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Renaissance Friends from Spain Escape Things Resourceless The Window
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Color is the New Concept Claire Demos Cooking with Quinoa Oliver the Curious
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Travel Diary Recollection Then and Now Mary Chicago Seven
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Creative Director firstname.lastname@example.org
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Lisa Goldberg Najman
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“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
—Henry David Thoreau
Lisa Goldberg Najman
R ena i ssance Renner Larson “Now, isn’t imagination a precious thing? It peoples the earth with all manner of wonders, strange beasts and birds, angels, cherubim and seraphim. And it has to be exercised. No child should be permitted to grow up without exercise for imagination. It enriches life for him. It makes things wonderful and beautiful.” –Mark Twain
Before education became institutionalized, the pursuit of knowledge was defined only by the curiosity of the pursuer. Leonardo Da Vinci had no diploma or credentials, and his job description was his name. Some define him as a scientist and others as an artist, but in truth he was neither and he was both. Likewise, Aristotle, arguably one of the most brilliant minds in human history, did not explore philosophy, theatre, poetry, government, ethics, physics, or biology; he danced between all of them seamlessly. These were ingenious minds free from academic rule. In a post-Darwin age where study and classification have become
synonymous, knowledge has become so compartmentalized that such minds today would be lost wandering the bridges between the sciences, arts, and academia. Writers have often managed to bridge those gaps. Mark Twain’s love for science and technology helped fuel his creative expression. Submarines, helicopters, rockets, and cell phones were all first inspired by science fiction. This valuable connection goes both ways. Albert Einstein struggled with his studies in grade school, but nurtured his passion for playing the violin, a skill that he said inspired the famous E=MC2. Intelligence cannot be engineered or
Imagination is the seed of creativity. It is not art or science, but both. Image by Renner Larson
manufactured. It is organic and must be nurtured and grown. To force knowledge into classifications, and to define some types of information as more valuable than others, is to deny the world generations of Da Vincis. Creativity, not regurgitation, is the human brainâ€™s greatest gift. Imagination is not confined to a single field of study; We observe the world and learn through experimentation. We analyze our discoveries and interpret them to form new ideas, and we apply them creatively to better ourselves and the world. Does calling it art or science change the legitimacy of its value?
Photography by Marcos Sรกnchez, at Gram Via, Madrid
ThirdCulture is a lifestyle clothing brand for artists and those who enjoy the arts. It was born from my desire to wear designs that I created, and to collaborate with friends and other artists whose work I admired. I would paint t-shirts by hand for friends, family, and bands. Then my friend Arturo offered to help and turn this hobby into something bigger. That is when we started to send t-shirts to get screen printed, because more and more people wanted them. I design the feel, look, and philosophy of the brand in Chicago and production is done by Arturo in Spain. Pablo joined the team as
our Community Manager for social media. All three of us are artists; Arturo and Pablo are musicians, and I am an illustrator and graphic designer. We collaborate with other creative minds such as illustrators, painters, musicians, and photographers by creating specific projects. Instead of creating a Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter collection we prefer to produce numerous small scale collaborations throughout the year with diverse artists. Collaborating with artists allows us to celebrate our differences as we unite through the arts.
The name we chose is based on the term “third culture kids,” because I am one, and it’s a great metaphor for our brand philosophy. I grew up moving back and forth from Spain and the U.S. For several of my childhood and teen years I lived in both countries, and have dual citizenship as well. I was from two countries, but at the same time I felt like I was from none. When I am in Spain I don’t completely feel Spanish. When I am in the U.S. I don’t completely feel American. Consequently, I created my own culture by mixing elements from both of these countries and cultures. This is the epitome of a “third culture kid.” The idea of several
cultures fusing into a unique culture of its own is the main essence of the brand. For that very reason, it is important to us to use collaboration as our model for working and creating. Instead of literal cultures, we think of it in terms of creative minds collaborating. The combined talents and styles are greater than the sum of the individual talents and styles, thus creating ThirdCulture. The artists we work with are active artists fueled with creative passion. We believe it is essential to collaborate with artists who are self-motivated and who are constantly creating, whether they are known or
“Have Fun” by Cachetejack (Valencia)
“Illusion” by ThirdCulture
unknown. Our dream is to work amongst the greatest artists of the century and empower younger artists through collaborations. We strive to create great content and high quality projects. Our latest collaboration was with Cachetejack, a duo of illustrators from Valencia; and Marcos Sánchez, a photographer from Madrid. We called this collection “Friends from SPAIÑ” because they were all from Spain. The idea of friendship is dear to our hearts, so is traveling and meeting new people. Furthermore, Spain is well-known for having tremendous talent and creativity throughout
history. Those are some of the ideas that moved us to create “Friends from SPAIÑ.” We chose to work with Cachetejack because of their quirky and childish-looking illustrations along with the sarcasm and positivity in all of their art. We loved the way Marcos sees the world through his camera and how he edits those captured seconds of life. Marcos Sánchez is a musician as well, and I had previously designed one of his band’s albums. The “Friends From SPAIÑ” illustrations were made in Valencia and the pictures were taken in downtown Madrid. We mainly work via internet because our team members and the artists are all in separate
locations. Some guides and general ideas are provided in the first emails with the artists and photographers. However, they are given creative freedom because we love what they create. The graphics created by the artists are sent to us by email. Once production is finished, a number of the samples are sent to the photographer. It is extraordinary to see what both artists and photographers create. Each project is different, and we donâ€™t follow a strict process when working with different creators. We are slowly growing and developing a community of creatives and supporters who enjoy the arts. One of the things we enjoy
the most is talking to people who follow ThirdCulture, and the fact that many of them want to get involved in future collaborations. It is truly refreshing when we connect and develop friendships. ThirdCulture is much more than just a clothing brand. It is creativity, friendship, journeys, learning, and teaching. It is where passionate people meet, share ideas, and create great projects. We like to think of ThirdCulture as a gallery, whose walls are its apparel and stickers. Jeremy Blake
Co-founder and Art Director
Follow us at thirdculture.es
ESC APE Lisa Goldberg Najman An ethnographic look into kibbutzim, their residents, and visitors.
Beginnings They were escaping. Those few young men and women who went to what was then the land of Palestine. They were escaping political and religious prosecution in Russia and Eastern Europe. Little did they know at the time, people from all over the world would eventually come to the communes they built to escape as well. To escape their good lives trying to figure out something better. The communes, or kibbutzim1, used for modern day escape are descendants of a “…grand experiment begun in 1909 by Jews escaping the pogroms (mass murders) of Russia and eastern Europe” (Altman). Twelve men and women had set out to build the first kibbutz, Degania, in response to the Zionist challenge (Gavron 17). They began “…a cooperative agricultural community, 1 Plural of kibbutz
envisioning a place in which all members would be equal and all would share in the great work of turning a desert into a garden. They accomplished this and more, building thriving communities that earned the respect and admiration of people all over the world. Original residents owned no property, nor did they receive pay for their work. Even the clothes they wore came from a central storehouse and were returned to a central laundry. They lived in cramped rooms with no kitchen and no private bathroom, ate their meals in a communal dining hall, and valued nothing so much as hard, physically punishing work. Children slept in separate houses away from their parents” (Altman 9-10). In the 1930’s there was a “…largescale Jewish immigration to Palestine, at first as a result of the Polish economic crisis, and then because of the accession to power of Adolf Hitler in Germany” (Gavron 55).
