I walked twenty five minutes to where the New Museum of Modern Art is going to be only to find it still hasn’t opened. I saw this three story mural across the street.
In 480 BC Persians attacked Athens and destroyed of the Acropolis. When her citizens returned they decided not to rebuild the structures but instead to leave it the way it was as a reminder of the attack and as a memorial to all who served to fight against it. The rubble was buried and forgotten about until the 19th century when it was discovered and found to be very well preserved. The statues and marble work from the ruins were damaged and neglected by early excavation techniques and restoration is now being done to try to return the pieces to their original glory.
After the destruction of the Acropolis artists began to free themselves of the old style of representation that left people looking stiff and rigid. Most important of this time was the switch from having people stand with weight distributed equally on both legs to placing most of the weight on one leg. The switch created an entire shift in the body that created a more relaxed and natural look. This pose is called “contrapposto,” an Italian term that means counterpose.
Here you can see how the pose makes a difference. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Think about how long it took artists to make their sculptures look more natural. For thousands of years humans were presented as pleasant faced but completely stiff and hard as the stone they were carved out of. This more natural pose is what led to a great development in the art world toward creating images of more naturally realistic people.
As a result, today we may see sculptures and paintings of people in far more creative ways and in situations we can relate to.
Agnes Baillon, Untitled, 2010, Bronze, H45 x L26 W13cm
After leaving the Acropolis Museum and seeing more classical art and sculpture at the National Archaeology Museum, it was a much needed relief to see how the representation of the human form has evolved at Frissiras Museum. If you are a modern art lover then this place is a must see for you. It is a more modest space compared to the Acropolis Museum and the National Museum of Archaeology but none the less beautiful.
Filopoulou Maria, Swimmers, oil on canvas, 122 x 185 cm
Learn more about the National Museum of Archaeology in Athens here: www.namuseum.gr/index-en.html
See beautiful images of the very modern Acropolis museum here: www.theacropolismuseum.gr/
My first day in Athens and I went to the most touristy place I could think of: The Acropolis. I don’t remember learning much about it in Art History 101, I think a lot of focus was made on the column styles but my class was at 8 a.m. so what I recall of my studies nearly 30 years ago is foggy.
I spent a couple of hours climbing up to and walking around the Acropolis and what I favored most about it was the trip up and down. Climbing up I found niches and caves dedicated to Greek Gods and Goddesses. You can climb off the main path to examine them more closely and see where tiny statues of Aphrodite, Eros, were laid into niches. I know that Apollo, Zeus and Pan are fictitious characters but when I climbed up to the caves that were shrines for them I felt like I was entering spaces they actually had once been to. I actually had that thought for a moment, “wow, Zeus himself was once here.” I always love Greek mythology and when I learned of Zeus and Apollo as a child I felt like they were actual men.
The Parthenon, at the top of the Acropolis, is the temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena, whom Athens is named for. The temple gets its name from the Greek word for virgin, a little tidbit of information I don’t remember learning before this trip. However, I didn’t read much from my art history books. I mostly just looked at the pictures and relied on my class lectures for information. I also didn’t thoroughly read the instructions for the B&B I’m staying at before arriving here. This led to me ringing the wrong bell and delaying my check in for an hour. You pay the price for not doing enough research before traveling.
The new Ed Paschke Art Center opened on what would have been Paschke’s 75th birthday in Jefferson park on Sunday, June 22, 2014. I met one of my very first students for the event, Chauncey, as well as two of my girlfriends, Rachel and Dora.
Chauncey and I arrived first and did not wait for the others to begin our exploration of the place. The Center is a remarkable space. There is an impressive gallery of work as you walk in and downstairs is a studio for artists in residence. We found some work inspired by Paschke, there, created by high school kids. (New lesson plan now in the works to do the same.)
My favorite piece in the main gallery is a large painting that features an image of Osama Bin Laden flanked by two beautiful decorative prints that remind me of Muslim prayer rugs. Any image of Bin Laden provokes emotion from within and this is no exception. Bin Laden’s face glows golden and his partial smile along with the soft way that Paschke paints gives him a friendly look that I know deep down is deceiving. I want to believe this man had a heart and if you didn’t see buildings falling with people leaping to their death as a result of his hand you would find the painting nothing more than another gorgeous work by Paschke. Chauncey and I remarked how fine Paschke’s painting skills were. I had always believed he used printmaking in his work but he didn’t. Look sideways at some of his paintings and you will see how he used glazes to add another,more subtle,layer of pattern on top of his brightly colored portraits.
