Readers' Favorite Review Native Places

Book Review: “Profoundly relevant observations about life and place”

by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite®, Oct. 26, 2019

Sketching is a fine art of suggestibility and essence, and it is not properly relegated only to the physical artist. In writing, sketching is done with quick vignettes, following the same imperatives: Suggesting briefly, catching the essence, engaging the imagination.

In Native Places, a most wonderful compilation and combination of physical and written sketches about life and place, Frank Harmon adds this personal observation: “But if I sketched it, I remembered that place forever.”

…a most wonderful compilation and combination of physical and written sketches about life and place…

Harmon is an architect. As such, he has a keen eye for the manner in which human beings reveal themselves in their buildings, including as equally important the manner in which they “context” these structures within gardens, trees, and other unique local environments. “I learned to trust the particular over the general,” he writes, “in many ways like writers who are more attuned to the particular.”

Frank Harmon’s observational eye is equal to his conceptual one. And in Native Places, he makes profoundly relevant observations about life and place. “Historians usually ignore what we’ve come to know as the vernacular. Yet the motives of the makers of vernacular buildings and places are practical, and the result is often aesthetic.” Chew on that one for a while, and appreciate the power of what Harmon refers to as “ordinariness”.

Spending quality time with the lovely sketches in this book – both physical and conceptual, painted and written – is like attending to daily meditations about spiritual matters, but without the guilt or sense of obligation. What remains is the pure, essential pleasure, if brief, of human celebration.

Book Rating: 5 Star
Readers' Favorite review 5 star seal

Frank Harmon Native Places

Cameron Art Museum Presents ‘Native Places’ Lecture and Workshop

Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington, NC

Cameron Art Museum (CAM) in Wilmington will host a reception and book signing event for celebrated architect/author Frank Harmon when he shares his new book Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See during an illustrated lecture on Thursday, October 24th, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Harmon will then lead an Urban Sketching Workshop in downtown Wilmington on Saturday morning, October. 26th, from 9 am-noon.

A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a professor of architecture at NC State University’s College of Design, Frank Harmon lead his multi-award-winning firm in Raleigh for over three decades.

Five years ago he launched NativePlaces.org, an online journal that paired watercolor sketches he’s made over those decades – of buildings and nature, landscapes and cityscapes, everyday objects and ordinary places — with fresh 200-word essays that convey the delight he finds in each subject. The essays never repeat what’s visible in the sketches. Instead, they elucidate ideas and thoughts inspired by those images.

Published by ORO Editions, Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See, is a collection of 64 sketch-essay pairings that Charles D. Linn, FAIA, former deputy editor of Architectural Record, helped Harmon cull from the online journal and organize into a book.

During his illustrated lecture at CAM, Harmon will share excerpts from Native Places and examples of his own architectural work to illustrate his belief that sketching “as a way to see” enhances the grace with which we observe and appreciate all sorts of “native places.”

“If I take a photograph of something, I’ll soon forget it,” he adds. “But if I draw something, it remains in my mind forever.”

After his presentation, Harmon will take questions from the audience then sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase at CAM.

During the Urban Sketching Workshop on Saturday, October 26th, the author will share his belief that drawing in the digital age is far from obsolete. Rather, “it is transformative in the way we observe and interact with the world around us.” Participants should bring their own sketchpads and pencils.

Tickets to the lecture are $12 for CAM members, $17 for non-members, and $8 for students with valid IDs. Those registered for the Saturday workshop will be admitted to the lecture free of charge.

Cameron Art Museum is located at 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington, NC 28412. For more information, including how to purchase tickets, visit cameronartmuseum.org.

For more information on Frank Harmon and Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See, visit nativeplacesthebook.com.

NCSU College of Design Presents Frank Harmon and “Native Places”

Frank Harmon, Native Places

Architect Frank Harmon sketching in his Raleigh gardens. Photo by Juli Leonard

The NC State University College of Design is inviting the general public as well as faculty, staff, and students to a special event in Burns Auditorium on Monday, September 23rd. Beginning at 6 pm, architect, author, and professor/mentor Frank Harmon, FAIA, will discuss and read from his new book Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See.

