The City Magazine Since 1975

Envisioning the Future

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Selections from ZanFagna’s “Pulse Dome” series, mixed media on paper, 11x14 inches, 1970-1978; photographs of artwork (4) by Everett White

October 17, 2012

Envisioning the Future
“Pulse Dome Project: Art & Design by Don ZanFagna” opens at the Halsey this Friday, October 19

Want a glimpse into the mind of a visionary artist? Then don’t miss “Pulse Dome Project: Art & Design by Don ZanFagna,” at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art (HICA) from October 19 to December 8. “In many ways, this exhibition provides a time capsule of the eco-architectural movement of the 1970s and demonstrates that these concepts are even more relevant today than when they were proposed 40 years ago,” says Mark Sloan, HICA director and senior curator.

Now a Lowcountry resident, ZanFagna achieved international success as an artist, making friends with the likes of Andy Warhol, Al Hansen, Buckminster Fuller, Charlie Mingus, and Yoko Ono. He founded CEASE (Center for Ecological Action to Save the Environment) and spoke, along with Ralph Nader, Margaret Mead, and others, at New York’s inaugural Earth Day Teach In at Union Square in 1970.

Around the same time, he removed himself from the commercial art world and began conceptualizing what he called the “Pulse Dome,” a home built and maintained using all organic processes. For some 25 years, he researched indigenous structures and natural forms like caves. He studied all manner of literature. And he painted, drew, and constructed 3-D models of his ideas. Many of these works, rarely seen by the public, are included in the exhibit opening on Friday with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. In addition to poring over ZanFagna’s creations, guests can enjoy refreshments and light hors d’oeuvres as well as live music from Illuminations Trio, featuring Ron Wiltrout, Bill Carson, and Sam Sfirri.

Want to further explore ZanFagna’s revolutionary ideas? On Wednesday, November 7, at 6 p.m., attend a free panel discussion to hear Sloan; Winslow Hastie, Historic Charleston Foundation’s director of preservation and museums; and architect Whitney Powers discuss how the artist’s theories are reflected in the buildings of Charleston.

Towards the end of November, start keeping a close eye on Marion Square, as Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston will be unveiling a student-designed bamboo dome based on ZanFagna’s concepts. Even cooler? It’ll likely be constructed over the fountain!

The exhibit closes on Saturday, December 8, with a symposium from 2 to 6 p.m. entitled “Biological Architecture: Past, Present, and Future.” Eco-art-architecture writer Linda Weintraub and architect and designer William Katavolos join Sloan to discuss the real possibilities of eco-bio-architecture, with a reception capping the evening.

For full details on the exhibit and all related events, click here.

To read our May 2011 profile on the enigmatic and multitalented ZanFagna, click here.

For more events coming up this weekend, click here.