West Virginia is not just all rolling green hills and shady hollers. “MAN/MADE” is an occasional news series on the Mountain State’s built environment.
Text & Images by Douglas John Imbrogno
I may be obsessed with the way this glass-wall skyscraper in Charleston WV tries to re-define the sky. So — why? All my shots of this skyscraper are quick ones, snapped as a I slow down in the middle of the road that fronts the Town Center Mall. My rapid Iphoneography out my driver’s side window lasts as long as there is no car pulled up to my bumper, wondering at the country bumpkin pointing his phone at a shiny building.
This skyscraper is rife with high-ticket attorneys. I’ve been in their well-appointed offices, which occupy multiple floors high in the sky. They probably control way too much of the life and times of West Virginia. That doesn’t interest me in this moment.
Maybe I am also trying to distract myself from the drumbeat headlines of war crimes around every corner and intersection in Ukraine, a war mastminded by a Moscow sociopath. Plus, an American political party which seems less like a party and more like a cabal in search of a regime.
There’s nothing wrong with looking up when you are wearied from looking down. Especially when the eye — in a time of disorder — seeks pleasure and a moment’s peace in comprehending the ordering of things.
And, maybe, come to think of it, the appeal of this reflective, refractive building has to do with its conversation with its surroundings. It is the constant hand-off between the sinuous, cursive, and unordered pageantry of blue-sky clouds in contrast with the regimented homogeneity of the skyscraper’s claims upon the sky. Which it cannot control, after all!
As the clouds move and morph, the fractal sky captured by the skyscraper’s thousand windows cannot be held in place. And, so, each square of this imposing building’s many-eyed frontage is like a channel-surfing TV screen, displaying constant motion.
As a result, the gravitas and massive bluntness of the building is also animated and reclaimed by the sky. Which, after all, will outlast the building’s majestic claims of authority, slinky legal acumen, and dominance.
In the end.
EDITOR’S NOTE: When it comes to West Virginia, what Bob Dylan said about something else. Plus, what’s up in the May 2022 issue of WestVirginiaVille.com
FIRST/PERSON: On the streets in “the capital of pain”: There are mayapples unfurling on the banks of the Kanawha River in the darkness of West Virginia’s capital city. There are humans sleeping there, too, on this cold and rainy April night, and we are among them. | by JAMES COCHRAN
5 QUESTIONS: On the Art of the Guitar: Spencer Elliott is a genre-defying solo performer based in Charleston WV, while also performing in the burning-down-the-house trio SE3. A look at keeping your day job while growing an international fan base.
CHARACTERS: ‘The Hobo Girl: She had many names and left many stories. The night ‘The Hobo Girl’ wandered into St. Albans, WV, like a footloose traveler from another time.
LISTEN/UP: Artists & Podcasters worth noting: From hip-hop innovator Shelem to podcasts worth hearing, a heads up from BLACK BY GOD: The West Virginian.
FIRST/PERSON: On Ukraine, Putin, Navalny & Zelensky: J. Michael Willard worked for Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller then went on to international career that landed him in Ukraine. Excerpts from his thoughts on Putin’s brutal invasion of the country where two daughters still live.
POETICS: Two by Colleen Anderson: Clean music. The notes fall one upon the other, / transparent. Closing my eyes on this city concert,/ I hear water, the song of melting snow on a hill / in Braxton County, in spring …
MAN/MADE: A brief meditation on ‘Reflected Glory’: A brief meditation on a shiny object in West Virginia’s capital city.