When Dora and Rachel arrived we went upstairs to see where Paschke’s art studio was recreated. I loved this. A man next to me remarked how he loved to see how other artists organized their space and I agreed. Paschke’s brushes were arranged in old PikNik potato sticks and Pringles cylinders, Sanka cans and old coffee mugs. A photo of the boxer whose portrait he was working on was propped on his easel with other postcards and photos.
Dora and Rachel had an amusing encounter with an older woman in a room in the back of the upstairs gallery. There are two rooms behind the recreation of Paschke’s studio with giant flat screens mounted to the wall. It looks like, maybe, an informative video about Paschke will one day be playing here. In one of the rooms a single podium table with an orange tablecloth draped over it stood and someone had left an empty water bottle there with a rolled up piece of paper inside it. Dora leaned on the table and a woman came in and scolded her, “what are you doing? Don’t touch that! It’s art!” she told her. Rachel laughed and the woman asked why she was laughing and that’s when they knew she really thought this was an installation of some sort. “Why do you think there is a piece of paper inside there? Do you really think someone just left it there?” Yes, actually, someone just left their empty bottle there. “Think about it,” she said and tapped her index finger on her temple then circled around the table admiring the bottle left by some rude person who didn’t throw away their garbage.
We took a group photo before leaving and I noticed a high school classmate close by talking to someone. I didn’t want to interrupt his conversation but I said a hello to David Leonardis and thought to myself, “I need to put his gallery on my list of places for a meet up when I return from Greece!
for more information on visiting The Ed Pascke Art Center visit:
Let me start by saying this: The Chicago Cultural Center is one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve seen used to exhibit art. This building, that was once a library, is one of the city’s architectural gems. The mosaic tiled grand stairways are reason enough to visit the building but keep wandering around and you will find yourself amused for hours.
I had a professor in college that told us to never describe artwork as cute. I feel bad, but I’m using it. Hebru Brantley’s work is just so cute! I can see how that might give you pause but let me elaborate: Hebru Brantley’s work is intelligent, imaginative, engaging, narrative, and, well, cute. Without knowing anything about Brantley I could see how he has been influenced by Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Some of his canvases look like they began as free flowing line drawings a la Haring and were painted over in layers adding spray paint and unique color interactions. You can stand before a painting a read a story of friends meeting up, of a super hero questioning his own role in society and find clues of his roots in Chicago and his interest in Japanese prints. The work is amazing. After visiting his website I’ve learned that he grew up in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and now has a studio in Pilsen.
We have favorites as teachers, admit it or not, we do. Vero has always been a favorite, for so many reasons. After wandering through the exhibit we discussed Brantley’s work and I was deciding which of her words to steal for this post, she was impressing me with insight into the paintings that I hadn’t thought of and reminding me of just how special this young adult and artist is. “There’s a sort of sadness to his work, like maybe he’s not that thrilled with the attention he’s getting, for his fame.” She’s right, though the work is playful there is an underlying darkness to the characters. Brantley’s exhibit is titled Parade Day Rain and runs through September 23rd. Before entering the main gallery a comic layout series of black and white drawings give you a loose story line as to what you will see inside. “I wanted there to be more of a parade even,” said Vero. I disagreed and felt the presentation left enough room for you to insert yourself into the story. I want to return with my nieces and nephews and I want to return with my students in the fall. The show sparked a discussion between Vero and I about identity and life paths and how education falls short of preparing students to discover who they are and what paths in life to take. It made me rethink my curriculum, yet again, and my teaching approach.
I have been a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright since I was a child and visited his home and studio in Oak Park on a field trip. I wanted to be an architect, myself, after that but soon I fell in love with my guitar teacher and instead wanted to be pop star. I have revisited the home and studio and have also seen Robie House in Hyde Park as well as Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. I have read a lot about the architect and have taught my students about him but I have never been inside his Unitarian Temple. I was pleased when one of my very first students said he would meet me at the temple for my second Summer Of Art art meet up.
