Artists of the Wall 2022

For some reason long since obscured by time, the southern end of the beach in Loyola Park is bordered by a broad promenade and, for some 600 feet, a concrete retaining wall and bench. Just the place to gather graffiti like flies on a cow pie. Back in 1993, somebody decided to pre-empt the scrawls with artwork from the Rogers Park community that would be laid on the wall in June during a two day festival with music and vittles.

This year’s event was held over the Fathers’ Day weekend. The theme was The World of Tomorrow, I understand. I did not attend but several days later I came by to view the results and to photograph what I liked. The images below are the images that I preferred, not necessarily the “best” wall panels in the show no matter who is the judge.

Also, the wall is never finished in just two days. A few of the artists will be tinkering with their work for a while yet.

2022 wasn’t a bad year but I think there’ve been better. See for yourself.

(Recommended: Click any image below to enlarge it.)

I should add that while the photography is not bad mostly, this was not a best effort. The photos were taken in the late morning, not far from Noon, and the wall generally faces east with little shade. My camera is smarter about such things than I am, but even it had problems. It wasn’t made easier by the new paint that had something of a gloss to it, the reflected light complicating matters even more. It was a situation that inspires gratitude for digital over film… Lots of discards… Late afternoon or maybe a bright overcast day might be better for someone like me. Or if you have a better camera that allows for more manual control, maybe the time of day is not so important… Just sayin’…

“Perfecting the Art of Longing”

I don’t know if this was intended as poetry, but it is poetry IMHO:

Newly posted on Vimeo by the National Film Board of Canada, the video’s description doesn’t quite do it justice, but:

Cut off from his loved ones due to the pandemic lockdown, a quadriplegic rabbi in a long-term-care facility is filmed remotely by his daughter. Offering powerful meditations on love and hope, Perfecting the Art of Longing shows us what it means to be alive in a state of profound isolation.

Saint Urho

Finland has been an item in the news lately as one of the blow-back consequences of Putin’s ill-considered adventure in Ukraine. But that’s not what this is about: We need to smile, at least. Voila! This video.

I stumbled upon this video about Saint Urho while visiting the blog of science fiction author Walter Jon Williams: “Here we have a history of Finland’s totally genuine fake hero, St. Urho. Who was born in a Minnesota town called Virginia.”

Totally true. Originally broadcast on PBS stations WDSE / WRPT.

Artists of the Wall, Year 2009

The “Artists of the Wall” is an annual event held in Chicago’s Loyola Park, usually in June, whereat members of the Rogers Park community decorate a 600 foot concrete retaining wall / park bench. While I’ve missed about half the years of this century so far, I’ve habitually taken photos of the work I like. The gallery below contains the photos that I like from the year 2009.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

If you want to see other images from other Artists of the Wall years, click on the AotW tag.

Rubble In Memoriam

Photos by Roman.

I don’t know the story behind this shrine but it’s not usually good news. One assumes the worst: a death. And yet, what could be a more appropriate portrayal of the ruin left behind from a death than a symbolically delirious pile of fragments?

It’s a shambles, not the dead but those left alive.

I’ve almost certainly spent too much of my time since retirement from activism and working watching episodes of Time Team and that has seriously warped the way I see things like this. Time Team, in case you missed it, is / was a U.K. TV program that combined reality TV with science documentary with (ultimately) a sort of popular archeology movement, all anchored by several academics with vivid, if not to say eccentric, personalities who, since they were all mostly specialists, fit the TV trope of coming on each episode to occupy each their niche in the drama.

No, I haven’t seen the new series yet.

Seeing this shrine, I now wonder how ancient is that practice of adding stones to an altar, grave or cenotaph — not to mention broken items as offerings? Wasn’t it pebbles of quartz that people would bring to place at an altar during the first millennium? And our bronze age relations, they were no fools in bringing broken items as offerings. It wasn’t simply a matter of economy, I suspect, but rather in a spiritual sense, it was a retirement of the item offered, a giving back.

And why do I have this image of a small dog held suspended above water but its legs, all four, helplessly in full furious paddle?

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Photo by Roman.

The Strandbeest

Some years back I was a regular visitor to the Colossal web site… It was more of a arts / craft visual blog than the web publication it is today… but my point being, they posted an article / video of the Strandbeest that left an impression. Now this video from Theo Jansen (the “beest’s” inventor) just popped up. I had to view it.

These constructs are largely wind-powered and self-steering… as you might have guessed from some of the desperate attempts at heading off the beest’s bee-line toward destruction.

In any case, Theo Jansen explains it this way:

“Strandbeest Evolution 2021 provides an update on the evolutionary development. Every spring I go to the beach with a new beast. During the summer I do all kinds of experiments with the wind, sand and water. In the fall I grew a bit wiser about how these beasts can survive the circumstances on the beach. At that point I declare them extinct and they go to the bone yard.”

Artists of the Wall, Year 2007

Since the early 1990s, there has been an annual Artists of the Wall event in Chicago’s Loyola Park wherein folks from the Rogers Park community sign up to decorate a portion of a concrete retaining wall / bench that runs along the Lake Michigan shore. Since the turn of the century, I’ve often taken photos of the parts that I like. To see all that I have posted of them, click on the AotW tag.

The photos below are the photos from 2007 that I like, sometimes of an entire panel and sometimes of just a detail. These were also not taken with a digital camera but with a largely automatic Pentax. The prints were scanned about a decade later.

This article is being posted on April 23, 2022. The 2022 Artists of the Wall event will be held on the weekend of June 18 and 19. Registration to paint one of the 150 spaces available will be online and take place over three days: May 1, May 3 and May 5, 50 spaces each day. For more information, visit the Loyola Park Advisory Council’s website.

Click on any photo below to enlarge it.