Frank Harmon

‘Native Places’ is more than a book; it’s a devotional

Review by Eleanor Spicer Rice, Ph.D.

Frank Harmon

Carolina Wren by Frank Harmon

When marveling over Columbus, Indiana’s city structure, Frank Harmon points to the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto’s view that “architecture belongs to culture, not civilization.” In Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See, architecture belongs to Frank Harmon, and he gives it to us like a gift.

Each page of Native Places pairs one of Harmon’s charming illustrations with a vignette of his perspective, which magnifies the small (a Carolina wren perched on an excavator, for example), shrinks the large (Kansas and Georgia landscapes seen from an airplane window), and reveals the astonishing, functional beauty of each.

Like a child picking up fistfuls of seemingly commonplace stones, Harmon gathers places in all their forms and meanings and thoughtfully lays them in his book, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary and everyday life takes on a new texture and meaning.

In Native Places, architectural marvels can be obvious, like Thomas Jefferson’s Lawn at the University of Virginia, but they also can be the often-unnoticed quotidian, like window boxes along London’s streets. After all, great architects draw lasting monoliths, or they hammer planks on sensible barns. The resulting effect is an enrichment of the reader’s everyday experience, a wonderment over the human hand-sized bricks that stack up to form our homes or the bats roosting beneath the soffits.

Frank Harmon

Window boxes in London by Frank Harmon

Native Places is more than a book; it’s a devotional. The reader can pick it up and open to any page to find a complete and renewing story. It can be read in chunks or a page at a time. It can wait beautifully and patiently for casual readers on their coffee tables, or it can be an important bedside staple.

One last, but important feature of Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See is its author. As shorebirds and dustpans have made impressions on him, people across the world have experienced Harmon’s influence as an architect. Harmon’s architectural contributions include the AIANC building, his award-winning residences, and years as a sought-after professor at NC State University. The opportunity to explore a legendary influencer’s perception is a brilliant delight, one guaranteed to leave the reader feeling gratified and with a revitalized sense of awe, if we take the time to look.

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Eleanor Spicer Rice, Ph.D., is Senior Science Editor for Verdant Word, specializing in communicating scientific ideas to a popular audience. 

 

Native Places

Review: How the Quick Daily Drawing Puts Humanity Back into Architecture

Native Places

(“Back to the Future in London” by Frank Harmon)

From COMMON \ EDGE by Michael J. Crosbie

First published Oct. 23, 2018

Architect Frank Harmon has a discipline: he tries to do a freehand drawing every day. He doesn’t spend much time on them. About five minutes. These short spurts of depiction have the effect of catching lightning in a bottle or, as Virginia Woolf once said about the importance of writing every day, “to clap the net over the butterfly of moment.” To capture these moments you must be fast. The minute moves. Harmon’s drawings feel loose, fuzzy at the edges. You sense their five-minute duration.

Architecture students often are terrified of the quick sketch because of this very looseness, a sense of relaxed attentiveness. They strive to make a “pretty” drawing instead of netting the butterfly. The pretty drawing is evidence of detailed observation, perhaps one’s skill in constructing perspective, the control of the instrument in your hand. But that’s not the point of Harmon’s drawings. Their freeness communicates a different value and goal: to be in the moment, sketching swiftly to seize the scene as it unfolds before you. Harmon’s flickering hand imparts great energy to his drawings, which are less documentary and more like a visual embrace—the kiss of his ink pen and watercolor brush.

Harmon has collected scores of his drawings in a new book, Native Places (ORO Editions, 2018)… READ THE FULL REVIEW

Frank Harmon, Native Places

Author Events in the Works

Frank Harmon, Native Places

Frank signing books at Quail Ridge Books in September.

On Monday, October 15, Native Places author Frank Harmon will present a lecture in Tucson, AZ, to the University of Arizona School of Architecture students and faculty. The lecture will take place in the Tucson Museum of Art, where he will not be able to sell or sign copies of his book, but he will introduce it and tell them where to order it.

On October 18th, the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects will host a book signing for Frank as part of the AIA NC Conference, held this year in Durham. Frank will sign copies of Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See during the opening Membership Meeting on the 18th from 4-6 p.m.

Specific dates and times haven’t been determined as of this writing (9.14.18), but future author events for Frank and his book — so far — include:

Watch this space for updates.

