WBEZ | art http://www.wbez.org/tags/art Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A fresh look at Freedom Wall http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/fresh-look-freedom-wall-109771 <p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/136868066&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>(Editor&#39;s note: The current episode of Curious City&#39;s podcast includes the interview portion of this story about Freedom Wall. That interview begins at 4 minutes, 55 seconds. Also, we&#39;re <a href="#form">taking your suggestions</a> about who should be included in a contemporary, digital Freedom Wall.)</em></p><p>If you ride the Brown Line or the Purple Line through Chicago&rsquo;s River North neighborhood, you&rsquo;ve probably seen this <a href="#list">list of names</a>. It&rsquo;s on the side of a brick building on Huron Street, where the Nacional 27 restaurant is located. The black banner stretches 72 feet high. Martin Luther King is at the top. Farther down, you&rsquo;ll see Harriet Tubman, the Dalai Lama, Frank Zappa, Ayn Rand and more.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker%20and%20artist%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 180px; width: 250px; float: right;" title="Dominique Lewis asked about the large banner of names on the city's Near North Side. Artist Adam Brooks, right, explained what's behind the piece called Freedom Wall. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" />Dominique Lewis caught glimpses of those 69 names in white letters &mdash; as well as one mysterious blank line &mdash; as she rode the Purple Line to work every day. &ldquo;I thought, &lsquo;That&rsquo;s weird. Why is Rush Limbaugh on a list with Martin Luther King Jr.?&rsquo;&rdquo; she says. So <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/1189" target="_blank">she asked Curious City to investigate</a> the list&#39;s history and whether there&#39;s a common theme that connects those names.</p><p>Well, it&rsquo;s called <em>Freedom Wall</em>, and all of the names represent freedom ... or someone&rsquo;s idea of freedom, anyway. The artist who created it &nbsp;&mdash; Adam Brooks, a <a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Art_and_Design/Faculty_Staff/FT_Faculty/Adam_Brook.php">Columbia College professor</a> who grew up in London &mdash; says he didn&rsquo;t have a partisan political agenda when he put up the list 20 years ago this August. In fact, he went out of his way to include conservative as well as liberal opinions about who represents freedom. And he avoided spelling out the word &ldquo;freedom&rdquo; on the banner because he wanted to make people think. He certainly got Lewis thinking.</p><p>Brooks acknowledges that <em>Freedom Wall</em> prompts some people to ask, &ldquo;Wait, that&rsquo;s supposed to be art?&rdquo; But he appears to have very little ego about his artwork, not even bothering to sign it. Brooks is trying to engage the public with his public art, not to dazzle people with his artistic prowess.</p><p>We invited Brooks to the WBEZ studios to discuss <em>Freedom Wall</em>. Lewis joined us for the conversation and added some questions of her own. Here&rsquo;s an edited transcript of our discussion.</p><p><strong>Why did you create <em>Freedom Wall</em>?</strong></p><p><strong>Brooks:</strong> In 1992 and the lead-up to the presidential election that year, I heard the candidates really ramping up the idea of freedom. Of course, who&rsquo;s going to be against freedom? America is the land of the free. I was interested in exploring that word a little bit further.</p><p><strong>Why did you seek other people&rsquo;s opinions?</strong></p><p><strong>Brooks: </strong>It would&rsquo;ve been very easy for me to sit down and draw up a list of names of people that I felt embodied the idea of freedom, but that would&rsquo;ve been rather boring. And so what I did was essentially ask the question, &ldquo;Give me the names of up to three people that you feel embody the concept of freedom, whatever that means to you.&rdquo;</p><p>The Internet was really in its infancy then as a communicative medium. I posted this question on America Online, and in relatively short order, people started responding &mdash; particularly teachers, who were early adopters of the technology in their classrooms. The rank of the names on the list is essentially reflective of the frequency of nomination of those names. So Martin Luther King received the most votes.</p><p><strong>Lewis: </strong>Did you have favorite names on the list, people who stood out for you for exemplifying freedom?</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/freedom%20wall%20vertical%20for%20WEB%20cred%20robert%20loerzel.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 330px; width: 220px;" title="The names listed on Freedom Wall were hand-lettered by a single craftsman from northern Indiana. (WBEZ/Robert Loerzel)" /><strong>Brooks:</strong> As far as I&rsquo;m concerned, that question is not pertinent to the project. Undoubtedly, personally I do, but because of the way that I work I don&rsquo;t take an ideological or other particular stance. I&rsquo;m interested in asking questions, and not posing answers. That, to me, is what art making is about &mdash; is to ask questions. And so, while certainly there are some people that I feel affinity with on the list more than others, I don&rsquo;t feel that it&rsquo;s really important for me to give you a specific answer.</p><p>I consciously did a search for conservatives and sent out hundreds of email requests to those people that themselves identified as conservatives. Because one of the things that I didn&rsquo;t want to end up happening was for someone like Rush Limbaugh to look at a project like this, and say, &ldquo;Oh, it&rsquo;s just another piece of liberal claptrap.&rdquo;</p><p>It was very important to me that there was no alteration, omission or any other kind of tampering with the results on my part. The only thing that I had to make decisions about was when specific names got the same number of nominations &mdash; how to rank them next to each other. So putting Anita Hill and Rush Limbaugh together, because they did get the same number of nominations, was quite delicious to me. Other than that, it&rsquo;s completely straight.</p><p><strong>Lewis: </strong>Did any of the names you received shape or change your ideas of freedom?</p><p><strong>Brooks: </strong>There was one set of answers from a German artist who was living in Chicago at that point in time, who was always a bit of a jokester. His three names were Stalin, Louis XIV and Hitler. And his rationale was that those three individuals created worlds in which they had absolute freedom to do whatever they wanted to do. And while that&rsquo;s an extreme response, I think that it&rsquo;s just as valid as any of the other responses that I received.<a name="list"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/VaCQr/1/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="200"></iframe><br /><a href="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ai7E2pZ6aCZtdF9xNXo4RlNZbFZuV3JTbDNWWUNkX1E&amp;usp=drive_web#gid=0" target="_blank">(view / download list)</a></p><p><strong>Why is there a blank line under Frank Zappa?