WBEZ | public art http://www.wbez.org/tags/public-art Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en New public art project brings the city’s statues to life http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-07/new-public-art-project-brings-city%E2%80%99s-statues-life-112588 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/talking statues Flickrjmcmichael.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It can be easy to stroll by the statues scattered around our city and not pay too much attention. When you live in a place, or even when you visit as a tourist, taking the time to read the plaque about the person, their story and their significance doesn&rsquo;t easily find its way into your day.</p><p>Well, the city of Chicago&rsquo;s got your back.</p><p>They&rsquo;ve chosen 30 statues that will provide a recorded narrative and all you have to do to get it is hold up your smartphone up to you ear and listen. The project is called &ldquo;Statue Stories Chicago,&rdquo; and it launched Thursday. What you hear is a two or three-minute long message that tells tales about the historical figure or artwork &mdash; all of them in the voices of actors and Chicagoans of note. The Bean, for example is voiced by David Schwimmer.</p><p>Joining us with more on this project are Colette Hiller, who launched the project in London and brought Talking Statues to Chicago, along with poet and activist Malcolm London and writer Blue Balliett, who wrote monologues for some of the statues featured.</p></p> Fri, 07 Aug 2015 11:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-07/new-public-art-project-brings-city%E2%80%99s-statues-life-112588 Chicago’s Union Station will get indoor park and giant blob http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-union-station-will-get-indoor-park-and-giant-blob-108435 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Union Station 130815 AY.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Commuters going to Chicago&rsquo;s Union Station on August 24 will be greeted by <a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/uploads/cms/documents/trainyard_visualplan.pdf">an indoor park</a> and <a href="https://www.metroplanning.org/uploads/cms/documents/blahblahblob_visualplan.pdf">a giant blob</a>.</p><p>The Great Hall will hold an indoor park with an artificial lawn. It will have seats made from recycled newspapers, picnic tables and tetherball. Graham Grilli, an architect at <a href="http://www.spacearchplan.com/">SPACE architects and planners</a>, the team behind the park, says city commuters travel to the suburbs to enjoy outdoor space and he wanted this park to bring the outdoors to them.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-5c71b554-8441-6b59-47f1-32c2df7bba5d">&ldquo;Union Station is one of those in-between places where you&rsquo;re in a rush the whole day, and you end up in Union Station with nothing to do for a few minutes,&rdquo; Grilli said. &ldquo;People are often using Union Station to go out to the suburbs, where there&rsquo;s a lot more open space, but the reality is they spend almost all their time commuting in a train or working in an office and they almost never get to enjoy it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Outside Union Station, the plaza will have something that looks like a giant bouncy castle. Architect Katherine Darnstadt worked on the team behind the Blah Blah Blob!, a creation of <a href="http://latentdesign.net/">Latent Design</a> and the <a href="http://www.cudc.kent.edu/">Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Lots of things will be happening inside the blob,&quot; Darnstadt said. &quot;The blob will be surrounding tables and chairs that are on the plaza so people could walk inside, have a cup of coffee, eat their lunch inside of it.&rdquo;</p><p>The blob will be lined with artificial grass and will house fitness classes. Darnstadt says several organizations in Chicago have contacted her about wanting to host the blob at future events, so residents may still see the blob around the city after it leaves Union Station.The Metropolitan Planning Council, a local nonprofit development group, organized Active Union Station, a competition for designs that would help make it a gathering place instead of just a train station. The council picked these two designs as<a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/news-events/media-release/6760"> the winners</a>, and each team will receive $5,000.</p><p>The organizers were inspired by the <a href="http://www.unionstationdc.com/">Union Station in Washington, DC</a>, which is a tourist destination in itself; and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, which has an urban space called <a href="http://universitycity.org/the-porch">the Porch</a> for art, group exercise and food trucks, says Marisa Novara, a program director at the Metropolitan Planning Council.&ldquo;There are a lot of people passing through, what we&rsquo;d like to do is give them more of a reason to stay,&rdquo; Novara said.</p><p>Novara also points out the contest &nbsp;to expand Union Station started from <a href="http://www.unionstationmp.com/">an ongoing collaboration</a> between the Metropolitan Planning Council, Amtrak, Metra, the Chicago Department of Transportation and other groups.Both installations will arrive next Saturday and stay till September 2.</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/Alan_Yu039">@Alan_Yu039</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 15 Aug 2013 18:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-union-station-will-get-indoor-park-and-giant-blob-108435 New sculptures pop up in Lakeview, Chicago http://www.wbez.org/sections/art/new-sculptures-pop-lakeview-chicago-107769 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ActionShot.jpg" title="Chicago artist Ron Gard and a crane operator place a new sculpture, titled A Night in Tunisia, on the corner of Elaine Place and Roscoe Street. (WBEZ/Elliott Ramos)" /></p><p>Toward the end of last year, Lakeview lost <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/missing-lakeview-one-goat-two-giraffes-103794">three animal friends</a> that had been a part of the neighborhood for nearly thirty years.