A Peek Across the World: Dragon Lights

17 April 2018

Dragon Lights: From China to Soldier Field

In our world today, China is a nation that is on everyone’s minds. Over the past 35 years, they’ve redefined the economic workings of their society to become the largest national economy after the United States. But perhaps what makes China even more fascinating is the simple fact that it is over 4,000 years old, making it one of the oldest civilizations in human history. Within this context, Dragon Lights, an international traveling exhibit that has come to 1000M’s neighborhood, speaks to China’s long arc of history, as well as the richness of its culture.

1000M Soldier Field Dragon Lights Hand Made Sculptures

Dragon Lights is an international traveling exhibit that has been seen by millions of guests around the globe. On view until May 6th, the installation is located at the South Parking Lot of Soldier Field — just a short distance from 1000M. The Chicago exhibition features thousands of light sculptures that required dozens of Chinese artisans to travel to the site to custom build the sculptures by hand. The exhibit also features live performances involving traditional yo-yo’s, contortionists and many more variety acts, as well as traditional handicraft demonstrations like miniature sun-baked clay figurines and intricately-painted glass jewelry.

1000M Soldier Field Dragon Lights Hand Made Sculptures

The festival is open every night from 5:30 – 10:00 PM on weekdays and Sundays, 5:30 – 11:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. If you buy tickets online they are valid for one entry on any day (so you can buy your tickets well in advance of deciding what day to actually go). Rain, snow or shine, the sculptures, performers and craftsmen are shining bright and giving their all. Dragon Lights is a great event for all ages, creating an opportunity for a spectacular family outing, while experiencing some of the rich and beautiful culture of China. Make sure not to miss out on the sampling of the amazing Chinese cuisine, as well!

Hand painted jewelry made by artisans at Dragon Lights
Hand painted jewelry made by artisans at Dragon Lights

// For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Dragon Lightswebsite. //

FREEWHEELING DIVERSITY: THE 23rd ANNUAL ASIAN AMERICAN SHOWCASE

10 April 2018

THE GENE SISKEL ANNUAL ASIAN AMERICAN SHOWCASE

Chicago has been stuck with a stubborn chill that has extended the long winter for our city’s residents. That didn’t prevent throngs of theatergoers from keeping warm on a Friday evening with conversation and excitement as they gathered for a showing of Pretty Woman at the Oriental Theatre. But just around the corner, up State Street, a smaller crowd gathered at the Gene Siskel Film Center for the opening of On/Off Grid, an exhibition of Asian American art, part of the larger 23rd Annual Asian American Showcase. The first film of the series, Fish Bones wouldn’t start for another hour but film buffs, academics and curious culturists came early to peruse the displays. The paintings and other images explore our current moment in history in which so much is defined by technology and being “on the grid.” In this warm, intimate environment, there were tasty treats including baozi, a Chinese-type bun steamed and filled with delectable goodness like slightly-sweet pork.

Curious culturists gather for "On/Off Grid" and Fish Bones by Joanne Mony Park
Curious culturists gather for “On/Off Grid” and Fish Bones (2018) by Joanne Mony Park

The main event kicked off when Tim Hugh, the program director for the Foundation for Asian American Independent Media, led the opening remarks. He spoke of how Hollywood continues to be challenged by depicting Asian characters on screen without stereotypical accents, who are complex or have nuanced histories, personalities and desires. After establishing the context that the Asian American Showcase works to disrupt, the lights dimmed and the screening of Fish Bones began.

One of many artworks by Asian American artists part of "On/Off Grid"
One of many artworks by Asian American artists part of “On/Off Grid”

Fish Bones (2018) is the debut feature by Joanne Mony Park, a talented New York-based filmmaker whose work explores personal themes and cultural clashes. The film follows Hana, who leads a double life, pursuing a secret modeling career while working at the family’s Korean restaurant and assisting her chronically-ill mother. The film is a dreamy, non-linear rollercoaster filled with long tracking shots and a hip soundtrack that includes music by Devendra Banhart, Nicolas Jaar and Dirty Beaches.

Fish Bones (2018) is a dreamy, non-linear psychological rollercoaster

In a Q&A session that followed the screening, Park explained that she began developing the film during her last year at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The filming took place over a six-day period around Fire Island, Queens and Manhattan. The independent, renegade spirit of the production comes through in the final product of the film itself, with a defiance of simple stereotypes that strikes a chord with contemporary concerns in the Asian American community as well as in the larger American population today.

