Sunday, March 25, 2012

Goin' down to Chi-town!

Why hello there. I have just returned from some wonderful travels to Chicago with a great family of friends (the Lombardi's) from Columbus. I am now back in the studio, all inspired and etching a big, new plate! Details on that soon...

Here's the river upon arrival- what a gorgeous city! Of course it helped being sunny and 80° in the middle of March.

The first night we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was pretty good, and we had about an hour before closing. My favorite exhibition was This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s which included many greats such as Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe and others. But otherwise, hmm, it was just alright.

Our second full day was more on the scientific end of things with trips to Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum; Egyptian tombs, jade jewelry, and Tibet were inspiring. Much more art was to be seen on day three, as we spent several hours in the Art Institute of Chicago Museum.

We walked through the land of Renoir and Monet (Van Gogh was being roped off right as we approached for some reason). I really have to admit that I'm not a fan of Renoir's color palette. I mean truly- something about it makes me queasy. Ah well; apologies to all those offended. But when I got to Toulouse-Lautrec, my love for his work was confirmed. Yes the posters are always a treat but the paintings, my goodness! I could have drooled for hours over At the Moulin Rouge, but there was also this portrait, which I don't remember seeing:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Portrait of Jeanne Wenz, 1886

Oh the lovely lines of brushwork and thin layers of solvent! Mmm.

Our next stop was the new Contemporary art wing, which was chock-full of Bruce Nauman plus a nice room's worth of Gerhard Richter. But many were exact repeats of the Contemporary Museum, namely Judd and Serra. My favorite of that era yet again was Lee Bontecou, hands down. There is something about that hole- the black empty hole in the center that I am also drawn to creating in my own work- something I need to explore further. Also, of course I love the gritty, industrial materials:

Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1960

Walking through the Buddhist hall of statues, the next gallery was American Modern Art, certainly another favorite of mine. I was just fascinated by the textures of Ivan Albright as seen in this detail:

Ivan Albright, That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do, detail, 1931-41

There was just an incredible amount of minute texture in tiny cracks and peels of paint as well as fabric and lace. For obvious reasons, this painting took 10 years of work.

Here was another wonderful piece- a group of school children were being educated in front of it about varicose veins, which was quite amusing. They still seemed baffled. I love the title of this piece:

Ivan Albright, Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida, 1929-30

Across the way was this beautiful painting of a clown by Walt Kuhn. Wonderful expression and color:

Walt Kuhn, Clown with Drum, 1942

And here it was in its glory, the famous Hopper. It's interesting how iconic paintings differ from your expectations. But this was well, pretty much right on- an average size, but hard to see some detail behind glass:

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942

The adjacent room contained the ├╝ber famous American Gothic. Just beyond was an interesting work by Charles Sheeler that I don't recall seeing before. It's a strange work in that he is depicted painting one of his earliest photographs of a stove. And nature doesn't quite look so natural:

Charles Sheeler, The Artist Looks at Nature, 1943

And here is a nice work by Charles Demuth, also from around my home in PA. Yet another painting I don't recall seeing:

Charles Demuth, Business, 1921

After a much-needed break for Reubens (the sandwich), beer and Wiener Schnitzel at the amazing Berghoff Restaurant, we returned to tour the miniatures collection on the lower level. Truly amazing work: all hand-carved furniture and woven mini rugs. This one reminds me of back home: a Shaker-style room:

Sadly Prints and Drawings were closed for installation, so the next stop was way uptown on the Brown Line to look at some printshops and galleries. Sadly the Printmakers Collaborative was closed, boo! But cool signage:

From there we walked to some very neat shops and were given tips by this gallery, Sacred Art, as to where to go next- the Lillstreet Art Center. But while there, I really enjoyed the screen prints by this artist, Shawn Stucky. So here is Lillstreet:

As soon as we walked inside, we found prints by Amos P Kennedy. Hooray Amos! Happy to see you:

Next we walked upstairs and snuck around the print studio. Sadly, the monitor hours were only 1-4, so we didn't catch anybody printing.

Lovely etching press, all bumper-stickered out:

Vandercook No. 4!

And an interesting, well-used screen washout shower booth:

That mostly concludes the journey. I could write a whole separate post on Wiener Schnitzel and Bratwurst and how its enjoyment hardly left any room for deep dish pizza...or how we had fabulous smoked shrimp on a rainy bridge on the way out- Calumet on 95th. But, I digress. Chicago you are lovely and I need to come back for more art!


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