Street Artist “Gaia” (Andrew Pisacane) pays tribute to Vincent Scully with a mural by Lori Leath Smith
In February, world-renowned street artist Andrew Pisacane, known as Gaia, paid tribute to America’s greatest historian and educator of art and architecture, Vincent Scully, with a wall-sized mural on Seaside’s purple wall at 25 Central Square.
Scully’s death last November was mourned by lovers of architecture and urbanism throughout the world. Scully taught architectural history for more than 50 years at Yale University and for almost 20 years at University of Miami. He also authored more than 20 books. His undergraduate lectures at Yale were always standing-room-only, as he was known as the most dramatic, impassioned and erudite teacher at the university.
Scully was one of Seaside’s early supporters and influenced many who contributed their design, planning and architecture talents to Seaside, several of them his students at Yale and many more who read his books or attended his lectures in Seaside. In a New York Times article, Robert Stern, founder and senior partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects and until recently Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, said, “Professor Scully was more than a teacher. He was a critic and a passionate public intellectual. He brought his interests, intellect and knowledge to bear on the world around him. Thanks to him, generations of architects, urbanists and scholars learned to see the world around them through the lens of human tradition and experience.” (Stern’s successor at Yale, Deborah Berke, designed numerous buildings in Seaside early in her career. Stern has also designed buildings in Seaside.)
Scully was revered for being able to explain the innate relationship between architectural style, urbanism and the environment to the mainstream. He inspired future architects with the idea of reconnecting contemporary architecture with its past, thereby planting seeds that grew into the New Urbanism movement.
He taught some of the prominent architects who built in Seaside such as Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Alexander Gorlin, Robert Orr, Ernesto Buch and Robert Stern. Duany and Plater-Zyberk established the DPZ architecture firm and led Seaside’s “Night Crew,” a group of early Seaside designers. In later years, Scully acknowledged Seaside’s impact. “Robert and DPZ put together a kind of way that people seem to want to live, especially people who can afford it,” said Scully. “They’ve turned it around. It’s changed the whole coast.”
“Professor Scully helped us see preservation not simply as a matter of saving buildings, but of saving whole communities,” said Stern in the New York Times article. “He inspired two of his students, Mr. Duany and Ms. Plater-Zyberk, to formulate what would become New Urbanism, a set of ideas and practices that returned city planning to traditional patterns of streets and defined public spaces — a movement so successful that it is hard to imagine a developer trying to build a conventional strip mall ever again.”
Gaia, known for his murals about people and neighborhoods, pays artistic tribute to Scully with a mural that depicts a thoughtful portrait of Scully and a background image of the Acropolis from the cover of Scully’s influential book, “The Earth, the Temple, and the Gods: Greek Sacred Architecture.” True to most of his works, Gaia’s mural of Scully is affected by his experiences from around the world as well as his deep interest in making place, celebrating history and reinforcing community. “We are excited about Gaia depicting Scully in this larger-than-life mural,” said architect Dhiru Thadani, “because he shares his artistic skills in capturing the essence of people who have helped shape the environment.”
“The project offers Seaside visitors a cultural and historical experience through the eyes of mural artist Gaia, and portrays the importance and impact Scully had on the town of Seaside,” said Seaside co-founder Robert Davis. Visitors can view the mural from Hwy 30A in Seaside.
Plater-Zyberk, Dean Emeritus of the University of Miami’s School of Architecture and a Scully student, led a tribute to Scully in February on the lawn in front of the mural.