Archives for category: Chicago

These are the manholes that surround the DuSable Museum in Washington Park. I scoured the grounds on foot and on bike. I could only find one labeled “EL.” Now I look for the EL manhole all over town. I can’t find any more.

If someone spots one, would you please let me know?

Chicago physician and art collector, Dr. Daniel S. Bergen is responsible for  introducing me to two artists that are now essential research guide and sources of inspiration. There have been entries about the artist Joesph Yoakum on this blog before and there are more to come. Last night I watched a doc called “Thornton Dial Has Something to Say.” The doc itself was irritating in its failure to ever let the camera rest before a full Thornton Dial work, the blinding halo of martyrdom that constantly hovers of filmmaker Celia Carey’s rendering of   Atlanta art collector Bill Arnett, and the scapegoating attacks against black intellectuals. However Mr Dial’s brilliance and importance in the history and contemporary landscape of art shined regardless. One thing he said will remain with me forever:

You can work for someone else’s freedom.

You can leave something for someone else’s child.

This is Life.

~Thornton Dial



Dear Backers, Thanks so much and Happy Thanksgiving!

We’ve got a ways to go, but your support has me very optimistic and bouyed! In the words of a great Chicagoan:



It would be great to get your feedback on this blog, the video, the kickstarter site or anything else, you have thoughts about relating to Solar flares, Sun Ra, creative music and Chicago.

Miss you, Chicago!

The Solar Flare Arkestral Marching Band Fundraising Campaign has begun!

Check out our promotional video. I hope it inspires you to give us a little kick!

Thank you for all of the support thus far!

And cli k here for a link to the site to see what kinds of goodies await you!

Thank You,

Sending much love from Outer Spae!


Chicago is having a lovely lovely Autumn.

When The Lakeside Pride Freedom Marching band and I agreed on a date for our flashmob, we had to be optimistic about the weather, but of course you never know. Sure enough, a week before the shoot, all forcasts predict a 40% chance of rain. 2 days before the shoot, it’s a 50% chance of rain. I’m thinking, “Really, Chicago? Can I not catch a break?” Well, apparently the Weather Boos heard me because when I woke up Sunday morning, October 24, the clouds were parting, and the sun was shining. Indeed, it was downright balmy. My crew stayed dry, the Lakeside Pride Freedom Marching Band played their hearts out. We had a really good time.


landed at the Raymond Hilliard Homes at approximately 1pm on Sunday afternoon.

The Arkestra performed WHERE PATHWAYS MEET. Composed by Sun Ra.

Arranged by Mr. Frederick Tapley.

Coordinated by The wonderful Robert Schultz and Rhonda Thullis (these two are not mere humans, no, but angels).



And we also pay homage to the following young people:

Justin Aaberg

Billy Lucas

Asher Brown

Seth Walsh

Raymond Chase

Tyler Clementi.

May the cosmos bring you peace, children.


Here’s a slideshow preview. The video is going to take a moment to present – some other projects, namely a fundraiser,  are crowding the front seat.

I hope you enjoy the images as much as the crew and I had fun filming them.

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Very Special Thanks (in no particular order) to:

Mr. Frederick Tapley

Ben Chaffee

Samuel Davis

Ivan Lozano

Jessica Beardsley

Floyd Webb

Michael Gleason

James Smith

Benji Pearson


Ben T. Brown

Trenton Smith

Curtis Carrington

The Gracious Residents of The Raymond Hilliard Homes

Lionel Spires

Nicole McKinney

Rhonda Thullis

Robert Schultz

Dr. Daniel Berger

Torkwase Dyson


Shannon Stratton & Lauren Basing @








“If you find earth boring

Just the same old same thing

C’mon sign up with Outer Spaceways, Incorporated.”

~ Sun Ra


This happened at approximately 11am on Saturday
morning September 11, 2010:

I sincerely hope this video conveys a little bit of the magic generated from the Rich South High School Band, the band’s musical director, Mr. Douglas, and the wonderful arrangement of Space is the Place by Mr. Frederick Tapley. There are many thank yous to send out, and a great deal of work still to come. But I wanted to share this with the people who worked so hard, got SO WET, and made it happen. You had to be there, but it was a beautiful beautiful thing.

Thank you Rich South  H.S.M.B.

You bad!

“Outer space is a pleasant place A place where you can be free There’s no limit to the things you can do Your thought is free and your life is worthwhile Space is the place. ”

~ Sun Ra

Just one caveat: the audio is NOT mixed. At all.

Bertrand Goldberg is best known for designing the round stacked platter Marina City complex in downtown Chicago.


Bertrand Goldberg with the model for River City.


But his career was long and varied. And as I learn about him, one thing that is clear about his base philosophy is his belief that architects could shape our world for the better – create structures and systems for better living.   Because of my regular visits to The Velvet Lounge, I had ample opportunity to admire one of Mr. Goldberg’s Utopian jewels from the “L” platform.


View of the Raymond Hilliard Homes from Cermak-Chinatown "L" platform


The honeycombs are luminous at night and comforting in the day. The Raymond Hilliard Homes is a city commissioned Public Housing complex. Commissioned in 1966; with construction completed in 1967.  Of course the striking contrast between the beauty of this form and the punishing brutality of the typical housing complex is quite stunning. Goldberg himself felt very strongly that the poor need not be punished for being poor by being forced into  hostile containment rather than functional and inspirational housing. As stated by Goldberg in a 1965 promotional piece, “their architecture must meet them and recognize them, not simply store them.” (1)


Photo taken shortly after the structure's completion.