Following his lecture, Harmon will sign copies of Native Places, which will be available for purchase from a representative of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. Anyone who already owns a copy is invited to bring it to receive a personalized inscription from the author.

Free and open to the public, Harmon’s presentation is part of the Joint Lecture Series between the College of Design and AIA Triangle. David Hill, head of the Architecture Department, arranged to have Harmon’s event inserted in the Lecture Series.

Native Places by Frank Harmon

Published by ORO Editions, Native Places is a collection of 64 of Harmon’s watercolor sketches of everyday objects and places, nature, and cityscapes, paired with brief essays inspired by the sketches. Some new, some 30 years old, his drawings convey the delight he finds in ordinary things. The short essays offer his fresh interpretations of what most of us tend to take for granted.

Harmon’s goal for Native Places is, in fact, to transform the way we see the world, he says. It also promotes his belief that hand drawing is not an obsolete skill but rather an opportunity to develop a natural grace in the way we view the world.

WALTER magazine: “Frank Harmon shares his sketches of North Carolina”

Hewitt Pottery, Pittsboro, NC, by Frank Harmon

Whether you’ve lived here for decades or just a few months, it’s easy to be oblivious to your surroundings. In Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See, architect Frank Harmon reminds us to see beauty all around through a collection of sketches and notes he created over the years. “Since I was a boy, sketching has proved invaluable. If I took a photograph of a place, I would forget it. But if I drew it, I would remember it forever,” he says. By putting pen to paper, Harmon turns ordinary scenes into extraordinary ones and finds joy in the familiar. “I hope readers will share my delight and find some native places of their own… and perhaps even draw.” READ MORE

A Sunday afternoon in Atlanta’s A Capella Books

For one lovely Sunday afternoon recently, A Capella Books in Atlanta’s historic Inman Park neighborhood hosted an Author Event for Frank and Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See.

Owned by Frank Reiss and managed by Chris Fanning, A Capella Books was a delightful venue for Frank (Harmon!) as he shared his love of hand-sketching and how that passion — along with the brief essays —  inspired ORO Editions to publish his book, which is now in its second printing.

Following are photos from the event provided by photographer John E. Ramspott. We are very grateful to John for letting us share his images here.

We are also grateful to Frank R. and Chris for being such gracious hosts, to architect Bill Carpenter for helping to make this event possible, and to the enthusiastic gathering of folks who came to hear Frank H. read excerpts from Native Places then get his signature on their brand-new copies.

Thank you, one and all, for an afternoon to remember.

 

Frank greets the crowd, flanked by his book and hat.

Bill Carpenter (left) after his introduction.

 

Frank and Chris

Bill Carpenter

Bill’s Brazilian girlfriend, Celma Rosa.

Frank’s miniature watercolor set rests on the counter with “The Lawn” sketch in ‘Native Places’

 

Frank shares a new sketch.

The author’s hat waits nearby…

‘Native Places’ in Atlanta: A Capella Books Will Host Celebrated Architect/Author Frank Harmon, FAIA

Architect/author Frank Harmon wants to change the way we see the world around us. That’s why he wrote his new, critically acclaimed book Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See. On Sunday, June 2, Frank Reiss, the proprietor of A Capella Books in Atlanta, will host a book-signing event for Harmon beginning at 2 p.m. The event free and open to the public.

Published by ORO Editions and now in its second printing, Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See is a collection of 64 of Harmon’s watercolor sketches paired with brief essays he’s written about architecture, nature, everyday objects, and ordinary places.

The book’s purpose, Harmon says, is “to transform the way we see” and to disseminate his belief that hand drawing is not obsolete. According to this multi-award-winning architect who is also a professor at North Carolina State University’s College of Design, drawing give us “an opportunity to develop a natural grace in the way we view the world and take part in it.”

