March 27, 2017

Seven Magic Mountains outside of Las Vegas

Seven Magic Mountains

If you need a break from the casino culture on the Las Vegas Strip, consider a short trip outside of the city to view a special art exhibit, the Seven Magic Mountains by Swiss sculptor, Ugo Rondinone. The seven 30-foot brightly-colored totems are made up of large stacked boulders that give one the feeling of a psychedelic Stonehenge.
Ten miles south of Las Vegas, the art installation is near Jean Dry Lake and Interstate 15. The Mojave Desert becomes a free art museum with a short drive outside of Las Vegas well worth the trouble.
The installation opened on May 11, 2016 and will be viewable until May 11, 2018.

My niece, Maye and me

You can order Seven Magic Mountain prints by Gianfranco Gorgoni or “mini mountain” stone sculptures by Ugo Rondinone at:
http://sevenmagicmountains.com

Terra Cotta Warriors and Moholy-Nagy: Future Present

I usually don’t write about exhibits that have just left Chicago, but I decided to write about two showings that are moving on to other cities.

It has long been my dream to see the famed Terra Cotta Warriors in their original excavation site in Xi’an, China. The Field Museum exhibit which ran from March 4, 2016 to January 8, 2017 seemed to be the next best thing.
My thumbnail review: admission and parking were expensive and the exhibit itself was rather small with very few artifacts that weren’t reproductions. If you never plan to visit China, you may want to make a spring visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors in Seattle, but I myself am holding out hope to see the real thing in Xi’an.

Terra Cotta Warriors Exhibit
Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA
April 8 to Sept 3, 2017

A much more satisfying exhibit was Moholy-Nagy: Future Present which ran from Oct. 2, 2016 to January 3, 2017 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Hungarian Laszlo Moholy-Nagy was a painter, photographer, film-maker, sculptor, advertising man, product designer and theater set designer. Happily, the exhibit gave us glimpses of every phase of his work. Room after room featured samples of his work from his lucite and metal chandeliers to his photos, films, paintings and graphic designs.

Moholy-Nagy holds a place of honor in Chicago history having been instrumental in creating the New Bauhaus here which morphed into the Institute of Design on the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) campus.

The Moholy-Nagy exhibit was previously at the Guggenheim Museum in New York city and now moves to Los Angeles. West coasters who admire early 20th century art and design are strongly urged to attend this fine show.

Moholy-Nagy Future Present
Feb. 12 to June 18, 2017
Los Angeles County Museum

Google Arts and Culture site

google-arts-and-culture-logoWhen traveling, I love visiting museums, gardens and venues of visual beauty. Unfortunately, my wish list of places to visit continues to grow, while my time to travel remains relatively small.

Google Arts and Culture comes to the rescue with a comprehensive web site that allows the viewer to virtually visit a host of cultural and natural sites all across the world. biodivwand_c_carola-radke-mfnBio Diversity Wall at the Natural History Museum in Berlin

Some of the web site headings include Your Daily Digest, Stories of the Day, Zoom in and Explore by time and color. A seemingly endless number of virtual tours are available including Ford’s Theater in Washington,  10 Downing Street in London and the Taj Mahal in India. One can do searches by art movements, artists, historical events or places along with a host of other topics. Every visit to Google Culture and Art home page could be a different, enlightening experience.

I see from the internet address that Google Arts and Culture is still in beta-testing mode, but the site looks quite polished and professional in its current state.
On my next Google Arts and Culture experience, I plan to make virtual visits to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and to the Great Barrier Reef. Excuse me while I pack my virtual suitcase.

https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/

The First Monday in May doc on Netflix

My hairdresser recommended The First Monday In May,  a wonderful documentary by Andrew Rossi on Netflix that mixes art, fashion and a bit of world politics.

Film footage shows astoundingly beautiful clothing in inventive gallery settings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but we also get to see the backstage mechanics of creating this annual fashion fantasy.

Design powerhouse, Anna Wintour is shown in action as she determines what is tasteful. Interviews with clothing designers Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galliano are sprinkled throughout the film.

The real star of the costume exhibit is the Met’s Costume Curator, Andrew Bolton, a shy Brit who quietly works his magic behind the scenes.

