Staccato Purr of the Exhaust (The Condition of Lawns in the Area)

Institute History


The Condition of Lawns in the Area is about art, love, loss, death, cultural assimilation and how these themes affect the application of stucco to Craftsman homes. Julian, an obsessive, young and very spoiled would-be artist, can't hold a job, can't get one, and secretly doesn't want one. Two years out of art school and living at home, Julian desperately wants to get out of the house in order to establish a more independent life and to pursue painting, his declared art.

Rationalizing that it's time he take control of a beautiful property he is due to inherit from his childless and widowed Godmother Tia Lupe, Julian decides to take advantage of a rent-free room in her house. Tia Lupe is living out her death-obsessed widow-hood in a Craftsman Home her deceased husband had painstakingly maintained. When Julian arrives at the home, he finds that its wooden shingles are not there anymore, the exterior is covered by new stucco, and that the wood-frame windows are barred with black wrought iron. Julian reacts violently, but fails to completely destroy the bars and stucco.

Impressed by the idea of stucco-ing a wood-frame house, his mother decides to do it to her Craftsman home. Not taking a job, not even the one his father offers at his autobody business, Julian unsuccessfully tries to paint while fervently attempting to foil the stucco-ilization of his family's house. He inadvertently stumbles upon a series of portraits his uncle had painted of Tia Lupe, awakening his desire to take a closer look at Tia Lupe's death obsession, which up to now he hasn't taken seriously.

Julian discovers that Tia Lupe purposely stuccoed the home in a bitter response to her husband's death. The series of portraits which chronicle her life are incomplete and Julian, motivated by meeting a woman who successfully kicks him back into reality, decides to paint a portrait of a reluctant Tia Lupe. The sitting for this last portrait triggers the release of Tia Lupe's pent up anxieties and helps her more peacefully accept her husband's death. Tia Lupe's revelation helps Julian finally begin to accept the responsibility for choices he has made in his own life.


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