Three to See: Places and Spaces

April 18, 2008

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Each week Chicago Public Radio's Matt Cunningham brings us three events for our cultural edification! This week he's in search of great places and spaces.

This May, to showcase Chicago's architectural heritage, the Mayor's Office of Special Events will host its tenth annual Great Chicago Places and Spaces. Architects open their studios and new projects for an entire weekend. 

Other than a few impressive views of the skyline and tours of new buildings like Trump Tower, Spertus Institute and the Center on Halsted, there isn't a lot  to draw for the novice. 

But for five Wednesdays leading up to the big event, Chicagoans will lead conversations at venues throughout the city.  Each will connect to the place or space in which they are speaking. 

This coming Wednesday, Ronne Hartfield will read from her book Another Way Home: The Tangled Roots of Race in one Chicago Family. 

HARTFIELD:  I grew up in a community where mix race was normative.  And there were 15 kids on my block alone. And Hyde Parks like that.  I like that about it.  That my kids went to school with people who where half black and half Chinese.  Some of them are half white and half Japanese.  All of that was possible around you.  So whatever you were was just one version of the mix. 

Ronne Hartfield will speak about growing up on the southside of Chicago.  Next Wednesday at noon at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S Cornell Avenue.

Stop two of our Three to See addresses space in a very different way, through the reading series Red Rover. 

There are a lot of opportunities for Chicagoans to hear authors read from their works.  But this reading series incorporates dance, visual art and the spaces in between says Jennifer Karmin series co-director. 

KARMIN:  Sometimes the audience is on the floor.  Sometimes they're sitting in a circle.  Sometimes they're facing each other.  Sometimes we make them stand in different ways. 
How you can experience language in a real time feels very important to the series.  And that this is work that doesn't just exist on the page.  How do you take the experience of reading a book and try to translate it into a space in some ways.

This Saturday night's performance marks the series' 3rd anniversary and a new space.
The Division Street Dance Loft at Halsted in Chicago's Lakeview Neighborhood. 
Contributors will be perform readings from the collection, A Sing Economy.  The performance starts at 7PM. 

Now from the Lakeview neighborhood to the Land Down Under, via a new River North gallery, stop three of our Three to See takes us to the Aboriginal Art Collection. 

The gallery brings us the paintings of the Aboriginal communities of Central Australia. Until the early seventies the stories told by these self-taught artists were created in sand or as tattoos.  Now a burgeoning field of art has come out of it. 

For some Aboriginal communities, the colors used, stories told and images featured have not changed over the centuries.  They use the color palate their ancestors used to tell the same stories. 

Gallery Director Manuel Pulido says those parameters still allow for the individual artist's influence.

PULIDO:  The story's the same.  It's a birth right that's passed down.  But the painting evolves and changes so every piece is a little bit different.  Then the style may change and the whole style of the painting may change, but the story they are telling, remains constant. 

Other Aboriginal communities have broken from the tradition.  And a younger generation of artists has go to university for formal training, incorporating their tradition into their contemporary society. 

You can see these examples as well on display at the new Aboriginal Art Collection gallery, 226 W Superior, during normal gallery hours.