Tuesday, September 10, 2013


On our recent visit to Chicago, I took some photos of art in the public domain.  These include grand works such as this Calder sculpture.

In addition, there were two sets of ceramic sculptures in Millennium Park by a Japanese artist, Jun Kaneko.  One group consisted of plain oblong pieces each perhaps 6-7 feet tall that were painted in various patterns.

Just OK, I thought.  The other group consisted of representations of tanuki, an animal native to Japan that is featured in a number of their myths and legends.  We thought the animal resembled a teddy bear, but apparently it is more closed related to a raccoon.  The sculptures stood perhaps 6-7 feet tall and were painted in distinct patterns.  

It appeared that the statues might be identical except for the different paint patterns, but on closer inspection it appears that they differed in small details, such as smile, size of ears, and overall posture.

In one of the pavilions south of the Art Institute, there was another exhibit of ceramic sculptures of life-size human forms.  These pieces were interesting, not for being ornate but for being so unadorned.  In addition, they were positioned in a variety of natural poses, standing facing each other or seated on park benches.  Although their forms were very simple, their postures and facial expressions were subtly sophisticated.  Here are a couple of examples.

The sidewalks bordering Michigan Avenue featured a series of large ceramic female heads.  The heads may have been identical in form but were individually painted.  But the key to their interest was that, in lieu of hair, each was topped with a floral arrangement.  The overall effect was striking.

I'm not sure why I took shots that included only a portion of these sculptures, but I thought the compositions worked.

In addition, because they didn't fit in anywhere else, I am including a few photos that were essentially me trying to be artsy.  The first is of racks of bikes.  Chicago has instituted a system of public bike rentals that allow one to rent a bike in one location and drop it off in another.  It seems like a great system if it is priced right.  I was attracted to the racks of bikes as an art form.  I took a number of shots of these racks, with limited success.  Here is one photo that I kept.

Finally, in a music store that we passed on Michigan Avenue I noticed some brass instruments being displayed in the window and took a few shots.

A couple of points.  First I noticed in post processing that there appears to be a dent in the bell portion of the first photo, which I think is of a french horn.  Not terrible, but I wish the dent wasn't there.  I suppose I could crop it out.  Second, I realized also in post processing that previous to taking these shots I had set my camera to underexpose significantly the photos I was taking.  This was for a previous series of shots that called for underexposed shots, and I had failed to change the setting afterward--a common problem of mine.  At first I was disappointed.   However, it turns out that the underexposure served to darken the background in these shots, accentuating the polished brass of the instruments and eliminating background distractions.  In each photo I included only a portion of each instrument to give the compositions more of an abstract element.


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