 

Check out the remaining films the Siskel and FAAIM have lined up for the showcase:

FIND ME

2018, TOM HUANG, USA, 104 MIN. WITH TOM HUAN, SARA AMINI.

Find Me (2018) by Tom Huang

Wednesday, April 11th, 8:00pm

One man’s transformation comes by way of a travel adventure in this tragicomedy featuring spectacular vistas of the American West. Joe, an unhappily divorced corporate drone, is the target of affectionate needling by Amelia (Amini), a sprightly co-worker who pokes fun at his stodginess and regales him with tales of her frequent travels. One day Amelia disappears, leaving Joe only a handwritten itinerary and a cryptic note with the words, “Find me.” Ditching obligations that include being a doormat to his ex and chore boy to his quarrelsome mom, he sets off for Amelia’s “amazing other world,” only to encounter a host of goofy accidents and pitfalls that await a couch potato in the great outdoors. Director Huang (WHY AM I DOING THIS?) brings a touching world-weary pathos to the role of Joe, which serves him well in the film’s unexpected finale. DCP digital. (BS)”

 

STAND UP MAN

2017, ARAM COLLIER, CANADA, 85 MIN. WITH DANIEL JUN, NATHALIE YOUNGLAI.

Stand Up Man (2017) by Aram Collier

Friday, April 13th, 8:00pm

“The dreams of one aspiring standup comic take a beating in this comedy that satirizes a few stereotypes (Korean, Canadian, Millennial) while leading its hero, beleaguered Moses Kim (Jun), to a happy and much-needed attitude adjustment. Surprised with the deed to his parents’ small family restaurant on his wedding day, Moses, who can’t cook worth a darn, sees his dream future taking wing as he settles down to a workday life of drudgery and, soon, fatherhood. Director Collier leads Moses through a set of trials, including being saddled with the guardianship of his punky and curious teenage cousin from Korea, that test his sense of self as well as his sense of humor, before the standup man discovers that there’s more than one way to become a showbiz sensation. DigiBeta video. (BS)”

 

PROOF OF LOYALTY: KAZUO YAMANE AND THE NISEI SOLDIERS OF HAWAII

2017, LUCY OSTRANDER AND DON SELLERS, USA 55 MIN.

Proof of Loyalty (2017) by Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers

Saturday, April 14th, 8:00pm

“The WWII heroism and loyalty of Hawaiian Nisei, or second-generation Japanese Americans, is highlighted through one hero, Kazuo Yamane, whose little-known story is pertinent to today’s debates on immigration. While citizens of Japanese heritage on the U.S. mainland were rounded up and incarcerated in detention camps, relatively few among Hawaii’s 40% Japanese population were detained, and large numbers of men volunteered for military and other service. Drafted into the army prior to Pearl Harbor, Yamane was singled out for intelligence work due to his knowledge of the Japanese language and culture. The film details his substantial contributions to the war effort through work at the Pentagon and in Europe under Eisenhower.

Preceded by the short THE ORANGE STORY by Erika Street (2016, USA, 18 min.). Both in DCP digital. (BS)”

 

MINDING THE GAP

2018, BING LIU, USA, 100 MIN.

Minding the Gap (2018) by Bing Liu

Wednesday, April 18th, 8:15pm

“Three boys, Zack, Keire, and Bing, come of age on the wrong side of the tracks in Rockford, Illinois, sharing experiences and secrets, but also seeking to forget the bad things that happen at home behind closed doors. Over a period of years, self-taught filmmaker Bing’s deft and fluid camera tracks their hours of freedom at the skating park, shares their confidences, and creates a chronicle that addresses with remarkable intimacy the soaring exhilaration being alive. The boys become young adults before our eyes, struggling with the bewildering new demands of manhood. Zack becomes a father, Keire loses his, and Bing begins to come to terms with the past. Special advance screening courtesy of Kartemquin Films. DCP digital. (BS)”

 

// A full list of programming and tickets can be found HERE//

Past Forward: Architecture and Design at the Art Institute

5 April 2018

REVIEWING THE PAST AND FUTURE OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN IN CHICAGO AND BEYOND

Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett. Proposed Civic Center Square, Plan of Chicago, 1909.
Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett. Proposed Civic Center Square, Plan of Chicago, 1909.

