Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Photographs of the Month

It's a little hard to recall that far back, but I can swear we were still in the throes of winter when May started thirty days ago, and now as June quickly approaches, we're in the middle of summer. 

From the looks of these pictures, once again it would appear that I didn't venture too far off the beaten path; two of them were taken at home and two more at work. I did make it out to my old stomping grounds, Oak Park, sadly the second time this year for the funeral of the parent of an old friend. There I found to my astonishment, Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple in mid-restoration, wrapped Christo style in plastic.

For some of the best pictures of the month, I seem to have been inspired by other photographers, myself included. As Picasso supposedly said, "bad artists copy, great artists steal."

You be the judge:

For starters, here I am copying or stealing from the best of the best, Alfred Stieglitz. Here is a picture to use the more polite term, borrowed, from the series he called his Equivalents:

May 2, Howard and Ridge Avenue
Truth be told, for this picture  I was sitting on the couch watching TV when I looked out the window and saw the late day sun breaking through some heavy cloud cover, illuminating the cupola and some details of our building. A good photographer must always be prepared.

May 4, Casa Bonita, Rogers Park
This time I had to wait for something to happen. Fortunately my train was delayed so I had plenty of time.

May 5, Adams and Wabash Elevated station

In the seventies the curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, John Szarkowski, put together an exhibition called Mirrors and Windows. The idea of the show was to examine the two extremes that photographers take with their work: either self-reflevtive (mirrors), or exploring the world outside of themselves (windows). Most photographers Szarkowski concluded, fell somewhere in between. The following two photographs of mine employ literally both mirrors and windows. Where they would put me on Szarkowski's continuum is anybody's guess.

May 8, Garfield Park Conservatory

May 12, Casa Bonita, Rogers Park

Having trouble coming up with my picture of the day, I came across this zebra crossing in the South Loop which reminded me of the most famous zebra crossing in the world, the one in St. John's Wood, London. "Am I really doing this?" I said to myself as I stood in the middle of a fairly busy downtown street during rush hour, waiting for four people to show up, simply in order to make a send-up of one of the most iconic photographs in history. (If you don't believe me, google the words "iconic photographs"). Finally four people showed up waiting for the light to change and I knew I'd have my picture. I positioned myself accordingly and the three men and one woman on foot unbeknownst to them. cooperated perfectly with my plan. Just as they arrived on their marks, the man on the bicycle showed up and cut in.

Without him, this would have been a really dumb photograph trying to imitate an iconic, albeit kind of dumb photograph. With him well, it's at least a little funny. I titled it, "The Fifth Beatle."

May 23, Plymouth Court and Jackson Street
The epitome of 19th Century Chicago, Louis Sullivan's 1881 Jeweler's Building on the left, a facade that has lost the rest of its building and is now part of a residential-hotel complex on the right, and of course the L structure. The reproduction lamp fixtures in the foreground are the only unauthentic (unless you count the facadectomy) feature in the photograph.

May 24, Wabash Avenue
A very lush mid-spring afternoon in the South Garden of the Art Institute of Chicago.

May 26, South Garden, Art Institute of Chicago
Here's the front of my place of business in some lovely late afternoon light.

May 26, Adams Street
Returning from the wake of my friend's father in Oak Park, I encountered this lovely scene between a mother and her young daughter engaged in conversation. Given the circumstances, the tender moment between the two was especially poignant to me.

May 27, Red Line approaching Howard Street
The following day, Mr. Wright meets Mr. Christo in Oak Park:

May 28, Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois

Here copying myself, the neo-classical portico of the Field Museum building shot obliquely in much the same manner that I shot the Second Bank of Philadelphia about thirty years ago. The one big difference, Ionic orders as opposed to Doric.

May 29, Field Museum of Natural History

It turns out that General John Logan, whom this great Augustus Saint-Gaudins/Alexander Phimister Proctor statue honors, proclaimed that the last day of May should be the day in which the fallen soldiers of the Civil War would be honored. Soon the tradition of decorating the graves of those soldiers followed, hence the name Decoration Day, which would later become Memorial Day. Appropriately enough, I came across the monument to Logan decorated with flags for Memorial Day, 2016. Photographing the scene was my one patriotic effort of the holiday.

May 29, General Logan Monument, Grant Park

Happy summer!

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