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.
Just returned from Chicago for an absolutely beautiful fundraiser organized by Shannon Stratton and her fab staff at threewalls, and Dr. Daniel Bergen. My friend, Carrie Schneider, introduced me to the guests and nearly brought me to tears with her generous description of my work. We had a great time. Especially after I busted out the Sun Ra Marching Band Capes.
I met some wonderful people that night that were new to me and of course got to hang out with dear friends like Ivan Lozano, Doug Ischar and the gracious host, Dr. Dan Bergen. I am so grateful for all of the support, and kindness that was lavished on me. And I am especially grateful to Shannon Stratton, poised and amazing threewalls staff and the artists who donated work for the silent auction:
Kira Lynn Harris
Pamela Phatsum Sunstrom
Ishmael Randall Weeks
Amazing and wonderful artists and humans, all.
See you soon 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!
Sending much love from Outer Spae!
Bertrand Goldberg is best known for designing the round stacked platter Marina City complex in downtown Chicago.
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
I have neglected the blog! A combination of transiency, spotty internet access, and no time have kept me away. Apologies to loyal visitors!
There is much for me to share. I’m going to be firing off many many posts this evening – and one VERY BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!
So please do keep checking back. In the meantime, check out the last object I made before leaving the threewalls studio.
Speculations…MAKING MEMORY MATERIAL:
Back in June, I made an exploratory trip to Chicago just to check out the scene before the residency officially began and to try amd make some contacts/alliances/sense of things.
One of the first indicators I got that this project might be viable was making contact with the great Edward Wilkerson – an AACM musician, composer, and all around pillar of the jazz community in Chicago. Mr. Wilkerson shared with me a story that has stayed with me and built itself into an object in my mind. He told me that though he never worked with Sun Ra, he was hired to make a recording for Alton Abraham, Sun Ra’s business partner and manager. He described showing up at the YMCA and wacthing Abraham tape a bunch of cardboard boxes together, stand them up in a circle, place a microphone in the middle, and then recording the musicians he’d hired to play inside of the giant cardboard ring around this microphone. (Wilkerson tells the story better – I hope to get his version on disc soon enough.)
The cardboard structure immediately suggested a sculpture to me. I am not a sculptor (as the images and video below surely reveal), but I was completed to make this object that Abrahams had created as a makeshift recording studio.
Once the things was done, Shannon Stratton and I stared at it. We watched Humo the Cat sniff around it, and then I decided that I wanted musicians to record inside of it. That will definitely happen on my next visit to Chicago. But we had to take the thing down so that the next threewalls artist, Kelly Kaczynski , could install her show.
Here are some images. Shannon was very amused by my wrestling with 50 lbs of cardboard and made a very embarrassing video of me being clobbered. Thankfully that video has not surfaced. Below is the dignified version of events.
I’m breaking my own rule. The Carousel Microcinema was formed to share the time-based media art of artist whom I admire. Now threewalls has graciously invited me to screen some of my past works for the Chicago community. Since the turnout for the first Chicago Carousel was so great, I’m hesitant to change course now. I hope you can make it. It’s free! Click over to the Carousel Microcinema site to read more!