The Art Institute of Chicago has always had an interest in modern architecture and design, collecting drawings, furniture, graphic and industrial designs throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Last fall, they opened a new installation devoted to the museum’s extensive collection, sharing the collection’s breadth while also creating a space that examines how architecture and design is a multilayered, ever-changing experience. As the curators explain, “architects and designers have thought of their work as a speculative, experimental endeavor,” “to propose bold visions for the future”[i].

The entrance to the exhibition, Past Forward, located in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The entrance to the exhibition, Past Forward, located in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.

As you enter the gallery space, you are greeted by the most foundational work towards developing the city of Chicago as we know today, drawings from Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett’s 1909 Plan of Chicago. Through these drawings you begin to understand how these important urban planners addressed the grid system, the idea of a city center and the incorporation of parks and the lakeside as public amenities.

A collection of Bauhaus printed material. The Bauhaus was present in Chicago from 1919-1933.
A collection of Bauhaus printed material. The Bauhaus was present in Chicago from 1919-1933.

From there you can practically travel through time, learning of other important architects’ contributions to the city of Chicago and ideas of architecture. Original publications from the Bauhaus display the European influence that entered the United States post-World War II through luminaries like Mies Van Der Rohe and his radically simple designs for IIT. A model by Studio Gang Architects showcases how contemporary urban planning must continue to contend with natural features of the landscape like bodies of water and that ideas of architecture must continue to evolve with the times.

Studio Gang Architects and Jeanne Gang. Northerly Island Model, 2012.
Studio Gang Architects and Jeanne Gang. Northerly Island Model, 2012.

You can also travel across the globe with a two-channel video installation by Thai design group, All(zone), that tackles issues like affordable housing and increasingly dense populations that are as old as the idea of a metropolis itself. The installation helps the design presentation feel contemporary with two videos being displayed at once or at times one video and a text component which is made to feel slightly autobiographical. The installation includes Light House, a prototypical collapsible house structure made mainly of fabric which is installed in an abandoned Bangkok parking lot, with a design approach that offers a light-hearted look at serious questions architects and designers continue to wrestle with.   

all(zone) and Rachaporn Choochuey. Light House: The Art of Living Lightly, 2015.
all(zone) and Rachaporn Choochuey. Light House: The Art of Living Lightly, 2015.

As 1000M  is poised to change the city’s skyline, it is interesting to explore its architectural precedents along with a host of contemporary ideas that are informing today’s conversation.

// To learn more of architect Helmut Jahn and designer Kara Mann’s visions for 1000M, click here //

// To learn more about the exhibition, visit the Art Institute’s website by clicking here //

 

[i] http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/past-forward-architecture-and-design-art-institute

Simone Leigh at the Visiting Artists Program

27 March 2018

The Visiting Artists Program at The Art Institute of Chicago

A beacon of the arts and education on the Cultural Mile, The Art Institute of Chicago hosts artists from around the world through their Visiting Artists Program. The program began when the museum was founded in 1868 and was later formalized after a donation in 1951. During its 150 year tenure, the program has continued its free public forum structure, welcoming residents, students and aspiring artists from the 1000M neighborhood and greater Chicagoland area to the Rubloff Theater at the Art Institute.

Just as their slogan states: “Visiting Minds. Lasting Influence,” the Visiting Artists Program is a platform for innovative ideas that inspire Chicago’s next generation of artist. Notable past visiting artists include Jeff Koons, Theaster Gates, and Toyo Ito. We attended Simone Leigh’s Visiting Artist Lecture on March 20 to give you a taste of all the 1000M neighborhood has to offer.

View of “Simone Leigh,” 2015, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Kentucky.
Installation view of “Simone Leigh,” 2015, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Kentucky.

Simone Leigh

As a Chicago native and Kenwood Academy alum, Leigh spent much time on the Cultural Mile and at the Art Institute. The museum’s rich collection shaped her early perspectives on art and art history, helping develop her artistic sensibility. Today she is based out of New York where she is represented by the Luhring Augustine gallery. Her object-based exploration of black female subjectivity has been featured, recognized and awarded by organizations throughout the world including The New Museum, The Studio Museum and A Blade of Grass.

Much of Leigh’s work is in response to the colonial reenactment performed at the 1931 Paris Exposition. Leigh suggests that while masquerading as a cultural exchange, the migrating architecture of the Paris Exposition reified French colonialism. To provide new representation and perspectives on this history and to explore truth, she merges anatomy and architecture in her sculptures.