</p><p>Now, the city is making its first attempt to fill the empty art shoes left on the corner of Elaine Place and Roscoe Street as part of a broader effort to expand public art in Chicago.</p><p>On Tuesday, a silver-haired man stood next to one of the empty podiums on Elaine Place. Rigged to his truck was a large metal sculpture. Between the glances at his cellphone and a hurried conversation with his friend, it was clear that he was waiting for something.</p><p>&ldquo;The crane&rsquo;s late,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That man is <a href="http://chicagosculptureexhibit.com/ron-gard/">Ron Gard</a>, a longtime resident of Chicago and a Bucktown-based sculptor. Gard stood by his truck, waiting for the crane that would hoist the turquoise metal hulk to it&rsquo;s new home once occupied by a chrome giraffe, one of a celebrated pair created by Chicago artist John Kearney.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GARDPose.jpeg" style="float: right;" title="Artist Ron Gard is an artist from Bucktown who is participating in the program. (WBEZ/ Simran Khosla)" />Those giraffes, along with their shiny sister, a nanny goat, were removed near the end of last year. The sculptures were an integral part of the neighborhood, dressed up like school mascots on holidays and special events. The sculptures gained so much notoriety that some residents created <a href="http://www.twitter.com/ElaineGiraffes/">Twitter feeds</a> and Four Square check-ins for the pieces.</p><p>&ldquo;They were so sad to see [the Kearney pieces] go,&rdquo; said Gard. &quot;But now, people are happy just to see that something is coming back.&rdquo;</p><p>Gard&rsquo;s work, titled <em>A Night in Tunisia</em>, is part of the <a href="http://chicagosculptureexhibit.com/">Chicago Sculpture Exhibi</a>t. That effort is also responsible for new sculptures on Broadway and Roscoe Street as well as Newport and Halsted.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a great program and it offers the artist the opportunity to expose their work and have an opportunity for someone to fall in love with it and maybe buy it,&quot; said Gard.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Daley.jpeg" style="float: left;" title="Former Alderman Vi Daley, left, is the founder of the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit. (WBEZ/ Elliott Ramos)" />The Chicago Sculpture Exhibit was founded 12 years ago by former 43rd Ward Alderman Vi Daley. The sculptures in Lakeview are part of 24 new pieces public art that the CSE will be installing this summer.&nbsp;Almost every piece is by a local Chicago artist selected by a jury in an annual &ldquo;Call for Artists&rdquo;.</p><p>The crane finally rumbles onto Elaine Place. Gard and the crane driver began the tedious task of placing the sculpture on the concrete podium as curious passersby stop to observe the scene.</p><p>Among the onlookers: Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and CSE founder Daley.</p><p>&ldquo;Vi and I have known each other before I was Alderman and she&rsquo;s been a big help in my first term and one of the things I liked most about her ward was her public art,&rdquo; said Tunney. &ldquo;She clued me in on the program and how it&rsquo;s really corporate sponsors, working with the city&rsquo;s Department of Cultural Affairs, bringing sculptures to the neighborhood.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Branches%20-%20Ray%20Katz.jpeg" style="float: right;" title="Artist Ray Katz' sculpture Branches was installed on the corner of Newport and Halsted. (WBEZ/ Simran Khosla)" />The Chicago Sculpture Exhibit began in Lincoln Park in 2001. The program expanded to Lakeview and until last year consisted of only eight public art pieces. Now, the program is exploding three-fold into five wards with 24 sculptures.</p><p>&ldquo;The art seems to get better every year, we have new artists coming in all the time too which is very exciting,&rdquo; said Daley. &ldquo;We wanted to make sure the sculptures would be in the community versus everything being down at Navy Pier&rdquo;</p><p>Tunney hopes the program will expand to more neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;Last year they worked in the first ward with Alderman [Proco Joe] Moreno,&rdquo; said Tunney. &ldquo;And we did I think five installs in the Bucktown/Wicker Park area, and we did one project up in Edgewater at Granville and Broadway.&rdquo;</p><p>The CSE is publicly and privately funded, not unlike Millenium Park. The aldermen of each participating ward recruit corporate sponsors, such the Northalsted Business Alliance, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Apartment Finders. According to Tunney, the installations cost their corporate sponsors $3,500 per a year.</p><p>The giraffes that once occupied the corner of Elaine Place and Roscoe Street were privately owned by Milton Zale, who sold a chunk of nearby property to Chicago Apartment Finders. The sculptures weren&rsquo;t included in the sale. Zale told <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130308/lakeview/returning-elaine-place-giraffe-statues-will-cost-90000">DNAinfo</a> it would cost $90,000 to return the sculptures. The removal sparked controversy among tourists and residents of the area, many of whom, thought the sculptures were publically owned pieces of art.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tunney.jpeg" style="float: left;" title="Ald. Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward was on hand for the installation. (WBEZ/ Elliott Ramos)" />Jon Pound is the executive director of <a href="http://www.cpag.net/home/">Chicago Public Art Group</a>. His group has been producing large-scale art projects in the city for the last 40 years and advocates for the increased visibility of art in public spaces.