Hirshhorn garden brought back to life

For many years it would have been difficult to imagine a building less in favour than the Hirshhorn Museum. The concrete tub on Washington DC’s National Mall was often derided as a disaster, a relic from the Brutalist years; a work by architect Gordon Bunshaft, who was once responsible for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s best and most refined buildings but was, by then, past a prime which saw him tailor exquisitely refined corporate landmarks such as New York’s 1952 Lever House.

How things change. Today the Hirshhorn is seen as a sculptural object in its own right, a hardy survivor from an architectural era which has lost so many monuments. Its sculpture garden, though, has fared less well. Its opening in 1974 coincided with the capital’s lowest ebb. A city still scarred and blackened from the riots sparked by the death of Martin Luther King, the downtown was emptying of wealthier, whiter residents, neglected, almost war-torn. Bunshaft’s conception of a radical public openness and a subterranean entrance was marred by a perception of urban threat, an underpass of the type that was held to represent everything bad about modern architecture. Now all that is set to change. The lost entrance and connection to the Mall is being revived and one of the city’s great free public spaces is coming back.

Architect, photographer and artist Hiroshi Sugimoto has already intervened into the building with a well-received lobby design completed in 2018 and he was chosen earlier this year to redesign the sculpture garden and entrance. I speak to the architect from his studio in Tokyo and ask him, frankly, what he thinks of the Hirshhorn, a building that had been controversial for so long.

Computerised rendering of Sugimoto’s design for the sculpture garden, located on Washington DC’s National Mall

“Over 20 years,” he says, “as an artist, I’ve had huge shows in major museums all over the world. I became a user of the spaces designed by star architects. I even published a book, in Japanese, in which I gave a score to all these buildings. So [Frank] Gehry in Bilbao scored very low as there was limited space to make my art look . . . beautiful. [Daniel] Libeskind in Ontario, nobody there knew how to turn the lights on. The opening was a nightmare. But I had a show at the Hirshhorn in 2006. I gave Bunshaft five stars.”

What exactly is it that makes it work? “The space might not be friendly for all artists,” he replies, “but for me it was a new challenge, not just a white cube. I had to hang the seascapes along the long, curved wall. Most architects think their spaces look better without any art.

“When the lobby redesign was completed,” Sugimoto says, “I thought that was the end of my job. Then Melissa [Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn] asked me to redesign the garden and I thought it was a joke. If I’d have known how huge this job was, dealing

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How a little garden north of Seattle brought an island’s community together

Hat Island is a tiny island with a yearlong population of about 60 – and when COVID-19 was getting them down, they came together to create something amazing.

HAT ISLAND, Wash. — Hat Island is a tiny island about seven miles on the water from Everett. It’s a private island that feels worlds away, with about sixty yearlong residents. That feeling is magnified in our current, quarantined world – Hat Island has closed off to most visitors, making it even more distant than before. And the residents were starting to feel that.

“People were getting a little testy from the COVID isolation, and this gave people an outlet to get something done,” says Hat Island resident John Holte.

Thus, the Hat Island Volunteer Garden was born. A group of residents dreamed up the garden as a way to pull the community together and grow something for the island – literally. 

“It gave the community a beautiful focus to have a shared goal to see developing month after month,” says Merry Shropshire, one of the garden’s founders.

“Its’ just been a healing, growing thing I think everybody needed,” says Lori Christopher, another garden founder.

Pretty much everything about the garden, from the realistic dock to the driftwood signposts to the colorful sign, painted by Lori, was either donated, self-funded, or made by volunteers. 

While you can’t visit the Hat Island garden unless you live on Hat Island, you can help them continue their efforts to grow. In order to support the garden, volunteers sell tee-shirts, tote bags and their very own wine label online! Just email [email protected] to find out more.

The garden is truly a community effort. Even the plant sprouts were hand-grown by residents.

“Broccoli, cabbage, kale, beets, onions, all these starts began in their windowsills and under grow lights in their homes,” Shropshire says. “So it makes it especially wonderful that all of the fruits and vegetables you see were grown by islanders.”

