Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: architecture, artists, Chicago

A perfect Spring day in Chicago. Crisp. Clear. Cold.
Pots are too wet to trim in the studio… so let’s go play downtown!!!

We headed down to the Art Institute of Chicago to check out the new Modern Wing.
Okay, new to me anyway… it’s been here awhile already. But you know how you can
take something for granted when it’s right in “your backyard”? Well, I finally got around
to checking out the new Modern Wing… finally. The structure itself was incredible.
Very clean, very sleek, very modern. Go figure.

The views are great from inside too… even through the blinds overlooking Millennium Park
and the Gehry Pavilion. Never mind the collection of Giacometti sculptures all around you!

Part of my plan for the day was also to “scout out” opportunities for my kids when I bring
them here for a Summer Camp Field Trip. How do I keep  a bunch of kids focused & engaged
in a museum where they have to be quiet?! Projects? Scavenger hunt? Quiz? Sketches?
Luckily, it’s several weeks away, so I still have time to come up with a plan.

So we bypassed a “lot” of the regular masterpieces in the “original” museum to get to the
Modern Wing. But when we got inside, there was a lot to see. Including some of the
all-time favorites like Rene Magritte, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Robert Delaunay & more!

And let me just say… for some reason, this one was today’s favorite. I was taken by her
“strange” colorations, the impressionistic “squiggles” and the eerie mood it all sets.
Okay, that ONE tooth is pretty fetching too!

But let me just say for the record… I’m not a huge fan of the more recent American modern
artists. You know the ones… when they take a canvas, paint it all one color and call if done.
Or scribble all over it like a kid and call it “art.” The ones that look like bad paint-by-number.
The ones that look like bad PhotoShop. Or a video about nothing. Or black noise. Whatever.
I never bought into that theory that just because they call themselves “artists” does it mean
that whatever they make is “art. With that said, I do enjoy some of the cleverness & witticisms
of Modern Art… but do something. Make something. Have a reason to make art.
Not to throw it back in someone’s face just to call it “ART.”  So there…

Then we walked over to the Chicago Cultural Center. One of Chicago’s little-known
cultural gems. The building alone is a work of art. With incredible mosaics, Tiffany stained
glass dome windows, and art all around. Just wandering the four floors is spectacular.
Let alone the small galleries on every floor. Did I mention the stained glass domes?…

Our main purpose at the Chicago Cultural Center was to see the special photography
exhibit of the work by Vivian Maier. To see more of her wonderful images, click here.
You may have heard of her recently. I’s a great story… which I’ll save for the next blog post!

After the photography exhibit, we went upstairs to the Louis Sullivan exhibit.
Drawings, sketches, designs & actual pieces of the wonderful work Sullivan created
for many of the major buildings in Chicago… starting with the World’s Fair. The exhibit
was pretty incredible. I loved seeing the sketches right next to the actual piece. But I
still wish there were more pieces on display. With all of the hundreds of buildings that he
worked on, and the number of them that have been destroyed over the years, I would
hope that more of the remnants remain.

We then topped off the night with some wonderful Cuban food at Cafe 28.
Located on the corner of Irving Park Road & Ravenswood, just a few blocks south
of Lillstreet Art Center. Okay, so I was hungry after a long day of art & walking…
but let me just say that they may have had the best pork chops I’ve ever had!!!
Here goes… Honey Jalapeno Pork Chops marinated, grilled & then baked
to perfection with sweet potatoes! Yum…


C. Yalater

March 28th, 2011

I checked out the Modern Wing last summer, after wanting to see it for so long… and I was kinda disappointed. I don’t know why, the “one-sidedness” of the actual building was sort of odd, how the galleries are all on the east side of the building. To me, the “Flow” was sort of odd, but the fact that they have all the Modern work on display now is fantastic.
I am thrilled to see a picture of one of my favorite pieces at the AI, “Untitled” by Lee Bontecou! I have always been drawn to that piece, even as a kid; I remember seeing it as a kid in grade school, when they took us on field trips to the AI. Don’t tell anyone, but a few years ago, I TOUCHED it! I waited until the docent went around the corner, and I felt the canvas near the hole, and one of the pieces of wire. No alarms went off, to my surprise. I just had to do it, I had been drawn to it for so long.

Anyway, Bontecou has been overlooked until recently, when her work was re”discovered”, and they had a retrospective, which resulted in a good book that is hard to find, but always inspiring to me. Luckily, my library has a copy, it’s now worth about $400!

I also used to go to the Cultural Exchange all the time in the late ’80s, when it was the Library, while they were building the Washington Library. It is an amazing building, as you say, never to be duplicated of course. Last time I was there I saw an exhibit of Dave Trost’s sculptures, which were damaged, because parents were letting their kids climb all over them! Can you believe it!?

Anyway, thanks for another great post on your fantastic blog!
(And believe it or not, I have been by that restaurant many times, which is amazing, considering that I live about 28 miles away! Never ate there, though.)

April 1st, 2011

thank you Gary for a trip to the arts. I had surgery this week and it didn’t go well. I almost bled to death. anyway I’m on the road to recovery, and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk through your blog today. Sam

April 1st, 2011

SAM – Sorry to hear you’ve been going through some health issues… sounds like it was a little scary there for awhile?! Hope all is getting better and you’re on the road to recovery! GARY

August 30th, 2015

I do miss Chicago, sigh. 🙁

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