So when I came back I asked friends to help sponsor some of the kids. People seemed very interested and so I began to think that maybe such an idea could have wide appeal.

I told Hugo of my plan to get sponsors and that maybe we should form an organization to do this. Hugo told me of his mother’s long-held dream to provide school fees, medical care, and breakfast for children in her village in Uganda (Hugo’s “hometown”) who had been negatively impacted by HIV/AIDS.

DB: I had the honor of meeting Hugo’s mother when she visited Boston.
P: She had lost a son to AIDS and knew so many others similarly impacted. And she wanted to run the breakfast program and the other components herself, but she needed the money to do so. So Hugo and I set out to make her dream into a reality.

DB: How did you come up with the name “The Makula Fund”?
P: I remember sitting in Hugo’s office and saying that if we are going to apply for non-profit status [501c3] and raise lots of we should have a “catchy” name. Hugo started throwing out Lugandan words. I liked the sound of “makula.” Hugo told me that it meant “gift.” That sounds good I thought. Then he said, it is also part of my mother’s name Immaculate Namakula Kazibwe. There we had it, the perfect name, and The Makula Fund for Children Inc. was born there and then.

DB: Can you tell me about the Onyango family?
P: I met the Onyango family in 2004 when I went to Uganda for the first time. They are a family of 6 (4 girls and 2 boys) whose parents both died of AIDS. Their father finished building their home the week before he died and basically that was all they were left with after his death. The children even faced battles waged by relatives trying to take their property. (Unfortunately this is a common occurrence in Uganda after adults pass away.)

The oldest brother’s concern, when I met him, was to get enough money so that he could purchase his youngest sister an egg each week so that her HIV medication would be more effective. I met them in their clean, dirt-floored home that lacked running water or bathroom facilities and was struck by a poster on the wall which said: “God does not promise to take all our troubles away, but He does promise to be with us through them all.”

I looked around their home cognizant of all they had been through, and were still going through, and somewhat cynically asked Phillip, the eldest son, if he really believed that. He smiled at me kindly and said “Of course. Just look at you and all the other students from Boston College who have traveled all this way and are now sitting in my home trying to help my family with what we need to live. You are part of God’s being with us.” Needless to say, Elizabeth got (and continues to get) her weekly egg and the other members of the family are all sponsored in school by The Makula Fund.

The family that continues to have a strong impact on my life and frequently provide the inspiration to keep moving the Makula Fund forward for all the other still unknown Onyangos in Uganda.

DB: It sounds like Uganda has a special place in your heart.
P: It is Uganda because that he where Hugo’s heart is, and that is where there is great need. In his mother, Immaculate, we have a wonderful in-country partner which is essential if this sort of program is going to be run well. We can send money from here in the US, but it would be impossible to run it if we didn’t have a reliable and trustworthy program coordinator in Uganda.

CDB: an you tell us what does the Makula Fund does specifically for children?
P:
1. We provide school fees for elementary, secondary, university and trade school students. We sponsor a total of 115 students, the majority being primary and secondary students.

2. The Fund sponsors a breakfast club that meets each morning before school at Immaculate’s home where they eat a nourishing breakfast of porridge, bread, and an egg before going to school.

3. The Fund provides medical care as needed, mostly for malaria-related symptoms. We work with the Jackie Clinic, a small medical office down the road from the schools and Immaculate’s home.

DB: What are your goals, and where do you see your future?
P:
Our goals are to add more children to the program as our fundraising becomes more successful. In Uganda we would also like to try to improve the physical plant of the two schools (Kawuku Elementary School and Gaba Mixed High School) with whom we work most closely. We would like to help them to renovate their dormitories for the boarding students, provide them with more books and supplies, and help the children to become skilled with computers, and find ways to hook them into the internet.

We would also like to come up with more income-generating opportunities for the students. Currently we have beautiful jewelry made by the children consisting of lacquered paper beads that we purchase, sell here, and then return the profits back to the children. Immaculate also raises pigs and chickens with the help of the children. The animals are sold off or given to families we work with so that they can start their own income-generating activities.

We also have a goal of education that may or may not go hand in hand with fundraising. I have thought it important for students of all ages in this country to know what their peers face in other parts of the world. So, to this end, I produced a video of some of the children we sponsor showing what a day at school is like, what home life is like, and the impact of AIDS on their young lives. We are just starting to go out with this video to school and church groups and I hope we can do more of that in the future.

