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My meet up buddy was again, the vivacious and spunky Miss Vero of Cicero, IL. She had to work until 9:00, on Friday, and the open studio was only until 10:00 but we went anyway, at 10:00. When the doors were closed and locked but we got in when someone else was leaving.
The Center is housed in what was once the Speigel catalog warehouse on 35th in Bridgeport, Chicago. The warehouse also houses a furniture dealer and an event venue which seemed to be hosting a wedding last night. We could see the flashing disco lights on the top floor beckoning us to crash the party.
Instead, we headed up to the third floor and found a couple studios still open and artists welcoming us to have a look. My favorite artist on this floor’s gallery space was Ruth Esserman whose artwork features thousands of identiless people shown from an arial view and looking busy at work though their poses were static. You cannot tell if the forms are male or female, what race they are or what they are wearing. They are assembled about in a way that reminded me of ants working together around their hill. There is no joy or drama just a sense of a task being handled through silent communication. The large paintings were my favorite because I was able to stand in front of them finding new things within for a while. It looked like colors were laid down then she put a white wash over them, removed areas where she wanted the figures, painted the figures and even used what looked like pencil for their shadows.

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After the show, Vero and I headed over to Maria’s Packaged Goods for a drink. The beer menu at this place had us deliberating over what to order for at least ten minutes. Then, as is typical of time with Vero, we spent the next three hours involved in a great conversation. She gave me some tips on how to improve my blog and critiqued my refrigerator and pantry contents (Vero was my house sitter while I was in Greece). I learned, finally, what a Michelada is and why there was some leftover Clamato on a shelf in my fridge. Vero is a good example of benefits of teaching beyond summers off. Kids grow up and become adults and the ones you really connected with while they were in school can become your friends as adults. Friends that are great additions to your life and who have things to teach you.

Bridgeport Art Center

Maria’s Packaged Goods

Ruth Esserman

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