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Archive for the ‘museum’ Category

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frombridge

Taken from the bridge connecting the Art Institute and Millennium Park

closeThis will probably be my last post on Chicago for a while, as I want to focus a bit on South Africa next before we visit Glasgow, Scotland, in the summer.

The Gift Horse is a special exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute, up on the third floor of the Modern Art Wing out on the open air plaza linked to the Terzo Piano restaurant. We first visited this special horse exhibit in November last year, which I wrote about here.

https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/gift-horse/

It was really cold in Chicago at the time but we did our best to take photos out in the open air.

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Weather was warm enough to take off sweaters that day

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A good look at the ticker tape

When we were back in Chicago in April this year the weather was briefly better one of the days (snowed the other days) so we returned to see the horse again.

The horse hasn’t changed but the photographic chances were better, so I’m posting a few more pics of this special outdoor sculpture before it moves on to another venue at another institute.

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moonbench

By the Light of the Moon, by Cynthia Archer, in Chicago Children’s Museum

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Money Bench, by Hedda Salz and Ray Pawley, in Chicago Children’s Museum

Chicago: We’ve often seen some painted benches in Terminal 5 at O’Hare airport; they line some of the passageways as people walk towards immigration. They are colorful and many have a Chicago theme, so they fit in well with the banners that greet arrivals, “We’re glad you’re here”. But, we never took photos, as photography is not permitted there.

Then we found some more benches at the Chicago Children’s Museum, each with the name of the artist who painted it. The descriptions are very interesting and the paintings on the benches really colorful and innovative.

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Secrets Bench, by Cynthia Weiss, in Chicago Children’s Museum

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renaissance

In Chicago Culture Center, artists Lorna Hymen, Cathryn Mann and judy O’Connor

And recently, I found two more at the Chicago Culture Center in the Renaissance Room. So, I decided to try and find out more about them. I asked at the Information desk at the Chicago Culture Center, but they didn’t really know much, except they thought the benches series had been organized by an art gallery just over the road from the Center. Was it Chicago Public Schools Gallery 37, 66 E. Randolph?

Lots more sleuthing hasn’t helped. There was a chairs-on-parade in Chicago, two years after the famous cows-on-parade in 1999. But, no-one seems sure if the benches were part of that.

https://www.jaehakim.com/lifestyles/style-lifestyles/chairs-on-parade-city-is-furnishing-them-as-street-art/I followed this link and it seems that parade was about sofas, chairs,

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The other bench in Chicago Culture Center, by the same artists as above

ottomans, and televisions, but it did not actually mention benches.

Any ideas?

wildlifebench

A wildlife bench, by Joe Hindley

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from front

headAnother Horse

A Funky Junky Horse, called “Horse”

While in Chicago on our last trip, we came across another horse, this one in the Chicago Children’s Museum. We’ve never been into this museum before, but this time it was a perfect place to take our young granddaughter, and she had a ball. I’ll write about the museum in a later post, but here is the horse.

It’s on the third floor, next to the vending machine opposite the Dinosaur Expedition.

You can’t help noticing the colorful horse as it’s very unusual—made up of old/recycled backbellyobjects—many kinds of objects of many different colors. The plaque tells us that Leo Sewell (born 1945) made this artistic horse. For children, the plaque says, “What do you see? Find the hairdryer, license plates, green belt and show laces.”

Sewell is known as a “found object artist’ or a junk sculptor. He grew up near a dump and enjoyed tinkering with the stuff that he found. He continues to cull the refuse of Philadelphia (where he has lived since 1974) to assemble pieces of all sizes, but will also use objects from a person’s past if they commission a piece from him. He sculpts with objects made of plastic, metal and wood, choosing items based on color, shape, texture, durability and “look”, and then assembles them using nails, bolts and screws. His outdoor pieces are made from stainless steel, brass or aluminium found objects, which are then welded together. His work is in museums all over the world.

 

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horse

horseskylineChicago’s Art Institute has another first: Hans Haacke’s Gift Horse (2014).

Whenever we are in Chicago we go into the Art Institute, as we are members there and can take in visitors too. They usually have some new art works and it’s fun to try and track those down. We’d read about the horse statue and wanted to see it, but were too early when we visited in September.

The horse had been in London but was installed in October on the terrace of the Terzo Piano, which looks out over Millennium Park. It’s the first time the horse could be seen in North America. (Note that the outdoor restaurant seating is now closed for the winter season). The backdrop for the horse is great—part of Chicago’s lovely skyline. But, it’s really quite cold out on the terrace, as the sculpture is outdoors, so I imagine that in the winter it might be hard to stay out there very long! The horse was designed to be outdoors though, so the Art Institute has honored that.

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According to the board, it’s “bronze with black patina and wax finish, stainless steel fasteners, stainless steel armature, polycarbonate face.” And it’s huge.

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Me standing there shows how big the horse is

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You can see the bow quite clearly

What’s the story of this monumental bronze horse sculpture? Hans Haacke was born in Germany in 1936 and since 1965 has been living in New York. He’s always been interested in the connections between art, power, money, politics and business. Gift Horse has a large bow, similar to a gift ribbon, on its raised right foreleg. LED lights embedded in the bow continuously display the market prices of the USA’s leading stock exchange, thus linking art and finance. On Trafalgar Square it had the ticker of the London Stock Exchange.

Haacke’s bronze horse skeleton sculpture was commissioned for London’s Fourth Plinth project: this invites contemporary artists to temporarily fill the vacant spot in Trafalgar Square that was originally designed for an equestrian monument to William III (1765-1837), but sat empty since 1841.