Simone Leigh by Paul Mpagi Sepuya
Simone Leigh by Paul Mpagi Sepuya

Upcoming Visiting Artist Lectures

Nari Ward and Maggie Nelson will conclude this season of the Art Institute’s Visiting Artists Program. Sculptor and and champion of found objects, Nari Ward will join the forum on Wednesday, April 18th. Author and poet, Maggie Nelson will join the dialogue on Monday, April 30th.

For more information on the series, or to download lecture podcasts, visit www.saic.edu/vap.

Chicago Architectural Biennial and Beyond

20 March 2018

In a city that is home to numerous design firsts, it’s hardly surprising that some of the greatest minds in the field would gather here to discuss architecture and its historical significance. And with Chicago’s rich architecture history comes a number of significant buildings across the area. 1000M itself aims to add to that list, ushering in a new design era for Chicago. We delve more deeply into the architectural history of the city and ways that you can see the best of what your backyard has to offer.

 

Chicago Architectural Biennial

Chicago Architecture Biennial Make New History

Chicago’s recent Architecture Biennial brought more than 141 practitioners in the fields of architecture and design together to discuss the theme “Make New History.” The exhibit, housed in the Chicago Cultural Center, aimed to encourage the public to consider architecture in a historical context, both for its impact on the past and its potential to shape the future.

 

Chicago Skyscrapers:  a History

Indeed, Chicago architects have had quite an impact on the field’s history – in fact, the first skyscraper was constructed here. Because Chicago’s architectural history is so vast, we’ve included 11 of the most noteworthy skyscrapers below:

1000M-walking-map

1000M

Designed by famed architect Helmut Jahn, this arresting 832-foot skyscraper is outfitted in his signature all-glass styling. The building begins as a rectangle at its base and widens toward the top to allow for expansive views of Grant Park and Lake Michigan.

1000M Luxury Condo Architecture

The Rookery Building

Completed in the late 19th century, this La Salle Street office building is considered the oldest high-rise in Chicago. Frank Lloyd Wright remodeled the lobby to introduce a glass ceiling, beautifully illuminating the space in what is known as the “light court.”

 

Art Institute of Chicago

Initially constructed to house the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, the Art Institute of Chicago now spans five buildings, the original of which was developed in the Beaux Arts style. The Modern Wing, the most recent and largest expansion of the museum, was designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano and offers beautiful views of Millennium Park.

Architecture Chicago Art Institute

Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center, the city’s first public library, is also famous for its two spectacular stained glass domes. The building’s Garland Court façade now boasts a beautiful mural celebrating the women who’ve made Chicago’s arts and culture so vibrant.

 

Carbide and Carbon Building

The Carbide and Carbon Building is a stunning Art Deco skyscraper outfitted in black granite. The hotel within is undergoing remodeling and will debut with a new name, the St. Jane Chicago Hotel, after the suffragette and “mother” of social work, Jane Addams.

 

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership

The Spertus Institute building boasts a unique window wall comprised of over 700 pieces of glass.  The glass façade’s geometry is such that each piece exists as a parallelogram in three dimensions, and was designed to represent the open nature of the Institute within.

 

James R. Thompson Center

The James R. Thompson Center was designed by 1000M architect Helmut Jahn, and houses 150 pieces of an art collection funded by the state of Illinois, in addition to the state’s governmental offices. The building has a unique reddish pink and blue color scheme that complements a circular and airy atrium.

Thompson Center

Chicago Federal Plaza

The Chicago Federal Plaza encompasses three buildings, but perhaps most notably, it features the large red “Flamingo” sculpture by Alexander Calder outside.  The sculpture was unveiled in the mid-70s after a parade in which the artist was pulled through the streets on a circus wagon.

 

Chicago Board of Trade Building

Another Art Deco marvel, the Chicago Board of Trade Building plays host to a 31-foot tall statue of the goddess of agriculture, Ceres, amongst other exterior sculptures that represent the trade inside the building. Expanded in 1980 by Helmut Jahn’s firm, the building now boasts 45 stories.

Chicago Board of Trade Building

Monadnock Building

The Monadnock Building revolutionized the building process through its usage of aluminum in its decorative stairs.  It was also one of the first buildings to be named as a Chicago Architectural Landmark.

 

Grant Park

Dubbed “Chicago’s front yard,” Grant Park is home to a number of features, including the Art Institute, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and numerous gardens and parks.

Grant Park Architecture

Chicago Architecture Walking Guide

To make your exploration of Chicago’s design easier, we’ve developed a downloadable Chicago architecture walking guide that includes the 11 buildings from our list. Just click to download and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the best architectural marvels in the city.