The Art of Native Places: FOUNDATION Hosts Opening Reception, Book Signing for Frank Harmon and Fall Exhibition

For almost a decade, the underground bar in downtown Raleigh called FOUNDATION (in all caps) has celebrated the wealth of artistic talent in the Triangle region by displaying local artists’ works on its walls beneath Fayetteville Street. The exhibitions change seasonally with one piece by the featured artist emblazoned on the cover of FOUNDATION’S menu during that season.

For its Fall 2018 exhibit, FOUNDATION will present a different type of show than usual. This one will feature a selection of hand-drawn sketches and the brief essays that accompany them in Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See, a new book by renowned Raleigh architect/author/artist/professor Frank Harmon, FAIA.

Free and open to the public, the opening reception/book signing will be held this Sunday, September 30, from 2-4 pm. (Anyone under 21 will have to leave promptly at 4 when the bar begins selling alcoholic beverages.) The exhibition will run through December.

During the reception, Harmon will give a brief talk about Native Places and the many benefits of sketching, then sign copies of his book. The book will be available for purchase from a bookseller representing Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.

FOUNDATION is located downstairs from the “American Underground @ Raleigh” awning at 213 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh, NC 27601 (919-896-6016).

Native Places by Frank Harmon“To Change The Way We See”

Published by ORO Editions, Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See is a collection of 64 watercolor sketches paired with brief essays about architecture, landscape, everyday objects, and nature. The sketches convey the delight the author finds in ordinary places. The 200-word essays, inspired by the sketches, offer his fresh interpretations of what readers might have taken for granted.

“My goal has always been to change the way we see,” Harmon said, referring to his popular blog NativePlaces.org, which inspired the book. “I’d like to enable people to notice what’s in their backyards. And it’s satisfying to give people something quiet in their morning inbox amongst the deluge of emails.”

Native Places is currently available on Amazon and at Quail Ridge Books. For more information, visit nativeplacesthebook.com and follow the Facebook page for future events and other news.

Native Places at Quail Ridge Books

‘Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See’ on Display at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

Native Places at Quail Ridge Books

Rene Martin and the rest of the terrific team at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh’s premier bookstore, set up this lovely display of Native Places: Drawing as Way to See.

Reminder: After needing to postpone the original date (Sept. 15), Quail Ridge will host author Frank Harmon Sunday, September 23, beginning at 2 p.m. as he and the Raleigh community celebrate the release of the book that J. Michael Welton, architecture critic for the News & Observer, calls “a delightful book, destined to change how we see the world.”

Frank will give a brief talk, answer questions, then sign copies of his book and chat with the audience.

 

Quail Ridge Books Event Postponed to September 23rd

Native Places by Frank Harmon

By Juli Leonard, News & Observer

Quail Ridge Books’ Meet the Author and Book Signing event in Raleigh for Frank Harmon and Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See has been postponed to Sunday, September 23rd, beginning at 2 p.m.

If you cannot attend on that day but would like your book signed, Quail Ridge coordinator Sarah Godden asks that you call (919.828.1599) or send an email (sarah@quailridgebooks.com).

If you would prefer a refund, call the store and they will take care of that, as well.

“If you were not planning to attend and are waiting for signed books to be shipped to you,” she said, “we hope to get that done as soon as possible, weather permitting, so they can be shipped out early next week.”

Native Places by Frank Harmon

NEWS&OBSERVER: “Raleigh architect Frank Harmon sketches to see, and remember.”

VIDEO BY JULI LEONARD

Native Places by Frank Harmon

Sep 05, 2018

CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO VIEW THE VIDEO:

https://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article217880840.html

Native Places by Frank Harmon

NEWS&OBSERVER: “Architect’s signature drawings go beyond art. They tell stories of the world around us.”

Native Places by Frank Harmon

BY J. MICHAEL WELTON

Raleigh architect Frank Harmon sketches at least once a day, in a style that’s best described as economical. His lines are spare, a squiggle inserted here or there for punctuation and a splash of color added for emphasis.

“There are as few gestures as possible to capture a multi-layered spirit,” says New York Tod Williams in an interview about Harmon’s work. “There’s almost always an element of landscape and something out of the ordinary and something extraordinary. A world emerges.”

A selection of 64 of his drawings, with equally thoughtful essays to accompany them, are in a new book called “Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See.” They’re taken from Harmon’s online collection of sketches and words in his “Native Places” blog. He makes at least one sketch a day, publishing many of them online for the past four years. READ MORE

Quail Ridge Books Celebrates the Official Release of Frank Harmon’s New Book Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See

Meet The Author & Book Signing Event in
Raleigh’s Premier Bookstore Saturday, September 15.
Read more