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16th Street Murals – snowy street art in Chicago by Ann Treacy
February 24, 2021, 2:39 am
Filed under: Chicago

Finding social distance fun on our one-day vacation in Chicago, Auntie Katie, Aine and I checked out the 16th Street Murals. The original plan was to walk the railroad embankment that’s covered with murals but it has snowed a lot in Chicago over the last week, there sidewalk wasn’t shoveled, Chicago traffic stop (or slows) for no dopey tourist and we realized the awesome warm weather mixed with a foot of snow would make for soggy toes. So we upped the safety in terms of traffic and COVID and did a driving tour.

The murals extend from Halsted to Western on West 16th Street in Chicago. It started as a grass roots project but morphed into something more official through the Art In Public Places Initiative. The art rans the gamut from pleasant to political, to cartoonish, to striking. There’s art that reflect current culture (The Simpson’s). There’s art that features the faces, especially of people of color (sometimes in the art that color is blue!), with an intensity that looks right through the viewer. There are animals that are majestic (eagles) and gruesome (the rat). There’s religious art. There’s modern, abstract art. There are a few, not a lot, but a few murals with statements; those statements are at least as often in Spanish as English.

I want to include most of the art that we captured, but I also want to highlight some of my favorites:

More art:



Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in Chicago: how art on the walls gets you into his head by Ann Treacy
February 23, 2021, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Chicago

Celebrating half the family getting their vaccines, some of the family traveled to Chicago to visit some of the rest of the family. So there’s been a lot of food, stories and laughs and a little art. Auntie Katie, Aine and I were lucky to get tickets to the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in Chicago, a show we thought was sold out. We got so lucky!

The immersive experience spans four large, connected rooms. The idea is to sit and watch and listen. There are little socially distanced circles painted on the floor about six feet apart. This is a little COVID silver lining. It means nearly everyone sits down. The tallest guy in the room isn’t in front of you and no one is encroaching in your space. It makes it feel like a VIP experience.

The rooms are like castle walls with high ceilings, hints of columns and arches with a few large mirrors in the rooms. The videos of his work in motion are shown in all rooms on all walls on the floors. The videos are accompanied by loud music ranging from classic to recognizable to ambient to melodic drone. The experience is about 30 minutes, but it’s looped and you can hang out as long as you want. (There might be a time limit; we didn’t get to it.)

The action puts you in the middle of the works of art but really it feels more like you’re in the mind of Van Gogh.

The experience starts with giant bugs running across the wall. It reminded me immediately of AJ Isaacson-Zvidzwa, a young classical musician with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia who debuts a new composition (Angels Sang to Me) on March 5 (2021) at the Cedar Cultural Center (online). We had the opportunity to talk with her about a week ago. She told us that her mental health issues emerged when she was 12 years old and began to see insects that weren’t there.

I would love to see this show with AJ. I would love to have AJ score the show herself. The insights she gave me about her upcoming show, which are inspired by her experience with schizophrenia, helped me immerse myself into how the art and music on the experience helps us experience Van Gogh’s mental illness. From the bugs to the blurring of walls. The darkness and drone giving over to the yellow sunflowers. The multiple self portraits. The fleeting images of people in their daily life leading up to the bursts of colors, clouds and flowers and eventually into the swirling starry, starry night. It is entertaining and thought provoking.




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