Volunteers are the backbone of the garden. Residents sign up to water, weed and harvest every week.

“We have watering twice a day, and we have a list that’s always filled up with people willing to help,” Christopher says.

And when harvest day comes around every Saturday, those same dedicated volunteers collect and distribute the fruits and vegetables. It’s a bounty born from a strange, scary time, but the residents of Hat Island plan to continue growing and growing.

“It’s a place that we want to do the very best we can for,” says Christopher.

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Man charged with 7 hoax ‘swatting’ calls that brought police to same house, police say

A 35-year-old New Jersey man swatted Ramsey police seven times since June by leaving anonymous tips about made-up domestic disturbances, authorities said.

Vadim Pinskiy was arrested last week at his Fair Lawn home following a months-long investigation and charged by Ramsey police with seven counts of making false reports to law enforcement as well as one count each of harassment and stalking. Pinskiy knew the victims, though Ramsey police didn’t say how.

Pinskiy began his swatting spree in June when he sent an anonymous tip to the State Police’s Regional Operations Intelligence Center reporting a domestic disturbance involving possible violence at a home, Ramsey police said.

When cops arrived, the learned the tip was a hoax. Pinskiy provided six more tips to the Ramsey police department’s anonymous tip line about domestic disturbances at the same home since June, none of which proved to be accurate, police said.

Police eventually traced the IP address for the tips and obtained a search warrant, officials said

Under a tougher law passed in 2015, the crime is punishable by five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

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Jeff Goldman may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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Wildfires, wild horses among top concerns Utah’s ag community brought to Interior chief

SALT LAKE CITY — The looming threat of catastrophic wildfires, the overpopulation of wild horses and rangeland conditions for livestock were among the top concerns the agricultural community aired with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt during a Friday roundtable discussion in Utah.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said the conversation — and complaints — did not go unheeded by Bernhardt, who grew up in Colorado and was visiting Utah for a number of events.

“He’s very familiar with Western issues,” Lee said. “These are controversial and difficult issues. … He has not lost sight of Westerners.”

Bernhardt, in a telephone interview after the roundtable, said one of the chief complaints raised by livestock producers is the need for better management of rangeland to prevent wildfires or degradation from wild horses.

“The reality is they would like to see more active management of our rangeland, which would minimize devastating wildfires, which is exactly what the president is proposing and doing,” he said.

The Interior Department, in fact, is on the cusp of making significant management changes for how some fuels are addressed, he said.

“We are about to finalize a (new rule) for rapid treatment related to pinion juniper that will be very significant for the state of Utah,” he said.

That rule would allow the agency to do more vegetation treatments on a yearly basis, he added.

Lee said the action is critical given the impacts of catastrophic wildfires to property, life and livestock producers who have seen the charred bodies of the animals they care for.

“It really is a heart-breaking issue and a deep concern to everyone,” he said, pointing a finger at federal policies he says have fostered neglect of landscapes over the years.

“It ends up being an environmental disaster on top of everything else.”

Brian Steed, director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, attended Friday’s roundtable on agricultural issues and said it was a fruitful discussion, especially when it came to rangeland management, wild horses and grazing.

“We have been working together with the wildlife community and agricultural producers over the years and that is the benefit of reducing catastrophic wildfire through these partnerships,” he said.

Noting that wildfires don’t respect geopolitical boundaries, Steed said it is critical that the state and federal government play well together.

“We have a pretty good working relationship with our federal partners in the BLM trying to identify those areas most likely to burn,” he said.

The number of wild horses in Utah — far beyond the established federal limit — was raised as a concern from both the grazing community and Steed’s agency, which has oversight of wildlife such as deer and antelope.

“Wild horses are always something we are concerned about,” he said.

Within the Interior Department, the Bureau of Land Management has oversight of wild horse and burro populations in Western states.

