Tag Archives: Chicago

Thank you, Chicago…


I know I don’t normally do reviews on or suggest books, but I had to talk about this one because so far– it’s a pretty fascinating read. My father- who has suggested some of the best books that I have ever read to me- told me about a book called, “The Third Coast” by Thomas Dyja.


Now, as I will be leaving the state of Illinois to go back west TOMORROW, reading “The Third Coast” has been an interesting task. Something that Chicagoan’s do remarkably well is boast. No matter how terrible the situation is in Chicago– we will always live in the best city in the world. Thomas Dyja offers some really wonderful insights into the city’s history beginning with the death of Louis Sullivan, whose Beaux Arts signature style defined the city of Chicago in the 19th Century. With some truly remarkable insight that leaves the reader wondering, “Where did Dyja get this information!? Who is ‘The Insider’??” Dyja chronicles all aspects of Chicago through the lens of the arts, politics, art history, etc.


Like many who have written on the city of Chicago before Dyja, he does pin-point the 1955 election of Mayor Richard J. Daley as the catalyst for Chicago’s switch from supporting artists and their crafts to a place where only the affluent matter. Dyja states the city turned on its own strengths. “Democratizing the arts and knowledge was a Faustian bargain: it put them into the marketplace where the market would determine their ‘value.’” (Dyja)


As an ex-Chicagoan, Dyja offers a lot of the kind of insights that only an individual removed from the situation can provide. While much of what Dyja has to say is tragic, it doesn’t take away from the remarkable history of the city of Chicago. I guess I am still to much a part of the city to quit boasting. I have really enjoyed living in Chicago– regardless of the many troubles that have inflicted my neighborhood and many, many others. Chicago is a thriving city comprised of some of the scrappiest people you will ever met. Thank you for it all, Chicago.

Because I knew you…



Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare…


Sundays have become my favorite day of the week. Good thing too because once the summer hits Chicago, there are so many festivals and other fun things to do on the weekends.


A few weeks ago, I was stopped before hoping on the El in Rogers Park by a Hare Krishna. He had a beautiful and friendly smile and said nothing to me as he handed me a tiny flier for an upcoming India Festival put on by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in Rogers Park. I put it on my calendar.


So, today was the day. I have to say this festival is probably one of my favorites that I have been to since living in Chicago. It was absolutely beautiful. I have always been in love with India– the country, the beautiful people, the colors, the smells… a trip to India is probably in my top 5 things to do before I kick the bucket.

While, I don’t know much about the Hindu religion, I find it all really interesting. Apparently this festival is in celebration of Jagannath, “Lord of the Universe” who is a deity worshipped primarily by Hindu people. Jagannath is considered to be a form of Vishnu or his avatar Krishna. I’m not even going to begin to try to go more in-depth that that, because I simply don’t know. I have decided to learn more though, that’s for sure.


What I find the most interesting about Jagannath (and most religious icons/deities in general) is their iconography. Unlike other Hindu deities, there is no anthropomorphic or artistic aspect to Jagannath. The idol was not meant to be representative of a human being. At 6 feet tall, Jagannath has a massive square head, merging with the chest into one piece of wooden stump without any demarcation of the neck. The arms have been inserted in a line with the upper lip. The eyes are very large and round. Most Indian deities are carved out of Neem wood, which is a type of mahogany that is native to India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

I met a beautiful Indian woman named Rashika who talked to me and explained the layout of the festival. Rashika was so pleasant and lovely to take the time to tell me about Jagannath and she kindly directed me to the alter where I could partake in some holy food.





What else, you ask? Well, free food, free yoga, Henna tattoos, free group chanting… This whole experience was so beautiful and just happy.






Who knew there were so many uses for cow patties…? Not me.