</p><p>&ldquo;The public part of it has always been an evolving form, because it&rsquo;s sometimes done on private property and sometimes on public property,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Public art serves as a form of identity for a space, a place, a neighborhood or a group of people perhaps. They in turn feel ownership of the piece even if the work is owned by another entity.&rdquo;</p><p>In this case, that ownership took the form of residents dressing the giraffes in rainbow boas and festive hats during the annual Gay Pride Parade, which is only 11 days away.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;ll be interesting to see the neighborhoods reaction but I think they&rsquo;ll appreciate the fact that there is art,&rdquo; said Tunney. &ldquo;And hopefully someday we&rsquo;ll get a giraffe back or two.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 620px;"><tbody><tr><td><strong>Map: Chicago&#39;s Public Art</strong></td></tr><tr><td><em>Sculptures around Chicago are both privately and publically owned. The map below indicates the public art by catagory. (Source: City of Chicago, Chicago Sculpture Exhibit, Chicago Sculpture International)</em></td></tr><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CSEmapkey.jpg" title="" /></div></div></div></td></tr><tr><td><iframe frameborder="0" height="755" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/June/Sculptures/ChicagoSculpturesMAP.html" width="620"></iframe></td></tr></tbody></table><p><a name="map"></a></p><p><em>Simran Khosla is a WBEZ intern. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/simkhosla">@simkhosla</a>. Email her at <a href="mailto:skhosla@wbez.org">skhosla@wbez.org</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 19 Jun 2013 10:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/art/new-sculptures-pop-lakeview-chicago-107769 Afternoon Shift: Violence in Chicago, public art and 10 years of Gapers Block http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-01/afternoon-shift-violence-chicago-public-art-and-10-years-gapers <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Picasso_sculpture_Civic_Center_360.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Niala talks with Natalie Moore and Lance Williams about last night&#39;s spike in shootings and architect Richard Tomlinson and AIC assistant curator Alison Fisher discuss bringing world class art to Chicago. Then Curious City takes a look in to the history of Dunning Insane Asylum with Robert Louerzel.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-attracting-eyeballs.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-attracting-eyeballs" target="_blank">View the story "Afternoon Shift: Violence in Chicago, showcasing art and 10 years of Gapers Block" on Storify</a>]<h1>Afternoon Shift: Violence in Chicago, showcasing art and 10 years of Gapers Block</h1><h2>Niala talks with Natalie Moore and Lance Williams about last night's spike in shootings and architect Richard Tomlinson and AIC assistant curator Alison Fisher discuss bringing world class art to Chicago. Then Curious City takes a look in to the history of Dunning Insane Asylum with Robert Louerzel.</h2><p>Storified by <a href="http://storify.com/WBEZ"></a>&middot; Wed, May 01 2013 11:45:43</p><div>Artic</div><div><b>Tinder Box:</b> Last night was the warmest night in Chicago in seven months, so it came as no surprise when the number of shootings sky rocketed. WBEZ's south side&nbsp;bureau<b>&nbsp;Natalie Moore </b>and Northeastern Illinois University professor<b> Lance Williams</b>, coauthors of the book "<a href="http://blackstonebook.com/about.html" class="">The Almighty Black P Stone Nation</a>", look in to the causes of the tension that has engulfed Chicago and how to diffuse it.&nbsp;</div><div>At least 8 wounded in separate shootings on the South, North Side(Tribune illustration) South Princeton Avenue, Chicago, IL, USA 2000 East 71st Street, Chicago, IL 60649, USA North Sheridan Road &amp; West ...</div><div><b>Attracting Artists:&nbsp;</b>What can Chicago do to showcase the work of world-class artists? The Art Institute of Chicago is holding an event tonight to look back at the famed courting of Pablo Picasso. The city ended up commissioning his work and it now stands tall and proud in Chicago's Daley Plaza. What will it take for our art community to continue to attract and showcase the artists of our time?&nbsp;<b>Richard Tomlinson</b>, architect and&nbsp;managing partner at Skidmore Owings &amp; Merrill architecture, <b>Alison Fisher</b>, the Art Institute's assistant curator for architecture and, arts patron <b>Scott Hodes </b>weigh in.&nbsp;</div><div>Building Public Art and Public Spaces: The Chicago Picasso and Its Legacy | The Art Institute of ChicagoVisit &gt; Calendar &gt; Building Public Art and Public Spaces: The Chicago Picasso and Its Legacy</div><div>CLOSING SOON—Don't miss our first major Picasso show in almost 30 years. Picasso and Chicago closes May 12! http://ow.ly/kxgD4Art Institute</div><div><b><i>Curious City</i>: </b>In the latest installment of <i>Curious City</i>, editor <b>Shawn Allee, </b>author and freelance journalist <b>Robert Louerzel</b>, sought out to answer <b>Michael Dotson</b>'s question: What's the history behind&nbsp;<div>Cook County's former Dunning Insane Asylum and the people buried nearby? The trio join Niala to share their findings.</div></div><div>Amazing #longread by @robertloerzel at @WBEZCuriousCity on the history of Dunning and its asylum/poorhouse bit.ly/11B7cRXChuck Sudo</div><div>The story of Dunning, a 'tomb for the living'In both life and death, the people who ended up at the notorious asylum and poor farm were some of Chicago&rsquo;s least fortunate reside...