Greg Sheehan, director of the Utah BLM, said the agency has been successful this year at removing a number of wild horses in the state,

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Interior design tricks that brought calm to a chaotic open floor plan

Marta and Scott Dragos built their Winchester home with an open floor plan. Not just because that’s how today’s families live, but because Scott, a former NFL player, is a pretty big guy. “We eliminated walls so my husband wouldn’t feel like he was living in a dollhouse,” Marta says.

However, with three young children and a puppy, the first floor felt chaotic. Everyone congregated in the great room, and the television was often left on during meals at the adjacent dining table. Meanwhile the formal living room sat empty, and never mind the mess in the playroom, which was the first thing people saw when they walked in. “The synergies of the rooms were off and not suited to our life,” Marta says.

Enter Liza Kugeler and Laura Ogden of Realm Interiors, who reconfigured and redecorated. Not only did they bring order to the home, they incorporated Marta’s stylish aesthetic in a way that works for an active family. All without undertaking renovations. “Open floor plans can be overwhelming with their multipurpose natures,” Ogden says. “Our goal was to define each space while also connecting them using low-impact modifications.”

The designers started by reassessing what the family needed from each room. They completely reassigned some spaces, while simply tweaking the furniture layout in others. For example, moving the dining table out of the bay window into the center of the great room did wonders. It now anchors the open floor plan and divides the kitchen from the living area. Plus, there’s a clear circulation path around the Scandinavian-style table commissioned from furniture maker Saltwoods, and a new vignette in the bay window. The results are far-reaching, as it’s also a worthy focal point from the entry. “We love the dance between the light wood and pops of black,” Kugeler says.

Reworking the tiny, indistinct kitchen island solved multiple issues, too. Kugeler and Ogden replaced the white marble top with a slab of leathered black granite in a much larger size, adding legs for support, and painting the base in Farrow & Ball Pigeon. The island now makes a statement and serves as a more comfortable place to eat. They also updated the cabinetry with matte black knobs and pulls, put in fashion-forward lighting, and detailed the hood with oak trim.

The most significant change was swapping the living and family rooms. The living space on the other side of the dining table from the kitchen had become the default spot for pretty much everything. Out went the TV along with facing sofas, which made the room much too conducive to comings and goings and also blocked the sliders to the yard. The designers lined the walls with a neutral grass-cloth covering for texture and warmth (the treatment continues into the entry, tying the spaces together), and reoriented the furniture to invite conversation. “The kids can run through and use it — the sofa and chairs are upholstered in family-friendly fabrics — but it’s cozy,” Kugeler says. “You feel embraced.”

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Chef John Denison Has Worked in High-Profile Restaurants Across Europe. The Pandemic Brought Him Back to Portland and Into the Kitchen at La Moule.

Going from Paris to Portland may seem an odd career move for a chef. But for John Denison, it made perfect sense.

After all, this is where his career first took off. In 2014, Denison moved from Colorado to work as a line cook at Kachka. He soon met French-inspired restaurateur Aaron Barnett, and the two bonded over their mutual love for the hearty, rustic cuisine of the Lyonnaise bouchons. That led to Denison’s first stint working for Barnett at St. Jack. But in 2015, the owners of Camont, a highly regarded restaurant and cooking school on a farm south of Lyon, came to Portland to teach a butchery and charcuterie class. Denison “begged his way” into a position as the restaurant’s butcher, farmhand and, eventually, chef-in-residence.

He then bounced around European kitchens most young cooks can only dream about: working for the Adria brothers at Tickets in Barcelona; at Michelin three-star Les Prés d’Eugénie midway between Toulouse and French Basque Country; then to Paris, where he debuted as head chef at newly opened Ellsworth. When COVID-19 hit, shuttering his restaurant, Denison had a choice: extend his visa and wait out the pandemic in his tiny Parisian apartment or come back home. He chose the latter, reconnecting with Barnett and taking a spot as head chef at La Moule, which Barnett opened on Southeast Clinton Street the year Denison left for Europe.