Today, about “…three percent of the Israeli population live on kibbutzim” (Gavron 77). For more than 80 years the Jewish Agency for Israel, an international Zionist organization, has worked towards a future of a “… connected, committed, global Jewish People with a strong Israel at its center” (Jewish Agency for Israel). This mission includes administering programs for 18 to 30 year olds to learn Hebrew and work or purely volunteer on kibbutzim all over Israel. Both Jews and non-Jews alike come from across the world to escape in one way or another—to escape from their responsibilities, to escape from the norm, or to escape for other reasons. Kibbutz Yotvata Kibbutz Yotvata is one of many kibbutzim that participate in Ulpan 2 and volunteer programs. They are one of the few that have survived until today because they found an industry to support their lifestyle. “Yotvata started in 1951 as a Nahal [military] settlement named Ein Radian. In 1957 it was established as the first kibbutz in the southern Aravah region… The founders, a small group of men and women 20 years of age and just out of the military service, decided to pursue a life of pioneering and built their home in the desert. They had massive challenges presented by the desert: the burning sun, the heat, shortage of water, salty land and water, limited transportation and no secure source of income. They started making all kinds of agricultural trials growing grapes, pomegranates and vegetables; they raised cattle and chickens - all with little success. The dates plantation proved more suitable to the arid conditions… And then came the initiative to found a dairy that would provide
milk to Eilat, which was expected to grow rapidly. Breeding milking cows in the desert was considered an impossible mission. In 1962 the dairy was founded, with four cows... In the first year, the dairy produced 500,000 liters of milk. By 2008, it was producing 62 million liters a year and controlled 63% of the Israeli dairy beverages market, and 49% of the fortified milk market. It employed 130 workers and had 700 cows” (Kibbutz Yotvata). Escape C. 2006 Most of those coming for an Ulpan or to volunteer made their way to Kibbutz Yotvata driving south from Tel Aviv along the windy Be’er Sheva desert road that carved itself through mountains and rocks, and along the side of cliffs. The desert landscape that led up to the kibbutz was vast, dry, and bare. Upon finally arriving at Kibbutz Yotvata they were let in to the settlement through the security gate at the entrance from the highway. To their left across the street was a gas station and cafeteria. There was a huge sign on top of the building with the Kibbutz’s logo, two palm trees in a ‘U’ shape around a sun, and cow statues in front. The palm trees were symbolic of the date palm orchards that had turned Yotvata into a desert oasis through the development of drip irrigation. The cow statues were a reminder of Kibbutz Yotvata’s most successful industry and their superior dairy products. Entering the kibbutz, factories and farm equipment littered the land below the inclining road. Houses of the residents were dispersed above to the left. Upon finally stepping out of their vehicles and onto the kibbutz for the first time an immediate and unforgiving stench of cow shit hit them with full force.
2 Hebrew immersion program
Ulpan accommodations were closest to the diary of course; trailers rescued from the Sinai desert. A concrete path ran between the two rows of trailers, enough for a 4x4 vehicle to get through. Plastic tables and chairs were dispersed in front of the trailers. Entering their trailers, the new arrivals found a small communal area with a fridge, cupboard, and kitchen sink. Each trailer had two bathrooms, one with a shower and essential floor squeegee. Everything already seemed to have a layer of sand on it. The windows were louvered, probably not the best idea for desert living. Bedrooms flanked either end of the trailer each with three cots, a small desk, and two wardrobes. Those in the Ulpan had few responsibilities, though those few responsibilities were cogs in the machine of the kibbutz. Half of the group would work, and half of the group would study Hebrew, switching every other day. Work would end early on Friday, and Saturday would be the one day off for the entire kibbutz. Meals were at set times and were served in a dining hall that was used by the whole community for breakfast and lunch, but rarely for dinner. Dinner was always bleak seeing as though only the Ulpan and volunteers were the ones to eat in the dining hall for that meal.
The term Vince coined was “Youngest in Charge,” and he had bestowed this upon her. Despite rising quickly within the company in less than a year and a half she was unhappy. At 21, listening to Matisyahu on her iPod and pinning film for screenprinting she decided it was time to flee her job, and the country, to travel. Enrolling in an Ulpan on a kibbutz in Israel was her safest choice she thought. She had gotten a taste for Israel shortly before starting this job and had wanted to return. The Ulpan would be a set program, room and board would be provided, and she would be with a group of people similarly aged. Within a month of making the decision she said goodbye to her friends, and was on her way to Israel.
Free time would be spent sleeping, reading, building friendships, and gossiping. People randomly popped through windows to say hello. Groups gathered to smoke nargila 3 and listen to music. There were ping-pong tournaments, water fights, and bonfires. Tans were worked on throughout the six months spent on the kibbutz. Chocolate with pop rocks in it was regularly consumed as well as Tim Tam cookies used as straws for black coffee. Some days people from the group took the bus to the nearest city of Eilat.
After the long flight to Israel, a night in a non-English speaking Russian absorption hostel, and a three-hour long drive to the kibbutz, she had arrived. She had come with the intentions of finally learning Hebrew after the many failed attempts she had made throughout her childhood. Quickly, she and the other English speakers formed a group. Bonds were made that would later never be broken. Little Hebrew was spoken, and all previous intentions were basically thrown out the window.
3 Hookah or tobacco pipe 4 People who live on a kibbutz 28
They walked along the boardwalk of this tourist town, went shopping, or possibly saw a movie. A few times they stayed here to party, with end results of sleeping on the beach,or beginning results of filling a hot tub like a clown car. Escape Artist: “An inmate of a prison who has a reputation for being able to escape confinement” (Random House Dictionary).