</div><div><b>10 Years of Gapers Block: </b>It is hard to believe the Chicago news site <i><a href="http://gapersblock.com/" class="">Gapers Block</a> </i>has been at it for a decade. <i>Gapers' </i>editor and publisher<i>&nbsp;</i><b>Andrew Huff </b>and <b>Mark Konkol</b>, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writer at large for <i><a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/" class="">DNA Info</a>, </i>discuss the health and sustainability of local independent journalism.&nbsp;</div><div>I'll be on @wbez's #afternoonshift at 3:30 today talking about @gapersblock at 10yrs &amp; the challenges &amp; opportunities of indie online media.Andrew Huff</div><div>Konkol leaves Sun-Times to write for DNAInfo ChicagoMark Konkol, the Chicago journalism superstar who won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting last year, is leaving the Sun-Times to join ...</div></noscript></p> Wed, 01 May 2013 12:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-01/afternoon-shift-violence-chicago-public-art-and-10-years-gapers A daring plan to wrap a Chicago museum raises city ire – and makes art history http://www.wbez.org/series/artwork/daring-plan-wrap-chicago-museum-raises-city-ire-%E2%80%93-and-makes-art-history-99731 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Christo%20tying%20knots%20with%20rope%20on%20a%20ladder%20-%20Harry%20Shunk.jpg" title="The artist Christo ties rope around the exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago during the installation of his 1969 show ‘Wrap In Wrap Out.’ (Harry Shunk)" /></div><p>By the time he was 33, Christo had wrapped many everyday objects. He took tables and chairs, and shopping carts and oil barrels, covered them in heavy cloth and bound them with rope.</p><p>The Bulgarian artist and his late French wife, Jeanne-Claude, are best known for <em>The Gates</em>, the billowing, bright orange arches they installed by the thousands in New York&rsquo;s Central Park in 2005. But in 1969 they were still struggling to make their mark.</p><p>Christo&rsquo;s curious wrapped parcels didn&rsquo;t live up to the artist&rsquo;s ambitions. He wanted to wrap something big, something monumental: a building, preferably in his adopted home of New York City. Christo and Jeanne-Claude self-finance all of their projects through the sale of Christo&rsquo;s preparatory drawings and scale models, so convincing someone to pay for such a project wasn&rsquo;t the issue.</p><p>During a recent conversation, he ticked off the list of buildings he approached in downtown Manhattan starting in 1961. &ldquo;Number 2 Broadway, number 20 Exchange Place,&rdquo; he recalled. &ldquo;We tried to wrap a building at Times Square.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Christo%27s%20preparatory%20drawing%20for%20wrapped%20museum%20-%20Christo.jpg" style="height: 235px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="A preparatory collage illustrates Christo’s vision to wrap the MCA. (Courtesy of Christo)" /></div><p>They all said no. Christo said he quickly realized that his best hope to wrap a building &ndash; his first in North America &ndash; would be to wrap a museum, which might be more amenable to his strange proposition.</p><p>Christo and Jeanne-Claude approached New York&rsquo;s Museum of Modern Art in 1967. The museum was interested, but Christo said they failed to secure permission for the show from the New York Fire Department or from the museum&rsquo;s insurance company.&nbsp;</p><p>So New York said no, but Chicago said yes. It was a fateful decision.</p><p>The Museum of Contemporary Art was just a year old in the fall of 1968. Its first director, a hip young Dutchman named Jan van der Marck, showed the most avant-garde work he could find. Early on the MCA showed work by groundbreaking artists like the minimalist Dan Flavin, who had his first solo museum show there; he hung alternating pink and gold fluorescent lights in the gallery and called it art. For another show, <em>Art by Telephone</em>, van der Marck invited nearly 45 artists to create work by giving the museum instructions over the phone. The museum then built and installed the pieces based on the instructions they&rsquo;d received, and sometimes changed the work on a daily basis.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fabric sample 2_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 335px; width: 250px;" title="Christo sent the MCA two fabric samples in the leadup to the show, one fire resistant and one ‘water resistant only.’ He instructed the museum to ‘light a piece of each and see the difference.’ (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" /></div><p>Van der Marck passed away in 2010, but David Katzive, the MCA&rsquo;s first curator, said his mentor&rsquo;s daring was controversial &ndash; even with some of his own bosses. &ldquo;They wanted contemporary art in the city,&rdquo; Katzive said of the museum&rsquo;s more conservative board of directors. &ldquo;They were getting that but they were also getting art that was even beyond what they had expected.&rdquo;</p><p>This was certainly true of Christo and Jeanne-Claude&rsquo;s plan to wrap the MCA in chocolate brown fabric. Inside the museum, they would wrap the gallery floors and stairwells, too, in soft white drop cloths. The show would be called <em>Wrap In Wrap Out</em>.</p><p>Jeanne-Claude died in 2009 from complications related to a brain aneurysm, but she and her husband collaborated on art projects until her death. In the lead-up to the MCA Chicago show, Christo sent the museum two fabric samples &ndash; &ldquo;for the color.&rdquo; One was fire resistant and one was labeled &ldquo;water resistant only.&rdquo; Christo&rsquo;s handwritten note instructed the museum to: &ldquo;light a piece of each and see the difference.&rdquo;</p><p>Clearly, fire safety was on the artist&rsquo;s mind. But ask whether Chicago&rsquo;s Fire Department gave the show its blessing, and you get mixed answers.</p><p>&ldquo;Yes, but of course!&rdquo; Christo insisted. &ldquo;We cannot do anything in the building before the fire department gives us approval.