Visual Arts

Rebecca Moy

Rebecca Moy, "Hummingbird" (detail), © 2013 Celia Her City

“Hummingbird” (detail).

Each month the Union League Club exhibits the work of a contemporary artist on its third-floor landing.  The shows are usually of paintings, as many or few as can fit on the two walls set aside to accommodate them.  Works are for sale and hang there for a month, creating favorable conditions for a low-key aesthetic encounter.  A month is a goodly amount of time to get to know a painting and let the impressions sink in.

This month, the featured artist has been Rebecca Moy.  I must say I have really enjoyed her paintings. More

New sculpture strategy

New sculpture strategy

I’ve been seeing a lot more sculpture lately, thanks to several initiatives that have been bringing more contemporary art to the lakefront and parks.  The Grandmother’s Garden in Lincoln Park alone has eight or ten new sculptures, including (above) ‘Narrow Horse,’ by Jozef Sumichrast, and Christine Rojek‘s ‘Cross-Pollination.’

What I like best about the new sculptures is their siting.  Many can be seen really well from a car or bus, so that you can look them at them when you’re commuting.  It’s great to be able to look out the window at some interesting art when sitting in traffic in your car.  Other sculptures have been plunked right down on neighborhood sidewalks, obligating you to look at them as you go by.

"Stone wobble" by Derick Malkemus, in Chicago's Lincoln Park (photo © 2013 Celia Her City)

‘Stone wobble’ by Derick Malkemus

These frank strategies, which take into account modern realities, result in fleeting encounters that deepen.  From a distance, I appreciated the insect-like qualities of Derick Malkemus‘s ‘Stone Wobble,’ which looks like a giant beetle or a fantastical flying bug that’s happened to light.  When I was finally lucky enough to get up close, I learned the name of the piece, and could appreciate its beautiful materials and the balancing act it pulls.

'Fern Temple VI' by Austin Collins and 'Ruby Rollins Roving House' by Verina Baxter in Chicago's Lincoln Park

‘Fern Temple VI’ by Austin Collins and ‘Ruby Rollins Roving House’ by Verina Baxter.

Most of the small-scale works in the parks are only temporary.  Installed in the fall of 2012 in connection with the 23rd International Sculpture Conference held in the city, they are likely to disappear next fall.  In the meantime, it’s been a pleasure to enjoy these wonderful works for free.  I hope the exposure brings the artists patronage as well as publicity.

Margaret Lanterman's 'Nesting Loft' (photograph © 2013 Celia Her City)

Margaret Lanterman’s ‘Nesting Loft.’

Chicago Sculpture Exhibit, which likewise has been bringing large-scale works to lakeside parks under the leadership of Aldermen Tom Tunney and Vi Daley, will happily continue its work.  I’m grateful to them for bringing us impressive sculptures like Jason Verbeek‘s Prairie Pump, which stands near the north entrance to Diversey Harbor, and which my sister and I very much admire.

Bert was here

Bert was here

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.