ELEVEN CITY DINER: IT TAKES A NEIGHBORHOOD

15 March 2018

Just behind 1000M on wind-swept Wabash Avenue sits Eleven City Diner, a stout brick-and-glass building serving deli classics and breakfast all day.

The counter at Eleven City Diner displaying typical goods and heritage items

Enter the building and feel dwarfed by the high ceilings and dazzled by neon bent every which way. Don’t let the kids get too distracted by the colorful array of candy in glass jars behind the counter, and watch out for servers running by yelling “hot soup!” It’s these bits of chaos and showmanship that let you know just how bustling things can get.

 

Weekend brunch will always be busy but with the diner’s proximity to 1000M, residents can saunter in for a more relaxed lunch any day of the week. Slip into a swivel chair along the bar, order bottomless coffee or a killer Bloody Mary with a salami and provolone garnish and watch as all walks of Chicago come and go on their lunch break. The vast menu contains something for everyone…from mile-high piled pastrami and corned beef between two slices of rye you’re not sure even the biggest construction worker could fit in his mouth to the lox and latkes, artfully plated in a way everyone can appreciate. Once you (or the kids) have eaten all your food, don’t miss out on cakes, pies, malt milkshakes or, perhaps it’s time to return to the candy counter for a hand-picked selection to take with you when you leave.

Candy Counter at Eleven City Diner

Newcomers will enjoy the Jewish classics and yet be surprised at how each plate is elevated. The same goes for the restaurant’s interiors, the retro elements blending with modern accents as to give the establishment an authentic twist on contemporary life. At a time when diners are disappearing from the city, Eleven City Diner has become a cornerstone of the South Loop neighborhood since it opened its doors ten year ago, establishing itself as a landmark Chicago institution.

Eleven City Diner

Brad Rubin is the founder and owner of Eleven City Diner but for him it’s a family affair. “Patrons dub his mother “The Lollipop Lady,” because she’s famous for handing out multi-colored treats to the restaurant’s youngest diners. And Rubin’s father is the resident soda jerk, who awards members of the “clean plate club” with gold stars. The collective endeavor makes for convincing evidence that every neighborhood should preserve their diners. Sure, it’s somewhere you can drop by for casual bite, but more significantly, Eleven City Diner is really a place of nurturing, nourishing and comfort in the storied tradition of the classic neighborhood joint.

 

Visit Eleven City Diner at 1112 S Wabash Ave or at their website

 

Discover more of 1000M’s surrounding neighborhood HERE

An Underground City: The Story of Chicago’s Pedway

8 March 2018

As the birthplace of the skyscraper and home to the “El” — the city’s elevated train tracks — Chicago is most often championed for its height. But equally interesting and perhaps more alluring is what lies beneath, in the Pedway. Buried under the city’s perfect grid-like streets exists a series of disjointed tunnels, concourses and bridges that together cover almost five miles. Connecting every building of civic importance to cultural landmarks and public transportation hubs, the Chicago Pedway is a maze of wonder and convenience.

Chicago Pedway System Sign
A signature yellow compass at an official entrance of the Pedway

Uncovering Chicago’s Best Kept Secret: The Underground Pedway

Developed over a number of years for diverse reasons, without any unifying entity, each segment of the Pedway has its own flavor and style. In general, Pedway segments reflect the architectural style of the building above, creating a potpourri of design characteristics indicative of Chicago’s always-evolving architectural history. Today, people flock to the Pedway for shelter from winter’s snow and cold, as a respite from the heat as they commute from railway stations to work, or to avoid vehicular traffic as they traverse the distances between government buildings.   

In an effort to make the Pedway more accessible, the City of Chicago has placed signature blue and yellow compasses at each “official” Pedway entrance. Once underground however, there is hardly any wayfinding for pedestrians to find an exit, so we’ve created a helpful map for you. 

1000M Chicago Pedway Map
Download the official 1000M Map of the Pedway HERE

The Pedway: Connecting Chicago’s Civic Center with Cultural Landmarks

The “Civic Center” portion of the Pedway connects the Illinois Center (also designed by Helmut Jahn), City Hall, the Cook County Building and the Federal Courthouse. The main connection in the Pedway is between the Civic Center and the Chicago Cultural Center. As you make your way under the government buildings, past the Blue Line, through Block 37 and the Red Line, you will find yourself at a basement entrance to Macy’s.

