Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Chicago Art

January 7th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Chicago, Personal, Photography

Christina and I spent the end of a snowy day on a date at the Art Institute of Chicago. We met in photojournalism school and without thinking of that tend to visit first the current photo exhibit in the downstairs gallery.

Today we saw the exhibit “C. D. Arnold Photographs of the World’s Columbian Exposition” in the Chicago Cabinet, a series showcasing the Institute’s collection of Chicago photos. These photos are large platinum prints, very sharp of documenting the 1894 exhibition.

C. D. Arnold. Chicago Day, Grand Plaza in front of Administration Building, 1893

C. D. Arnold. Chicago Day, Grand Plaza in front of Administration Building, 1893

In spite of all I have heard about the fair, I had never really comprehended the scale of the project, the size of the space, the massive ironwork of the buildings. Everything was the largest of the time, and everyone in the small studio space with us seemed awed as they marveled at the beauty of the white city in the photographs.

We were struck by the design detail of the entrance of the Transportation Building, designed by Louis H. Sullivan. A note directed us to another current exhibit at the museum, “Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago.” This traces the arts and crafts movement from architecture, furniture, graphic, silverware, decorative arts, and photography.

Blessed Art Thou among Women, a photograph by Gertrude Käsebier 1899

Blessed Art Thou among Women, a photograph by Gertrude Käsebier, 1899

Some of the furniture from the Prairie School is famous, and I was surprised at how little I liked it. It’s too stick like and boxy and heavy for my tastes. Christina agreed. But we loved Sullivan’s ornamental work and the way he and other artists intertwined natural forms in their designs.

We also liked photography by Alfred Stieglitz and Gertrude Käsebier and the summation of the curators that this period brought together and blurred the distinctions between the fine arts and the applied arts.

We don’t always remember the things that drew us together in the first place.

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Chicago 2016

October 23rd, 2009 by Collin Canright | 1 Comment | Filed in Political Economy

I’m still upset that Chicago lost the 2016 Olympics to Rio. My wife Christina and I spent that dreary, rainy Friday three weeks ago in a hotel ballroom full of building subcontractors, preparing to celebrate winning the bid. We had it in the bag.

That arrogance no doubt had something to do with Chicago losing in the first round to a city known for its crime (Rio) and a city known for its congestion (Tokyo); nothing negative immediately comes to mind for Madrid. I knew when I saw the pictures of the public support from the beach-goers in Rio that we had nothing like that kind of public support.

Business leaders supported the bid, as did the building subcontractors we were with. But not an overwhelming majority of Chicagoans I talk to. Too much congestion. Too much corruption. Too much of a hassle. Shortsighted, I’d think, or say depending on how well I knew the person.

I felt somewhat comforted that the Washington Post said “Chicago Gets Gold Medal for Design.” It also helped a lot to hear former U.S. Olympic Committee chair and general sports marketing legend Peter Uberroth commented, in effect, that Chicago didn’t lose the bid as much as Rio won it. He also disabused some notions that provided a little more comfort, namely that the U.S. Olympic Committee is in disarray and didn’t do its job with the International Olympic Committee, with which it feuds.

Yet arrogance, lack of support, and political disfavor do not get to the heart of the matter. I don’t exactly buy the corruption argument many local opponents put forth. I like Mayor Daley and what he’s done for the city, and, a few mistakes aside, how he ran the bid. I have voted for him every time he’s run, and if he runs again he’ll likely get my vote again.

Even so, it occurred to me that I live in a city still known worldwide for the gangsters of the 20s and machine government, and I live in a state in which an inordinate number of former governors are indicted or end up in the federal pen. (Really, isn’t just one too many?)

What would take to transform government in the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago? What would it take to transform so that we live as the progressive place with the green reputation befitting the City in a Garden, with an efficient and effective transportation system, a government that supports citizens to learn and use their talents to their fullest, with the stellar reputation we are on the brink of gaining, as when Fast Company magazine named Chicago U.S. City of the Year in 2008, home to one of the most go-for-it and exciting U.S. presidents in a long time.

It would take a concerted, intentional effort to change the fabric of state and, by extension, city government. Corruption is rooted in the reputation of our state, and whatever realities lie behind the reputation are systematized, standard operation procedure, and status quo–in a word, invisible. I voted for Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan, too, and I’m sure I had good reasons at the time. I’ll bet there’s more to those stories of individual corruption than you read in the papers and see on TV.

New thinking is needed. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m on the steering committee of the event I’m about to suggest as a start, the Transformational Leadership Symposium–Staying Ahead of the Curve in Transformational Times, where we’ll consider new thinking on leadership and new ways to instill change, especially in an economy that’s forcing growth through innovation. New thinking on leadership is why I’ll attend, why I’m a doctoral student at the Wright Graduate Institute for Human Potential, and why I’ll do as much as I can to transform my own thinking about leadership and understanding of how to change systems of thought and, by extension, institutions of action.

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