2014 Temporary Exhibition: 35 Years of Public Art [Part II - with Photo Gallery]

Posted by

Above Image: Exhibition “35 Years of Public Art” at the Exhibit Hall of  Chicago Cultural Center.

35 YEARS OF PUBLIC ART

This post is a continuation of my earlier post 35 Years of Public Art..   click here..

Chicago has earned the title of being a “Museum without Walls”, as most public places have meticulously been transformed into art galleries. We have art in public places – parks, libraries, fire stations, police stations and public buildings – making them more inviting, interesting and exciting! The City of Chicago’s “Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events” [DCASE] is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. The Visual Arts Department under DCASE is responsible for maintaining and commissioning the rich collection of Public Art in the city.

The current exhibition at Chicago Cultural Center, “35 Years of Public Art” brings out phenomenal expanse of public art that gives the city it’s distinctive characteristic!  Exhibited are artworks, models, design proposals, photographs and even newspaper clips related to Public Art in Chicago!  The exhibition it is put together by none other that the Visual Arts Department of DCASE, arguably the most authoritative and authentic voice on the subject-matter!  The curator is the brilliantly accomplished Nathan Mason, who has curated some of the best exhibitions in the city, including the most well known”Cows on Parade”,  and the recent exhibition “Paint, Paste, Sticker: Chicago Street Art”.

 

 

Nathan Mason, curator of the exhibition: 35 Years of Public Art

Nathan Mason, curator of the exhibition: 35 Years of Public Art

 

This post is a continuation of my earlier post 35 Years of Public Art.. click here..
Temporary Exhibit: February 22, 2014 to May 4, 2014
Venue: Exhibit Hall, 4th Floor at Chicago Cultural Center
Curator of the Exhibition: Nathan Mason
Program Director of Visual Art at DCASE: Daniel Schulman

 

The Visual Art department of DCASE, looks after the huge collection of public art in the city.
The Visual Art department looks after..

 - Public Art Program. Bulk of the city’s public art collection resulted from implementing the Percentage-for-Art ordinance. In 1978, the City Council of the City of Chicago passed a Percent-for-Art ordinance that requires 1.33% of the construction or renovation budget for city owned buildings be set aside for the creation of artwork to be placed permanently in the publicly accessible spaces of its built environment. Later that year the Chicago Public Art Program was established to implement the city’s Percent-for-Art Ordinance. This program has funded many of the public art pieces in Chicago. The City of Chicago was one of the first municipalities in the United States to implement such an ordinance.

 - Special Exhibits. The Exhibitions Program is committed to organizing and presenting a range of diverse and engaging exhibitions devoted to the visual arts and contemporary culture. Primary among the artists shown are those based in Chicago and the Midwest alongside others from across the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, through regular offerings of artist and curator gallery talks, lectures, panel discussions and events related to current exhibitions, a context is created for understanding recent art and design for a broad audience of residents and visitors to Chicago.

 - The city’s public art program also consults with other agencies, like the Millennium Park selection process, the Chicago Park District’s art programs and the latest being the 606/ Bloomingdale Trails.

 - The city’s public art program also oversees exhibits at the City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower.

- The Chicago Cultural Center itself has a number of exhibitions organized by the Visual Art department, including exhibitions at Exhibit Hall, Sidney Yates Gallery and the Michigan Avenue Galleries.

The current exhibition “35 Years of Public Art”, brings out the extensive scope of public art in the city.

 

Space Jungle [1996] – by Dzine at Humboldt Park Library

Space Jungle [1996] – by Dzine at Humboldt Park Library

 

Many of the city’s public art are found in indoor public spaces like libraries, police stations, fire stations, office buildings, health plazas and other public buildings. The exhibition makes it possible to see some of these indoor public art, especially from libraries. From the exhibition it is obvious that Chicago libraries have artworks by some of the leading Chicago artists. There is Kerry James Marshall’s  ”Knowledge and Wonder” [at Legler Branch Library],  Roger Brown’s ”Snake Charmer” [at Harold Washington Library Center], Bernard William’s “Forces of Pullman Labor” [at Pullman Library] and  Matt Irie’s “Chicago Drawing # 2″ [at Logan Square Library] and as shown above  Dzine’s “Space Jungle” [at Humboldt Park Library] to name just a few.

 

Model for "Fruition" [2004]  - by Christine Rojek for North Park Village Gymnasium.

Model for “Fruition” [2004] – by Christine Rojek for North Park Village Gymnasium.

