Elimination of Park District Arts Program Begs Further Questions

October 20, 2009 · Print This Article

Yesterday I read with great interest Lee Ann Norman’s story on the elimination of the Park Voyagers program on Art Talk Chicago, Chicago Now’s visual arts blog. Norman reported that the long-running (since 1998) Park Voyagers program–which takes a long-view perspective on youth arts education through its three-year long programs with area museums–will be cut by the end of this year (park programs already underway will be allowed to finish). As far as I know, the program’s elimination has not been publicly announced via press release, nor has it been reported anywhere other than on Art Talk Chicago.

Park Voyagers is a collaboration between the Chicago Park District and Museums In the Park (MIP), a coalition of 10 institutions residing on park district property. The MIP institutions include Adler Planetarium, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum of African American History, The Field Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Science and Industry, the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and the John G. Shedd Aquarium, all of whom fund the program collectively through contributions from their individual budgets.

Art Talk Chicago’s editor and head blogger Kathyrn Born (who is also a frequent contributor to Bad at Sports) raised some interesting questions about the agreement that exists between the Park District and the MIP institutions. In an email to me this morning, Born wondered, “Why is the relationship between the Park District (which represents city government’s support in this case) a handshake deal? Why is there no legal, binding obligation between these entities? They [the MIP coalition] pay $1 a year as rent as a part of their deal with the park district…so why are there no legal safeguards?”

What we do know is that the number of Chicago families who have participated in this unique public arts program was not insubstantial. According to the MIP’s 2008 Annual Report, in the year 2008 the Park Voyagers program served 595 families (1635 individuals total including parents and children), providing them with 15,761 contact hours with Chicago cultural institutions.

Borne notes the difficulty of determining to whom the MIP museums ultimately answer in cases like these: is it the Park District, and if so, which person or office? I myself am curious if the Chicago Park District has an opinion about its loss of the Park Voyagers program, given that, according to Norman’s ATC post, there are currently no plans to replace it.

Kathryn Born Asks Do Republicans Suck At Art or Just Too Busy Stealing to Care?

August 19, 2009 · Print This Article

Kathryn Born who is building a little corner of Art talk and opinion under the roof of the Chicago Tribune asks a lot of conversation starting questions every now and then to get the mind racing but most recently the Tribune home page front page story “Obama as The Joker: another image co-opted by conservatives because they don’t have art of their own” has her taking the political zeitgeist by the horns and goring herself.

The question is do Republicans make decent let alone good artists and why are they incapable of making political artwork of merit. Mix that with a bit of background history on the Obama Joker image that came out over 2 weeks ago. It has been discovered that the image was first created by a Chicago History Student at U of I by the name of Firas Alkhateeb who made a faux Time Magazine cover with a photo of Obama photoshoped to look like the Joker. That image was put on his flickr account and then appropriated by a currently unknown person on the west coast and the Time reference was removed and the Tagline “Socialist” was put in it’s place.

The question it seems is what is the role of Art in Politics, does political art have legs to have lasting impact as art or is it limited to only high water marks in history? Then finally what is the problem with Republicans and their inability to make quality political art? Are they too busy drawing paychecks to draw altogether? From one agitator to another, I salute Ms. Born and suggest a 2004 Siduri Sonoma County Pinot Noir which goes well with shoe leather as I well know from experience.

Top 5 for 6/12-6/14

June 11, 2009 · Print This Article

1. Green Lantern says it’s the end but we can still be friends…

green lantern

After 4 (or so) years going strong, the Green Lantern is closing it’s doors. Unfortunately The Man clamped down, and now we must say good bye, though hopefully only to the current space. Hopes are high for the Green Lantern re-opening in 2010 in a new locale, but for now we celebrate the end of an era. So head over on Saturday the 13th for It’s Your Turn, and rock out with Caroline and the rest of the crew. BBQ and copious toasts will be had. Afternoon to 2am.

2. ebersb9? WTF is that?


I’m glad you asked. ebersb9 is a (relatively) new apartment gallery in the Noble Square neighborhood. Everyone likes new apartment galleries, right? Well, now you have the chance to check it out and go see some weird looking work by Krista Hoefle. The show is called The girl who stopped being human, and opens Friday night from 6 to 9. And just remember, people live there, don’t barf on the bathroom floor.

3. Jim Nutt (and others) talk dirty too you at the Smart Museum.

smart mus

Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson, and Dennis Adrian talk about the work of H. C. “Cliff” Westermann on Sunday at the Smart Museum. Come on, Jim Nutt is awesome, I’m sure the other two are smart, and you’ll probably learn something. What else do you have to do on a Sunday? Come on down for an enlightening afternoon, Sunday the 14th at 2pm.

4. Western Exhibitions presents…PORN!

western exib

Not just porn, but that’s what caught my eye (no surprise there). If you’re ambiling ‘roung the West Loop drop in, there are two shows opening. The afore mentioned porn is part of The Ecstasyis,work by Dutes Miller. Also opening is they will not ruin us through the things that we like, a show curated by Philip von Zweck and featuring the work of Joel Dean, Anthony Elms, Carol Jackson, Andy Moore, Mindy Rose Schwartz, Deb Sokolow, Amy Vogel. Two for one, and in the West Loop. Sweet. See yout here with Grolsch in hand. Opens Friday night, from 5 to 8.

5. The weather is better down where it’s wetter, under the sea (in a window on Armitage).

art on armitage

Art on Armitage is a strange place. It’s a window, rather than a whole gallery, and shows an array of work some good, some…Well, this week we’re going for a trip under the sea. Usually I’m not big into crafty work, but this stuff is just friggin’ cool looking. A whole coral reef made by knitting? How can you hate on that? Drive by, or stop and take a closer look ( and drink some wine) Saturday 2 to 5.