</strong></p><p><strong>Brooks: </strong>I think six people responded saying that they really didn&rsquo;t feel that one name could sufficiently embody the idea of freedom. And in fact, one respondent actually said she didn&rsquo;t know what freedom was and seriously doubted that it existed. And so it was important to me to recognize the fact that actually some people refuse to participate. In hindsight, it also functioned as a space into which passersby could potentially, mentally, insert their own choice.</p><p><strong>How did <em>Freedom Wall</em> end up at this location on Huron Street?</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wide%20shot%20FOR%20WEB%20cred%20mickey%20capper.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 320px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Adam Brooks' Freedom Wall is set against a building that's the home of the Nacional 27 restaurant. (WBEZ/Mickey Capper)" /><strong>Brooks:</strong> The building at that time was owned by Buzz Ruttenberg, who has been a longtime supporter of the arts in Chicago. And the gallery that I was affiliated with at that time, the Rhona Hoffman Gallery, was actually in that building. Rhona and Buzz and I sat down and talked about the project, and without any hesitation, Buzz said, &ldquo;Yeah, it&rsquo;s fine, just make sure that it doesn&rsquo;t deteriorate.&rdquo; And I assured him that the technology had reached a point where it would not be peeling off &mdash; and indeed, it still looks pristine 20 years later, which is kind of amazing to me.</p><p>This was the second mooted location for the project. The original location, not too far away, was all set to go. The landlord of the building took a look at the long list, and saw Hitler on it, and said, &ldquo;There&rsquo;s gonna be crowds of people throwing bricks through my window if Hitler makes it onto the list. So unfortunately, I can&rsquo;t work with you on this project.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Lewis: Did the train [The CTA Brown Line] pass by the original site?</strong></p><p><strong>Brooks: </strong>No. So in the end, it worked out very well for everyone concerned. Because being able to see it from the train is a huge advantage in its visibility, and I&rsquo;ve always liked the idea that it&rsquo;s a fleeting experience.</p><p><strong>How did you choose the font?</strong></p><p><strong>Brooks: </strong>The font is Helvetica, which is one of the most common sans-serif fonts. Helvetica is probably the most ordinary font there is. I want people to look at the information and not think about the font at all.</p><p><strong>Why did you put this list of names up without any explanation on the wall? You don&rsquo;t have the word &ldquo;freedom&rdquo; anywhere to explain what this is all about.</strong></p><p><strong>Brooks: </strong>I believe that art should not be a spoon-feeding process &mdash; that people should do some work, at least, to gain access to the kind of work that I make. Neither do I want it to be purposefully opaque or obscure, but asking passersby and viewers to do a bit of work to make connections between all of the names on that list is one of the essential components of the project for me.</p><p><strong>Lewis:</strong> I think it stood out more because it didn&rsquo;t have a title on it. I couldn&rsquo;t just Google what it was. I&rsquo;m on the train every morning, kind of staring out the window, so I have the time to think about it. There are some names I wasn&rsquo;t familiar with, so I went and looked some people up. There were some names that I thought, you know, &ldquo;These are kind of incongruent. I don&rsquo;t know what they have to do with each other.&rdquo; I&rsquo;ve talked to people about it, too. I&rsquo;ve talked to my friends, like: &ldquo;Hey, you&rsquo;ve seen that sign, right? What&rsquo;s the deal with that? What&rsquo;s going on?&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Brooks: </strong>And that&rsquo;s all I can really ask for. And if in some small way, I can lodge a question in people&rsquo;s heads and make them think a little bit, that&rsquo;s quite sufficient for me.</p><p><strong>Lewis: </strong>I don&rsquo;t see your name anywhere on there. Was that on purpose &mdash; is it somewhere hidden?</p><p><strong>Brooks: </strong>It&rsquo;s not hidden. It&rsquo;s not there. The idea of signing one&rsquo;s work is a modernist conceit, and I&rsquo;ve never signed my work &mdash; except maybe when I was in college 30-plus years ago, because that&rsquo;s what I was told I needed to do. But in pretty short order, I realized that that wasn&rsquo;t important, that the work itself was the signature. And if people are interested enough, they will find out who made the work.</p><p><strong>Lewis: </strong>That&rsquo;s what I did.</p><p><strong>Brooks:</strong> For me, one of the most fascinating things about this whole project was going to northern Indiana, into a huge sign-painting warehouse and spending a day watching the one late-middle-aged man hand-letter each one of these names with a 3-inch-wide brush. Because he had been making these letters on billboards for 30 years, it was amazing watching him do it &mdash; absolutely precise and really fast. He did six names an hour. This painter&rsquo;s name was Bob Morales.</p><p><strong>How does <em>Freedom Wall</em> relate to the art you&rsquo;ve done recently with <a href="http://www.industryoftheordinary.com">Industry of the Ordinary</a>, your collaboration with Mathew Wilson?</strong></p><p><strong>Brooks:</strong><em> Freedom Wall</em> was the first open acknowledgement that I&rsquo;m interested in reaching as wide an audience as possible &mdash; and presenting work that often does not even appear to be art. Asking questions about what art is &mdash; and whether it can function outside of the confines of the white-walled gallery.</p><p><em>Who represents freedom to you? Which names would you put on a new version of Freedom Wall? Suggest names here.<a name="form"></a>&nbsp;</em></p><p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p><div id="wufoo-rhfbmej1nd9yf0">Fill out my <a href="https://thecuriouscity.wufoo.com/forms/rhfbmej1nd9yf0">online form</a>.</div><script type="text/javascript">var rhfbmej1nd9yf0;(function(d, t) { var s = d.createElement(t), options = { 'userName':'thecuriouscity', 'formHash':'rhfbmej1nd9yf0', 'autoResize':true, 'height':'617', 'async':true, 'host':'wufoo.com', 'header':'show', 'ssl':true}; s.src = ('https:' == d.location.protocol ? 'https://' : 'http://') + 'wufoo.com/scripts/embed/form.js'; s.onload = s.onreadystatechange = function() { var rs = this.readyState; if (rs) if (rs != 'complete') if (rs != 'loaded') return; try { rhfbmej1nd9yf0 = new WufooForm();rhfbmej1nd9yf0.initialize(options);rhfbmej1nd9yf0.display(); } catch (e) {}}; var scr = d.getElementsByTagName(t)[0], par = scr.parentNode; par.insertBefore(s, scr); })(document, 'script');</script><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><br /><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/209578749/Freedom-Wall-A-project-by-Chicago-artist-Adam-Brooks" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Freedom Wall: A project by Chicago artist Adam Brooks on Scribd">Freedom Wall: A project by Chicago artist Adam Brooks</a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><a name="pdf"></a><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_53845" scrolling="no" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/209578749/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Robert Loerzel is a freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/robertloerzel">@robertloerzel</a></em></p><p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Adam Brooks&#39; collaborator. The correct spelling is Mathew Wilson.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Additional editor&#39;s note: After reporting this story, Curious City was informed that the current owner of the building that Freedom wall is installed upon is the Conant family. That family is the backer of the&nbsp;Doris and Howard Conant Fund for Journalism, which supports Curious City through contributions to WBEZ.</em>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 25 Feb 2014 19:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/fresh-look-freedom-wall-109771 City Self exhibition attempts a portrait of Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/city-self-exhibition-attempts-portrait-chicago-109394 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/mca photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicagoans do not always welcome critiques of their city by outsiders.</p><p>Take Rachel Shteir. In <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/books/review/the-third-coast-by-thomas-dyja-and-more.html?pagewanted=1&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">a now infamous essay for the <em>New York Times</em></a> last April, the DePaul University professor and New York native confessed she was &ldquo;bugged by Chicago&rsquo;s swagger,&rdquo; given its laundry list of economic and social problems. She even called out some local writers for perpetuating the &ldquo;bloviating.&rdquo;</p><p>The response, at least here, was swift, severe, and resoundingly negative. Shteir had more than touched a nerve. She started a fight.</p><p>So when Dieter Roelstraete decided to curate an exhibition about Chicago&mdash;currently running at the Museum of Contemporary Art&mdash;and include work by artists from outside the city, he was well aware he too might &ldquo;rile&rdquo; people.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a city that likes to talk about itself, and doesn&rsquo;t like other people talking about it, which is true of many cities,&rdquo; said Roelstraete, whose installation is called <a href="http://www.mcachicago.org/exhibitions/now/2013/318" target="_blank">City Self</a>. &ldquo;So this show for me is a little bit of an experiment. Because I myself go out on a limb.&rdquo;</p><p>Consisting largely of photography, Roelstraete says City Self functions as kind of a &ldquo;dialectic&rdquo; about Chicago: between the views of insiders and outsiders, from both bird&rsquo;s eye and &ldquo;from within the bowels&rdquo; points of view.</p><p>Works by local artists such as cartoonist Chris Ware and photographer Jonas Dovydenas present up-close, mainly warm, and people-centric views of Chicago&rsquo;s neighborhoods and ethnic communities. Alongside those are works that cast what Roelstraete calls a &ldquo;forensic&rdquo; eye on the city.</p><p>Ruth Thorne-Thomsen and Tom Van Eynde capture small, enigmatic scenes that convey a sense of desolation and at times disaster. Catherine Opie and Andreas Gursky&rsquo;s epic photographs of Chicago&rsquo;s economic and architectural infrastructure render the city as a dazzling, if impersonal, space. The show&rsquo;s centerpiece unfolds on a floor-to-ceiling screen housed in a long, dark, rectangular gallery. Chicago, a 2011 film by Sarah Morris, is a spectacular, almost glistening panorama of the city.</p><p>Chicago takes a very familiar and even boosterish point of view. There are long, repeating shots of well-worn tourists spots such as the John Hancock Building and Manny&rsquo;s Deli. Regular Chicagoans hang out at the beach, eat lunch, and motor down Lake Shore Drive. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley holds a press conference.</p><p>But all of it has an uncanny air. Morris&rsquo; camera wanders through spaces that are now shuttered, such as the former Ebony Jet Magazine offices. She films industry that has largely vanished (meat packing, much of local newspaper publishing). All ambient sound is stripped away. Instead, everything plays out over a minimalist (and eventually annoying) electronic beat. If the film comes across as an advertisement, it is for something nobody seems interested in buying anymore.</p><p>Roelstraete said Morris&rsquo; film inspired the show&rsquo;s theme.</p><p>&ldquo;Her obsession with surface is duplicated in quite a few of the works by outsiders who really don&rsquo;t care so much about getting to know the city,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re kind of more interested in this slightly alienated spectacle of the modern metropolis.&rdquo;</p><p>Morris is an outsider. She is British and lives in New York. But in a post-screening discussion, she revealed that her ability to make this film relied on her connection to the most insider of insiders: Penny Pritzker, the Chicago billionaire-businesswoman currently serving as U.S. secretary of Commerce.</p><p>That complicates the insider-outsider dynamic that Roelstraete is attempting to explore. And though Roelstraete too is an outsider -- he moved here from Berlin less than a year ago -- he seems less interested in Chicago as a specific locale, seeing it as the &ldquo;quintessential American city.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Just the intensity of gun violence, or the byzantine complexities of bipartisan politics in this country,&rdquo; said Roelstraete. &ldquo;So if there is a dark undertone, I guess it is the dark undertone of American society as a whole.&rdquo;</p><p>City Self is at the Museum of Contemporary Art through April.</p><p><em><a href=" http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author"> Alison Cuddy</a> is an arts and culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href=" https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter </a>, <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison"> Facebook</a>&nbsp;and <a href=" http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 15:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/city-self-exhibition-attempts-portrait-chicago-109394 Long live the art fair http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-09/long-live-art-fair-108764 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CAC_CodyHudson-print.jpg" style="height: 600px; width: 600px;" title="('Free Time'/Cody Hudson)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-31435762-564f-555d-5af9-a52f3a86bb6f">The woman from the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chicagoartistscoalition" target="_blank">Chicago Artists Coalition</a> told me I could store my recently purchased <a href="http://struggleinc.com/" target="_blank">Cody Hudson</a> print in their space and pick it up later, away from the frenzy of the breakfast for the opening of the <a href="http://editionchicago.com/" target="_blank">EDITION Chicago</a> art fair. That probably would have been a better plan since I had to return to my office later that day.