Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Radio makes its local debut at CMA

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Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Radio is a terrific documentary about a socially conscientious architect who founded Auburn University’s Rural Studio. It makes its Cleveland debut tonight at 7 at the Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. Here’s our review of the film.

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Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Radio (U.S., 2010) We pretty much learn Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee’s whole story in the first five minutes of this documentary, directed by Sam Wainwright Douglas. Mockbee took a job at Auburn University in the early ’90s and created what he called the “Rural Studio” in a particularly poor part of Alabama, building homes and structures out of recycled materials for people and institutions that didn’t have the money for anything extravagent. The images we see of some of his buildings are quite striking, especially when juxtaposed with some of the dilapidated buildings they replaced. The late Mockbee has his detractors. One colleague criticizes him for being too close to the people who inhabit his buildings. But his voice is a minor one in the movie. Ultimately, the film takes Mockbee’s side, but because it provides a balanced view, it’s better off. ***

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