The sketch-essay pairings in the book first appeared in Harmon’s popular online journal NativePlaces.org. Culled from myriad sketchbooks he’s filled over the decades, convey the delight he finds in familiar objects and “native” places. The short essays, inspired by the sketches, offer his interpretations of what most of us overlook or take for granted.

“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,” wrote Eleanor Spicer Rice, PhD, in her review of Native Places – one of many positive comments from critics, colleagues, and readers that are included on the book’s website www.nativeplacesthebook.com.

Fellow architect William Carpenter, FAIA, will introduce Harmon at the A Capella Books event. Carpenter is the founder and president of Lightroom Studio with offices in Decatur, GA, and Sao Luis, Maranhao, Brazil. Along with receiving national architecture and education awards, Carpenter once worked with the late Sam Mockbee, FAIA, founder of Auburn University’s iconoclastic Rural Studio in New Bern, Alabama, where Harmon lectures and leads Drawing Workshop for students.

After the introduction, Harmon will give a 20-minute presentation then take questions from the audience before signing copies of Native Places, which will be available at the store.

Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, A Capella Books is located at 208 Haralson Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 (404.681.5128). For more information, visit www.acapellabooks.com.

For more information on Frank Harmon and Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See, visit the book’s website (nativeplacesthebook.com) and Facebook page.

 

Frank sketching

Celebrated Architect/Author Frank Harmon To Present Lecture, Sketching Workshop in Old Town Alexandria

Hosted by the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association

Frank sketching

Frank Harmon. (Photo by Christine Simeloff)

Frank Harmon, FAIA, a multi-award-winning architect from North Carolina and the author of the new critically acclaimed book Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See, will be in Old Town Alexandria, VA, on May 17th and 18th, sponsored by the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association (NVFAA).

Harmon will give a lecture focused on his book and his reasons for writing it on Friday the 17th at 7 p.m. in the Athenaeum on the corner of South Lee and Prince streets. On Saturday the 18th beginning at 10 a.m., he will lead an Urban Sketching Workshop around Old Town. Participants will also gather at the Athenaeum.

Both events are free and open to the public. However, the NFVAA asks those interested in either or both to email admin@nvfaa.org. Participation in the Urban Sketching Workshop is limited.Native Places by Frank Harmon

Published by ORO Editions, Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See is a collection of 64 of Harmon’s watercolor sketches – some he drew over 30 years ago — paired with brief essays he’s written about architecture, nature, everyday objects, and ordinary places. The pairs first appeared in his popular online journal NativePlaces.org.

The sketches in Native Places convey the delight the architect finds in these places and things. The short essays, inspired by the sketches, offer his fresh interpretations of what most people take for granted. His goal with both the online journal and the book is “to transform the way we see,” he says, and to promote his belief that hand drawing offers “an opportunity to develop a natural grace in the way we view the world and take part in it.”

To that end, he will lead 15 sketching enthusiasts around Alexandria’s picturesque Old Town for the same sort of urban sketching workshop that has proven popular when he’s conducted it at Auburn University’s renowned Rural Studio in New Bern, Alabama; in Asheville and Raleigh, North Carolina; and elsewhere.

“We are very excited to have Frank Harmon come to the historic Athenaeum for two wonderful programs,” said NVFAA’s Executive Director Veronica Szalus. “We’re looking forward to hearing Frank read from his book and share his engaging insights on sketching and the urban environment during the lecture, then show us how to learn to truly see the world around us through sketching during the Saturday workshop. It’s going to be a great weekend.”

The NVFAA will have copies of Native Places available for purchase. For more information on the book and its author, visit nativeplacesthebook.com.

An art gallery, historic landmark, and home of the NVFAA, the Athenaeum is located at 201 Prince Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703.548.0035).

