Despite Celia’s lack of a modernist sensibility, her appreciation of certain modernist works has increased with time. More
Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Long may she wave, over a people equally committed to liberty and peace!
The south end of the Federal Plaza has recently seen an upgrade of the mechanical systems that lie beneath it. After being closed for more than a year, it has been replanted and is again open to the public.
I like to imagine what stood on this spot in other days. Before the squat black Mies van der Rohe post office was built, a grand old cruciform Federal Building, capped by a fancy dome, took up the whole block. It was destroyed to make way for the present complex in the 1960s.
The buildings ringing the site—the Clark-Adams, the Com-Ed Building, and the old Marquette—seem to get along well with their new neighbor, though. And the new plantings only enhance an already appealing scene.
The Flamingo turned a fantastic color during a rally Wednesday.
It was great weather for a protest, mild and clear. The rally began in the afternoon, my old office window rattling from all the noise. It was still going on as commuters began pouring into the streets at 5.
The rally was in support of charter schools, but most passersby really had no idea, or took it for just another teachers’ rally. There are so many protests in the Loop, and lots of agitation about the schools.
Click image to enlarge.
If Calder could know how much pleasure his sculpture gives, he’d be happy.
It’s quite poorly named. The thing, in most lights, has few of the flamingo’s qualities. With its squat, heavy base and monumental scale it more resembles an aardvark, or perhaps an anteater. And the red makes one think of the Fire and a phoenix. (Will Chicago rise from the difficulties consuming it now?)
Notwithstanding its name, the Flamingo makes a delightful frame. It grabs your attention and holds it, prevailing against the tall bland buildings dwarfing it on all sides. Its massive curves and primary red blast away at its surroundings—at the universe—, forcing you to take it into account in some way.
So, yes, when leaving the post office on a rainy day, I did have stop and take this picture, and consider the red bleeding into the puddles, like the fantasy land that Bert drew on the sidewalk in Mary Poppins.
Beneath the Corn Cobs, the tables were all set up at Smith and Wollensky, for all those lucky souls intent on steak dinners tonight.
An organized slumberer occupied a bus shelter on North LaSalle. What’s next, indeed.
A driver awaited his party outside a sleek office building.
Snow had been sequestered at one end of Federal Plaza (note nearby police).
The post office, a glass oasis, filtered the action outside.
From beneath the Flamingo, their voices will rise. How many protests has this bird seen?
Even without seeing the big picture, you know where you are.
Are you feeling the squeeze?
Beyond the Calder lies a peaceful way, threading between Mies’s modern creations, past stony old skyscrapers rendered cheerful by illumination and the cloak of night. Walk far enough, and you will travel back a century to the old el station at Quincy. Dull enough by day, the buildings glow and turn festive, their bright dots and dashes telegraphing life in ways reminiscent of that old Georgia O’Keeffe painting.
Click image to enlarge.
Alexander Calder’s Flamingo has been undergoing renovation, shrouded in scaffolding and a boxy shell of plastic wrap for many weeks. Finally, the wrappings came off, revealing its newly resplendent glory. I couldn’t resist taking this picture of the flamingo in its “vanishing habitat.”