For more information on The Makula Fund, go to www.makula.org.

DB: We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving
—Christopher and Greg

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Holiday art

November 20, 2009

We feel the holidays closing in on us. Christmas trees are in the stores. Holiday carols are played on television commercials. What happened to Thanksgiving?

Christopher is packaging up orders, and planning last minute deliveries for stores across the country. Greg is working extra hard to get some homes completed before his client’s holiday parties. Yikes! 2010 is going to be here before we know it!

In addition, Christopher is planning for a couple of painting shows that open today. His work is part of a group show at the 13Forest Gallery is East Arlington, Massachusetts. This gallery has been showing some of his work for over a year now.

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more than you remembered (or what is forgotten) Christopher’s painting at 13Forest Gallery in Massachusetts.
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He also opens a small show of his encaustic bird paintings. The show, “Up in the Air”, was inspired by the birds that hang out with him at his outdoor painting studio. A few years back, he started giving little paintings of these birds as gifts for friends and family. They became popular, so he began to show them in galleries. This new show is at the eye lounge Gallery, downtown Phoenix.


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Tweet One of the encaustic pieces in Christopher’s show.
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The eye lounge is a cooperative art group that Christopher joined about two years ago. It is an artist-run collective, which fosters established and emerging artists in the Phoenix area. It is a fascinating group of visual artists. There are painters, video and performance artists, photographers, sculptors, and ceramists who individually show once a year, and participate in a couple of group shows during that time.


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Another eye lounge artist, Brian Boner opens his show of paintings tonight. Come on downtown if you are in Phoenix.
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These people are amazing, and care very deeply about the arts in the Phoenix area. In addition, they set the bar for great art high, and have made it into one of the most important gallery stops downtown. The gallery is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this year, and is celebrating with an artist sale and silent auction of present and past artists work at reasonable prices. eye lounge@10 also opens tonight at 5:00 with a preview, and opens at 6:00 for the sale.

In our humble opinion, we think art is always a great gift for the holidays, so if you are in Massachusetts or Arizona, you might want to check these galleries out! We can send our Christmas list out to you!

Until next week
—Christopher and Greg

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Design Brothers This Week: Our sister Cindy, and our niece Jessica celebrate their birthdays this weekend. We wish we could celebrate with them! Happy birthday!
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A New York Minute

November 13, 2009

Growing up the family Jagmin had always been relatively creative. Christopher and Cindy led the pack through their various art projects and time spent at the 4-H Fair. I think our mother still has the cutting board in the shape of a pig Christopher made in wood working shop. If you were ever to peer in our window on the any given weekend or holiday night, we would all be gathered around the dining room or kitchen concentrating on one of many boards games. A typical Norman Rockwell painting we were not, but many fond memories were formed during our youth.

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At our Grandparents house, Grandpa Marion with Cindy our cousin Brian, Janine and Greg. we see a game in our future.

Playing Games!
One game (we don’t even know if kids today play it) was a game called Masterpiece. It was a game where you bid on pieces of famous art work (are the real or could they be forged copies?) I am not sure of all the rules, but it was our first foray into the art world. We could distinguish between a Monet and Manet, a Renoir from a Cezanne. It instilled in us an appreciation for all art work. Good or bad, emerging or established we were hooked. If you were to venture around any of our homes you would see it stock piled. We have written about it before (don’t be surprised if we do again) but it constantly inspires us.

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From the moment you walk into the museum of Modern Art (MoMA) you are greeted with beauty.

We have both been to New York recently and on those trips we were in wonderment of all the beautiful design. Here are some highlights.

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Strolling down 5th Avenue

Strolling down the street you will be in such awe of the not so subtle beauty that surrounds, including  Hello Kitty art sculptures by the company Sanrio in celebration of its 35th anniversary.

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Hello Kitty art further on 5th Avenue

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Gigantic sculptures of the Asian Pop Phenom!

Of course, there is Washington Park and all its unexpected sites… full of people, performing artists and playing kids.

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A different perspective of the marble arch!

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Looking through a gated door, next to the park.

A trip to the MoMA is always sure to leave you feeling rejuvenated and full of inspiration.  As stated by Edgar Kaufmann.. “A successful design is one in which every detail contributes to the efficiency and at the same time to the fine appearance of the object.  Good looks cannot be added to a practical core as icing is poured over cake”

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From the Philip Johnson Architecture and Design galleries.