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-31435762-564f-555d-5af9-a52f3a86bb6f">But I am not rich. And when given the chance to purchase a print within my limited budget, I did not hesitate. I purchased #26 in the edition of 100, an early birthday present for myself and symbol of what art collecting means for many: a chance to grow into a practice that might not be your own.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-31435762-564f-555d-5af9-a52f3a86bb6f">And because it was mine then and now and (hopefully) forever, I wanted to hold it and make it true. It would only exist as a concept, an idea of my love of art, until it was mine.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-31435762-564f-555d-5af9-a52f3a86bb6f">&quot;No!&quot; I said. And after a long pause, I repeated myself. &quot;No! I&#39;ll hold it now.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-31435762-564f-555d-5af9-a52f3a86bb6f">I took it with me right then. Last Friday was seasonably chilly and as I missed bus after bus and train after train, I considered my decision.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-31435762-564f-555d-5af9-a52f3a86bb6f">What is the state of the Chicago art fair and the Chicago art community? I can only speak from an outsider&#39;s perspective.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-31435762-564f-555d-5af9-a52f3a86bb6f">Last weekend, Chicago welcomed the <a href="http://expochicago.com/" target="_blank">EXPO CHICAGO</a> art fair at Navy Pier and two satellite fairs, the above-mentioned EDITION and the <a href="http://www.fountainartfair.com/fountain-returns-to-chicago/" target="_blank">Fountain</a> art fair. For a city that once risked floundering under the departure of the local institution Art Chicago, last weekend showed no signs of worry.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-31435762-564f-555d-5af9-a52f3a86bb6f">I slowly fell into the art community during my senior year of college. It was a moment of learning and a moment of appreciation. While normally surrounded by writers and musicians, I found visual artists to be especially fascinating. This was a world I did not participate in.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-31435762-564f-555d-5af9-a52f3a86bb6f">I am not an artist. I am not a facilitator or coordinator or curator. I barely exist as an arts writer. Rather, I am a fan, someone who can appreciate aesthetics and grand ideas, who has an enthusiasm for what I see and what an artist wants to say. So I attend art festivals and fairs and museums and galleries to behold the things I can not produce, but that I still love. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-31435762-564f-555d-5af9-a52f3a86bb6f">Chicago will never be any other city. And perhaps that is a good thing. When it comes to the art community, what others lack, Chicago has in abundance. For one, I have always found it easy to understand it, to find singular visions and projects within it, to keep a part of it. We want you here, they might be saying. You just don&#39;t know it yet.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-31435762-564f-555d-5af9-a52f3a86bb6f">Chicago is a city of communities and neighborhoods, of cliques, and gangs. We find our own and we stick with them. If you can not find your community here, you are not looking hard enough. And the Chicago art community, for all of its challenges in a city as sprawling as ours, managed to create a moment that spoke to the strength of what is already here and the possibility of what can come.&nbsp;</span></p></div><p><em>Britt Julious is the co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. She also writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 25 Sep 2013 15:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-09/long-live-art-fair-108764 Expo Chicago’s sophomore outing http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-09/expo-chicago%E2%80%99s-sophomore-outing-108714 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/photo (3)_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-62cb411d-36b1-81de-bd34-6d4426f0e6ec">Musicians often face the pressure of the so-called &ldquo;sophomore curse&rdquo; with their follow-up albums, i.e., will the critics or fans adore it as much as the first record?</p><p dir="ltr">But if <a href="http://expochicago.com/">Expo Chicago</a>&rsquo;s director Tony Karman is feeling a similar pressure around the second outing of his international art fair, he&rsquo;s not saying.</p><p dir="ltr">As dealers and workmen were hustling to install the final fixtures and artworks at Navy Pier&rsquo;s Festival Hall, Karman seemed calm.</p><p dir="ltr">He says his focus this year is the same as last year&rsquo;s: the quality of the work.</p><p dir="ltr">Quality was definitely the headline of last year&rsquo;s festival, and it appears to be back with this year&rsquo;s outing: The beautiful open layout, punctuated by Jeanne Gang&rsquo;s massive airborne sculptural objects. The high-caliber art work from international and local artists.</p><p dir="ltr">Karman has put more emphasis on newer art, partnered with satellite fairs, and wrapped everything in a week-long celebration of Chicago&rsquo;s art scene.</p><p dir="ltr">But, for the moment, Karman says he&rsquo;s trying to sustain what he started.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My interest is not to make this a mega-fair,&rdquo; Karman said. &ldquo;My interest is to make sure that the scale of this fair fits what this marketplace can sustain.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">What kind of marketplace exists for a Midwestern art fair continues to be the question.</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, lots of dealers did well, selling a lot or even everything they brought.</p><p dir="ltr">That was the case for dealer David Juda, the director of <a href="http://www.annelyjudafineart.co.uk/">Annely Juda Fine Arts</a> in London.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">He&rsquo;s back for a second year, but he&rsquo;s been coming to Chicago since the days of the first international art fair, which was also held on Navy Pier.</p><p dir="ltr">He says the quality and organization has definitely improved - <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Chicago">in those days</a> they had to wrap the paintings in plastic because the Pier was still open to the elements.</p><p dir="ltr">Jura has brought lots of historic pieces to Chicago, including early 20th century works by artists like <a href="http://www.moholy-nagy.com/">Moholy-Nage</a>. He says local collectors have a &ldquo;sophisticated&rdquo; palate influenced by European traditions, unlike the more &ldquo;Americanized&rdquo; patrons at Art Basel Miami.</p><p dir="ltr">But unlike their Miami counterparts, Jura thinks the Midwestern crowd didn&rsquo;t quite get on the buying board at last year&rsquo;s Expo.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;At Art Basel, the collectors are already thinking how much money they&rsquo;ve got to spend, what they want to buy, they&rsquo;re already sort of primed,&rdquo; said Jura. &ldquo;Hopefully last year was the priming and this year&rsquo;s the success.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Success eluded dealer <a href="http://www.ppowgallery.com/">Wendy Olsoff </a>last year, who comes from P-P-O-W Gallery in New York. Though she said it&rsquo;s &ldquo;not all about the money you make,&rdquo; Osloff said her gallery made only one significant sale.