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FROM THE CHAIR
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PAT DAWE - FROM CRAYONS TO COMPUTERSBy Blog Master
PAT DAWE – CREATIVE CONNECTIONS
FROM CRAYONS TO COMPUTERS
When Pat Dawe was a young boy, his parents enrolled him in ballet class, then trumpet lessons, and finally piano. None of these “took”. It wasn’t until Pat was in college that a math professor pointed out his strong visual skills that enabled him to process information and solve problems visually.
Pat realized this was true. He likes to organize things. He looks at patterns and takes a logical, objective approach to understanding the world. He doesn’t like chaos! These skills led him to a distinguished career as an architect and City Planner after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania.
Pat cited two inspirational role models from the University of Pennsylvania that influenced his career focus. Ian McHarg was the founder of the department of landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. His 1969 book Design with Nature pioneered the concept of ecological planning. It continues to be one of the most widely celebrated books on landscape architecture and land-use planning.
Pat also admired and was influenced by Peter Batchelor, who was a student at the University alongside Pat. Mr. Batchelor, who died last year, eventually taught at North Carolina State University, where he was a pioneer in public space design for towns large and small. He was an accomplished and well-respected urbanist who demonstrated the bridge between architecture and urban design.
After leaving college Pat enjoyed a long, varied career in master planning and urban design. His work took him to a pro bono project in Kennewick, Washington where his team created a plan for a space to connect the declining downtown to the river front, providing both safety from flooding and an inviting, outdoor environment to build community. At the other end of the spectrum, he designed large scale, new city master plans in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
When Pat retired he had more time to indulge in his passion for design. As in his professional life, he looked to others for inspiration. He was especially drawn to the graphic arts of Sister Corita Kent. At the same time, he appreciated the artistic style of the handmade quilts of the small African-American community of Gees Bend, Alabama. The women of Gees Bend developed a distinctive quilting style that is noted for its lively improvisations and geometric simplicity. And finally, revealing the city planner within him, Pat saw the beauty that exists in city maps, with their structure and repeating patterns creating order from chaos.
At first Pat used his sketches to create silk screen paintings. He loved the look but not the tedium of the process, nor the chemicals that were involved. Soon he turned to his computer and, with the help of special programs he discovered that “it becomes like using a paint brush or a pen.” He can take a sketch or a photo, or even a metro map, and create a work of whimsy, mood, a sense of place or wonder – pretty much anything is possible.
As Pat explained it, “My objective is to show you the basics. I want to take away all the extras in a reductive process.” What’s left are images, patterns, and colors that contain the essence of a place, a season, an emotion. Pat thinks that his creative work today is related to years of trying to solve complex problems, and explaining them to others, by getting to the main points while avoiding the clutter of too much information.
During the discussion following the presentation Nancy Goodell noted that Pat’s graphic design work is based on a human development model. Pat’s life experiences and natural talents have shaped him, and continue to shape him. It is a good reminder for all of us that we should look at our lives as a continuum of growth – to see the good gifts we have and to continue to honor them and use them.
Pat’s graphic arts can be seen on his website: PatDaweGraphics.com
Click here to view the video recording of Pat's Creative Connections presentations,