Skip to main content

Art in Unexpected Places

I had a minor scrape with the car at the weekend, which meant that I had to take it to the dealer yesterday to get it repaired. This meant that I had to go out to the northwestern part of Chicago, to a suburb called Niles (where my wife was raised, as it happens). There's not a lot to do there while you're waiting for four hours, so I walked a few miles to a Catholic cemetery. When I got to the middle of the cemetery, I came across a series of well-designed memorial chapels faced with this mosaic mural:

Photo of mosaic mural in Maryhill Catholic Cemetery Chicago

I think the artist was somebody called Wilfredo Bonsol, thought I couldn't find any information on him online, so I'm not sure. But the skill in the mosaic tiling is really impressive. Look at the gradation of tones and hues in the sky:

Close up photo of mural at Maryhill Catholic Cemetery Chicago

In between the interment crypts, I found a bronze statue of the baptism of Christ, again a well-executed piece, kind of old fashioned in its theme, but made in a style that reminds me of religious sculpture from the 1950s:

Photo of bronze sculpture at Maryhill Catholic Cemetery Chicago

The suburb itself is mainly just houses, highways, and shopping malls, sometimes without any sidewalks (so I was occasionally forced to walk on grass embankments to avoid the cars). And yet, purely by chance, I found this large green oasis amid the mainly featureless district, and some pretty impressive and visually appealing pieces of art.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to etch a linoleum block

Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.


A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…

Brancusi in Plastic

Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times:

Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage. I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.

A List of Every Drink in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises"

I first read Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" when I was a teenager, and immediately fell in love with it. For the last couple of years, I have had the incredible privilege of teaching a class based around Hemingway in Paris -- while living and teaching in Paris itself, close to the Boulevard du Montparnasse, where most of the action of the novel's first half takes place.

Of the many things that one notices about the book, the colossal amount of drinking is something that stands out. These people didn't just drink like fish: they drank like whales, as if the ocean they swam in was alcohol and they had set themselves the task of drinking the seas of the world dry of it. During my read-through of the book before class started last year, I tried to underline every mention of drink in the book. And now, purely in the interests of science, I am listing the entire menu of booze mentioned directly by name. Some preliminary observations:
Most of this is…