Carried Away by the Hawk…


As much as I enjoy Chicago… I really, REALLY hate the weather. Now, I understand that I CHOOSE to live here, but I am constantly asking myself ‘WHY, GOD, WHY?!?”… especially during the winter time. Maybe you are familiar with the Chicago moniker of “The Windy City”, in reference to its politicians that are conceivably filled with hot air, but there is also a term for JUST THE WIND. It’s called “The Hawk” and believe me, when it gest going… you feel it, haha… I’m laughing to keep from crying…


Anyway, now that it is closer to summertime, The Hawk takes on a different form: it usually comes with a torrential down pouring of rain, heat, and humidity that makes walking outside feel more like swimming. Aye yi yi, it never ends. And just when I feel myself starting to get to a place of defeat…. we get a beautiful Saturday and I suddenly remember why I put up with alllllllllllllll the other stuff.


It was a BEAUTIFUL day. 70 degrees, mild, not a cloud in the sky, and perfectly breezy. I decided to go downtown and treat myself to lunch and whatever else sounded fun (this led to a trip to Anthropologie which is always a bad thing… but really a great thing!). I basically acted like a tourist– which is not really a bad thing, because the things that attract the tourist are really some of the best things about Downtown Chicago. I walked through Millennium Park, went to the Art Institute, and walked down Michigan Ave. Then on my way home, I made a detour by the lake to just sit and listen to the water and watch people playing with their dogs.


photo3 photo photo1

Days like this day remind me how thankful and lucky I am to live where I do. It took A LOT of effort to get up enough courage to move to Chicago from California in the first place. Three years later, I feel like I am finally making things work and trying to do the best with the little I have and create opportunities for myself. I know this wasn’t an “artsy” kind of blog post, but I just felt that it was really important to document this feeling that I had over the weekend and show some really pretty pictures of the city.

The Great Migration…



Migration Series: Panel 1, Jacob Lawrence, 1941 (above)

So, yesterday I got all hopped to go to the Art Institute to see Kara Walker’s exhibit in one of their contemporary art galleries, but I got completely sidetracked by another exhibit currently up in the Modern Wing called, “They Seek a City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910-1950”. Now, don’t worry. As Kara Walker is in my top 5 for favorite contemporary artists, she will get her own blog post.. but I feel like it is important to talk about the great migration to Chicago during the first half of the 20th century.


As we know from history books, migration and immigration has become apart of the American story. People move from all over the county and all over the world to the United States in hopes of a better situation… after all, this is the “Golden Land of Opportunity”. In the early 20th century, many were seeking a safe haven from religious and racial persecution as well as better economic opportunities. One of the largest migrations came from African Americans who traveled in mass by train and bus from the south to the city of Chicago. However, African Americans were not the only people who came. Immigrants from all over the world- Mexico, Poland, Ireland, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Romania, Russia, etc- came to Chicago in droves for various reasons, all in hopes of a better life.

“They Seek a City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910-1950”, beautifully displays a wide variety of work in regards to Chicago from various ethnic points of view. Through the works of Archibald John Motley, Jr., Walter Ellison, Elizabeth Catlett, and many others we as the viewer are able to examine the city of Chicago through its rich ethnic history and understand how it became one of the most diverse cities in the country.




The exhibit was organized chronologically, but then also by themes: i.e. the black experience of the migration, the city of Chicago and Mexico, Civil Rights and politics, culminating in Chicago’s architectural connection to International immigration through Europeans like László Moholy- Nagy of Bauhaus fame. I think the exhibit was wonderfully curated and laid out very thoughtfully. Obviously, the history of Chicago is very dense and includes many different stories, but I feel like this particular exhibit (organized by the Art Institute and curated by Sarah Kelly Oehler) smartly chose pieces that many people might never have the opportunity to see. This exhibit is unbelievably the first to tackle this subject matter– but I think it was a very nobel effort after all.



These census maps are incredible:




Check out the exhibit page on the Art Institute web site for more information: http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/they-seek-city-chicago-and-art-migration-1910-1950.

Also, speaking of the great migration to Chicago: if this topic sparks some interest and you haven’t read “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson, I highly recommend it. This book, masterly written, focuses on true experiences of three different people who each left the south at different points during the Great Migration. You can read all about Wilkerson’s book here: http://isabelwilkerson.com.


