Chicago trip highlights
Tony and I had a wonderful time on our recent trip to Chicago to visit my daughters. We love staying at the MileNorth Hotel on Superior Avenue. It is just off of Michigan Avenue in the River North district which puts it within a few blocks of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and within easy access to the Magnificent Mile and a nice walk to Navy Pier.
MileNorth staff are very friendly, the rooms are large and the hotel has a great lobby gathering area where coffee and breakfast can be purchased during the day or drinks in the evening as well as a roof top bar on the 29th floor.
I had the pleasure of being able to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art last Friday to see the Kerry James Marshall exhibit, ‘Mastry’. What a wonderful exhibit it is. It covers most of the 4th floor of the museum and is very powerful, not only for the message and content of what the artist is trying to achieve but because of the beauty, color and size of many of his works as well.
“The MCA is honored to present a major museum survey of Kerry James Marshall (b. 1955), one of America’s greatest living artists. The exhibition focuses primarily on Marshall’s paintings made over the last 35 years, from his seminal inaugural statement Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self (1980) to his most recent explorations of African American history.”
Marshall is a resident of Chicago who was born in Birmingham, Alabama before the passage of the Civil Rights Act and who later witnessed the Watts riots in Los Angeles. Marshall’s love for art started at a very young age and he soon noticed that there were almost no black images in classical art. He began to study seriously the old masters and to hone his skills so that he could pursue his dream of bringing black figural painting into the fine art scene in a way that depicts those figures in normal, daily life settings while still addressing underlying cultural challenges and issues.
His use of black paint in his larger than life paintings is saved for his figures and is often set against a rainbow of bright colors surrounding them to make their blackness stand out even more. The settings for his figures are very thought provoking. His paintings depict the social challenges that African Americans have had to face over the decades, from his powerful painting “Portrait of the Artist as a Shell of his Former Self”, which addresses the ‘invisibility’ of the black man, to how African Americans fit into the traditional ‘American Dream’ as depicted in paintings of the broken promise of government housing projects to images Fourth of July celebrations and portraits of young boy and girl scouts.
Marshall’s exhibit at the MCA was one of the highlights of my visit to Chicago. His work is intensely thought provoking and has a significant ‘wow’ factor as well. It will be on display until September 25th and is on my ‘short list’ of recommended things to do in Chicago this summer! Please leave a comment below because I’d like to hear what you think.