on the project
One thing that I really love to do when family and friends visit Chicago is play tour guide. I’ve been known to give a two-hour-plus walking tour of the city’s architecture, to the enjoyment, then exhaustion, of visitors. So I was delighted when Art21 reached out to me about their #MyArtMyCity campaign and offered to let me take over their Instagram account for the final three days of August. As Art21 Curator Jonathan Munar describes it on the Art21 blog, “The goal of the project is explore the relationship between art and place, as seen through the eyes of artists and art admirers from around the world.”
I decided to take this concept and run with it, starting with Chicago’s architecture (after all, nothing shapes a city so much as its architecture) and treating the whole takeover as a chance for short-form criticism and essays, something the visually focused platform does nicely, but which often gets lost in the selfies and photos of food—if you were looking for those you’ll be extremely disappointed. See the whole takeover on Art21’s Instagram account.
Please welcome @abrahamritchie1 from Chicago, who will be taking over our feed over the next few days for #MyArtMyCity. First 📷: This is @abrahamritchie1, I'm the Social Media Manager for @mcachicago and I'm proud to bring #MyArtMyCity to #Chicago. Living in the city that's the birthplace of the skyscraper, Chicago impresses on you that #art isn't just on the walls or in museums, it's also your built environment the work and ideas of #architects, #designers, craftspeople, and many more. This viewpoint by the Michigan Avenue Bridge is one spot I always bring visitors since it allows you to see the full evolution of the skyscraper in one place; from stone Art Deco just out of frame, to the concrete of Bertrand Goldberg's sculptural #MarinaCity condos at left, to glass-and-steel #Modernism. In Chicago, my city is also my art.
#MyArtMyCity takeover 📷 from @abrahamritchie1, Chicago: If you're talking about #MyArtMyCity and you're talking about #Chicago, then you have to talk about @millennium_park. For about 5 years when I worked at @artinstitutechi, I had the chance to spend almost every lunch hour during warm months in the park and so I know that it's a mistake to dismiss #MillenniumPark as a mere selfie spot. Instead, this is a park where the city truly comes together. This is literally true in @chicagodcase's brilliant placement of Dan Peterman's "Running Table" (1997) seen here in the foreground. A continuous picnic table 100-feet long and made of recycled plastic, the communal table really does create spontaneous community as Chicagoans of all walks of life sit side-by-side for food, conversation, or just hanging out. Of course, the most iconic work is #AnishKapoor's "Cloud Gate" (2004) or #TheBean as it's lovingly called by Chicagoans. This is the place where people see themselves, their friends, and their neighbors; above that it's a powerful moment to see themselves reflected in their city, as I've written before. The wonder the work provokes creates a moment of possibility in viewers: what can I do in this city? #chigram #chitecture #igchicago #instagood #mychicagopix #flippinchi #artofchi
#MyArtMyCity takeover 📷 from @abrahamritchie1, Chicago: It’s often said that #Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and community murals are one way that neighbors show their pride and their values, from the Wall of Respect created by the Organization of Black American Culture on the South Side in 1967, to the contemporary murals today. Since this is #MyArtMyCity, it’s only fair that I share this “Bridge Builders” mural by Nick Goettling @lapsang.fang that recently appeared nearby my #AlbanyPark neighborhood. Many of the great historic #WPA murals often feature burly men laboring to construct the city. This mural clearly pays homage to that #ArtHistory and the labor that built the city, while including a female figure and creating #genderequality. This is also one mural of two, the other side is very similar but the figures’ arms hold stacks of books indicating that the future of the city may be in brains more than brawn (the mural is funded by a university @neiulife) The interplay between the work and the site is great too: the still-active railroad bridge which the figures hold up in a trompe l’oeil style is constantly added to by #graffiti crews who have (so far) respected the mural.
#MyArtMyCity takeover 📷 from @abrahamritchie1, Chicago: I’m the Social Media Manager for @mcachicago so I’ve been spending A LOT of time with our current exhibit #KerryJamesMarshall: #Mastry and one work I keep coming back to and have fallen in love with is “Past Times,” 1997. Parks are a part of almost every city, but they’re an especially important part of #Chicago, from @millennium_park (which I featured in a past post), to @lollapalooza -hosting Grant Park @chicagoparks, to Jackson Park, designed by Frederick Law #Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also designed @centralparknyc. This painting of a park is a perfect combination of #MyArtMyCity as Marshall sets the painting in one of Chicago’s important parks, likely Jackson or Lincoln Park. It’s also a clear homage to one of Chicago’s most important paintings too, “A Sunday on La Grand Jatte — 1884” by Georges Seurat (1884/86) which hangs at @artinstitutechi; this work hangs in a venue also highly trafficked and public, @mccormickplace. Marshall has been very clear that he intends to engage with the masters of painting and art history on the highest level and this painting does just that, creating an almost pastoral scene of city life—the figures look out on us as if we’ve interrupted them in the middle of their fun. But there’s almost much more than that going on. Whereas an all-white cast populates Seurat’s picture, an all-black cast enjoys leisure in Marshall’s. What’s remarkable here is the unremarkableness of the arrangement, as Marshall describes it: "The challenge is on some level to establish the black mundane as a glamorous category." This painting proves he’s clearly succeeded.
Thanks to @abrahamritchie1 for sharing perspectives from Chicago as part of his #MyArtMyCity takeover. Final 📷 from his takeover: I wanted to end my takeover of @art21's #MyArtMyCity with an art form that developed in the #UnitedStates and can be found in every city worldwide but few museums: #graffiti art. Each year, #Chicago spends tens of millions of dollars removing (destroying?) artistic graffiti that enlivens dull stretches of rooftop and wall, along with the gang graffiti which should rightly be removed. Ironically, the high levels of enforcement and erasure means that the city's graffiti crews have become more dedicated, more professional than those in other cities, so our graffiti scene is regularly excellent, if not abundant. These murals can be found on Milwaukee Avenue (a good stretch for viewing #streetart and #graffiti if you’re visting) were done with the owner’s permission on a building that’s about to be torn down and were organized by @amuse.126 —take a look at that account and try to argue that #graffiti isn't #art! And that debate, as much as it should be over, is still alive and it will be interesting to see how it plays out as more and more (young) people accept graffiti as art, but also as it integrates into the market. Thanks for joining me on the @art21 takeover, you can always find me at @abrahamritchie1.