 

Charlotte’s Park Road Books Welcomes Frank Harmon and ‘Native Places’

Park Road Books, Charlotte’s oldest continuously operated independent bookstore, will host a presentation and book-signing event with celebrated Raleigh architect/author Frank Harmon, FAIA, and his new book  Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See on Sunday, April 28, 2-4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Published by ORO Editions, Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See is a collection of 64 of Harmon’s watercolor sketches paired with brief essays he’s written about architecture, nature, everyday objects, and ordinary places, which first appeared on his popular online journal NativePlaces.org. The sketches convey the delight he finds in ordinary things. The short essays, inspired by the sketches, offer his fresh interpretations of what most people take for granted.

Former NC Poet Laureate Fred Chappell describes Harmon’s unique book as “a sketchbook, a memoir, travel journal, aesthetic experiment, a collection of small familiar essays, and maybe in some respects even a manifesto,” adding, “Native Places…has afforded me happy pleasures, different from any that I have before derived from a book.”

Harmon is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a multi-award-winning practitioner, and a former professor at NC State University’s College of Design. His mission for Native Places is “to transform the way we see,” he says, and to promote his belief that hand drawing offers “an opportunity to develop a natural grace in the way we view the world and take part in it.”

Mission accomplished, according to Mike Welton, the architecture critic for the Raleigh News & Observer. In his review of the book, Welton suggests Native Places is “destined to change how we see this world.” And among praise from prominent architects, Tom Kundig of Olson-Kundig in Seattle calls Harmon’s book “a masterful legacy on all levels.”

Park Road Books is located at 4139 Park Road, Charlotte, NC 28209 (704-525-9239). For more information, visit www.parkroadbooks.com.

To see a video about Frank Harmon and Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See and read excerpts from the book, visit the book’s website (nativeplacesthebook.com) and Facebook page.

Residential Design

RESIDENTIAL DESIGN: “Frank Harmon’s Native Places Blog Is Now a Book”

Residential Design

Frank Harmon, FAIA, has compiled his Native Places blog, which pairs essays and sketches, into a new book from ORO Editions. Harmon, who recently retired from teaching and practicing architecture, is known for his site-sensitive, regionally appropriate, and sustainable residential and public work. The 168-page book is available for order online from ORO at $24.95. READ MORE

E. Shaver, Booksellers Presents Frank Harmon and ‘Native Places’ in Historic Downtown Savannah

 E. Shaver Bookseller in historic downtown Savannah will host a presentation and book-signing event for award-winning architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, of Raleigh, NC, and his new book  Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See on Sunday, April 14, from 1-3 pm.

Ryan Madsen, Architecture Professor at the Savannah College of Art & Design, will introduce Harmon. The event is free and open to the public.

E Shaver, Booksellers in historic downtown Savannah.

Published by ORO Editions, Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See is a collection of 64 of Harmon’s watercolor sketches paired with brief essays he’s written about architecture, nature, and everyday objects and places that first appeared on his popular online journal NativePlaces.org. The sketches convey the delight he finds in ordinary places. The short essays, inspired by the sketches, offer his fresh interpretations of what most people take for granted.

Past NC Poet Laureate Fred Chappell describes Harmon’s book as “a sketch book, a memoir, travel journal, aesthetic experiment, a collection of small familiar essays, and maybe in some respects even a manifesto,” adding, “Native Places…has afforded me happy pleasures, different from any that I have before derived from a book.”

Harmon’s mission for Native Places is “to transform the way we see,” he says, and to promote his belief that hand drawing offers “an opportunity to develop a natural grace in the way we view the world and take part in it.”

Mission accomplished, according to Mike Welton, the architecture critic for the Raleigh News & Observer, who suggests Harmon’s book is “destined to change how we see this world.” Architect Tom Kundig, FAIA, of Olson-Kundig in Seattle, calls Native Places “a masterful legacy on all levels.”

Named one of the “17 Extraordinary Bookstores” in the world by Mother Nature Network (MMN.com), E. Shaver, Bookseller is located on historic Madison Square at 326 Bull Street, Savannah, GA 31401 (912-234-7257). For more information, visit http://www.eshaverbooks.com/. For more information on Frank Harmon and Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See, visit the book’s website (nativeplacesthebook.com) and Facebook page.