Chicago Cultural Center Glass Skylight
Glass Skylight by Louis Comfort Tiffany

As part of a collaboration with the now-defunct Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, 22 stained glass panels were installed in the Pedway across from Macy’s [i]. Recognizing the importance of secular American Victorian stained glass windows, the installation serves as a visual link between Louis Comfort Tiffany’s favrile glass mosaic covering the ceiling of Macy’s and the Tiffany glass skylight in Preston Bradley Hall at the nearby Cultural Center.

The Pedway continues, leaving behind the stained glass installation, past an underground swimming pool, quaint cobbler, convenience store and finally arriving at an elevator to the Cultural Center. Beyond the Cultural Center is a maze of underground tunnels that lead to Millennium Station — a transit hub for South Shore commuters — and to the underground garages beneath Millennium Park, the Art Institute and Grant Park.

Updates to the Chicago Pedway System

In 2017, the The Environmental Law and Policy Center announced their plan to install more art exhibits and a public library as part of a plan to revitalize the Pedway. The Center “is funding a $125,000 redesign of the main pedway stretch beneath Randolph Street. City officials, who acknowledge that the pedway needs a reboot, are cooperating with the effort, which could introduce concerts and art shows to the underground” [ii].

Fiona Connor and Erin Besler, Front Door, 2017. Photo courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial / Tom Harris
Fiona Connor and Erin Besler, Front Door, 2017. Photo courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial / Tom Harris

This new energy around the Pedway came to light for the first time during the recent Chicago Architecture Biennial. The site-specific installation Front Door by artist Fiona Connor and architect Erin Besler put the Bedford stone street-level entrance of the Cultural Center in conversation with the fluorescently-lit Pedway beneath [iii]. As enthusiasm for this underground network grows, perhaps the Michigan Avenue portion of the Pedway will one day extend a few blocks south, looping 1000M into the underground labyrinth.

 

To learn more about the Pedway take a tour with Chicago DeTours or Chicago Elevated or click HERE to download the official 1000M Map of the Chicago Pedway.

 

[i] https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20131206/loop/stained-glass-windows-installed-pedway-from-smith-museum

[ii] http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-chicago-pedway-kamin-met-0108-20170106-column.html

[iii] http://chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org/participants/fiona-connor-and-erin-besler/

AGORA: CONNECTING BEAUTY, CULTURE AND INDIVIDUALITY

20 February 2018

Take a short stroll down to Michigan Avenue & Roosevelt Road and you will come upon an army of larger-than-life headless bronze statues. Although these giant sets of legs look to be caught in motion, they actually form Agora, a permanent installation by Polish artist, Magdalena Abakanowicz. Installed on November 16, 2006, Agora cost $3 million to fabricate and install, and was fully funded by the Polish Ministry of Culture and donations from private foundations. The public commission was part of the celebration of Chicago and Warsaw’s Sister City status.

1000M Luxury Condos overlooks Agora and Grant Park
1000M Luxury Condos overlooks Agora and Grant Park

Agora is one of 31 sculptural installations that populate Grant Park,[i] enriching our understanding of how the culture of Chicago is inextricably linked to a cosmopolitan sense of the world. Located directly across Michigan Avenue from 1000M, Agora is just one of the amazing sights in Grant Park, enhancing this wonderful stretch of the park to stroll among giants of nature, culture, art and history.   

AGORA IS NOTHING TO FEAR

What makes this work by Abakanowicz so thought provoking is its ability to blend the terror and shock that come from these cast iron limbs being so massive with the sense of peace and calm channeled through the rest of Grant Park’s pristine landscape and location. Agora’s form becomes especially poignant as it lives among other monuments including Buckingham Fountain and Spirit of Music.

Agora, Grant Park, designed by Magdalena Abakanowicz
Agora, Grant Park, designed by Magdalena Abakanowicz

There are a total of 106 pairs of legs in Agora, together and individually hovering between identical copies and unique personalities. Each figure was articulated and built from hollow iron, containing its unique set of lines, gestures and textures, subtly differentiating one from the next. As Abakanowicz explained, “I’ve lived in times which were extraordinary by their various forms of collective hate and collective adulation. Marches and parades worshipped leaders, great and good, who soon turned to be mass murderers. I was obsessed by the image of the crowd. I suspected that under the human skull, instincts and emotions overpower the intellect without us being aware of it… Every crowd is like a headless organism.”[ii] Historically informed by Abakanowicz’s experiences in the former Soviet Union, Agora is a serious work of art that challenges notions of what it means to be an individual who is also part of the crowd. At the same time, without being aware of its larger context, any passer-by is struck by Agora’s beauty and grandeur.