 

Design proposal "The Knowledge that Books give us" [1995] - by Oscar Romero

Design proposal “The Knowledge that Books Give Us” [1995] – by Oscar Romero

 

Studies for Riverwalk Gateway [2000] by Ellen Lanyon

Studies for Riverwalk Gateway [2000] – by Ellen Lanyon

 

For me,  one of the most interesting part of the exhibition are the many design proposals, studies and models for public art projects.  For example, the exhibition presents model of sculpture “Fruition” [2004] by Christine Rojek [for North Park Village Gymnasium],  design proposal for mural ”The Knowledge that Books give us” [1995] by Oscar Rome,  design proposal for mural “Uptown Chicago” by Nancy Chunn [for Uptown Library], design proposal  mural “Garden Plots” by Nick Cave [for West Chicago branch library], study for “Community Quilt” by Yvette Kaiser Smith [for Englewood Senior Satellite Center],  studies for mosaic-mural Riverwalk Gateway [2000] by Ellen Lanyon [for Chicago Riverwalk] … and many more..  including a maquette of “The Cloud Gate” by Anish Kapoor at the Millennium Park.

 

Cows on Parade

Cows on Parade

 

Special Exhibits, which are usually temporary in nature, have their own advantages. Frequent changes keep gives the opportunity to give exposure to many artists, and different styles of works. Special Exhibits include “Cows on Parade”  [1999], Suite Home Chicago” [2001], Artists in the Garden [2004] and Niki in the Garden [at Garfield Park Conservatory, in 2007].

 

CTA - Paulina Station

Proposal for suspended-sculpture and glass-mosaic [Transitions] by Barbara Cooper at Brown Line CTA station at Paulina.

 

Transitions by Barbara Cooper

Design proposal for glass mosaic “Transitions” by Barbara Cooper for Brown Line CTA Station at Paulina

 

Maquette for  suspended sculpture "Transitions" by Barbara Cooper for Brown Line CTA Station at Paulina

Maquette for suspended sculpture “Transitions” by Barbara Cooper for Brown Line CTA Station at Paulina

 

As an advocate for the art and artists in municipal processes, the city’s public art program also consults with other agencies, like the Millennium Park selection process, the Chicago Park District’s art programs and the 606/ Bloomingdale Trails. Between 2004 to 2009, the city’s public art program worked with the Chicago Transit Authority [CTA] to oversee the selection and implementation of artworks in Blue Line [now Pink Line], Brown Line and Red Line. The exhibition presents design proposal for a few of the CTA stations, glass mosaic and suspended sculpture “Transitions” by Barbara Cooper [Paulina station],  glass-mosaic “Commonplaces” by Juan Carlos Macias [Irving Park station] and mosaic mural “Ice-Cream Dream” by Hector Duarte for [Western station].

 

Migration - by Don Baum

Migration – by Don Baum [curated the Hairy Who shows]

 

One of the interesting aspects of the exhibition is the works by artists of Chicago school of painting, namely “Hairy Who” and the “Chicago Imagists”. The exhibition has miniature house sculpture “Migration” by Don Baum, who was the director of the Hairy Who shows. Also there is design-proposal by Karl Wirsum, one of the most prominent members of the Hairy Who group of six artists. Chicago Imagists are represented by Roger Brown’s painting “Snake Charmer” and Christine Ramberg’s “Stretch Her”.  There is something delightful about seeing father-&-son as artists. The exhibition has work by Zack Wirsum, son of Karl Wirsum [image below].

 

The City as I See It : Hot Dogs, Old Style, Pigeons,  Skyscrapers and Spirits - by Zack Wirsum

The City as I See It : Hot Dogs, Old Style, Pigeons, Skyscrapers and Spirits – by Zack Wirsum

 

The above acrylic painting by Zack Wirsum “The City as I See It Hot Dogs, Old Style,  Pigeons, Skyscrapers and Spirits” is complex network of line, shape and color that represents our city of Chicago. In the words of Zack Wirsum, “To accomplish this I asked over 100 citizens: What are the first three things you think when you think about Chicago? I compiled these answers, eliminated the redundancies and arbitrarily selected five responses. The result was hot dogs, Old Style, pigeons, skyscrapers and spirits.

 

Design proposal "Snow Sculpture for Chicago" by Tony Tasset for Goldblatt building

Design proposal “Snow Sculpture for Chicago” by Tony Tasset for Goldblatt building

 

Also in the spirit of Chicago winter is design proposal “Snow Sculpture for Chicago” by Tony Tasset for Goldblatt building.

 

Overall, this exhibition is one very enriching experience!!!

It is fun to learn about the different facets of public art in Chicago!

If you haven’t already been there, Go See it!!!

While there also check out the other two exhibitions:
Mecca Flat Blues – curated by Tim Samuelson, the cultural historian of the city
aroundcenter – by Jan Tichy, a site-specific exhibition.

Its all about Chicago!

 


 

PHOTO GALLERY:  35 Years of Public Art

 


 

 


 

RELATED LINKS:

Part I :  35 Years of Public Art.. click here..

DACSE and Visual Art department.. click here..

Hairy Who and Chicago Imagists.. click here..

 


Written by

No Comments Yet.

Leave a Reply