All in all, I found the exhibition and “The Warmth of Other Suns” particularly moving because my family was a part of the great migration. My father’s family left the south where they were in constant danger and persecution because they were Black to a city that seemed to have no limits of opportunity– Chicago. The city of Chicago was for these migrants what Hollywood was to the underdog filmmakers of the early 20th century who also left in droves to the unfamiliar West: a place where dreams are made and anything can happen.


You Bought Apples for How Much…!!?


It’s that time of year again! When art collectors and spectators from all over the world direct their gazes towards the most popular auction houses: Christie’s and Sotheby’s. This blog post is a bit after the fact because, I wanted to see the outcomes of the most talked about auction lots and catalogues before I said anything.


Maybe you’re like me and are easily overwhelmed by the world of art for profit, so I have tried to make myself aware of what is going on in that sector so I can educate myself more. In my professional experience, I had always worked with not-for-profit galleries, which is a completely different monster when talking about works of art. in 2011, I was able to get an internship at a for-profit gallery in Chicago and man, did I have a lot to learn. Just a plug: If you are in Chicago, two great galleries to check out: Woman Made Gallery (not-for-profit) and MW Galleries (for profit). Check it: http://www.womanmade.org and http://www.mwgalleries.com/. My most exciting moment while working at MW Galleries was handling a Takashi Murakami and also a Vic Muniz…. oooooOOOOooooo.



Anyway, one of the most beneficial things I was required to do as a part of my internship at MW Galleries was to search all of the major art websites, blogs, auction sites, etc and create a media report that summarized all the things happening in the art world that week. I think if you are trying to learn more about art– or anything!– this is actually a really good approach. Even though my internship ended a while ago, I still find that I approach the for-profit art world in this same manner, so I don’t get to overwhelmed… because there is a lot happening at any given time.

So, back to the point… AUCTIONS! It always boggles my mind how much some of these pieces of art sell for. It’s really interesting to me how the art market trends and which artist is popular and why. It’s seems to be a really complicated and convoluted process, but captivating nonetheless. Not surprisingly, the Evening Sale for Impressionist and Modern Art was super successful… I think even more so than Sotheby’s anticipated. What I think is the most exciting is this international love of collecting art. I think Sotheby’s stated something like 35 different countries participated in this particular auction. Paul Cezanne’s Les Pommes sold for an astounding $41,605,000 USD!! I’m sorry…. WHAT!?


The other obvious crowd-pleasers did well as well– works from Picasso, Braque, Leger, Van Gogh, and Matisse.

I’m hoping that I get to a place in my life that I can invest in art to secure a future for myself and my future family. It seems if you’re smart and consult the experts, art buying can be extremely lucrative in the long term as far as securing a stable asset beyond having money in the bank. I am NO WHERE NEAR being able to do this.. it’s just kind of fun to dream about, you know?

If I’ve peaked your interest, you should look at the Sotheby’s website– not only to see some really wonderful art, but just to get a sense of how monumental the art market really is. Check it: http://http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2013/impressionist-modern-art-evening-sale-n08987/overview.html

A Surprise Visit to India…


Last Sunday, I was walking down State Street by the Chicago Theatre on my way to meet a friend for brunch and I noticed a whole lot of people standing outside of Macy’s and looking rather impatient. I didn’t think much of it, but I noticed as I was walking home after meeting my friend that there was actually a flower show that had opened inside of the Macy’s on the 9th floor. I have never been to a flower show, so curiosity definitely got the better of me and I went inside. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much… because why would you expect to see something that amazing inside of a department store? But, shut me up…. it was beautiful. I have never known Macy’s to host a flower show, but apparently this is a big thing that happens in different cities all over the country. If you want to see if there is a flower show by you, please visit the site: http://social.macys.com/flowershow. Anyway, the show, entitled “The Painted Garden” was a celebration of the spirit of South Asia. There were so many beautiful architectural pieces and such vibrant colors. Oh man. I have always been in love with the South Asian and Indian aesthetic, so this was totally up my alley. If you have a chance, definitely check it out. It was such a surprise part of my day and I really enjoyed myself.