The complex was designed to house elderly residents and families in the belief and hope that the wisdom of the old could be shared with the young. Indeed the housing complex is still a comfortable mixture of young families and the gracefully aging. The outer shell of the building supports it, hence the quote in the title. The inner core of each floor, apparently has a common space.

This structure is about 44 years old and yet it still eclipses, in its aspirations for the future, the majority of contemporary public housing structures, and it still functions as a comfortable home for its residence.

I visited the complex and wandered its grounds, but was not granted permission to photograph the landscaping and the residence who barbecued, sunned on benches or played in the jungle gym.

The truly spacial discovery however was the tiny amphitheater that is integrated into the landscaping.

Even though this site is not open to the public, and is very close to the first solar flare march, I find it an ideal site to pay homage to one of Chicago’s most honored creatives – Fred Anderson. His place, The Velvet Lounge, is just down the street from this place – you can see the honeycombs from the club’s front door. With anyluck, our march will be approved soon, and Solar Flare Arkestral Marching and will be performing A March for Fred Anderson.

The thing that sealed the deal for me is Goldberg’s connectin to San Diego!


La Jolla Theater


His design for what was called “The San Diego Theater” but what was, I suspect, intended to be The La Jolla Playhouse at UCSD, is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a shame it was never built. The designs and speculative sketches did, apparently, win awards in their day.

Lovely speculative drawing by Goldberg for the San Diego Theater

Certainly the most wildly expressionistic of his unbuilt projects was his design for the San Diego Theater, a 1969 community theater to be built in La Jolla, California. The three stage complex, along with its classrooms and set construction areas was to occupy a vast serpent-like structure of concrete sprayed steel bones, its biomorphic profile undulating over the hills.

UCSD prides itself on modern architecture. Somehow this proposal did not survive the vetting process. Typical, and disappointing. It would be so nice to have a little bit of this amazing Chicago architect – this Utopian dreamer – in San Diego.

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I am favoring speed over precision for these! Sorry about repeat images.
All images taken by Ivan Lozano.

Today is September 12, 2010. I am still in Chicago. The threewalls residency ended on Sept.6, but I could not go home without producing at least one March. Shannon Stratton, the executive Director of threewalls, and I knew it would be difficult when we took this project on, and we knew it would take time to create all of the relationships, do the research, make the calls, ask the favors and apply the pressures necessary to create a flash mob marching band. It just took one week longer than my residency! But we did it!

The weather for the past week has been sublime. Fall has descended upon Chicago. Every day last week, was sunny and cool – and then Saturday happened. Thunderstorms! Riding the train from the Howard stop of the Red Line to Cermak Chinatown, I watched the clouds grow darker, the rain fall heavier. I text messaged my Sound Supervisor, Ben Chaffee. Both of us were dubious, and yet steadfast and determined. There were way too many moving parts to this event (70 students, 3 school busses, 13 crew members, borrowed equipment, guest-visa on the residency!) to turn back now. Back and forth we text’d our hopes for a break in the rain. I twittered my anxiety and prayers to Sun Ra to my 5 followers. There was a tiny break were full pour turned into misty Drizzle – the Musical Director, the brilliant and ebullient Mr. Y. L. Douglas, ordered his marching band into position – sound and camera rolled! About 15 seconds into Space Is The Place, the sheets of rain started coming down. And the RICH SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND sang the spiral melody even louder; they marched and danced even more brilliantly.

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In that moment, Chinatown Square was The Place and The Space to inhabit. I am still awed and inspired by the dignity, professionalism and utter beauty of the Rich South High School Marching Band. We will certaily work together again. So please keep checking in for updates, post- residency blog entries, and announcements for more marches. Thank you threewalls. THANK YOU CHICAGO. I’ll be back.

Check back soon for more images!

A March for Sun Ra

will strike the planet earth!



2133 South China Place
Chicago, IL 60616-1536
Just off the Red Line – Cermak

The participants of this event sincerely hope you can join us to celebrate solar flares, immeasurable equations, Sun Ra, and the cosmos.
We also ask that you please not ask the participants when the event  will begin.
Please do not tell folks you do not know why you are there.
Please do not stand around expectantly waiting for the event to begin —
Simply enjoy your Saturday morning at Chinatown Square.
Trust us. When the solar flare strikes  you cannot miss it!

See you Saturday, and thank you so much for all your support.

Space is the Place (1973) written by Sun Ra
Arranged for Marching Band by Mr. Frederick Tapley
Musical Director: Mr. Y.L. Douglas
Featuring The Rich South High School Marching Band
Sound Supervisor: Ben Chaffee
Executive Producer: threewalls

Audio/Visual Crew:
Jessica Bardsley
Samuel Davis
Michael Gleason
Joe Grim
Shy Hamilton
Sharon Harrell
Ivan Lozano
Cauleen Smith
James Smith
and friends.

This project is funded in part by: UCIRA, UCSD Academic Senate and threewalls

solar flare #1