</p><p dir="ltr">Olsoff is back for a second time because she&rsquo;s already invested time and money in Chicago. And last year proved good for networking. But if her bottom line doesn&rsquo;t improve by year three, Olsoff says she&rsquo;d reconsider.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;People hope that it will work, they like Chicago, there&rsquo;s a history of art here,&rdquo; Osloff said. &ldquo;But whether that will happen, who knows.&rdquo;</p><p>Expo Chicago runs September 19-22 at Navy Pier.</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter and co-hosts the WBEZ podcasts <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels</a> and <a href="https://soundcloud.com/strangebrews">Strange Brews</a>. Follow her on<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter</a>,<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn"> Facebook</a> and<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a></em></p></p> Thu, 19 Sep 2013 09:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-09/expo-chicago%E2%80%99s-sophomore-outing-108714 Morning Shift: Exploitation or art? Photographing a city's deterioration http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-12/morning-shift-exploitation-or-art-photographing-citys <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Ruins-Flickr- stormdog42.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We discuss the trend of photographing modern ruins and whether it exposes viewers to a world they may never see, or exploits a city&#39;s dissent. And, the new play Invasion! stirs up conversation about the politics of racial profiling.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-41.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-41" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Exploitation or art? Photographing a city's deterioration" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Mon, 12 Aug 2013 08:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-12/morning-shift-exploitation-or-art-photographing-citys Morning Shift: Revamping Lake Shore Drive http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-30/morning-shift-revamping-lake-shore-drive-108220 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/LSD-Flickr- guanacux.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The city is planning to revamp Lake Shore Drive to make it more accommodating to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. What will this mean for your commute? How would you change Lake Shore Drive?</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-31.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-31" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Revamping Lake Shore Drive" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 08:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-30/morning-shift-revamping-lake-shore-drive-108220 Artists turn up volume on gun violence debate http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-07/artists-turn-volume-gun-violence-debate-108080 <p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-703a8a48-eced-3c66-a3fb-e5fa8ca03c3d"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/just%20yell%20at%20monique%20meloche%20gallery.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Just Yell Exhibition, Cheryl Pope, 2013 (James Prinz Photography, courtesy of the artist and moniquemeloche gallery) " />One of the ideas that circulated <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/14/mark-omara-george-zimmerman-black_n_3593337.html">around</a> the recent Trayvon Martin murder trial is that African-Americans only care when white people kill black people.</p><p dir="ltr">Critics have debunked that very notion as both a <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/07/15/the-trayvon-martin-killing-and-the-myth-of-black-on-black-crime.html">myth</a> and an oversimplification, one that can obscure the way black communities <em>do</em> rally to respond to neighborhood violence, or how whites <em>do</em> sometimes resort to racist stereotypes in talking about criminality.</p><p dir="ltr">Now another reaction to this idea of black-on-black violence can be found at <a href="http://www.dusablemuseum.org/events/details/kkk-kin-killin-kin-the-arts-as-an-agent-of-change">KKK - Kin Killin&rsquo; Kin</a>, a new exhibition at <a href="http://www.dusablemuseum.org/">The DuSable Museum of African American History</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The show is by James Pate, an artist based in Dayton, Ohio. He believes blacks may well respond more vocally when white people kill blacks, a response he attributes to a psychological state that is a &ldquo;residue&rdquo; of historical experiences like lynchings: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a sensitivity that to me is unreasonable,&rdquo; said Pate. &ldquo;But I think that&#39;s where it comes from, this imbalance in the uproar.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But the more provocative aspect of Pate&rsquo;s work may be the way he<em> himself </em>represents black people.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/K%2C%202%20Da%20K%2C%202%20Da%20K%2C%20II.jpg" style="float: left; height: 220px; width: 300px;" title="Since 2000, James Pate has been depicting gang members in Ku Klux Klan robes, out of “frustration” with ongoing gun violence. (Photo Andy Snow, courtesy EbonNia Gallery)" />In large charcoal-on-canvas drawings, full of complex layers and details so exacting they almost appear to be 3-D renderings, Pate depicts gun-toting young black men as members of the Ku Klux Klan. Clad in sports jerseys, chains and white hoods, the boys shoot indiscriminately at one another, while bystanders are caught in the crossfire, including a young child on a swing.</p><p dir="ltr">In the wake of Trayvon Martin&rsquo;s killing, to show gang members clad in the robes of white racist vigilantes is a challenge, to say the least. But Pate said he has no choice.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It is difficult for me to react any other way as an artist,&rdquo; said Pate, who&rsquo;s been making these images since 2000. &ldquo;It is extreme to me, so I decided to do something as extreme as I can imagine, within what I &nbsp;do as an artist, stylistically.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Pate said his art stems from conversations in the black community, &ldquo;about how black-on-black violence has replaced the KKK form of terrorism. I decided that to sort of curb my blues, I would illustrate that sentiment and show them going at it and some of the aftermath of these acts.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Your%20History%20II.jpg" style="float: right; height: 218px; width: 300px;" title="Your History II, James Pate, 2007 Civil rights activists as passive observers of contemporary gun violence. (Photo Andy Snow, courtesy EbonNia Gallery)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Pate&rsquo;s images also juxtapose contemporary violence with action from other historical moments. In the foreground of <em>Your History III</em>, two young men drawn in bold relief shoot each other with semi-automatic pistols. On either side of the frame, drawn in fainter tones, there are rows of young men, seated at a restaurant counter, who appear to be witnesses to the shooting.