The temple’s construction was completed in 1909 and is need of restoration which will cost the congregation upwards of seven million dollars. Entry fees go toward the restoration fund. Wright was known for his design genius, not his engineering skills. The temple, like much of his work, has planning problems and has had to have been revised to solve it’s heating and cooling issues. The building is made of poured concrete, enabling the cost of construction to be low but got so hot in the summer and so cold in the winter that services had to be cancelled.
The design of the temple, however, like all of Wright’s structures is phenomenal. The square and rectangle play important roles and his adoration of Japanese art and design is evident. The worship area is gorgeous. When the congregation fills this space I imagine a warm, familial atmosphere where the outside world fades and allows you to concentrate on your prayer and the sermon. It’s not my favorite Wright design but it’s worth the visit if you are in town to see Wright’s home and studio.
(www.utrf.org for more information and ticket sales)Ticket sales and more Frank Lloyd Wright Information
Leroy and I caught up a bit after the tour. I learned that he and his wife take advantage of the free flight passes she gets as a flight attendant and that he shares my interest in travel. Leroy was always a polite, soft spoken young man and remains such as an adult. He used to use the back of the art room after school to practice cutting hair and now he owns his own barber shop. Look him up for a clean fade at :
Super Star Styling Studio, 6132 W Roosevelt Road, Oak Park IL
“I want to go, what time?” That was Jaime’s comment on my Facebook Summer Of Art group page post about meeting at Jackson Junge gallery. I was so excited. It only took minutes and already I had someone that wanted to join me. This was really going to work!
I am always surprised at how many of my students, who live just minutes from the city of Chicago, never really venture into the city. My first meet up partner is one of those kids. To be fair, Jaime is no longer a kid. She is a grown up studying, now, to complete her certification as an RN. She was a curious, involved and mature student in high school and I imagine her the same way in college. It was a treat to share a couple hours with her at Jackson Junge Gallery in Wicker Park.
Chris Jackson met us upon entering and explained that the gallery specialized in showing work of Chicago natives. “I read that in your website,” said Jaime. I was pleased she did some research but not surprised, like I said: she’s curious. Currently the gallery is featuring work of a young artist named Joey Knox. Knox’s large format mixed media paintings explore the concept of home and our identity with it. He juxtaposes black and white line printed images of subdivision style illustrations with assemblages of found cardboard pieces used by the homeless to beg for money. The large works are layered with dripping stripes of abstract American flags and covered in a clear layer of lawyer so shiny you’ll want to run your finger over it. While the cardboard pieces draw you in with text like, “sorry to be here” and “diabetic, no sweets please” the shiny layered works make you more aware of the divide between the haves and the have nots in our country.
Jaime and I left the gallery to walk, grab a beverage and catch up. She confessed that she was unfamiliar with the area but liked what she saw. I was happy to introduce her to it and have her along with me on this, my first Summer Of Art meet up.
Another school year ended, this one with more sadness than usual. When I hugged my Advanced Placement Studio kids goodbye I began to cry. At first just a little bit but then I was sobbing. I don’t often feel as close to entire groups of kids as I did this group. There were many reasons for it but this group will always be very special to me.
So with this ending my summer began on a bit of a sad note. While discussing this with a very awesome friend he had a suggestion for me, “I have an idea for you,” he said. “Something you can do with your family, your friends and your students…” His idea was to visit a different gallery every day, on my own or with someone, and then post a little something about it. The idea really excited me, so much that I was up all night thinking about it.
He was right about one thing: art is what I needed to fill my soul and art is what I would use to fill my summer with delight. He was also right about including others. I am, after all, an educator and by including people interested I would still be playing an important role in my profession. But I didn’t want to just view art I wanted to involve creation and discussion and blogging. I wanted to keep the concept open so I changed his 90 Galleries in 90 Days to a Summer of Art. Admittedly the 90 Galleries has a better ring to it but it was too restrictive.
I began my Summer on Sunday, June 15, 2014 by taking a train North to the Old Town Art Fair. I snapped photos of artwork to show as examples for lessons I’ll teach in the fall and found particular interest in an artist named Marjolyn van der Hart. I looked more closely at her card, just now, and found that she lives in the same city as my friend who helped spawn this idea for my Summer Of Art. Semiotic or coincidental it made me smile.
See her work here: