15 December 2015

how many art trips do you take in a year?

Even though this trip to Chicago was primarily to see the Chicago Architecture Biennial, I was flummoxed when Karen asked me how many art trips I take in a year. I guess I just don't think of them in those terms. My conference trips usually include some time in museums and/or galleries with a good bunch of architectural sightseeing. Still, this trip is more "art trip" than most. I got here late Sunday afternoon and spent the evening with Karen, her daughter Catherine, and Bella (dog), Napoleon (Leo), Sam, and Mouse. The latter three are cats but I still haven't really seen the elusive Sam. She disappears into the cupboard when a stranger arrives.

Monday morning, I left with Karen (who still has to go work at ALA) and stopped at the Chicago Cultural Center (ex central library) to get my Biennial bearings. Good. It really worked because there is a daily overview tour of the exhibits in the center, this being the first time that they have devoted all of the gallery spaces to a single exhibition.
The structure in the background is House No. 11 (Corridor House) by MOS Architects of New York. The rooms are gone, only the corridors remain, but it's still got plenty of room. The small works on stands in the foreground are street detritus as models of possible buildings with small figurines sharing the pedestals. Found architecture, by Sou Fujimoto Architects.

The tour was fine but its special value was the overview. Then, off to meet Anne and Leigh for lunch at Tesori for a satisfying margherita pizza. Anne had a burger.

Leigh split off to run errands and Anne and I went back to Ryerson so I could chat briefly with the new head librarian (Doug Litts) and go out the back door of the library into the galleries. The David Adjaye show was delightful.
I really like his architecture as does much of the world these days. He has finished a number of esteemed buildings, such as two branches of the D.C. Public Library and some U.K. Idea Stores (public library and community center), the just opened Aïshti Foundation in Beirut and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, and Sugar Hill Housing in Harlem. The first Adjaye building I visited was the modest Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. The show included great models and supporting materials as well as some really good videos and a sound installation done in collaboration with his brother Peter Adjaye. Pretty close to sated when I was done with the exhibition so I skipped through a few galleries, and then went and got my coat from the library and headed back to Karen's.

Tuesday started with an expedition. I'd had the address of Myopic Books -- 1564 North Milwaukee Avenue, in the Wicker Park neighborhood -- on my Chicago list for a few years but hadn't made it out to the Damen Avenue stop on the Blue Line. That is also close to The 606, a new urban park space above street level on an abandoned rail line. Its plantings aren't as fancy as the High Line in NYC, it's more of a bike passage though the pedestrian accommodation is fine, but it does give that wonderful freedom from the street craziness without removing you from the urban mix. And good views further afield.

Back to North Michigan Avenue. The Graham Foundation isn't open on Tuesday so I headed for the Museum of Contemporary Art which always provides a good experience. First, lunch (kale and grain salad with a very tasty small baguette). Even though the third-floor galleries were closed for installation, the American surrealism show on the first floor included some really wonderful works, a fine mix of early "classical" surrealism as well as much more recent works. A great Jess painting that looked just a tad Bosch-like (yes, I did make my flight reservation to go see the 500-year memorial exhibition in the spring in Den Bosch, another admittedly art trip) and a group of small paintings by Forrest Bess. I also really enjoyed the small exhibition of riffs on columns by Ania Jaworska.

I finished up Tuesday with some more time in the Chicago Cultural Center and the annex across Randolph Street with three installations including one from Assemble. They just received the 2015 Turner Prize. I think I did their authority record for the Avery Index and it was fun to know a lot of the architects in the Biennial from my indexing.

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