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The artistic take on the spiral staircase.

We will leave you with one last picture from the museum. With the hopes that you not take for granted the beauty that surrounds us, you get out see what your city has to offer, and let everyday design be your guiding principle in everything you do.

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A favorite Cy Twombley piece

Until next week

Greg & Christopher.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

November 6, 2009

Who doesn’t love movies? We do! We are very excited about the upcoming upcoming movies coming out this season, because frankly we don’t have much time any other time of the year to sit in a dark theater. We are especially excited to see Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Where the Wild Things Are (We still haven’t had time to see that one yet!).

Inspired, we got talking about how important movie sets, and art direction is to a great movie. We discussed many our favorites like Blade Runner, The Shining, The Age of Innocence, Pillow Talk, Giant, Sense and Sensibility… oh brother… the list of movies got too large. We both agreed that we would just talk about one movie at this time, and hope to write about more of our favorites in future blogs.

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The movie, North by Northwest, stars Cary Grant and Eva Saint Marie.
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We decided to start with one of our all time favorite directors, Alfred Hitchcock. If you haven’t seen Rebecca, To Catch A Thief, Strangers On A Train, Dial M for Murder, Rope, and The Man Who Knew Too Much, go out now and rent them! We are sure most of you have seen at least a few of these Hitchcock films, and hope you enjoy them half as much as we do! There were too many great movies to choose from, with the art direction usually fantastic in most.

But, which one to pick? His movies during the 1950’s were sure genius and fun too. Vertigo is up there as one of his best, and the dream sequence alone is worth watching, but North by Northwest, which came out in 1959, reaches a new height of filmmaking, and is just plain entertaining.

This is simply one of the best American road movies ever. The movie never lets you stay in one place. The movie takes you from Madison Avenue, to the Plaza, Grand Central Station, and Long Island, and then to the UN building in New York. Before you catch your breath, it takes you on the Twentieth Century Limited to Chicago and the beautiful Ambassador East Hotel, and then it’s off again to a midwest corn field seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Who would guess that by the end of the movie, we would end up in a modernist house on the edge of Mount Rushmore.

In this movie, Englishman, Alfred Hitchcock loves the American landscape, and uses the character of Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) to discover the big country, and be surprised by American’s expansiveness.

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Not a bad place to be help captive Kidnapped and taken to a mansion (Old Westbury Gardens) on Long Island.
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Luxury and lush sets are also a running theme throughout, and important to the art direction of the movie. You can see this in the brand new 1958 Lincoln Continental III convertible, Eva Saint Marie’s Bergdorf Goodman’s clothing, and choice of big, beautiful locations. No luxurious detail was spared. But it all climaxed with scenes of the ultimate house on a rocky cliff in South Dakota.

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What a great location! Too bad this house never really was at this site.
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Actually, the (Vandamm) house at Mount Rushmore didn’t really exist. It was built on a back lot in Culver City, California. The home was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, then the most famous architect in the United States, if not the world. Mr. Wright was actually approached to design the home, but his fees were too expensive, so the MGM set designers were up to the challenge.

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Although the set of the Vandamm home was modern, notice the Asian art and the natural wood and stone materials. This home still feels comfortable and modern today.

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An uncredited person who worked on the movie, and deserves a mention was Mentor Huebner. Mr. Huebner worked on a variety of movies throughout his long career (including Blade Runner) as an production illustrator and storyboard artist. He provided concept art after meeting with the director and others to set up a concept of how the movie will be filmed. While the finished storyboards do not look like the final movie, Mr. Huebner had a lot to bring to this movie to life

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This is just one of the storyboards from Mentor Huebner who got the script to do with what he wanted. It does not match the finished movie, but has the same spirit and excitement.
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This is a still from the movie compared to the storyboard above.

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We should also mention that the opening title sequence was directed by Saul Bass, a personal hero of Chris’, was one the premier graphic designers of the 20th century (he also designed posters for The Shining).

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Saul Bass’ poster design for the movie.

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In our opinion, North by Northwest is one of the greatest visual masterpieces of the mid 20th century, and we hope, that like us, you enjoy the fun. But, maybe watch it again to look at the the sets, and design of this American classic. Maybe you will just watch it as many times as we have.

Until next week
—Greg and Christopher

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Design Brothers This Week We are both are on the road… heading off to Florida, but will not run into each other.

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