It’s an interesting sculpture, largely because of the symbolism. We did wonder why Haacke chose to use a skeleton format. Any ideas?

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RfossilsSomething Really Old!

Found in the small garden outside the entrance to the East London Museum in the eastern Cape, South Africa.

These sections of fossilized trees are from the Permian Period, 299-241 million years before the present. It’s amazing to think that all that time ago, these trees were alive and now they are fossilized wood!

They were found on the farm Winkelhurst in the Stutterheim District by landowner Bobbly Wilson and brought to the East London Museum in 1955.

Prof. Marion Bamford of Wits University has identified sections of this specimen as an fossils closeAgathoxylon species. Associated with the Glossopteris plant life of the Permian Period, these trees grew in fairly moist environments and contributed to the formation of the coal deposits in South Africa. They were deciduous trees called gymnosperms, a group of seed-bearing plants that includes the conifers (like pines), yellowwoods and cycads.

Rod has always been keen on fossils, so this was an interesting find.

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exhibit

Special Coelacanth Gallery

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Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer with the coelacanth

Coelacanth Statue

As you probably know by now, I really love outdoor art, especially sculpture, so we were happy to find this interesting piece. This sculpture is in the small garden in front of the East London Museum, a fitting place as the museum has the special exhibit on the Coelacanth.

It is one in a series of sculptures commissioned by the Sunday Times, and put up around the country, as memorials to prominent South Africans. This one is in honour of Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer (1907-2004), a one-time curator at East London’s small museum, who is credited with discovering the fascinating coelacanth, a pre-historic fish that even pre-dates dinousaurs. On December 22nd, 1938, she spotted an unusual fish in the catch on the deck of the trawler Nerine. She took the 1.5 meter (4.9 ft), 57.5 kg (127 lbs), fish home and had it stuffed to preserve it until it could be identified by Rhodes University chemistry lecturer and keen ichthyologist JLB Smith.

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Coelacanth in the gallery

RodThe artist is Graham Jones, a well-known eastern Cape sculptor. He was born in Zimbabwe but went to school and studied in Port Elizabeth.

The sculpture weighs four and a half tons and is made of cast iron, giving it a wonderful surface texture, with all sorts of fascinating bits and pieces attached. The mouth is stuffed with fishing gut, a silent protest against the wicked exploitation of this hugely endangered species.

 

 

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Rod M and Mike S look at an elephant skull

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kidsOne of the things we did in East London was visit the East London Museum, a first for us even though we have visited the city quite often.

This museum is a little old and musty but has a surprising number of exhibits—from WW1 stuff, to stuffed animals and birds, to a stones collection and shells collection, and the famous Coelacanth fish exhibit, all downstairs. Upstairs is African bead and wire work, period furniture and clothing from the colonist times, a section on the local German settlers, and two exhibits on local shipwrecks (the Grosvenor and the Oceanos).

Actually quite interesting and more than you can take in in one visit. It’s popular with groups of local school kids, who seemed quite excited to be there.

carHere I’ll highlight 2 small special exhibits that we found interesting; Wirework and Shweshwe cloth. Later, I’ll cover the story of the famous Coelacanth fish.

Wirework

Among Xhosa-speaking people, wire obtained from European traders was traditionally used in the manufacture of items for adornment such as waistbands, bangles, and anklets. More recently wire has been used in a range of creative, alternative ways. These include toys made by children and items made specifically for sale to the tourist market. An example of the latter is the model of the Mercedes Benz car and Venter trailer by Philip Ntliziywana, made of wire and scrap tin, around 1998.

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Another is the Model of a Windmill, made by M Adams of wire and scrap tin, in East London, around 1987.

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Shweshwe cloth bags

Shweshwe cloth is a type of indigo print cloth that is very popular in South Africa. Indigo cloth arrived in South Africa after 1652 when a seaport was established at the Cape of Good Hope. It came mainly from India and Holland and slaves, soldiers, Khoi-san and Dutch women wore indigo cloth and floral printed indigo.

In the 1840s French missionaries gave King Moshoeshoe 1 of Basotholand a gift of indigo printed cloth, which became the favored cloth, a tradition that continues today. That’s how the name Shweshwe cloth came about—from shoeshoe or isishweshwe. It is typically used for traditional ceremonies in the rural areas but has also become fashionable beyond this use. It is used for all kinds of clothing, and for cloth bags, for example, all very popular with locals and tourists. A family member bought a Shweshwe print pinafore for our granddaughter when we visited East London not too long ago—very pretty.

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Red Shweshwe cloth pinafore

Much of this printed fabric, which now comes in other colors including chocolate brown and red, is produced in a plant called Da Gama Textiles near East London.

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Traditional and modern

signThe sign explains: the mannequin on the left has an outfit for a newly-wed Xhosa woman (UMakoti). Each piece has a meaning: The Headscarf/iqhlya is used by a married woman to show respect to her in-laws ad to differentiate herself from single women.

The long skirt/Umbhinqo covers her legs and lower body in a dignified way.

The Apron/Ifaskoti symbolizes the way a dignified wife doesn’t share problems or issues in the marriage or new family. As the apron covers what she wears, so will she cover challenges.

The Blanket/Ixakatho also shows respect to the in-laws.

The mannequin on the right has the Shweshwe dress worn by Zoe Reeve to her graduation party, 2008.

cafe

Margie W at the cafe

 

at lunch

Rod M, Mike S and Margie W at lunch

After a couple of hours in the museum we had lunch at the museum café, aptly named the Coelacanth Café. It was pleasant and the food pretty good. Lots of local folks were there having lunch too, plus some students from the nearby high school, so they must be doing something right!

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