The doc builds to the opening of China: Through the Looking Glass, the Met’s costume exhibit of 2014. Chinese government entities, Film director Wong Kar Wai and the Met staff reach a middle ground showing older Chinese fashions as well as current designs by Asian and Western clothing designers.

Those not mad about fashion might be titillated by the kick-off dinner’s celebrity red carpet arrivals including George and Amal Clooney and Rihanna, garbed in a most dramatic brilliant yellow gown with the longest train of recent memory.

Attending this annual summer-long costume exhibit at Metropolitan Museum of Art now goes on my “to do in life” list.  Anybody for a trip to New York next May?

Canstruction: a charity sculpture event at the Mart using non-perishable food

Currently on view until September 6 is Canstruction,  a design/build event that benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Using non-perishable food items, teams from the trade organization, AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) construct installations in the lobby of the Merchandise Mart.

My favorites in this year’s event are The Mona Lisa (above),  an amusing take on Vincent Van Gogh’s bedroom (right) and an Olympic runner about to sprint made out of tuna cans (below).

This marks Canstruction’s tenth anniversary. If you miss the exhibit this year, put this amusing and worthy cultural event on your list for next August.


http://chicago.canstruction.org

Energetic Healing – Part 2

This is Part 2 of the topic of Energetic Healing with a brief list of treatment options in the alternative field of medicine and wellness. These thumb-nail citations are by no means comprehensive.

I am including Homeopathy in the alternative category since many medical professionals discount it. However, Europe and parts of Asia embrace this form of medicine that is, in my opinion, cost-efficient and effective for many ailments.

Homeopathy is the other side of the coin to allopathy which is the basis of much of our Western medical system. Allopathy uses opposites to address symptoms and illness. Look at a drug store shelf and you will see anti-histamines, anti-inflammatories, anti-bacterials, anti-fungals, etc. You get the picture.

Homeopathy finds substances that cause similar symptoms and then dilutes them to infinitesimal amounts. “Like cures like” was coined by homeopathy’s founder, Samuel Hahnemann.

One’s own immune system is nudged to correct the problem energetically.  I myself have used Homeopathic pellets with great success for a couple of decades. It’s possible that mental suggestion is at play, but if something seems to work, I will still keep it in my arsenal of treatment options.

Several therapies address our five senses to prime the body for healing.

Reiki, using the “laying of hands” increases the “life force energy” and moves “Ki” through blockages in the body. Massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, yoga and tai chi all operate on the concept of keeping energy flowing through blood vessels, the skeletal system, the nervous system and through both the physical and energetic body of the patient.

Sound therapy has been around for centuries. Chanting can be a form of meditation that calms the nervous system and focuses one’s attention. The use of Tibetan healing bowls have entered the lexicon of alternative treatments in the U. S.  I found this lovely 3 hour recording of Tibetan bowl music with running water on youtube. Listening for just five minutes promotes relaxation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M_mp7Mmt34

Art, dance and music therapy get the patient involved in creation thereby stimulating a sense of well-being that may aid in healing.

Color therapy may include wearing eyeglasses in a particular color or bathing in a tub of therapeutic colored water. Green or blue will reduce stress. Yellow and orange stimulate appetite and encourage productivity.

http://www.arttherapyblog.com/online/color-psychology-psychologica-effects-of-colors/#.V78UzYVCOuE

Essential oils such as lavender, bergamot or ylang yang all have specific properties that affect the body through smell. My sister gave me a Family Physician Kit by doTerra filled with essential oils including Oregano for Immune Support and mixtures for Muscle and Joint Support and First Aid for skin.  At the very least, the scents improve one’s environment.

The energetic quality of what you put in your mouth is another gigantic topic. When making your food choices, ask yourself, will this  dish or beverage increase or decrease my energy and sense of well-being? It may not deter you from choosing the breaded fried chicken over the green juice drink, but it should encourage more enlightened food for thought.

Painting and Photography Exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago

America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s  and Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem at the Art Institute of Chicago

One of the joys of having a membership to the Art Institute of Chicago is the ability to visit briefly and often, especially when there are intriguing current exhibits.