</p><p dir="ltr">Pate said his reference to the lunch counter protests of the Civil Rights Movement poses a question: &ldquo;What in the world happened between that ideal and that mentality, and that sacrifice - and this?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Pate&rsquo;s images cite other historical figures, from black Union soldiers to Adolf Hitler to Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC. There are even allusions to the crowds who came out to watch lynchings during the height of the Klan&rsquo;s raids, depicted here as passive witnesses to violent acts.</p><p dir="ltr">That passivity comes across as a critique of community indifference or action. But Pate said his work also reflects &ldquo;a frustration that I&#39;m experiencing because I don&#39;t know what to do, and all I do know is that in art I can go there and turn my volume up a bit.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Pate said reaction to the work (which was shown previously in Ohio), ranges from recognition to anger, the latter especially from blacks who feel he&rsquo;s airing dirty laundry. In response, Pate said that laundry was hung out long ago.</p><p dir="ltr">Carol Adams, who heads the DuSable and brought the show to Chicago, agrees.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If the show offends a little bit, well, we&rsquo;ve been way too polite,&rdquo; Adams said. &ldquo;It is a madness, and it is time to scream.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Local audiences already seem to be paying attention. At the exhibition&rsquo;s entrance, visitors are invited to write the names of deceased friends and family on small manila tags and attach them to stretches of chain-link fence installed for the show. Even before the show opened, museumgoers started filling out the tags - there are already more than a hundred on display.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&lsquo;KKK - Kin Killin&rsquo; Kin,&rsquo; The DuSable Museum of African American History, through Aug. 3. James Pate will give a gallery talk on Thursday, Aug. 1, from 6:30 - 9 p.m.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cherylpope.net/HOME.html">Cheryl Pope</a> is another artist turning up the volume around the violence debate in her show <em>Just Yell</em>, which is at the <a href="http://moniquemeloche.com/cheryl-pope-just-yell/">moniquemeloche gallery </a>through Aug. 3.</p><p dir="ltr">The show&rsquo;s name references the first cheerleaders, known as &ldquo;yellers,&rdquo; who in the late 19th century got up in front of crowds and started to call out cheers.</p><p dir="ltr">Both the structure of Pope&rsquo;s show (which is a collaboration with students from public schools across the city) and the works she&rsquo;s created (which include a yearbook, a spirit stick, and a large wall-mounted varsity patch) are efforts to invoke the team mentality and powerful spirit of the yellers.</p><p dir="ltr">But in place of sports cheers, Pope offers what she calls &ldquo;testimonials&rdquo;: the words of students, who, in response to prompts from Pope, wrote about their reactions to violence and what that makes them want to &ldquo;yell.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/remember%20to%20remember.jpg" style="height: 227px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="'Remember to Remember' is a roster of young victims of gun violence in Chicago over an 18 month period. (James Prinz Photography, courtesy of the artist and moniquemeloche gallery)" />Those cries take different forms. In <em>Remember to Remember</em>, Pope has arranged rows of small gold plates engraved with the names of young victims of violence. &nbsp;Mixed in among those names are haikus from students past and present, including one Pope said was written <a href="http://wgntv.com/news/stories/2-teens-shot-1-dies/">by shooting victim Hadiya Pendleton</a> when she was in the third grade. Pope said the poetic phrases (one reads &ldquo;here i am/you thought i was gone/so i love&rdquo;), which are engraved on black plates, function like a visual &ldquo;moment of silence.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The schools don&rsquo;t always have the time or space or means to create opportunities for grieving or processing these losses,&rdquo; said Pope. &ldquo;I wanted students to feel empowered by the way they react so we could have those conversations.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But like Pate, Pope&rsquo;s exhibition also contains a provocation: The colors scheme she&rsquo;s used across the objects in her show are those of local gang The Latin Kings: gold, black and white. And she represents gang culture in other ways. &nbsp;In <em>Just Yell &lsquo;13: A Guidebook for Yellers</em>, pictures of both victims and gunmen are displayed in tidy, yearbook-like rows.</p><p dir="ltr">Pope said that in researching The Latin Kings, she found remarkable parallels between their &ldquo;philosophy&rdquo; (which is defined by their <a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=latin%20kings">five-point crown</a>) and the ideals of school or team spirit, things like love or respect or community. In other words, gangs promise &ldquo;everything young people are asking for.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I wanted to be mindful and not glorify, but make visible that parallel, or that confused space, which can exist for young people,&rdquo; said Pope. &ldquo;Where gang affiliation can offer the satisfactions of being on the same team, or sharing a goal, or knowing someone has your back.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Despite their different styles, there are remarkable parallels between Pate and Pope.</p><p dir="ltr">Both use inflammatory imagery not just to provoke viewers but to reveal their own emotional connections to the issue of violence (a perspective which partly results from working closely with young people, Pate as an artist-in-residence at public schools, Pope at the <a href="http://jamesrjordan.bgcc.org/">James R. Jordan Boys and Girls Club</a> near the United Center).</p><p dir="ltr">Both are committed to a continuing exploration of violence: Pate has moved into color images and Pope&rsquo;s next project involves how people grieve for their communities.</p><p dir="ltr">But by forcing together supposedly disparate groups - draping gang members in Klan robes or decorating a school spirit stick in gang colors - each artist has created a different space to discuss violence.</p><p dir="ltr">Once you sort through that confusion of images, the space can come across as absence -- something painful and awful and empty. But it also contains potential, as a place from which it might be possible to do or say - or even yell - something new.