Originally Barnett’s ode to a Belgian moules frites brasserie, La Moule has gradually moved toward a more Gallic orientation since opening in 2015, and it’s gone even more in that direction under Denison. One mussel presentation remains: moule marinière flavored with white wine, garlic, Dijon mustard and chile flake ($22), along with the best-in-town bacon and brie burger with fries ($17). But the current menu highlights Denison’s French background.

The comté gougères ($11)—two cheesy rounds of baked choux pastry topped with guanciale, more cheese and a chunk of chicharron then sprinkled with espelette powder—are pure bliss. Though it may wander over the stoner food line, a brandade and potato chip-coated variation on the lowbrow scotch egg ($13) is also a small-plate pleasure. And an ever-so-seasonal salad of runner beans, peach slices and hazelnuts in an elderflower vinaigrette ($12) emphasizes the French tradition, adopted enthusiastically here, featuring local produce at its peak.

La Moule is only offering a few large plates these days in its roomy outdoor setup, so check the specials. On my first visit, the albacore collar in a brown butter sauce with capers, olives and pine nuts ($26) was delicious if petite. On the dessert slate, the “peaches ‘n’ cream” pavlova ($10) is as artistic as it is toothsome, a photogenic assemblage of soft-centered meringue, sliced peaches, dustings of hibiscus powder and black pepper and a scattering of golden flower petals.

But if I had to recommend one dish that best showcases Denison’s hard-earned expertise, it would be his ultra-rustic pâté en croûte ($14), a mixture of ground pork—forcemeat or farce in charcutier’s vernacular—and other ingredients

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The White House asked the Justice Department to handle Trump’s legal defense in a defamation lawsuit brought by his rape accuser

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump stands with Attorney General William Barr during the 38th Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Washington. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

© AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump stands with Attorney General William Barr during the 38th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Washington. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

  • In a highly unusual move, the Justice Department on Tuesday attempted to take over President Donald Trump’s legal defense in a defamation lawsuit brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of rape. A claim the president denies.
  • Attorney General William Barr told reporters Wednesday that the DOJ intervened at the request of the White House, according to The New York Times.
  • Barr defended the DOJ’s move, saying it “was a normal application of the law,” The New York Times reported.
  • But legal experts have cast doubt on that reasoning and why the DOJ waited ten months to intervene — just weeks after a court ruled Carroll could seek evidence from Trump such as DNA samples and a deposition.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Attorney General William Barr told reporters Wednesday that the Department of Justice’s surprising decision Tuesday to intervene in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump came at the direct request of the White House.


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On Tuesday, the DOJ said in court filings that it intends to replace Trump’s personal lawyers in a defamation case brought by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who has publicly accused Trump of raping her and sued him in November after he denied the allegations.

While Trump’s personal lawyers have been defending him since then, DOJ lawyers argued Tuesday that Trump was “acting within the scope of his office” when he made the comments, meaning the suit should fall under the Federal Torts Claim Act, which would put the US government on the hook for defending him and taxpayers for covering his legal costs.

The timing and highly unusual nature of the DOJ’s intervention has raised questions about its motivations and drawn scrutiny from legal experts.

Last month, a New York state court ruled that Carroll could proceed with efforts to gather evidence, including DNA samples and a deposition of Trump. But the DOJ’s move, which came on the last day Trump could have appealed the ruling, could stall that discovery process and put Carroll’s case in jeopardy.

Under the FTCA, which is also known as the Westfall Act, federal employees cannot be sued while acting in their official capacity. If the new federal judge assigned to the case, Lewis A. Kaplan, agrees with the DOJ’s rationale for intervening, he could toss the case out.

“This was a normal application of the law,” Barr said in defense of the move, according to The New York Times, adding: “The law is clear. It is done frequently. And the little tempest that is going on is largely because of the bizarre political environment in which we live.”

While the government has won several cases involving the Westfall Act, legal experts have cast doubt on the DOJ’s assertion that the law applies to Carroll’s

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