Category Archives: Chicago photography

Elkhart, Indiana: A Tale of Two Cities

Bucolic Elkhart RiverSlow pace of life in ElkhartThe popular River WalkLunch time at the Daily GrindHistoric buildings on Main StreetOwner of Dicor, an RV industry supplierTina and Tina, two unemployed womenMonica, an unemployed mother of fourElkhart mayor Dick Moore  Boarded up houses, a familiar sightA casualty on Main StreetVacancy on Main StreetA local food pantryStocking shelves at the food pantryKaren, a victim of foreclosureOwner of Pop Culture, a soda pop store on Main Street

During this seemingly endless recession, few cities have been hit as hard as Elkhart, Indiana. With a local economy dependent on the whims of the RV industry, the recent downturn saw unemployment hit a whopping 20 percent. Thankfully, things have improved over the past year, but people are still suffering.  In September, I was sent to Elkhart with a writer from the Paris-based newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur to document how people are coping with the devastating effects of the recession.  What we found were two very different Elkharts.  The first was the upbeat, optimistic, rose-colored version of life portrayed by the business leaders, politicians and Chamber of Commerce spokespersons.  The second Elkhart was a sad and painful depiction expressed by local residents in a food pantry, unemployment office, and on the quiet streets of this once-prosperous town.  The “real” Elkhart apparently resides in the eye of the beholder.

Traditional Flavors of Amish Country

Fresh-baked pies, Country Lane Bakery in MiddleburyHomemade Amish apple butter Fresh-baked pie and bread, Country Lane Bakery in MiddleburyTraditional Amish horse and buggyWashing clothes the old-fashioned wayPaying for food on the honor systemSucculent ripe tomatoes at the Dutch Country MarketBees making Amish honeyShopping for peaches at Shipshewana Farmers Market
Just two hours–and 200 years–from Chicago in NE Indiana is Amish Country. Anchored by the towns of Shipshewana, Goshen and Nappanee, this area is home to a religious sect that disavows modern conveniences and other trappings of life in the 21st century.  Lines of buggies dot the country roads, women in long dresses and colorful bonnets shop at local markets, and men sporting beards and black coats are commonplace.  Last month I was sent to this region to document some of the culinary traditions of the Amish for ADA Times, the publication of the American Dietetic Association.  Traveling to farmers markets, retail stores, farm stands, and small farms down isolated back roads, I discovered a vast assortment of tasty baked goods, succulent fruits and vegetables, cheese factories, and jars of homemade pickles, apple butter and cherry salsa.  The Amish may not have their MTV, but they are prepared when the munchies come-a-calling.

 

Urbs in Horto: City in a Garden

The Official Chicago SealColumbus Park designed by Jens JensenLurie Garden at Millennium ParkMidway Plaisance at University of ChicagoBird Sanctuary at Montrose BeachLincoln Park LagoonBobolink Meadow in Jackson ParkOsaka Japanese Garden in Jackson ParkLincoln Park Lagoon Lincoln ParkOhio Beach Park Rogers Park in Autumn South Michigan Avenue and Millennium ParkNorth Pond in Lincoln Park

When people think of Chicago they think big city, historic architecture, traffic jams, and hot dogs.  But there is another side of the city that the locals know well, but outsiders may not be aware of.  I am speaking of the parks, gardens, forest preserves and other remnants of nature that still survive in the city.  When Chicago was incorporated in 1837, the founding fathers (mothers?) chose the motto “Urbs in Horto” (City in a Garden) and there must have been a reason.  Granted, there were probably a lot more gardens and nature back then, but the natural aspects of the city can still be found.  A few statistics:  552 parks comprising 7300 acres, 33 sand beaches, 16 lagoons, 10 bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and 20 million visitors to Lincoln Park alone.  In these photos I show a small portion of the natural wonders that can be found by any urban explorer (and check out that City Seal with motto).

Portraits of Creativity

 

Lido Lippi art restorer - Chicago portraitsAdam Siegel painter and fine artist - Chicago portraitsTerry Callier jazz musician - Chicago portraitsDavid Kings duck decoy carver - Chicago portraitsHook-Peterson Pottery - Chicago portrait photographerBenny Golson jazz saxophone - Chicago portrait photographerBryan Kerrigan ceramic artist - Chicago portrait photographerKristen Amato jewelry designer - Chicago portrait photographerNeil Kienitz painter - Chicago portrait photographerOrlando Espinoza fashion designer - Chicago portrait photographyIrma Svanadze Classical pianist - Chicago portrait photographyLarry Zgoda stained glass artist  - Chicago portrait photography

Renaissance on the River

While Chicago will never be described as the “Venice of the Midwest,”  the river that bisects the downtown area has been transformed into a major tourist attraction.  Offering architectural boat tours, a mile-long Riverwalk, numerous waterside cafes, museums, and an assortment of water sports including kayaking, jet skiing, and canoeing, the Chicago River is the city’s newest playground.  This once polluted waterway is now a vibrant artery that sparkles day and night at the foot of the city’s numerous architectural gems dating back to the late 19th century.  When the Riverwalk is completed, it will snake  uninterrupted from beyond the Merchandise Mart all the way to Lake Michigan, passing under the numerous historic bridges.

Historic Merchandise Mart and architecture tour boatAlong the new Chicago RiverwalkAlong the new Chicago Riverwalk  Frozen river  Kayaking on the Chicago River Dusk view from Roosevelt Road bridge Kayaking on the Chicago RiverKayaking on the Chicago River Kayaking on the Chicago River   Along the new Chicago RiverwalkAlong the new Chicago RiverwalkAlong the new Chicago RiverwalkAlong the new Chicago Riverwalk Along the new Chicago Riverwalk  View of a tour boat from Kinzie Street BridgeSt Patricks Day dying the river greenVietnam Veterans Memorial on the Riverwalk

Wicker Park: The New Greenwich Village?

Six Corners--the heart of Wicker ParkEmbeLezar gift shop and galleryAll musical tastes are spinning at Reckless Records Fenway Gallery The only way to flyHistoric Pierce AvenueAll musical tastes are spinning at Reckless Records Great used bookstore, Myopic BooksAll musical tastes are spinning at Reckless Records Ear Wax Cafe, almost healthy natural foodDouble Door--double whammy--liquor and live musicMilwaukee Ave in Wicker Park Under the L tracksWicker Park You lookin at me?I see youRed Star Cafe-outdoor eating at its best Gallery Night at the FlatironGallery Night at the FlatironGallery Night at the FlatironGallery Night at the FlatironStreet scene North Ave Six Corners on a summer night Six Corners on a summer night

While it’s only a short subway ride from downtown on the Blue Line, Wicker Park is worlds apart from the buttoned-down 9-5 workday of the Loop. The epicenter of this urban melting pot is a large intersection known as Six Corners. The three major avenues that meet here are North, Damen and Milwaukee, but the neighborhood is also a confluence of three cultural byways: hipster, artist and starving student. While there have been no scientific studies, researchers have postulated that there are more tattoos and piercings in Wicker Park than BMW’s in nearby Lincoln Park. Cafes, used bookstores and dive bars abound, and exist gracefully among $300 designer eyewear and Prada bags. Stop by on Gallery Night at the Flatiron Building and everyone comes out to strut their respective stuff while pontificating on modern art and free vodka.