Images courtesy of Lisa Goldberg Najman
She worked hard in the date fields with her machete. Her strength was compared to that of ten men, though she never figured out if they had been referencing the lazy volunteers or kibbutzniks4 she worked along side. Despite not being a morning person, she enjoyed waking up at four o’clock and waiting in the date fields for the sun to rise high enough to begin work. She found it serene and beautiful. Quickly as weeks went on, friendships were made stronger and her relationship with one man was budding into a romance. Upon leaving the Ulpan in a new relationship, she continued to travel with her new love. They visited most corners of Israel and spent a month in Spain. After time flew by, they had to return to their respective homes in Canada and the United States and continued their lives together across the continent, phone lines, and air waves. Years later, with that same love by her side, she eventually returned to the career she left remembering why she entered it in the first place. Escapist: “The avoidance of reality by absorption of the mind in entertainment or in an imaginative situation, activity, etc.” (Random House Dictionary). He arrived from Florida, living at home with his mother at the age of 23. Wanting to try something new and exciting he ended up on the kibbutz. His draw to the Ulpan was initially to learn to read some Hebrew, but very little was otherwise expected (Howe). As a true escapist, even in a country of mystique and the unknown he brought his laptop. Submerging himself in the virtual worlds he played games on, he stayed connected 5 Literally “ascent,” immigration to Israel
to his true self in this form. Surrounded by new people and landscape he would sit outside, in the middle of the desert playing World of Warcraft. As time went on he learned that the people around him were part of the experience. He joined them in watching “Firefly” with several people piled upon a mattress in a small room, endeavored in drinking for 14 hours straight, and crying in an onion factory every other day. Several years later after finishing the Ulpan, he made his way back to Israel. His time on Kibbutz Yotvata had cemented his decision to move to Israel permanently. This time he had another goal in mind, to speak the language. This decision to go back also came with the choice to make Aliyah5. He went through the kibbutz experience again, this time in a privatized form. When he came out of the mandatory program for new immigrants he eventually moved back to the South of Israel near where he had completed his first Ulpan (Howe). This time he was in that same foreign land he had already become familiar with before, serving not so foreign foreigners that had come from his home country. Escapee: “A person who escapes” (MerriamWebster’s Dictionary of Law). Sleeping on a friend’s couch in New York after his roommate had threatened his life he needed to get away. After completing a Computer Engineering degree and not being able to find work in a flooded market he had chosen to take advantage of this free opportunity to escape everything. In the back of his mind he thought that he could possibly use the close vicinity to Europe to disappear. His experience on the kibbutz was both good and bad.
He was treated like a child in many ways, being scolded for things he did not do and being restricted from buying alcohol at the age of 25. He not only cried in the onion factory on most days, but he also developed horrible rashes even under two pairs of gloves. There on the kibbutz he also experienced good things. The desert and kibbutz was like a source for meditation for him. Being away from everything and looking out upon the Jordanian mountains was serene. This helped him find the focus he needed to decide what he wanted to do with his future. He also found, which he didn’t know at the time, his future wife. Upon leaving the kibbutz he had made the decision, contrary to the beliefs of his friends who thought he was going to become a Rabbi, to return to school to pursue a career in medicine (Najman). Escapade: “Any lighthearted or carefree episode; prank; romp” (Collins English Dictionary). She was a small town California girl and had arrived from Greece where she was teaching English. She had spent five months there, and after a challenging experience she wasn’t ready to return to her home in the United States. She had wanted to participate in an Ulpan for many years. Her father was an Israeli, but she grew up learning very little Hebrew. She had always wished she could speak the language fluently to converse with her father in his native tongue. She also always wanted to try news things, and experience new countries and cultures. Her cousin had the kibbutz experience years before and recommended it to her. With all the great stories her cousin had told her and the opportunity to learn Hebrew, she decided at that moment it was
the time to go. Her initial expectations were to learn Hebrew, make great friendships, and possibly gain a boyfriend. While she didn’t come out of the Ulpan in a serious relationship, she did make lifelong friends. Her Hebrew language skills improved greatly, and she gained many memories of living in a stress-free, desert oasis surrounded by date palms. She said goodbye to the experience with difficulty and had reflected on the time at the kibbutz as being the best experience she had ever had (Gilon). She frequently escaped back into her memories, but has now found the position to provide similar experiences to others coming to the United States directing an international English-study program. End Most participants took making the decision to live on a kibbutz for six months lightly. They went with few intentions, like to have an experience out of the norm or to learn Hebrew. In some way the kibbutz and the people within the Ulpan program had made an impact on everyone’s lives. The Escape Artist and Escapee got married a number of years later. The Escapist moved to Israel permanently. The Escapade found a career within a similar field, providing parallel life changing experiences to others. All of them found some of their strongest, life long friends. The experience changed them in some way. Some found appreciation in something they had never considered; others opened themselves up or even found focus to make decisions they may have not otherwise made. Their escape changed them in ways they never expected.
THINGS Hartley Miller, Veselin Andreev, & Lisa Goldberg Najman The things we buy in some way reflect who we are. We all have necessities, of course, but how are our personalities and lifestyles shown through our shopping habits? The following is an analysis of some recent purchases.
08 07 03
09 11 10 06
I have found that I buy beautiful objects simply because they are beautiful. Although I try to buy functional and well-made items, it sometimes does not always happen that way. The nail polish and lipstick, for instance, are completely unnecessary as I already own similar shades of both items. The calendar is extremely useful, but I already have several others strewn throughout my apartment.
Smith: “Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.” The notebook, while great for list-writing, simply serves to remind me exactly how much I have to do and furthers my anxiety. The flask, beer, and business card holder are all being put to good use.
The candle is lovely but I don’t want to waste it and hence am terrified to light it with the matches I purchased to accompany it. I acquired eight new books, even though I have a few dozen already in my ‘to-read’ pile. I justify this, however, by listening to Patti
01 two bottles of nail polish · 02 Russel + Hazel 2013 tissue paper calendar · 03 large matches in a constellation print box 04 Tarot Deck candle (incense, Turkish rose and pencil shavings) · 05 multiple beers · 06 a shirt · 07 a handmade leather business card holder · 08 eight books · 09 lipstick 10 Field Notes steno notebook · 11 small circular flask engraved with “To My Health”
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Lisa Goldberg Najman
As much as I enjoy shopping for the sake of shopping, I find myself trying to be more conscientious about the purchases I make. This is in part due to being a student, and in part knowing that moving in the near future is a very possible reality. Things I buy are many times on sale or at a discount, which has been a habit of frugality for some time now. When I cannot justify shopping for myself I will use shopping for my husband as an excuse. The hard drive, x-acto blades, and business cards were all bought for my personal, work use. The copy of keys were made for a dog walker, and the bone for our dog of course. The sweater (for myself) and ties (for my husband) were bought at discount. 36
01 ten forever stamps · 02 a dog bone · 03 a three terabyte hard drive · 04 neck ties · 05 a sweater · 06 replacement x-acto blades · 07 one-hundred business cards · 08 two house keys cut and three key tags
08 04 01 05 07
These are some of the products I buy every time I go grocery shopping. I try to eat healthy and exercise regularly, and for that reason I always look for foods high in protein. I try to eat mostly organic products, but I don’t get them all the time. The products that I always buy organic are eggs and dairy products. I usually purchase locally-baked rye bread with flax seeds in it, and I also make sure I have bottled mineral water all the time. I don’t like to shop every week but try to go to grocery shopping every weekend and buy small amount of products instead of once a month. I try to shop weekly so I don’t create waste, but it’s hard to go shopping regularly
and also cook at home, especially when you go to both school and work. I do think it’s worthwhile to cook at home and try to do it as often as possible. It’s interesting how you can get creative in the kitchen when trying to make your meals more diverse. For that reason I always discuss new recipes with friends. This keeps me motivated to go shopping and cook at home.