Agora, Grant Park, located by 1000M luxury condos

THE LEGACY LIVES ON

Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930 – 2017) passed away in lte 2017 at the age of 86.[iii] She first came to prominence during the 1970’s when she abandoned painting to begin constructing headless figures made of burlap and resin that she referred to as Abakans.[iv] Her early pieces opened up the use of materials that were previous considered untenable in sculpture, and expanded the understanding of  sculpture beyond a single autonomous object. She rose to a level of international recognition at a time when many Polish citizens were trapped in their country and few Americans knew anything about Polish art.

Dare to stand out and Seek Beauty with Agora, Grant Park and 1000M luxury condos
Dare to stand out and Seek Beauty

Today Abakanowicz’s career is greatly celebrated and Agora continues as a meeting place for those who wish to think outside the box and seek beauty.

 

[i] https://www.grantparkconservancy.com/sculptures

[ii]https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_s_publicartagora.html

[iii] Magdalena Abakanowicz, Polish artist behind headless sculptures in Grant Park, dies at age 86, reproduction of Chicago Tribune article dated April 21st, 2017 by Associated Press

[iv] http://www.richardgraygallery.com/artists/magdalena-abakanowicz/biography

THE INLAND SEA: SHEDD AQUARIUM

13 February 2018

On February 1, 1924, the members of the non-profit Shedd Aquarium Society gathered for their first official meeting. Armed with just over $2 million from John G. Shedd, then-President of Marshall Field & Company, the Shedd Aquarium Society was formed with the intention of “construct[ing], maintain[ing] and operat[ing] an aquarium or museum of aquatic life exclusively for education and scientific purposes”.[i] Nearly 100 years later, the Shedd Aquarium continues to be hailed as one of the greatest aquariums in the world, boasting some 32,000 animals in an impressive 5,000,000 gallons of water for the exhibits.[ii] Perched on the edge of the Cultural Mile, the Shedd Aquarium is a lovely 15-minute walk through Grant Park for residents of 1000M.

1000M overlooking the Cultural Mile and Museum Campus
1000M overlooking the Cultural Mile and Museum Campus

A GIFT TO THE CITY

Although John G. Shedd passed away just a year before ground was broken for the Shedd in 1927, his dream for the aquarium was effectively realized when it opened in May 1930. Shedd had envisioned the aquarium would extend and complement the architectural wonders already present in Chicago, inspired by the Field Museum and the Art Institute. For this reason, Walter Chute, the first director of the Shedd Aquarium, hired the prestigious architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White to design yet another monumental Beaux-Arts building.

Shedd Aquarium facade near 1000M on the Cultural Mile
Shedd Aquarium on the Cultural Mile

Famous for their work on both the Field Museum and the Wrigley Building, Graham, Anderson, Probst & White were considered experts of the Beaux-Arts style.[iii] As with other museums in Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium assumes the role of a “neoclassical temple of white marble and terra cotta that celebrates aquatic life, from the marine fossils in its limestone floor to Neptune’s trident capping its glass dome.” [iv] Although masters of the traditional forms in this style of architecture, Graham and his colleagues took an adventurous step in the design of the Shedd Aquarium, one that has contributed to the Shedd’s enduring worldwide prestige.

AN AESTHETIC, FUNCTIONAL SPACE

Replacing the traditional ‘circle in a cross’ floor plan found in many Greek and Roman temples with a novel wide, octagonal footprint, Graham and his firm substantially increased the Aquarium’s floor plan. This architectural curiosity arose from Walter Chute’s observation that many of the leading aquariums in the nation were starved for work and research space. As a result of this octagonal floor plan, the Shedd has plenty of room for reserve areas and feed rooms, in addition to an early animal hospital.

Shedd Aquarium near Chicago's luxury condos
Fish collection at the Shedd Aquarium

Groundbreaking in more ways than one, the Shedd Aquarium was also the first inland aquarium with a permanent saltwater fish collection. Trains full of tropical saltwater ran all the way from Key West to Chicago to fill the Shedd’s massive tanks, enabling Director Chute to house exotic saltwater fish, the likes of which Chicago’s citizens had never seen.