&rdquo;</p><p>Curator David Katzive remembered things differently. &ldquo;We didn&#39;t think we were doing anything that required permission,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So [the show] went ahead without any prior requests or clearances.&rdquo;</p><p>True to what Katzive said, we didn&rsquo;t find a permit in MCA or city records.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Christo and aid draping the fabric - Harry Shunk.jpg" style="height: 390px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="Christo and an assistant adjust the draping of one of the heavy sheets of tarpaulin suspended from the roof of the MCA. (Harry Shunk)" /></div><p>These days, Christo&rsquo;s close friend and Chicago-based lawyer, Scott Hodes, helps the artist navigate a labyrinth of bureaucracy and public opinion. He&rsquo;s gone so far as to create corporate entities with Christo and Jeanne-Claude as its employees, in order to protect the artists from personal liability. Hodes said compared to later projects such as <em>The Gates</em>, the MCA wasn&rsquo;t that complicated or dangerous.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;He had over a thousand people in New York at <em>The Gates</em>. He had monitors to make sure that people didn&#39;t get injured,&rdquo; Hodes said. &ldquo;There were some projects that were so dangerous that he didn&#39;t hire volunteers. The project in Paris to wrap the Pont Neuf was done by professional rock climbers.&rdquo;</p><p>The Chicago installation couldn&rsquo;t have been more different. Picture Christo, eight art students and David Katzive gathered in front of the museum on a snowy January day. The MCA was located at 237 E. Ontario then, in a one-story building that once housed the offices for Playboy. &ldquo;It was a shoebox structure &ndash; really quite dull and nothing special,&rdquo; Christo recalled.</p><p>The artist and his team were equipped with thousands of feet of rope and thousands of square feet of heavy, dark brown tarpaulin. &ldquo;It took quite a bit of work to haul [the tarps] up to the roof,&rdquo; Katzive said. &ldquo;It was laid out in long piles and pulled up, much as you would raise a curtain.&rdquo;</p><p>Watching the installation that day, an observer from the MCA described the scene this way: &ldquo;Christo and two men straighten the tarps as they hang. The Curator bites his nails.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Wrapped stairwell and gallery - Harry Shunk.jpg" style="height: 342px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Christo and Jeanne-Claude also wrapped the MCA’s interior in white drop cloth. (Harry Shunk)" />After they secured the fabric to a wooden frame they&rsquo;d built on the roof, Christo tied the rope in knots around the building &ndash; an important part of the project&rsquo;s aesthetic, according to Katzive.</div><p>&ldquo;Christo would be tying the ropes, pretty much improvising on the spot,&rdquo; Katzive recalled. &ldquo;He&#39;d run a line, tie a knot through the middle of it, run rope throughout that &ndash; some were real knots, some were just tangles of rope &ndash; to create a pattern of the hemp on the canvas, to make it beautiful.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>As the team worked, falling snow accumulated in the dark fabric&rsquo;s many folds. Christo called that &ldquo;the most rewarding part of the project ... suddenly the entire museum became like a sculpture.</p><p>The installation attracted the attention of city dwellers and the national media, who swarmed the site. You can see the commotion in a short film Katzive shot that day.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/yg2Dqj6WTHg" width="601"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;There was a kind of party-like atmosphere,&rdquo; Katzive remembered. &ldquo;Passersby on the street would stop and look and watch. . . they kind of picked up on the joyousness of it. We would hear people say things like, &lsquo;They&#39;re wrapping the whole building! They&#39;re wrapping the whole thing!&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jan and Ingeborg van der Marck and friend at Christo opening 1969 med res (small).jpg" style="height: 272px; width: 400px; float: left;" title="From right: Ingeborg and Jan van der Marck and a friend explore the wrapped gallery barefoot during the opening reception for the show. (Courtesy of the MCA)" /></div><p>MCA staff told Christo the show did &ldquo;beautiful things to people.&rdquo; Inside the museum, students drew, children turned somersaults, and more than one couple was caught making out under the stairs.</p><p>But not every observer was so enthralled. Many art critics and museum directors hated the show. Newspaper accounts described confused onlookers and laughing construction workers. A Mrs. Frank O&rsquo;Brien of Superior, Wis. wrote the MCA, asking, &ldquo;Will you kindly advise me who is paying for this insane idea. . . .?&rdquo;</p><p>Then, towards the end of the first day of work, a reporter saw a fire official inspecting a building across the street. The inspector spotted the museum; he was shocked. He stormed over, demanding to know: Where was their permit?</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sitting downstairs in my office and I hear a little hollering,&rdquo; David Katzive recalled. &ldquo;The fire department had showed up, telling us that we were in violation of some city code. Jan [van der Marck] asked them, &lsquo;What were we in violation of?&rsquo; And they told him &lsquo;You&#39;ve covered your windows.&rsquo; Of course they didn&#39;t know, because the building was entirely covered, that there were no windows.&rdquo;</p><p>Museum staff told inspectors they&rsquo;d left the front door and roof uncovered, as well as a rear delivery entrance. But the fire department wasn&rsquo;t satisfied with that explanation. &ldquo;Here we would have potentially had a building in downtown Chicago with a combustible exterior. That&rsquo;s not something that&rsquo;s going to make the Fire Prevention Bureau very happy,&rdquo; said Ed Prendergast, who was an engineer with the bureau at the time.</p><p>The inspector who spotted the building that day worked with Prendergast, who thought he and his colleagues were right to be cautious.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cheif%20murphy%20photo%20%28small%29.jpg" style="height: 268px; width: 200px; float: right;" title="First Deputy Chief Fire Marshal Francis J. Murphy was the head of the Chicago Fire Prevention Bureau in 1969. (Courtesy of Ken Little)" /></div><p>&ldquo;The city has had some fairly catastrophic occurrences,&rdquo; he said, like the 1967 five-alarm fire that destroyed McCormick Place. After that incident and the deadly 1958 Our Lady of the Angels Church fire, which killed 92 students and three nuns, Prendergast said that former Mayor Richard J. Daley was &ldquo;obviously not interested in having any more major fires.&rdquo;</p><p>So in stepped the head of the Fire Prevention Bureau. First Deputy Chief Fire Marshal Francis J. Murphy was a &ldquo;dems and dose&rdquo; kind of guy, a hands-on boss beloved by his crew. He didn&rsquo;t just enforce Chicago&rsquo;s fire code, he helped write parts of it. Now he wanted proof that the heavy brown fabric wrapped around the MCA was firesafe.</p><p>Murphy died in 1996, but he left behind a lengthy &ndash; and heated &ndash; letter exchange with Jan van der Marck and his staff, now housed in the MCA&rsquo;s archive.</p><p>Van der Marck wrote to Chief Murphy and assured him the tarpaulin around the museum posed no threat, so did the Chicago-based canvas supplier, who claimed the fabric had been prepared with &ldquo;the same treatment used on most high rise buildings&rdquo; in the city, including the Hancock Building.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;But those reassurances weren&rsquo;t enough to sway Chief Murphy.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jan%20JvdM%20and%20Ingeborg%20at%20Christo%20opening%201969%20med%20res%20%28small%29.jpg" style="float: right; height: 274px; width: 350px;" title="Jan and Ingeborg van der Marck at the opening for ‘Wrap In Wrap Out.’ (Courtesy of the MCA)" /></div><p>The next day, Chicago&rsquo;s art glitterati assembled for a black-tie reception with museum founders, the city&rsquo;s biggest collectors and Christo. The artist and his wife were dressed to the nines. &ldquo;I remember [Jeanne-Claude&rsquo;s] very fancy French boots, from Paris &ndash; up to the top of the legs,&rdquo; Christo said.</p><p>Into all that pageantry strode Chief Murphy. He walked straight up to Jan van der Marck and handed him a letter. Reassurances from the canvas company, he wrote, were &ldquo;self-serving&rdquo; and &ldquo;not informative.&rdquo; He wanted a lab test that proved the fabric was fire-resistant and he wanted it in 48 hours.</p><p>The &ldquo;or else&rdquo; was implied.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MCA in the snow - Harry Shunk.jpg" style="float: left; height: 446px; width: 300px;" title="Snow accumulates in the folds of the heavy cloth. (Harry Shunk)" /></div><p>Van der Marck resisted taking down the show. He provided more experts who argued that the test Murphy wanted was outrageous &ndash; they&rsquo;d have to go to New Jersey to find a lab to do it &ndash; and that the fabric had the same treatment as canvas used by the U.S. Army.</p><p>But weeks passed without a response from the fire chief. Finally, according to curator David Katzive, the museum got an order to take down the show. But by this point it was already closing &ndash; and nearly 14,000 people had seen it.&nbsp;</p><p>Visual art tastemakers saw it too, according to lawyer Scott Hodes. &ldquo;It gave Chicago a different impression in the art world,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The Chicago art scene was dominated by the Art Institute of Chicago, which would not have done this kind of a show. The MCA coming aboard showed Chicago could be on the leading edge, too.&rdquo; Christo said Chicago was crucial in his own artistic evolution, giving him the credibility to wrap bigger buildings, like the German parliament in 1995.</p><p>Ironically, as Christo&rsquo;s reputation grew and he was ushered into the canon of contemporary art, the city went from fighting him to courting him. The Morton Salt Company, for example, invited Christo and Jeanne-Claude to wrap a mammoth pile of salt at its South Side facility shortly after the MCA show. Former Mayor Harold Washington was a fan, too, according to Hodes.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The mayor and Christo talked about doing a project in Chicago and Mayor Washington basically said to Christo, &lsquo;You decide what you&#39;d like to do and I&#39;ll see to it that Chicago welcomes you,&rsquo;&rdquo; Hodes said.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/blow%20torch.JPG" style="float: right; height: 415px; width: 310px;" title="A volunteer uses a blow torch to heat up the sidewalk before laying down vinyl for ‘Color Jam.’ (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" /></div>Christo hasn&rsquo;t come back, but other artists have benefitted from the trail he blazed.</div><p>As night fell on the corner of State and Adams last week, volunteers used a blowtorch to heat the sidewalk, then laid down huge sheets of red, green and blue vinyl. They were wrapping the intersection &ndash; the whole intersection: buildings, streets, lampposts, everything.</p><p>The project is called <em>Color Jam</em>, and its creator, Chicago artist Jessica Stockholder, claims it&rsquo;s the biggest ever vinyl art project in North America. Program manager and curator Tristan Hummel, who works with the project sponsor, the Chicago Loop Alliance, said the paperwork to make this happen was extreme. He can&rsquo;t imagine doing it the way Christo might have done.</p><p>&ldquo;To accomplish anything on this scale, to do so without permission would be suicidal,&rdquo; Hummel said. &ldquo;You&#39;re talking about a huge loss of investment.&rdquo;</p><p>Luckily, he said, the city and other stakeholders have embraced the project, which opens Tuesday June 5th.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I wouldn&#39;t be surprised if in the &lsquo;70s if they were just like, &lsquo;Weirdo,&rsquo; like dismissive of a project like that,&rdquo; he said of Christo&rsquo;s 1969 MCA project. &ldquo;Now I think it&#39;s been proven a little better that art has an impact.&rdquo;</p><p>As Hummel and his crew worked, two Chicago police officers rolled up in their SUV. One leaned out the window and asked what was going on. They&rsquo;re installing art, I told them. The cop nodded his head and they drove away.</p></p> Fri, 01 Jun 2012 10:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/artwork/daring-plan-wrap-chicago-museum-raises-city-ire-%E2%80%93-and-makes-art-history-99731 Goodbye, Norma Jean: Marilyn Monroe statue leaves town next week--and good riddance http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-05/goodbye-norma-jean-marilyn-monroe-statue-leaves-town-next-week-and-good <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/monroe statue_flickr_phil roeder_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/StS-QBd-_78" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe></p><p>I pretty much <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-07-15/big-marilyn-brings-itch-mag-mile-little-more-89236">had my say</a> last July when that big Marilyn Monroe<em> Seven Year Itch</em> statue went up outside 401 N. Michigan.</p><p>But in the wake <a href="http://www.wbez.org/culture/marilyn-monroe-statue-leave-chicago-98704">of news</a> the monstrosity is being taken down Monday and shipped to, hopefully, some carnival grounds somewhere, I couldn't resist a parting shot of the 25-ft tall work--and its popularity--by presenting the above video clip from the 1975 film <em>Tommy</em>.</p></p> Wed, 02 May 2012 09:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-05/goodbye-norma-jean-marilyn-monroe-statue-leaves-town-next-week-and-good The Chicago Hall of Fame http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-04/chicago-hall-fame-98098 <p><p>Two years ago, I founded the Chicago Hall of Fame.</p><p>What–we didn’t have a hall of fame before then? Today there are halls of fame for aviators, inventors, songwriters, police, rock-and-roll, and every sport in the world. But before 2010, there was no Chicago Hall of Fame. That's why I started one on my old "Unknown Chicago" blog.</p><p>You might say that the first hall of fame was developed by the Catholic Church–think of the roster of canonized saints. However, the modern idea dates from 1900, with the founding of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in New York.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04-17--Franklin%20Street_0.JPG" title="What do we do with Franklin Street?"></div></div><div><p>Anyway, here are my simple rules for induction--</p></div><p>(1) “Chicago” includes the city, suburbs and exurbs.</p><p>(2) The person named must have made a major and long-lasting impact on Chicago, or have helped publicize Chicago to the wider world.</p><p>(3) The person named need not be a native of Chicago, but must have made her/his worthy contribution while living in Chicago.</p><p>(4) The person named must be dead at least 25 years. &nbsp;</p><p>The Chicago Hall of Fame currently has sixteen enshrinees--</p><div><p><strong>Jean Baptist Pointe DuSable (1745?-1818) &nbsp;</strong></p><p><strong>William B. Ogden (1805-1877)</strong></p></div><p><strong>Carter Harrison Sr. (1825-1893)</strong></p><p><strong>(Aaron) Montgomery Ward (1844-1913)</strong></p><p><strong>Daniel Burnham (1846-1912)</strong></p><p><strong>William Rainey Harper (1856-1906)</strong></p><div><p><strong>Samuel Insull (1859-1938)</strong></p></div><div><p><strong>Jane Addams (1860-1935)</strong></p></div><p><strong>Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)</strong></p><p><strong>Robert R. McCormick (1880-1955)</strong></p><div><p><strong>George Halas (1895-1983)</strong></p></div><div><p><strong>Al Capone (1899-1947)</strong></p></div><div><p><strong>Richard J. Daley (1902-1976)</strong></p></div><div><p><strong>Nelson Algren (1909-1981)</strong></p></div><p><strong>Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972)</strong></p><p><strong>Bill Veeck (1914-1986)</strong></p><p>Some of these people are my choices, some reflect suggestions I received from readers of my former blog.</p><p>I gave a lot of thought to how we should memorialize these people. &nbsp;Busts in a museum are forgotten, so we have to do this out in public. The Hollywood Walk of Fame idea has been worked to death by the Buy-a-Brick craze.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04-17--Coming%20soon.jpg" title="Bring in the Chicago Hall of Fame!"></div></div></div><p>My solution incorporates an iconic, highly-visible part of Chicago’s heritage. We produce statues of the honorees—and attach them to sidewalk pillars of the ‘L.’</p><p>The stretch along Franklin Street between Kinzie and Chicago Avenue is perfect. The "L" pillars are all on the sidewalk, and there are about a hundred of them. The location is close to the major tourist areas. Putting the Chicago Hall of Fame there would also spruce up a pretty depressed-looking street.</p><p>So send me your ideas for further honorees in the Chicago Hall of Fame. And contact whatever movers-and-shakers you know who could make this idea a reality.</p><p>The Chicago Hall of Fame under the Franklin Street "L"—now that would be <em>real</em> public art!</p></p> Mon, 16 Apr 2012 11:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-04/chicago-hall-fame-98098 Mural restoration heartens Puerto Ricans http://www.wbez.org/story/mural-restoration-heartens-puerto-ricans-92248 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/mural-2_WBEZ_Chip-Mitchell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>One of the country’s oldest outdoor murals covers a storefront on Chicago’s Northwest Side. People who care about the 40-year-old painting are finishing a facelift. The mural restoration is doing more than brightening up a gritty stretch of North Avenue. It’s got Puerto Ricans in the Humboldt Park neighborhood talking about their heritage.</p><p>MITCHELL: A celebration of the restoration included music with roots in Puerto Rican slave plantations.&nbsp;José López of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center recalled the artists who painted the mural in 1971.</p><p>LOPEZ: Young Puerto Ricans from the street — people who were marginalized — decided to give us a legacy for our historical memory.</p><p>MITCHELL: The mural covers the side of 2423 W. North Ave. and includes portraits of nine Puerto Ricans who struggled for abolition and the island’s independence from Spain and, later, the United States. Three of them are on crosses. Those three all served long U.S. prison terms in the mid-20th century. The artists, led by Mario Galán, named the mural “La Crucifixión de Don Pedro Albizu Campos” after a Puerto Rican Nationalist Party founder. They put him on the biggest cross. López said the mural has special meaning in a part of Chicago where many Puerto Ricans can no longer afford to live.</p><p>LOPEZ: Gentrification means, many times, the writing away of people’s history.</p><p>MITCHELL: Restoring the mural took a decade. Neighborhood leader Eduardo Arocho attributes that to a developer who owned a vacant lot in front of the work.</p><p>AROCHO: His plans were to develop a three-story condo unit. We tried negotiating with him for several months, even at one point offering him several lots in exchange. And he refused and he just started to build the wall, covering the mural intentionally. And so that’s when we grabbed our picket signs and started to protest.</p><p>MITCHELL: The city finally won control of the lot and helped turn it into a small park to keep the mural visible.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: It’s remarkable that this mural has survived.</p><p>MITCHELL: John Pitman Weber is a professor at Elmhurst College in DuPage County. He has studied and created public art for more than four decades. And he provided consulting for this mural’s restoration, carried out by Humboldt Park artist John Vergara.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: Its content is unique, not only in Chicago but nationally.</p><p>MITCHELL: And aesthetics? Pitman Weber calls the mural formal and stark.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: Kind of Byzantine, in a way, quasi-naïve -- executed by some very, very young artists. The style possibly even adds clarity.</p><p>MITCHELL: Not all Puerto Ricans appreciate the artwork or the idea of the island breaking from the U.S. But when I ask the ones who walk by, most have strong attachments to the mural.</p><p>WOMAN 1: My mom used to go to St. Aloysius. My parents did and so...</p><p>MITCHELL: That’s a church right here.</p><p>WOMAN 1: It’s a church down the street. I used to go there when I was a little girl. And my mom would drive us to church and that’s how I knew we were getting close is when I’d see the mural almost every Sunday.</p><p>MAN 1: I see Don Pedro on the cross being crucified for what he believed in. Crucified the same way as Jesus!</p><p>WOMAN 2: I used to get up every morning and look at this mural.</p><p>MAN 2: I went to prison. I was 17 years old and I went to prison for 20 years. And, during those 20 years, when I used to think about home and I used to think about Humboldt Park, it was this mural that I used to think about.</p><p>MITCHELL: Why is that?</p><p>MAN 2: I remember when I was first looking at it, I think I was maybe 9 or 10 when I first noticed it, I didn’t know anything about Puerto Rican history. To me it was just a painting that was up there. I didn’t understand who was up there, what it was about. But when I went to prison I learned about my culture, I learned about who I was. I even got this guy on my arm. Two of these guys are on my arm.</p><p>MITCHELL: Tattoos.</p><p>MAN 2: Yeah, Pedro Albizu Campos on my right arm and I got Ramón Emeterio Betances on my left arm. And I think I can attribute that to this mural, man.</p><p>MITCHELL: The mural restoration will be complete with the addition of calligraphy this fall.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/mural-restoration-heartens-puerto-ricans-92248 Helping Chicago communities express themselves through public art http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-23/helping-chicago-communities-express-themselves-through-public-art-86895 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-23/47st01.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Many take issue with the current spring in Chicago; what with the cool temperatures and wet weather but warmer temperatures are coming. Which means citizens will finally be able to take a stroll and enjoy Chicago’s public art.</p><p><a href="http://www.jpweberart.com/" target="_blank">John Pitman Weber</a> is the co-founder of <a href="http://www.cpag.net/home/" target="_blank">Chicago Public Art Group</a>; he recently spoke to Alison Cuddy from his Pilsen studio.</p><p><br> <br> Find out how the 47th Street Mural came together.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/UkOoa8te3D4" width="560"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/wgjC9zm3AbE" width="560"></iframe><br> <br> <em>Music Button: The Sea and Cake, "The Moonlight Butterfly", from the CD Moonlight Butterfly (Thrill Jockey Records)</em></p></p> Mon, 23 May 2011 13:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-23/helping-chicago-communities-express-themselves-through-public-art-86895