01 feta cheese · 02 kefir · 03 almond milk · 04 eggs 05 chicken · 06 bread · 07 avocados · 08 butter 09 mineral water
R eso u rce l ess Renner Larson “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” –Albert Einstein
Students that excel at art are out of place in the classroom. Illustration by Zelda Galewsky 39
A plastic shopping bag. To most of us a bag is that and nothing more. We have that luxury. For some, though, a simple object must be so much more. My grandfather was an engineer. He was a meticulous perfectionist, a professor, and awesomely knowledgeable, but for all his academic prowess it was his brilliant creative mind that always inspired me. There was nothing that he could not fix, and before I even knew the name Angus MacGyver, I was hearing stories of my Grandpa Curt stuck in the jungles of Colombia replacing the drive belt on his broken-down car with a camera strap. For a boy growing up with parents in academia and an older sister that aced the school system, stories like that helped me believe in my intelligence. I never did that well in school and since success within the education system seemed more or less a fact of life, I had a hard time understanding that I could be bad at school and still be smart. It wasn’t until high school that I started to piece together why it was so hard for me, and I was in college by the time I realized I didn’t hate math and writing. The problem was how I was taught. School teaches subjects as if they are endgames in themselves, and if you want to be a professor they can be, but for the rest of us calculus will not play a roll in our daily lives. As a child I just didn’t see the point. If I am given a problem I will solve it in the most efficient way possible. If that means using Google or a calculator I will. Why shouldn’t I? If you have a problem as an adult you should know how to fully utilize all your resources to solve it. The logic behind testing implies that if you
don’t know how to solve a problem you should accept failure and study harder next time. That’s ridiculous. I’m not going to waste my time learning a bunch of stuff that I can just look up. If there is knowledge I need to retain, I will, because I will use it regularly. Using the brain as a storage device for knowledge is a waste of what it can do. Brains should be imagining things, exploring things, dreaming and wondering. We invented pictures and the written word so we didn’t have to memorize all of human knowledge just in case we need it someday. As a lover of knowledge it pains me when students think that Iran is an Arab nation, or they can’t find Germany on a map, but on principle I’ve accepted that. Why would they need to know those things? More importantly why are people so reluctant to educate themselves when information does become relevant? They are trained into a mindset where knowledge is not valuable in itself; it is valuable because it gets you an “A.” Learning things is work, and people don’t want to spend hours studying Persia just to participate in a conversation. Why? Because learning has been wrongly branded as classrooms and textbooks, when for most of our lives it is indulging curiously and trying new things. Learning doesn’t have to be a chore. Knowledge should be consumed quickly, probed enough to form an idea, then released when it is no longer needed. It won’t be forgotten. Enough inevitably sticks in loose memory that it is easy to find your way back to that knowledge later. This way of thinking is what our brains are designed for. No one sat
These are bags. What else?
down and taught cro-magnons how to survive. They survived by using observation and problem solving. The world is very different now but that doesnâ€™t make it predictable enough to write a manual for it. Intelligence is not what makes humanity special. There were branches in our evolution smarter than us, but they died out while we prevailed. Humanityâ€™s gift is the curiosity and desire to attempt ridiculous things, however pointless, just to see what happens. Sitting around connecting dots will only get you as far as the dots you can see. Our hunger for experience stirred up dots and we were
inspired to connect them in as many ways as we could. Some of those connections turned out to be useful. At one point, we saw a pointy stick and called it a spear. When every animal in its right mind ran from fire we were enthralled. We are not creatures of logic. We are beings of unreasonable curiosity. We taught ourselves to read and write, to free our minds and to dream again. Centuries later we began to educate each other so that others could share our knowledge and be inspired to think up new ideas. Language is a instrument forged to bridge imaginations. We have forgotten that purpose,
language has become a beast of its own. Schools teach us how to spell and use proper grammar. Unflammable is not a word and inflammable is redundant. Language cannot be right or wrong – it is communication. If what is meant is understood, what grounds do we have to call it incorrect? Like almost everything we learn in school, language is a tool. You don’t learn how to use a hammer because hammers are important, you learn because building houses is important. Circumstance defines the usefulness of a tool. It would be unfair to give a hunter a calculator or a mathematician a gun, yet everyday we tell students what they will need to succeed in a world that has yet to exist. We are on the threshold of a time when knowledge of facts and formulas will be obsolete. Computers can remember more and calculate faster than any human. What computers can’t do is imagine. To a computer a bag can never be more than a bag. You can teach it to name other things of similar size, shape, and material, and it may even be able to suggest alternate uses, but a computer will always realize that a drive belt makes a much better drive belt than a camera strap and leave you stranded in the jungle (unless it is programmed to think otherwise). The human gift is hope, a whole lot of “I wonder…,” and perhaps a little bit of stupid. Our system of education rewards people for being like computers, and I find this extremely silly. No one can be a better computer than a computer, that’s why we invented them. Computers will get even better, twice as good every two years
according to Moore’s Law. In the past we had to remember things and use formulas because we didn’t have computers and most people didn’t know how to read. Now we have lots of computers and in our part of the world most people can read. What we need is curiosity and crazy ideas. A child shouldn’t get in trouble for copying the answers of the girl sitting next to him. That’s using his surroundings to his advantage; if anything he should get in trouble for not citing his source. In a world running out of resourceswe don’t need redundant knowledge. We need resourcefulness. A year ago I spent time working in the Philippines There I witnessed, first hand, people living each day on less money than it costs to buy a small cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. I was prepared emotionally and knew what to expect: pity, disgust, anger, shame, powerlessness. There was something I didn’t expect though, inspiration. All around me were solutions. A boy filled a bucket with water but wasn’t big enough to carry it so he had a friend walk next to him, holding his hand and leaning out to create a counterweight. Old bottles filled with water were embedded in ceilings to refract sunlight and glow like light bulbs. A bag was not just a bag. In rain, it was a raincoat. In construction, it was a rope. At night, it was stuffed with other bags and used as bedding. Never have I seen ingenuity and creative thinking put to such use. These people have no choice, but I do. If I need a rope I can buy a rope. For that, I am grateful, but am also haunted by a feeling of inadequacy because I am blind to the raw potential of
what I thought were ordinary things. What am I without everything that I’ve been given? If you take it all away I will have nothing. To the wondrous people I met “nothing” can be anything your imagination makes of it. I have been given so much: family, safety, health, and a world-class education. Yet in my world a bag is a bag. It wasn’t always this way. As kids, a stick is a sword and a tree is a dragon, but we lose this somewhere. A week ago I taught a workshop to third graders on the south side of Chicago to see what they saw in plastic bags. Within thirty seconds of cutting off the bottom they had made tank tops, which drove them to make somewhat diaper looking pants, but in that moment a bag was more than a bag. As they get older that creativity will get conditioned out of them by the repetition of “correct answers” and expectations for what is “normal.” We live in a place where a child wearing plastic bags on his feet when it rains is assumed to be poor, and doing that as an adult is unprofessional and trashy. However, it is a practical solution that demonstrates intelligent use of the resources at hand. This does not mean we should all start wearing plastic bags. Given the choice a rope makes a much better rope than a plastic bag because it’s a rope, but what more is that rope? So often projects fail and people give up because they don’t have the resources, but what if they actually do? Our education system has become a recipe bookfor success. Degrees and references have become our ingredients. It is so easy to think that success is not achievable without the right ingredients, but innovation has never come from someone following a recipe.
