My studio is located in an urban neighborhood of Midtown Atlanta and is named for Galileo’s famous discovery of 1610, the Fourth Moon of Jupiter. The first demonstration of his new invention, the telescope, took place for Vatican hierarchy on Janiculum Hill in Rome the following year. The site on which they assembled is now the garden of the famous American Academy where I was a Visiting Artist and Scholar in 2013-2014. At the base of the hill and just across the Tiber, one of the Renaissance’s most gifted artists and architects did some of his most profound work- Raphael Sanzio. His historic research and documentation of Rome’s antiquities, most notably the Pantheon, became the standard for re-constituting the ancient Greek mythopoesis of the circle and the square. The square representing stasis on earth and the circle, the dome of heaven.
Mythopoesis and Function
Callisto is a synthesis of that mythopoetic order learned from a study of Raphael’s work and modern programatic and sustainable construction functions. The perfect square plan accommodates all functions of the artist’s studio - design, research, craftsmanship and reflection. The center oculus is a view to Jupiter and its four moons, arranged according to Galileo’s own drawings from his notes of 1610.
Every effort was made to encourage expert artisans to contribute their skills to the construction of the project. Archetypal expressions of tension and compression were used in an almost ritualistic way. The hand crafted steel tension rods that support both the exterior sun canopy and the interior storage racks were made by a local metal artist. The indigenous Elberton granite encasing walls were laid by an expert mason and part time jazz musician, the bonding pattern in syncopation with classic jazz rhythms. Exterior siding is made of cement fiber panels, their joinery reflecting the abstract pattern of surrounding tree structures. Maximum insulation in walls and ceiling was used, along with a white metal reflective roof and sun shielding on the south and west elevations. The polycarbonate overhang is sized to allow low winter sun penetration into the interior while blocking the high summer sun. Walkways are pervious gravel allowing maximum water runoff absorption. Dedicated, insightful carpenters field constructed the native birch plywood interior book shelves, desk, and movable table.
The quote over the bookshelves if from Edward Young’s Night Thoughts of 1745, now inscribed in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C..