America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s is a small, but powerful exhibit of work done in the U. S. after the Great Crash of 1929. The fifty canvases include Grant Wood paintings including his iconic American Gothic, along with works by Georgia O’Keefe, Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton, Philip Evergood, Ben Shahn, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove and Charles Sheeler. Some of my favorite paintings are by African-American artists such as Joe Jones, Reginal Marsh, William H. Johnson, and Aaron Douglas.  The collection offers thought-provoking art from many different schools such as that of Regionalism, Social Realism and Abstraction.

It is interesting to note that the main funder of the exhibit is the Terra Foundation for American Art, a name many Chicagoans will recognize.

The exhibit runs at AIC until September 18, 2016.
It goes next to the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and to London’s Royal Academy.

http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/america-after-fall-painting-1930s

Just across the lobby is a photo/prose exhibit entitled Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem. Author Ellison and photographer/filmmaker Parks collaborated on two projects: Harlem is Nowhere in 1948 and A Man Becomes Invisible in 1952 featuring images that matched Ellison’s iconic book Invisible Man.

The AIC’s one room exhibit contains images from the 1952 collaboration as well as printed and hand-written selections from Ellison’s landmark book. The photos taken in Harlem are not only art, but emotionally gripping depictions of racially-divided life in the Harlem of post World War II America. My favorite image is that of an African-American man raising a manhole cover as he looks out from his subterranean den.  Seen from the perspective of today’s headlines, the photos and quotes are particularly inpactful.

The Invisible Man exhibit is showing through August 28, 2016.

http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/invisible-man-gordon-parks-and-ralph-ellison-harlem

Here’s a small tip for AIC visitors:  avoid the milling crowds at the Michigan Avenue entrance, and opt for entry on Monroe Street. You will be closer to the recommended exhibits and with a member pass, you will breeze right into the museum.

Mana Contemporary Chicago, a Pilsen art center

I have often visited art galleries in River North, but my brother-in-law let me know about another Pilsen venue that seems to be attracting many creative types. Mana Contemporary at  2233 South Throop Street is an art center housed in a landmark building designed by Chicago architect George Nimmons, in a decidedly urban and industrial setting.

Mana Chicago features studios, offices and performing spaces where art is created, including painting, sculpture, photography, dance, film, sound and performance work.

We were fortunate enough to attend the Summer Open Studios on June 18 so we could browse dozens of artist work spaces on the 4th, 5th and 6th floors of the complex. We also encountered a cafe serving light bites and beverages, a performance space that featured dance and a live art studio with two partially clothed women with parasols creating an ever-changing tableau.

Some of my favorite studios: Dana Major with her magical installations featuring wire, lenses, glass, mineral optics and LEDS; Ava Grey, a creative agency and production house that creates art using materials from urban American sub-culture, and Olea Nova, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia whose work includes painting, drawing, sound and video.

At times, the unusually-garbed artists and art viewers rivaled the art on the walls. The unobstructed views from the studio windows were breath-taking with stunning sunset hues and cityscape vistas.

There are two other Mana art centers, the Mana Wynwood in Miami and the Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ.

The Mana Contemporary Chicago web site indicates that tours are available during business hours. For more information, visit:
http://www.manacontemporarychicago.com/

Graceland Cemetery, a Chicago treasure

In my last week’s article on the South Park system in Chicago, I wrote about a famous large sculpture by Illinois artist, Loredo Taft. As a co-incidence, I also visited the lovely Graceland Cemetery on Memorial Day and saw two more evocative Loredo Taft statues in this storied graveyard.

Far from being morbid and forbidding, Graceland is as much an arboretum and architectural treasure as it is a final resting place for many.

I urge you to stop at the visitor’s center when first you arrive to pick up a brochure with a map of famous Graceland “residents.” The roster reads like a “who’s who” of Chicago architecture, industry, sports and culture.

Lake Windemere Bridge - Photo by E. DoyleLake Windemere, a small body of water amidst the greenery is especially lovely with a small bridge leading to an island containing the tombstones of Daniel Burnham and his immediate family. A pleasant walk takes you to the grave sites of Louis Sullivan, John Root, Fazlur Khan, William Le Baron Jenney and Mies Van de Rohe, to name a few architects of note.

A Taft sculpture depicts a soldier from the Crusades guarding the grave of newspaper publisher, Victor Lawson. George Pullman (Pullman railroad cars), William Kimball (pianos and organs), Phillip Armour (meat-packing) and Cyrus McCormick (the horse-drawn reaper) are but a few of the industrialists buried here.

A second Loredo Taft sculpture entitled Eternal Silence marks the grave site of Dexter Graves. Looking into the face of the eerie hooded figure, according to myth, gives the viewer a glimpse of their own death.

Eternal Silence by Loredo Taft - Photo by E. Doyle

Eternal Silence by Loredo Taft – photo by E. Doyle

Other historic figures include Carter Harrison Sr. and Jr., father and son who both served as mayors of Chicago, Alan Pinkerton of the famous detective agency, Joseph Medill of Chicago Tribune fame and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, an African-American surgeon who performed one of the first open heart surgeries.

Parents or teachers could give their children and students a pretty wonderful overview of Chicago history with a walk through this verdant retreat. This is land within the Wrigleyville neighborhood that is truly full of beauty, serenity and yes, grace.

http://www.gracelandcemetery.org/

Chicago’s Stunning South Parks: Jackson, Midway and Washington

Memorial Day seemed like the perfect time to visit some park attractions on Chicago’s South Side that I had read about but never seen.

First up was the “Golden Lady” statute at the intersection of Richards and Hayes Drives in Jackson Park on Chicago’s south side. The original statue, three times the size of this copy, was by sculptor Daniel Chester French and was placed in the Court of Honor during the 1893 Colombian Exposition. The larger original work, “Statue of the Republic” was unfortunately destroyed in an 1896 fire. This newer and smaller version is completely gilded with the lady’s right hand holding a globe with an eagle on top and the left holding a staff with a banner that reads “Liberty.”  D. C. French is more well known for his statue of Abraham Lincoln that graces the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C.

If you want to keep exploring, head north towards the Jackson Park Driving Range. Several golfers were unloading golf bags so this looks like a fun place to improve one’s swing. North of the driving range is a marked nature trail that leads to the water basin in back of the Museum of Science and Industry. Off to the west, one can see the storied “Wooded Isle,” with it’s Osaka Garden, also built for the 1893 Colombian Exposition. Alas, most of the park is under construction and several pathways are blocked for public admittance, including the island with Japanese landscaping and structures.

Photo by Elizabeth Doyle

The trail is still worth checking out with it’s verdant foliage and flowers and the spectacular view of the back steps of the Museum. Big things could be ahead for Jackson Park since it is in consideration for Barack Obama’s Presidential Library. World renowned artist Yoko Ono is also slated to install a new, permanent artwork called SKY LANDING on the Wooded Island in the near future.

Three areas, Jackson, Washington and the Midway Plaisance were actually designed as one big South Park. The Midway Plaisance joins Jackson Park on the east and Washington Park on the west. During the 1893 Colombian Exposition, the “Midway” was the site of less high-brow entertainment such as sideshows and rides. Today an ice-skating rink is on the site of the world’s first Ferris wheel which premiered during the 1893 Fair. The mile-long swath of green is next to the University of Chicago and seems part of the campus even thought it is public land.

Continuing west along the park boulevard system, the big artistic attraction on the border between Midway and Washington Park is Loredo Taft’s amazing concrete sculpture and reflecting pool called “Fountain of Time.” Inspired by the poem “Paradox of Time” by Henry Austin Dobson, the large scale sculpture features Father Time looking across water at a procession of one hundred humans. Private and public entities have donated money to preserve Taft’s national artistic treasure.

Loredo Taft, an Illinois sculptor born and bred, had his art studio nearby in a converted barn at 60th street and Ellis.

I definitely plan to be back as these three parks continue to thrive and evolve. The western area of Jackson Park holds particular interest, especially if Yoko Ono completes her art project on the picturesque “Wooded Isle.”

If you want to see the projected plans for Jackson, Washington and Midway Park areas, you may find this site interesting:

http://www.project120chicago.org/