Why has resourcefulness and creative thinking become a fallback that is only used when we have no choice? I have managed to get through school without losing that admittedly unreasonable belief in the conjurings of my imagination. It took some cutting corners and I quickly learned to read teachers’ expectations; and figured out what was work was important and what my grade would survive without. I won’t get to flash a fancy degree from Harvard or introduce myself with an important sounding title, but I don’t want to do that. I want to be like Leonardo Da Vinci and when I grow up (which will hopefully happen sometime long after I’m dead), I want my job description to be my name. I am who I am because I tried not to let school get in the way of my education and I was lucky enough to have parents that supported that (with reluctance andsome compromise). Others like me aren’t given that chance and I’m afraid to face a future where brilliant minds have been pruned into inadequacy for a world full of non-formulaic problems and unreasonable solutions. Think, don’t know. Map, don’t remember. And above all else explore and create.
THE WIND OW Veselin Andreev A photo interview with Bulgarian-American photographer Kiril Kirchev about his experimentation with new techniques, his love for photography, and the inspirations that move him.
Kiril Kirchev is a dedicated photographer. He begun exploring the field of photography in Bulgaria during the late 90s. Since then his life has always been bound to this kind of art form. He graduated from the New Bulgarian University at Sofia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Advertisement Photography. Although his degree is in advertisement, Kiril has always been interested in the artistic side of photography. He likes to experiment, discover, and apply new techniques to his unconventional style. Kirchev recently decided to move to Chicago, and now lives there with his family. He continues to explore the infinite world of photography. This short interview will allow you to learn a bit about the artist and one of his projects called “The Window.”
© Images are copyrighted and may be used with permission from Kiril Kirchev.
Hello Kiril! When and how did you decide to get involved in photography? My father bought me my first camera when I turned 18—for my birthday. After a couple of weeks of taking pictures I decided that I wanted to become a professional photographer. It was one of my best choices to continue my education after high school, though I had considered studying Physic-science or creating my own style as an oil painter.
Do you get inspired easily and do have special places or times where you go to get your inspiration from? Depends on my perspective for the day.
What is the most appealing aspect of photography that makes you explore this field further? What’s not to like? Photography is an ultimate machine to express the “visual matrix’” of my own mind.
Where is the connection between photography, painting, and illustration? They are all part of the visual language. Combining them gives you more tools to work with.
Can you draw or paint? I’ve been drawing ever since I was 14. I always try to draw on my own time. It touches some of the fields I’m interested in that can’t been reached with photography.
Tell us about your project called “The Window.” What is it? How did you come up with this idea? How did you make the window that foggy? What did you have in mind when you were creating this project? The fogginess came from learning how to cook during my first year as a photography student. It was a spontaneous project that just came to me after spending hours looking through my window watching the birds flying by. I guess this was a way to freely express my thoughts in the sky, maybe I wanted to fly like the birds. Also it’s really cool combining photography with some of my window drawings in that cold winter day. You know, it shows that every person has their own window of the human soul.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear window? What associations do you make with the word window? Infinity. What do you like to shoot? What is your favorite shooting assignment? Whichever comes first. When you are able to express yourself freely. How much of art is connected to money, or is it vice versa? I suppose it goes both ways. I hope to find some aliens from another planet that will teach us how to make art without thinking, or show us the way things are so dependent in today’s human “zoo-farm” world.
You were born in Bulgaria but are now an American citizen living in Chicago. Is there anything that separates the artists from around the world? Custom’s borders!
Where can people see more of your photographs and how can they contact you? I have a web site: www.dark-room.webs.com. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are married and have a daughter. Does anything change in the artist’s style from when you’re single to when you’re married? Do you find anything in your art that changed based on that matter? I guess I found my little planet like in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Trying to stay more focused is what’s more important. My daughter seems to be my biggest piece of art.
What would you like to wish to the readers of this issue? Thank you for your time and don’t “bag it.” Save the earth from pollution. Let’s all try to be better people.
“I am interested in what happens to people when they must adapt to a new world.” —Jean Renoir
Jeremy Blake This collaboration between British fashion photographer Eliel Jones and illustrator Jeremy Blake is a process exploration where analog and digital are equally involved. This includes collaged analog photography on hand painted backgrounds, which were illustrated with digitalized original hand drawings.
CL AIRE DEMOS Lauren Ernest
Claire is a Chicago-based photographer, her recent work focuses on the continual transformation of both natural and urban spaces, investigating the relationship between the contemporary and initial state of existence.
COOKING WITH QUINOA Lauren Ernest
Quinoa, a species of goosefoot, is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. The nutrient composition of quinoa is amazing; quinoa grains contain essential amino acids and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Cooking With Quinoa gives you three easy & delicious recipes that incorporate quinoa. Manga!
Blackberry Breakfast Quinoa / Image courtesy of Lauren Ernest
Blackberry Breakfast Quinoa Yields 1 serving ½ cup quinoa, rinsed ½ cup unsweetened almond or soy milk ½ cup water 2 teaspoons brown sugar Handful of almonds Handful of fresh blackberries In a large saucepan, stir together the quinoa, milk, and water. Bring to a boil over mediumhigh heat, cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until quinoa softens and absorbs all of the water. Mix in the brown sugar. Transfer to a bowl, splash with milk, and sprinkle on a handful of almonds and blackberries. Serve nice and hot.
Quinoa Burger / Image courtesy of Lauren Ernest
Quinoa Burger Yields 10 servings 2 rounded cups cooked quinoa ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese 1 medium carrot, finely grated 3 eggs 3 tablespoons all purpose flour 2 green onions ½ teaspoon sugar ¼ teaspoon black pepper ¼ teaspoon ground cumin ⅛ teaspoon salt ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder ½ cup Greek yogurt Oil for baking sheet Preheat oven to 400° F In a large bowl combine the 2 rounded cups of cooked quinoa, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, carrot, eggs, flour, green onions, sugar, pepper, cumin, salt, and garlic powder. Mixture will be slightly sticky, so using a ¼ cup measuring cup, drop mixture onto oiled baking sheet and lightly flatten to ½ inch thick. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are brown. Flip and bake for another 5 minutes. Enjoy hot, serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt on top.
Quinoa Pudding / Image courtesy of Lauren Ernest
Quinoa Pudding Yields 4–6 servings ¾ cup quinoa 2.½ cups milk (whole will give the pudding a creamier consistency, but 2% will also work) ½ cup heavy cream ⅓ cup sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract Whip cream, brown sugar, or cherries Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold water for 1 minute. In a large saucepan, whisk together the milk, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add quinoa. Turn heat down to low and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Cooking for the full 45 minutes will result in a thick pudding. For a thinner consistency, cook the pudding until desired consistency is achieved. Stir every few minutes to prevent a film from forming on the top of the pudding or bottom of the pan. Serve chilled, topped with whip cream, brown sugar, or cherries. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.
The FANTASTICAL ADVENTURES of
Renner Larson “What is it that confers the noblest delight? What is that which swells a man’s breast with pride above that which any other experience can bring to him? Discovery! To know that you are walking where none others have walked; that you are beholding what human eye has not seen before; that you are breathing a virgin atmosphere. To give birth to an idea—an intellectual nugget, right under the dust of a field that many a brain-plow had gone over before. To be the first—that is the idea. To do something, say something, see something, before anybody else—these are the things that confer a pleasure compared with other pleasures are tame and commonplace, other ecstasies cheap and trivial. Lifetimes of ecstasy crowded into a single moment.” –Mark Twain
Oliver, like most infants, was a bit of a pudgy fellow. He was admittedly self-conscious about it, but he wasn’t exactly sure why, seeing that the great mum giant was the only woman he had ever met. A classification he had recently become privy to from something called a television, women were more or less a mystery to him. They appeared perfectly normal. In many ways they seemed rather a lot like Oliver except for of course their incredible size. They had arms and legs, noses and ears and all that good stuff that given enough concentration one could wiggle about. Wiggling, in Oliver’s opinion, was all anything was good for. Besides, it was fun, so he practiced wiggling various parts of himself every day. The television, a shiny noisy thing the great mum giant frequently watched, had also spoken of a group called men, of which Oliver believed himself to be a member. Men too were of incredible size, leading Oliver to the rational conclusion that he was somehow deformed. This as you can imagine did not help his self-esteem issues. Being pulled from those thoughts by the delightful wiggly things at the end of his hand, Oliver realized, unrelatedly, that it was a Tuesday. Tuesdays were very much the same as every other day, with one exception. They felt just a little more tuesy. Oliver enjoyed this immensely because “tues” was one of the few words he could say (though typically it would come out as more of a “doopth” than anything). Still, he quite liked the word and celebrated every week by repeating it exuberantly until he got distracted by the bubbles of spit that popped jollily in his mouth.
Unbeknownst to Oliver, this particular Tuesday was about to become the most eventful day of his entire life. There is some debate over its actual eventfulness. If I recall correctly there was a considerably dramatic Wednesday when he was thirteen on which Kelly Something-or-other from down the street told Alison Something-or-other (no relation) that Oliver told Annie told Damien told Kelly that Alison was pretty, to which Alison replied “Thanks” making Oliver blush with embarrassment and stay home from school. One mustn’t forget the Saturday he got married or the Sunday after when he realized he left the plane tickets in the right pocket of his rented tuxedo. There was also the Friday his daughter was born, and the Monday she left for college, but however eventful those days may sound, they were nothing compared to this Tuesday. To you the events of this day may not seem extraordinarily eventful, but you must understand that the eventfulness of a day is not determined by the events themselves but by how excited one gets over experiencing them. To Oliver, who had yet to discover the enthralling fact that he had a bellybutton, just about everything was exciting. This was especially true on Tuesdays. Oliver was carefully inspecting his feet. It was something he did every afternoon just to make sure his toes hadn’t run off during the night.Fortunately they hadn’t. This inspection, however, was rudely interrupted by an unscheduled pooping. Oliver pooped often. It was one of the few things he knew how to do. He tried to get most of his pooping done in the morning with a bit of catching up in the evening. This left the middle of
the day free for putting things in his mouth, wiggling, or if he was feeling ambitious, both. This pooping though, came completely by surprise. Overwhelmed by the suddenness of his soiling, Oliver did what any logical person would do. He screamed unrelentingly until the great mum giant came to deal with the problem. She made some advanced level noises with her mouth, all of which ended in a distinctive “ee” sound. Oliver recognized the words “Olly” and “Poopy,” but the rest just sounded silly. Lifting him out of the crib, mum giant carried Oliver into the other room. Despite soaring a horrifyingly lofty distance from the ground, taken against his will to a table where his clothing was promptly ripped off, Oliver seemed completely unphased by the whole business. He even, to my surprise, enjoyed it. After being changed Oliver was brought into the living room where the mum giant left him to crawl about on the floor. It was here that I first met Oliver. As a cat there is very little that happens I am not aware of. An infant using your tail to discover the concept of pulling is as fine an example as any. “Greetings man kitten. I am Chester, though you people types insist on calling me Mr. Biggles. Either will do I suppose. It is a pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Now if you wouldn’t mind terribly I was having a rather splendid dream about yarn and would quite like to get back to it.” I said in a single very articulate “meow.” “Ga!” said Oliver.
“A fair point, I was not expecting you to be so well versed. Very well, I will accompany you on your quest. Somebody has to keep those pesky shadows at bay.” “Goo!” said Oliver. He really was exceptionally witty. As per our agreement, I guarded Oliver as he explored the various corners of the room. At one point several nearby shadows looked shifty but I managed to pounce on them before they were able to make their move. Our main objective was to find out how many corners were in the living room. This was slightly problematic because neither of us knew how to count, but being more experienced with living rooms it was up to me to make the final analysis. I decided there were seven corners. It seemed like a logical conclusion. Seven was a perfectly good number and it also happened to bethe only word I knew that was even somewhat numerical. Oliver concurred with my findings, reasoning that it was much more likely there be seven corners than food corners or poopy corners, which were some of the other words we collectively knew. With such a terrific scientific achievement under our belts, we agreed that it was as good a time as any to take a nap. So that is what we did. It was a good nap and a punctuation that I think should follow all such great advancements in knowledge. Naps unfortunately never last forever and upon awakening Oliver saw something that made his ambition jump up and down with glee.
Before us rose a great mountain. From where we sat in the living room the summit was barley visible and we had to crane or necks to look up at it. Having lived in the house for several years I had been up the stairs many times but looking at them again with Oliver I couldnâ€™t fathom how I had achieved such a magnificent feat. Oliver had his mind set on his goal. He would climb those mountainous stairs if it was the last thing he did.
Even on the eveof certain death he joked like fear had no meaning. Come to think of it, Oliver probably had no idea what fear meant, but he knew what greatness meant and he was staring it square in the face.
â€œGak-gak!â€? he exclaimed.
