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

Today I had a chance to go to a local metal manufacturing plant. We were there to get some simple, galvanized steel sheets. Not nearly as exciting as these large copper architectural pieces that they also manufacture there. Next time I need to take the tour to see these being made!!!… if they even offer a tour?!

Categories: architecture, Chicago

Like I said… when I turned the corner in Millennium Park, kinda close to the Art Institute…
I turned and noticed that another major harbinger of Spring was right there in front of me.
The Buckingham Fountain had been turned on!

This elaborate fountain is possibly the most recognizable landmark in Chicago.
All Winter, the fountain is closed down, boarded up and packed away for the season.
Each Spring, it’s an exciting event when the fountain returns… as Spring is here!!!
And for those of you who may not have ever been to Chicago, but did watch the TV classic
“Married With Children”… well, then you’ve already seen it there too!

And here’s you quick history lesson…
Buckingham Fountain sits in the center of Grant Park and is the most significant feature.
A gift to Chicago from Kate Buckingham, in memory of her brother, it was dedicated in 1927
as the world’s largest decorative fountain. The design is based on the Latona Fountain at
Versailles, France. It consists of three Georgia pink marble circular basins of 24-foot, 60-foot
and 103-foot diameters, siting on a 280-foot wide bottom pool. Together they hold 1,500,000
gallons of water recirculating 14,000 gallons a minute through 133 jets, with the central jet
reaching 137 feet into the air. The fountain symbolizes Lake Michigan and the four groups
of bronze “sea horses” represent the four States around it.

The fountain is stunning from every side – especially with the sun glistening through.
And depending on which way the wind is blowing, you might get a fine misting too!

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…

Categories: architecture, Chicago

So the performance of “Les Miserables” was incredible. The theater ain’t too shabby either!
Unfortunately, I had this crazy usher lady yelling at me… I’ll just call her “Imelda Marcos”…
well before the show was even close to starting. Apparently “she” thinks that you can’t take
pictures at all inside the theater anywhere?! Crazy!!! Especially when it looks like this!

Categories: architecture, Chicago

The art & architecture in Chicago is amazing.
And so often, I’ve walked past it for years and never quite stopped inside.
Well, today I visited the Palmer House in downtown Chicago and was amazed!

The story of downtown Chicago’s Palmer House is one of romance
and undeniable charm. Potter Palmer was a well-known Chicago business magnate.
She, a stylish socialite and philanthropist.

An introduction by his former business partner, Marshall Fields, sparked a romance
that led to perhaps one of the most extravagant wedding gifts of all time –
a Grand Chicago Hotel destined to take it’s place among the most luxurious hotels
in Chicago and the world.

Tragically, just thirteen days after its Grand Opening, the Palmer House fell victim
to the Great Chicago Fire. Determined to rebuild his luxury downtown Chicago hotel,
the Palmer House namesake secured a $1.7 million loan – negotiated on his signature alone.
On November 8, 1873, the new Palmer House welcomed its first guests, marking the
opening of what would become the nation’s oldest continually operating hotel.

Shortly after befriending Claude Monet in France, Bertha Palmer began decorating
the Palmer House with artistic treasures inspired by her French heritage, eventually
accumulating the largest collection of impressionist art outside of France.
The Palmer House was bedecked with garnet-draped chandeliers, Louis Comfort Tiffany
masterpieces, and at its heart, a breathtaking ceiling fresco by French painter
Louis Pierre Rigal, which was described by columnist George Will as “a wonderful protest
of romance against the everydayness of life.”