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&lsquo;Just Yell&rsquo; is at the moniquemeloche gallery through Aug. 3. On July 27, Pope has invited what she calls &ldquo;game players&rdquo; - those actually on the court rather than yelling from the sidelines - to the show, including aldermen, DCASE Commissioner Michelle Boone and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter and co-host of <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a> a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter</a>,<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn"> Facebook</a> and<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a></em></p></p> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 08:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-07/artists-turn-volume-gun-violence-debate-108080 Lego city harnesses the power of collective building http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/lego-city-harnesses-power-collective-building-108044 <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/012_legocity%2CCrownHall-230711.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Children and adults alike build a city out of Legos in IIT’s Crown Hall in 2011. The city will be built anew this weekend. (Courtesy of the Mies van der Rohe Society) " /></div><p>Would-be architects and urban planners take note: this weekend you have the chance to join with fellow builders and toy-enthusiasts to construct a vast miniature city made entirely from Legos.</p><p>The event is sponsored by Illinois Institute of Technology&rsquo;s Alumni Association and the school&rsquo;s Mies van der Rohe Society, dedicated to honoring IIT&rsquo;s most influential architecture school dean and campus planner.</p><p>But the gathering is not about replicating the slim, elegant glass and steel boxes that modernist legend Mies so favored, whether at 860-880 N. Lake Shore Drive or the Chicago Federal Center. And although some IIT students have employed Legos to <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130327/loop/lego-marina-city-iit-student-rocco-buttliere-shrinks-landmark-towers">craft scale models of other iconic Chicago buildings</a>, Elisabeth Dunbar, the Mies van der Rohe Society&rsquo;s director, said that &ldquo;any time we&rsquo;re bringing people to experience significant architectural spaces in a way that they&rsquo;re not expecting, we&rsquo;re fulfilling his legacy.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/025_legocity%2CCrownHall-230711.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="IIT's Lego city. (Courtesy of the Mies van der Rohe Society)" />The design and build session, which is now in its fifth year, normally takes place in Crown Hall -- a Mies masterpiece -- but was moved this year to the Rem Koolhaas-designed McCormick Tribune Center, tucked under the corrugated metal and concrete Green Line tunnel that has become a campus icon of its own.</p><p>Perhaps in the spirit of Koolhaas&rsquo; playful campus addition, participants are encouraged to channel their full creative energies. Photos from previous years reveal a slate of pint-sized buildings that many Chicagoans would find familiar: tiny Willis Tower replicas and vertical-lift bridges, for example. But one also sees fantastical pyramids, pagodas, spires and a big-footed monster building or two.</p><p>Dunbar&rsquo;s crew of facilitators will have over 10,000 Legos on hand, stored in crates, she said, that are &ldquo;taller than me.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>No doubt the plans for Saturday&rsquo;s lego city build are fun -- after all, this is same medium famously used to build everything from a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLq-bOk809s">miniature Death Star</a> to <a href="http://shop.davidcole.me/">tiny taxidermy</a>.</p><p>But this kind of fantastical, collaborative building project has also has the potential to engage its participants in a kind of critical thinking about their role in the built environment that surrounds them everyday. It may even have the power to challenge visions of city planning as led by singular architectural and artistic geniuses like Mies van der Rohe and Rem Koolhaas.</p><p>Consider New Your City, a project orchestrated by the Providence, Rhode Island-based artist <a href="http://www.secretdoorprojects.org/">Ian Cozzens</a> (who, for disclosure, is a close friend of mine).&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/new%20your%20city%201.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="New Your City, Ian Cozzens’ collaboratively built cardboard city, in the Fox Point branch of the Providence Public Library in 2007. Cozzens, center, helped kids channel their inner urban planner. (Courtesy of Ian Cozzens and Ann Schattle) " />In 2006, Cozzens had just finished an architecture degree at the Rhode Island School of Design. But he was feeling frustrated and uninspired by his visions of a future in the profession.</p><p>&ldquo;I was thinking about people in the city that weren&rsquo;t in the &lsquo;artist community,&rsquo;&rdquo; Cozzens said. &ldquo;There was an authentic life in the city that wasn&rsquo;t in architecture school.&rdquo;</p><p>Cozzens was already admired for making <a href="http://www.secretdoorprojects.org/printsandposters/prints.html">highly-detailed silk screen prints</a> based on elegant and carefully rendered architectural drawings of Providence&rsquo;s historic buildings. But now he started looking for way to make his work more collaborative and more democratic. He began reading the work of Bernard Rudofsky, whose 1964 book <em>Architecture Without Architects</em> explored the richness and power of communally created works made by untrained builders.</p><p>&ldquo;I definitely love the abdication of control and power,&rdquo; Cozzens said.</p><p>As he considered what he&rsquo;d learned at RISD, he thought, &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s turn these tools over to people who aren&rsquo;t smarty pants architects.&rdquo;</p><p>So Cozzens partnered with a local branch library in Providence, and carted in masses of cardboard boxes and tubes, construction paper, cotton balls, Elmer&rsquo;s glue and whatever other crafting bric-a-brac he could find. Then he invited in local children to build a city, in miniature, in the normally staid and quiet space.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/new%20your%20city%203.jpg" style="height: 358px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="The careful chaos of New Your City. (Courtesy of Ian Cozzens and Ann Schattle)" />The project, eventually dubbed New Your City by one of its young builders, gave kids a chance to channel their hyperactive energy and control their built environment like never before.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;d err on the side of anarchy as opposed to control,&rdquo; Cozzens said.</p><p>But New Your&rsquo;s citizens also faced a microcosm of the same kinds of land-use and property-rights issues adults might face in real city planning. For instance, one child would erect a house, and another would deface it with the scrawl of a marker, or rip it down and build a tiny cardboard highway in its place.</p><p>At this point, Cozzens said, the question raised by the project became: How do you build a city in a way that respects the visions and needs of all its inhabitants?</p><p>&ldquo;Now the city needs guidelines,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Otherwise people are going to hurt each other, and each other&rsquo;s feelings.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>New Your City was resurrected in the library again the following year, and Cozzens hoped the project gave the kids who participated a sense of agency.