“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.” —Salvador Dalí
Veselin Andreev This is the city of Pleven, which is located centrally in northern Bulgaria. It has a population of about 130,000 people.
Renner Larson For thousands of years civilization has thrived on the banks of the Nile. It is on the threshold of three continents and was the axle around which the wheel of history turned, and it is now a place where ancient pride meets revolutionary spirit.
Hartley Miller London is considered one of the most urbanized cities in the world. It is very easy, however, to find a break somewhere in the middle.
Kerri Venable Sometimes seeing your city from a different perspective breathes a bit of life into it, and alleviates the stresses of your daily grind. All these photos were taken somewhere in Chicago.
Lisa Goldberg Najman Journey into the desert oasis known as Yotvata, a settlement in the south of Israel that has turned driest conditions into fertile lands.
Kate Vogel Found in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the small town of Bakersville, North Carolina. Many potters and other fine artists live and work in the surrounding area, and find inspiration in the lush wildlife of the Pisgah National Forest.
Hartley Miller Three hundred and one miles away from Chicago is a little town called Huron, a perfect place to get away from the pressures of the city. This is what it looks like.
Lauren Ernest The Republic of Panama is the southernmost country in Central America. It is the home of the Panama Canal which is the key conduit for international maritime trade. It is beautiful, historical, and diverse. This is what Panama looks like.
Renner Larson On the other side of the world, the Philippines holds a stark contrast of breathtaking beauty and poverty.
Jeremy Blake Every region in Spain has its own beauty. This is Santander and its landscapes.
“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” —Oscar Wilde
RECOLL EC T I O N Kerri Venable We have a process for collecting family memories. It astonishes me to find personal portraits being re-sold in antique shops. These were once some strangers memories. Obversely, I am fascinated and continue to collect these pieces sheerly to preserve these anonymous portraits, and create my own fictional family trees, tracing new lineages and making new connections.
Images courtesy of Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities of Chicago Remaining images from Kerriâ€™s personal archives
THEN AND N OW Kate Vogel
Through documenting my life through photography, I have seen many changes occur. This is a reflection of then and now.
I realized the potential of using photography to document my life when I was young and first received a point-and-shoot digital camera. My family-owned a manual film camera, which I did not use until senior year of high school. As a child I was familiar with our automatic film camera, and having a digital camera was a totally different experience. Instead of waiting a week to pick up my printed photos at Jewel-Osco, I could take as many photographs as I wanted, ending up with hundreds to go through. I couldn’t wait to delve deeper into film photography at Columbia College Chicago after having my first limited experiences with the darkroom in high school. Knowing there much to see around Chicago, I knew
I would be easily inspired once I got there. As a Chicagoan, I took in my surroundings for inspiration. One of the first subjects I formulated a solid artist’s statement for was construction. It has since influenced a lot of my work as a photographer and developed my interests for architecture as well. After a year or two passed and the Roosevelt University building’s construction was completed what felt like under my nose, a breathtaking skyscraper resulted. It wasn’t until then that I could really assess the fragility of the moments I had documented. They are forever suspended in time with my photographs, and while seemingly noisy and insignificant, these moments have resulted in beautiful portfolio photographs for me.
MARY Kerri Venable
When the entomologists get a hold of the stamen in your flowerpots, a battle of pins and needles will undoubtedly ensue. Impatiens blossom for circulationâ€™s sake, but see how amused? Marionettes, red in the face, Southern sissies smuggle that sunshine with their sophist spits precariously uprooting themselves, straight-outta-the-ground Her father, my grandfather, was a tool and die man his entire life, a good provider, and a good father.
To each of these loose sprouts, cutting between two commercials, crying for better soapboxes. There is nothing quite like a motherâ€™s love. Porcelain-buffed blush, and that reflection is filthy- I say so with smugness. She was on crutches for fifteen years, broke both of her legs. He kept that Remington beside the bed. Milk in the water, coyotes in the freezer. Keep pulling the strings, make those tips dance.
CHICAGO SE VEN Kate Vogel
Architectural activist organization Preservation Chicago annually announces its “Chicago 7,” a list of most-endangered buildings.
Preservation Chicago advocates for the preservation of historic architecture and spaces in neighborhoods and urban spaces throughout the city of Chicago. The purpose of the “Chicago 7” list is to raise public awareness about the threats facing some of Chicago’s most at-risk architectural treasures; whether they are a single building, an entire block, or a thematic category of buildings. In my freshman year at Columbia College Chicago I first learned of this organization while working on a project for a class. I photographed historical buildings on the Columbia campus, which was one of my first experiences with architectural photography. My classmates and I were successful in selling our photographs for money to be donated to
the organization. Rewarding us, Preservation Chicago gave us all a membership, which introduced me to some of the projects the activists work on. This year, when I was informed about the list I found the buildings to be quite personal. There were in fact five theatres on the list, two of which I was familiar with. As an employee of two long-standing theatres, currently the Music Box Theatre, I am familiar with the unique beauty of these structures. I wanted the opportunity to photograph these buildings and to document their status as the year comes to a close. My mother, also interested, drove me around the very eclectic neighborhoods of Chicago. Driving in all four cardinal directions, our trip began on the south side.
Avalon/New Regal, 1645 E. 79 th St. This building was the southernmost point on our preservation map and our first stop. Easily one of the largest of the endangered buildings, its facade is designed in a unique Middle-Eastern style. Architect John Eberson designed this 2,500-seat theater, which originally opened as the Avalon in 1927. Keeping with its Middle-Eastern style, the interior and atmospheric auditorium is embellished with Persian decorations and murals.
The building was granted city landmark status in 1992 but was nonetheless closed in 2010, and is now owned by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The mural on the building is a beautiful cultural addition to the facade, but unfortunately reflects the dilapidated status of the entire neighborhood. It is definitely the largest and most colorful structure of the Chicago 7.
The theater was closed in the 1970s and briefly become a church. It was then reopened as the New Regal Theater, which was demolished in 1973. In 1987, it became an arts venue catering to the African American community.
Unity Hall, 3140 S. Indiana Ave. In 1887 when the building was first constructed, it was called the Lakeside Club, a Jewish social organization. The architecture is a beautiful example of 1880s Queen Anne style, and the building itself has survived with few alterations. The building housed a large assembly hall and small clubrooms. As the area underwent demographic changes in 1917, Alderman Oscar DePriest, Chicago’s first AfricanAmerican alderman and the first northern African-American elected to the United States House of Representatives, established the People’s Movement Club into the Lakeside Club building, renaming it Unity Hall. The building is an important
monument for Chicago’s rich AfricanAmerican political and social heritage. It was designated an official Chicago Landmark in 1998 as part of the thematic Black Metropolis District. This included several other buildings important to the black experience in Chicago and the Great Migration. Unfortunately, the building has had years of exposure to elements that could effectively lead to demolition with the rational of neglect. The building is unoccupied due to health and public safety violations, which the city has pressured the owners to address. Preservation Chicago is encourage buyers with resources to stabilize and rehabilitate Unity Hall.
