Saturday, July 17, 2010

CHICAGO! - Art Trip - Part 4

I could go on and on about Chicago. My Saturday was a 14 hour day in town - I probably walked more than 6 miles altogether, all over the Loop, into Greektown (lamb for lunch), and ultimately down to the lake shore. I had an Irish dinner at Katie O'Shea's, outside, where I ended up the only remaining outdoor patron when a ten minute rain shower scared off everyone else (I just raised my umbrella and kept eating my sausages and pretzel in Guinness mustard and piccalilli). Earlier in the day I caught some of the Transformers 3 filming (supercars and an 18 wheeler (Optimus Prime) roaring around corners of blocked off LaSalle and Jackson streets). Got some great photos, more of which I'll share in later posts. It was a very full day.

I had started it with a tour of the public art in the Loop, which I had printed from a blog and brought in my pack . It began at the Art Institute, where I sketched this Henry Moore sculpture. Henry Moore believed that art should have titles that made the viewer think - rather than giving too much away. He felt a good title might keep a viewer engaged longer, letting the art sink in and have its desired effect. He has been one of my favorite sculptors since I was a teenager, when I sketched and drew from photos of his work. One of my favorites is at MIT, in Cambridge, MA. His compositions live in the same place in my mind and heart that certain poetry does - Dylan Thomas, T. S. Eliot, and Kenneth Rexroth, in particular.

The art tour wandered through Millenium and Grant parks to the Aon Plaza, where I sketched the interesting waterfall, and some of Chicago behind it. These falls are over stacks of dark stone, cut in uneven octagons and other polyhedrals. It was already getting hot, by then, but I was so focused I didn't notice the shade had moved off me until I finished the drawing and I was dripping wet. This is one of my favorite sketches from the trip. The morning light was beautiful on the older architecture on Michigan Avenue.

After the tour, I ate in Greektown and then walked along the river and passed most of the famous bridges, stopping to do a watercolor of the bridge on Clark Street, from the Chicago Riverwalk. These bridges are amazing, mostly built back in the 1920s, and full of large rivets. The towers on either end are the best on the older bridges, like this one.

The sun was hot, and I had a hard time with this painting, using the kit's tiny brush. I finally got out my bigger brush and then it went better.

Before dinner I bought another moleskine (a wonderful red one) and started it off with a sketch of one of the bronze boys holding spraying fish, on the large sculptural fountain (Fountain of the Great Lakes) in one of the courtyards at the Art Institute. This is in pencil, and the paper was so smooth that it was hard to get any dark shadows. I love the boy's embrace, and the lively reaction of the reluctant fish.

Then the ultimate triumph, for me, was that I stood on the street in front of the Institute, with my moleskine held at eye level, and drew the lions. While hundreds of people passed me, I ignored everyone and drew. The green one isn't as good as I'd like, but the black drawing is a good likeness of my favorite of the two lions - the one on the north side of the entrance.

Then I was finally too exhausted to do any more, and I took the train back out to the hotel.


susan said...

I can see you definitely experienced a breakthrough during your marathon sketching tour of the city that Saturday. This is a wonderful series of drawings and watercolors. My particular favorites are the Aon Plaza Fountain because if its energy and detail, and the other is the serenity of the Clark St Bridge. The last lion is very cool too.

Somewhere among my photographs are pictures of me as a 19 year old draped over and around Henry Moore sculptures that were on display in a Tate garden prior to a world tour. We sneaked in at dawn to interact with them :-)

Steve Emery said...

Susan, thank you. The two sketches you picked out were the two where I most completely lost track of time. They are what remains of two wonderful experiences.

I would love to see photographs of you composed with Henry Moore's work. I've always thought the pieces would be different with humans in their midst. Usually I enjoy the background and settings around and through them, as I believe he intended. I wonder what he thought about people interacting with the pieces more directly - more physically...

I would benefit from reading about him again. It's been so many years. Maybe another visit to Amazon and the Taschen folks is in order.

susan said...

One of the sculptures I played on that early morning has been on display outside Toronto's City Hall since 1966. I think he wouldn't have minded people having a tactile experience of his work but the museum directors take a dim view.

Regina said...

You make me miss Chicago!
Love the way you have captured it.
I feel like I missed truly observing some of the gems when I see your drawings & read your narrative. There is so much to take in...