</p><p>&ldquo;I spend more time thinking about floor layouts and the spacing of doors than other people do,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But that doesn&#39;t mean that people don&rsquo;t have ideas about how they want their space to be.&rdquo;</p><p>Cozzens recalled one kid who was frustrated with the flimsiness of the cardboard and the short-lived nature of the project -- after all, New Your City couldn&rsquo;t stay in the library forever.</p><p>&ldquo;This is OK,&rdquo; the kid told Cozzens. &ldquo;But we should be making it big. Real.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; Cozzens replied. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the next thing.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://alumni.iit.edu/lego_city">Build a Lego City </a>takes place July 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the McCormick Tribune Campus Center on the IIT campus, 3201 S. State Street. Registration for the event is currently closed.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a reporter and producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 12 Jul 2013 19:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/lego-city-harnesses-power-collective-building-108044 Morning Shift: Fashion & sports http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-24/morning-shift-fashion-sports-107819 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AIC-Flickr-Kent Wang.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cheryl Raye-Stout talks sports, and the great Impressionist painters depict the dashing fashions of the time.<script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-border-police-and-fashion-police.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-border-police-and-fashion-police" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Border Police and Fashion Police" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Mon, 24 Jun 2013 07:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-24/morning-shift-fashion-sports-107819 Theaster Gates is Chicago's true artist http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/theaster-gates-chicagos-true-artist-107330 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8d45dGates%20Headshot%202.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 268px; float: right;" title="Theaster Gates (Image courtesy of Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago)" />Upon entering the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago&rsquo;s Kovler Atrium, audiences will find rows of pews from University of Chicago&rsquo;s Bond Chapel. The pews were removed in order to provide Muslim students a place to pray. Above the pews hangs a large-scale double-cross sculpture filled with household items such as umbrellas, dented cans for non-perishables, and wine glasses.</p><p>The installation will be activated with performances throughout the summer by artist Theaster Gates. The installation is titled <a href="http://mcachicago.org/exhibitions/next/all/316" target="_blank">13th Ballad</a> and intertwines concepts and theories, a familiar practice for the Gates. Here we see the relationship between religion, migration and accumulation. Gates&rsquo; work intervenes and it is this intervention that serves not as another example of gentrification, but of the possibilities of art in the face of despair.</p><p>Gates is a multidisciplinary artist, working with performance, sculpture, installation, and large-scale urban interventions. He received a degree in urban planning, but also studied ceramic. This combination of fields informs the multifaceted approach to his artistic practices. His works are not just objects. He manipulates, reconstructs, and activates them in order to breathe further life into the end result.</p><p>In 12 Ballads for Huguenot House (a work created in both Chicago and Kassel, Germany for dOCUMENTA (13)) and 13th Ballad, his work mimics Chicago itself. Chicago is a city on the precipice of two narratives. Which way will we go? Which way will we allow our buildings and schools and neighborhoods and people to go?</p><p>On the one end, there is the city of progress and prosperity. This is in some ways the surface Chicago. That does not exclude the very real lived reality of many Chicagoans who suffer little. But to those who have an intimate relationship with the parts of the city that are too often plagued with neglect, this is not the full story. On the other end, there is the city in decline.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ebfaf01.jpg" style="float: left; height: 449px; width: 300px;" title="12 Ballads (Image courtesy of Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago)" />In a conversation with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev for a book on 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, Gates said, &ldquo;I spend a lot of my time asking: how can I activate places that have been neglected, underresourced?&rdquo; Gates&rsquo; work in large part deals with ideas of reconstruction and repurpose. What can be done with this? What is missing from this object&rsquo;s narrative? This is not just characterized through the philosophical. Rather, he literally reclaims materials to, if not recreate, then reiterate its value and historicity.</p><p>&ldquo;I realized that what I was interested in was not only found objects but also discarded knowledge &ndash; that there was a relationship,&rdquo; Gates continued. &ldquo;I was willing to take on the burden of not only the material waste but also the knowledge waste that was so disposable.&rdquo;</p><p>This first began with the purchase of his own home and studio, an abandoned store on Dorchester Avenue in the Grand Crossing neighborhood. His efforts later extended to purchasing more buildings in and around the area, repurposing them as archives and a cultural center. For 12 Ballads, Gates aimed to unite two unused buildings (one in Chicago, the other, built in the 19th century and located in Germany) by using parts of each to rebuild the other.</p><p>In Gates&rsquo; work, we see the importance of discovery and the challenge against abandonment.</p><p>&ldquo;Gates embraces two counterstrategies, reactivation and employment, not only to fuel his art practice but also to offer tangible and practical examples to civic agencies for reimagining neighborhoods such as his,&rdquo; said MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling in the essay, &ldquo;Theaster Gates: Rescue Me.&rdquo;</p><p>Most importantly, his work does not rely on just what is there, but also on what could be there. Theaster Gates is Chicago. In a city full of artists of a variety of different artistic practices, Gates rises above the rest to create multidisciplinary works that speak to the spirit, anxieties, and troubles of Chicago itself. That his prestige and success reaches beyond the limitations of this city speaks to the criticalness of his work. Gates both is Chicago and speaks in conversation with Chicago and the realities of the city. If Chicago is a city of &ldquo;potential,&rdquo; then Theaster sees it already. He sees it right now.</p><p>13th Ballad runs through October 16.</p><p><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 11:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/theaster-gates-chicagos-true-artist-107330