Prentice Hospital, 333 E. Superior St. Built in1975, this building is a mere 37 years old and considered groundbreaking for its cutting-edge cantilevered concrete design, advanced engineering, and progressive plan for the organization of medical departments and services. In 2010, Preservation Chicago took part in creating the Save Prentice Coalition along with several other organizations. The coalition has influenced much progress informing the public about the importance of its preservation. In 2011, Prentice made both the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered Places list as well as the Chicago 7. Architect Bertrand Goldberg studied briefly at the Bauhaus, under the
famous Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and is buried in the city. Because of his time at the Bauhaus, opposed to glass and metal, Bertrand adopted concrete as his medium, a more appropriate choice to realize his vision in creating organic architecture featuring circular shapes. With the last tenant’s relocation in 2011, control of the property reverted to Northwestern University. Without landmark protection, demolition is a “matter of right” for the university, who intends to construct a new research and laboratory facility. It is only the turned tide of public pressure that has allowed to building to continue to stand until today.
St. Anthony’s Hospital, 2875 W. 19th St. Threatened by its sheer success in serving a diverse community, a new hospital campus is being planned a mile south as a replacement. St. Anthony’s is located on a narrow site, which is to be redeveloped or demolished. There has been discussion about demolishing the building to make additional green space for Douglas Park, which it faces. The hospital is located along Chicago’s renowned Boulevard System or “emerald necklace.” The building was designed in 1898 by noted Chicago architect Henry Schlacks in the Dutch Revival style. Along with several other structures built by Schlacks, these buildings are among Chicago’s finest religious structures, called the Golden Age of ecclesial architecture. As hospitals throughout the county expand and modernize, the vacated facilities are, more often than not, demolished. Recent fights by Preservation Chicago to preserve these hospital buildings have had mixed success. Ramova Theatre, 3518 S. Halsted St. This theatre is known as the larger cousin of the well known Music Box Theatre in the Lakeview neighborhood, where I am an employee. Both theatres were designed by Meyer O. Nathan, and opened in 1929. The two theatres were some of the first “talkie” movie theatres built in the Chicago area. The Ramova, named after a Lithuanian word for “peaceful place,” could seat 1,500, while the Music Box can seat about 750. Situated in the heart of the Bridgeport business district, the Ramova’s Spanish-styled courtyard interior charmed patrons for many years. It was a gathering place for the surrounding community, mainly made up of Polish, Lithuanian, and Irish immigrants. As the
neighborhood changed over the decades and residents migrated to the suburbs, it eventually became a second run house in the 1950’s and closed for good in 1986. Left to deteriorate, the city took ownership in 2001, thus beginning restoration efforts. With the approval of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, there will funding for the planning, design and construction of the theatre. The Ramova Theatre has been identified as a key target for preservationists as being one of the foundations to help rebuild the economically depressed area of Bridgeport and continue the growth of the neighborhood’s arts community. A group called Save the Ramova is working on resurrecting the theater as well.
Portage Theatre, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave. Located in Portage Park, the theatre opened in 1920 with nearly 2,000 seats. The Portage was a popular theatre for many years, becoming an anchor of the surrounding Six Corners business district. The theatre was divided into two screens in the 1980s and ended up closing in 2001. It was restored shortly thereafter and reverted to a single screen, reopening in 2006. The Portage now features not only classic and modern movies, but also concerts. It has become a popular destination on the Northwest Side. The Portage is now threatened by several sources. First the Chicago Tabernacle Church wanted to purchase the entire structure and convert it to a house of worship. There was major community opposition, as this change
would take it off tax rolls and jeopardize the economic revival of the neighborhood. In July, the church dropped its purchase bid, and after many months of uncertainty, the theatre was purchased by a new owner. The current owners were informed that effective September 1st, the Portage was sold to a land trust, meaning the identity of the new owner was anonymous. Speculation points to Erineo “Eddie” Carranza, owner of the Congress Theater, as being the new owner. He had previously informed the Tribune of his bid on the Portage. This news is troubling for many Chicago residents who have been unhappy with the Congress’ history with crowd control, security, and other issues.
Gethsemane Church, 1352 S. Union St. Over the past century, The Maxwell Street neighborhood has experienced tremendous urban renewal, and this structure is the perfect representation. Gethsemane was first constructed as a German School in 1869, making it one of the few structures to survive the Chicago Fire. It has had many purposes over the years—a Romanian synagogue, an African-American church, and finally an arts center. These alterations have reflected the changing ethnic and socio-economic character of what was once Chicago’s port-of-entry neighborhood. The modified structure now stands in the middle of new construction, the Dan Ryan Expressway, a project of urban renewal.
Cuneo Hospital, 720 W. Montrose Ave. When opened in 1957, Frank Cuneo Memorial Hospital was incredibly modern. The building’s lobby was stunning, and the operating rooms featured glazed tile patterned walls and floors individually designed by Romany-Spartan. Cuneo Memorial Hospital demonstrates a whimsical yet thoughtful approach to hospital design. Architect Edo J. Belli introduced modernism to Roman Catholics by using modern materials to create his own style, making it tweaks away from popular “Miesian” architecture, the product of Mies van der Rohe. My mother remembers my Grandma coming to this hospital for foot surgery when she was a child. Living on the south side, it would
have been a long trip for them, proving the advanced methods of the hospital. Cuneo was closed in 1988 and has stood vacant and deteriorating for several years. Demolition by neglect remains a credible threat to Cuneo. The property’s proximity to the lake front is very desirable and could suffer the same fate as sister institution, Columbus Hospital, which was demolished for the construction of a condominium development. Despite community opposition to recent redevelopment plans for the campus, Alderman James Cappleman has embarked on a new community engagement and planning process to see the hospital reused, and invites stakeholders to express their vision for the site.
5700 Block Woodlawn Ave. The entire block of 5700 South Woodlawn Avenue and surrounding streets consist of numerous historic residences from the Worldâ€™s Columbian Exposition era and even a creation by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In 2011, The University of Chicago purchased a total of eleven historic buildings on the block, with five slated to be re-purposed in the near future. The University was seeking to expand its institutional Planned Development zone, a change that would void current zoning restrictions and which allowed the University to develop with little community consultation. A recent community engagement process facilitated
by Alderman Leslie Hairston between the university and community stakeholders has led to the establishment of a much-improved Planned Development document. However, only the Wright home is a designated city landmark, making the demolition of the other buildings questionable. The building in the photograph to the left is 5707 South Woodlawn, designed and constructed in 1909 by William Carbys Zimmerman. Despite seeing constructional activity during my visit, I could not determine if it was being restored or destroyed. Nonetheless, the entire block was filled with beautiful brick structures that almost all appeared to zoned.
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” —Scott Adams