Residents of 1000M are sure to enjoy the ‘Waters of the World’ galleries, which feature exhibits from rivers and oceans throughout the world, including a giant Pacific octopus, a blue iguana, and, of course, starfish and seahorses. There is also the marvelous ‘Abbott Oceanarium’ — an underground ocean exhibit featuring white-sided dolphins, belugas, California sea lions, and sea otters. Whether you visit to wonder at the grand aquatic animals housed there, or to study the architectural curiosities of the building, a visit to the Shedd Aquarium is an excellent way to enjoy all the wonderful amenities found on the Cultural Mile.

The Shedd Aquarium //1200 S Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL 60605 // Tickets

 

[i] https://www.sheddaquarium.org/About-Us/History–Architecture/

[ii] https://www.sheddaquarium.org/About-Us/History–Architecture/

[iii]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham,_Anderson,_Probst_%26_White#Architectural_sculpture

[iv] https://www.sheddaquarium.org/About-Us/History–Architecture/

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR: YEAR OF THE DOG

12 February 2018

Celebrate alongside the institutions of the Cultural Mile as Chicago ushers in the Chinese New Year starting on February 16th! From special orchestral showcases at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, to the much anticipated opening of the Art Institute’s exhibit, “Emperor’s and their Bronzes,” residents of 1000M need look no farther than their front yard to join in the festivities and herald the arrival of the Year of the Dog.

The Chongqing Chuanju Opera Theatre is hosted by the CSO on February 17th
The Chongqing Chuanju Opera Theatre is hosted by the CSO on February 17th

 

CSO WELCOMES CHONGQING CHUANJU OPERA THEATRE AND ZHEJIANG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

On February 17th at 3:00, the CSO will host both the Chongqing Chuanju Opera Theatre as well as the Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra in a showcase of traditional Chinese opera and folk melodies from the Zhejiang Province. Replete with stunning acrobatic choreography and breathtaking costumes, this special celebratory concert is a unique performance that revels in China’s rich musical heritage. The concert is accompanied by a pre concert performance at 1:45 in Buntrock Hall, and features artist from Dong Fang Performing Arts as well as Yellow River Performing Arts.

Zhang Yi, Music Director of the Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra
Zhang Yi, Music Director of the Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra

Tickets for the concert

Pre concert is free to all ticket holders

“MIRRORING CHINA’S PAST: EMPERORS AND THEIR BRONZES” OPENS

Open to the public on February 25th, the Art Institute’s newest exhibition “Emperors and Their Bronzes” showcases bronze artistry from the second and first millennia BCE. Lauded by many as one of the more significant achievements in the historical progression of artistic craft and skill, the beautifully decorated bronze pieces displayed are distinct from other ancient bronze sculptures in that they were used for ceremonial purposes.[i] Join the Asian Art Council Board of Directors as they celebrate the exhibit over dinner and cocktails in the Griffin Court following a special pre-opening viewing of the exhibit.

Ancient Bronze Masterpiece Art Institute of Chicago
This ancient bronze masterpiece is one of many belonging to the Art Institute’s special collections

Tickets for the exhibit

Tickets for the pre-opening viewing and dinner

ENJOY DIM-SUM AT MINGHIN CUISINE

Tucked away between Millennium Park and Lake Shore East Park, Minghin Cuisine brings modern style Cantonese to the loop in an elegant and uniquely decorated dining hall. Enjoy what many call the best dim-sum in the loop[ii] alongside your choice of sake or classic cocktails at one of the city’s Michelin recognized restaurants.[iii]

Minghin
Chic interiors are combined with traditional motifs to solidify Minghin as an authentic Chinatown staple
Cantonese delicacies
A multitude of Cantonese delicacies and classics are offered around a typical Lazy Susan

Reservations may be placed here

JOIN IN THE CHINESE NEW YEAR LANTERN CELEBRATION

Capping off the cultural mile’s celebration of the Year of the Dog, the Art Institute will host lantern making activities in their café on March 3rd. While making lanterns, ticket holders may enjoy the traditional Chinese food and music performances, and then take part in the sunset lantern procession down Michigan Avenue, bidding goodbye to the celebrations, while to greet the Year of the Dog.

 

Chinese New Year Celebration: Sunset Lantern Procession Chicago
Don’t miss the sunset lantern procession down Michigan Ave, taking place on March 3rd

 

[i] http://www.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/2727190/mirroring-chinas-past-emperors-and-their-bronzes-at-the-art,

[ii] https://www.zagat.com/r/minghin-cuisine-chicago1

[iii] https://www.timeout.com/chicago/blog/michelin-releases-its-2018-bib-gourmand-list-for-chicago-101317