September 25, 2008

CTA and Street Art on Howard

I stopped in the Community Center last night after work for a few minutes. As I exited, there were three undercovers smack dab in front of the building with 3-4 gentlemen detained and the blue lights flashing.

Along came Betsy from the ward office for the CTA art meeting. “Hello Betsy”. She did return the greeting, inquired about the scene playing out on the curb. I told her we see this all the time and suggested that her boss needs to get involved in the issues he has helped perpetuate here. Whether or not it gets relayed is up to her. One person was taken away in cuffs.

Michael Land went scurrying into the building – either he was avoiding me or perhaps in the near dark of 6:50 PM he didn’t see me. As I hung around debating if I should go to the meeting on CTA art along came Joe. He too, would have avoided me but I said ‘Hey Joe, you just must missed all the action’. He acknowledged my presence and muttered something I didn’t hear since he didn’t stop. But I’m used to him either ignoring me or raising his voice at me so it was a change.

So I went in too. The existing art on the slideshow presentation of other red, brown and blue line stations was much more interesting than the finalist pieces exhibited. The schematics were two-fold – a mural for the Howard Street entrance that is currently being renovated and overhead art to be focal point in ceiling of the escalator banks in the Paulina entrance. Two exhibits were interesting until the discussions started. The prerequisite for the artists was to create art that needed little or no maintenance, i.e. fiberglass, stainless steel, or plastic medium. When the discussion started on ‘power washing’ the ceiling art – I mentioned to a neighbor ‘they can’t power wash over the escalators’! What would Huberman say about that? My understanding Ron wants part of the Howard/Paulina TIF money to enclose escalators from the elements. Also mentioned was ensuring the hanging work did not become a pigeon roost.

The selected artists were required to write an analysis of their design reasoning for the space. That’s good enough for me – members of the audience had suggestions for some of the exhibits. I made my exit before the mural exhibits were presented. Once upon a time in one of my 12 hours of art history, a professor kept the same painting projected on the screen for three classes in a row. Each class he went into ‘his’ explanation of the artists thoughts or reasoning that went into the painting. The slide wasn’t one of Hieronymus Bosch or Paul Klees’ exciting art but of a lesser known artist. The painting was of red flowers in an urn. Discussing brush strokes, medium, and style could have been completed in one class. To presume to know what another person was thinking 200 years ago on canvas was absurd. A person sees art and either likes it or doesn’t – its pretty simple or should be.

Hopefully the presenters had some interesting takeaways from the comments. Hopefully they had safe exit from this neighborhood too. I hope Joe noticed the appearance of Howard Street when he left too.

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