Jen Turner

jen turner is an architect and hotelier based in austin

01    Nature

We went to the beach one weekend and while playing along the shore a little blowfish came in with the tide. He was clearly out of his territory. My initial instinct (he was so cute!) was to scoop him right up. But my husband grabbed a bucket and swam him as far out as possible in order to get him past the tidal current. I hope he’s still out there puffing himself up.

02    Object (old)

I drew up a table based on one of Donald Judd’s designs and had it built for our courtyard. The millworker delivered it this month. We ate outside that first night. Cooking and then eating a meal outside on a beautiful evening fills me up. I am also excited about being able to host a large al fresco gathering...

03    Object (new)

While passing through Houston we stopped at The Menil Collection (one of my favorite places for the art, the architecture and the general vibes). They have a drawings-only exhibit of superstar artists called, “The Beginning of Everything.” And from across two galleries a piece caught my eye: a deceivingly simple but compelling rendering of a crevasse between dramatic rock formations. I was surprised and yet not to discover it was by Georgia O’Keefe and completed later in her career when she was mainly producing the swirling colorful work she’s known for. Interestingly this piece seems to me to align so well with her personal style which has recently come to view.

04    Surprise

I showed up on site of our Austin project which just started construction. That day they were prepping to fell some large Pecan trees in poor condition. Looking at them, especially a group of three close together, I was unexpectedly overcome with sadness about having to take them down. They seemed like they were all old friends. Since we’re re-using what wood we can mill from them, I’m hoping we can stick them at the bar together.

05    Encounter

A night of encounters: I was out with a new colleague and a potential colleague (both from out of town) and after dinner we stopped by a friend of a friend’s art opening where I ran into a friend who I don’t see very often but as usual we had such a kindred conversation. Then we made one final stop where I ran into yet another friend whose Brazilian band was playing there that night. All these run-ins filled me with a strong sense of belonging to a place.

06    Night Out

I went to see Hamilton Leithauser with an old friend. Several months ago we made a pact to buy tickets to see more shows. It’s something we did all the time in college and it’s so nice to still share this love of live music. As I said to her that night, "Same gals, more wrinkles."

07    Day Out

One Saturday morning we were supposed to go to a kiddo party but it was cancelled because of looming storms. Spontaneously I decided my husband, son and I would head in the opposite direction to a blueberry farm that was having a "pick your own" day. Twelve pints of blueberries later, we opted to check out a nearby historic town for lunch. Towards the end of our meal a two piece ragtime/bluegrass band showed up. They were great and the percussionist had this beautiful customized washboard complete with bells and whistles which he tap tapped with his Edward Scissorhands-like metal fingertips. My son put a tip in the bucket and they gave us a CD which was the perfect thing for the ride home.

08    Time Alone

I’ve recently become interested in Ayurveda. And one important lifestyle aspect is adopting what they call dinacharya, or the daily routine. Many of the suggested practices, including meditation, are all meant to be done upon waking (early) and before eating breakfast. So, thanks to my supportive husband, most mornings this month were an attempt to make space for this daily routine. So far I’ve found it's very centering to my day and outlook.

09    Time With A Friend

My sisters and I all live in the same city for the first time in decades since leaving home. But living in different parts of town with different schedules we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. Miraculously, we zero’d in on a night to try a new restaurant, celebrate a birthday and catch up on our lives. I’m lucky that my sisters are also my friends.

010    Movie / TV / Book

A slice of what I read this month which I realize now are all examinations of humanity in some way:
+ The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander
+ M Train by Patti Smith
+ an eye-opening interview with Maia Szalavitz about addiction in The Sun
+ "Lola’s Story," by Alex Tizon in The Atlantic (I dare you to get through that one without a kleenex box!)

"The structure of life I have described in buildings - the structure which I believe to be objective - is deeply and inextricably connected with the human person, and with the innermost nature of human feeling." -Christopher Alexander

011    Creative Act

I signed up for a printmaking course and went to the first class. We practiced our carving skills which was surprisingly relaxing.


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little blowfish on Galveston Island

little blowfish on Galveston Island

From a River Trip, 1962. Georgia O'Keeffe

From a River Trip, 1962. Georgia O'Keeffe

Picking blueberries with a harness.&nbsp;

Picking blueberries with a harness. 

Percussionist from the band Ragtime Willie

Percussionist from the band Ragtime Willie

From the "Being Alive” chapter in Christopher Alexander’s  The Timeless Way of Building. &nbsp;

From the "Being Alive” chapter in Christopher Alexander’s The Timeless Way of Building. 

Carving knives and their cuts

Carving knives and their cuts