Tag Archives: Chicago photojournalism
Urban farm, it almost sounds like an oxymoron, but trust me, it isn’t. These farms are sprouting up (no pun intended) all over Chicago and other urban areas, and represent an efficient way to re-purpose under-utilized warehouse space in the city, often in economically distressed areas. Plus, they offer a tremendous opportunity for small-scale organic farmers to ply their trade in a supportive and mega-green environment.
I recently had the occasion to photograph two such urban farms: The Plant and Iron Street Farm. The former calls itself “a net-zero energy vertical farm and food business operation” whose purpose is to “promote closed-loop food production and sustainable economic development through education and research.” Now that’s a mouthful (no pun intended). And the later is a “seven-acre site on Chicago’s south side that produces local, healthy, and sustainable food year-round with a focus on serving, training, and engaging vulnerable populations.” Urban farms produce a wide range of products including cheese, vegetables, mushrooms, honey, beer, compost, and even fish. I suspect when we sang “Old McDonald had a farm” this wasn’t exactly the type of farm we were referring to.
Alumni from the Kids Can Dance group in Evanston performed a series of dances yesterday at Evanston Township High School. The theme was non-violence, an appropriate message considering the rash of violence plaguing teens locally and around the country. The program is being done in conjunction with “Ten Thousand Ripples”, an art project featuring ten Buddha sculptures being installed around the city, much like the cow exhibit of several years ago.
Earlier this month, more than one million people came to McCormick Place to visit the world’s largest indoor parking lot, often referred to as the Chicago Auto Show. For the auto aficionado, this was a once-a-year opportunity to touch the cars you only dream about: Ford, Chevy, Honda, Kia, and even Hyundai. And those lucky few willing to wait in long lines had the heart-stirring experience of sitting in the front seat and looking out the same windshield that people who actually own these cars will look through. This is heady stuff. But the show appealed to the mind and not just the passions of the attendees–vital information could be gleaned from the knowledgeable staff at the show: Does the F-150 come in diesel? How many cup holders in a Mini-Cooper? Are floor mats here to stay? With hundreds of cars buffed to a blinding patina, and the entire convention floor reeking of that “new car smell”, this was the ultimate in Auto Erotica. For me, the highlight was seeing a 1969 black GTO, that sexy muscle car that Gregg and I took across country in the ultimate road trip which became the basis of my book “On the Road”.
I am fortunate to live just a few blocks from one of the world’s great universities. Students lovingly describe this institution of higher learning as the place where “fun comes to die”. Personally, I think they make this proclamation to mislead their parents so they can justify the $40,000 per year expense. Nestled in the leafy neighborhood of Hyde Park–home of Barack Obama and the first A-Bomb–the university is a mix of Gothic and modern architecture. There are more Nobel Prize winners here than neighborhood bars–how many large universities can make that claim? In fact U of C has the most Nobel winners of any school in the world. The university offers a never-ending subject for my photography as new buildings appear on a regular basis, and each season brings new discoveries.
Chicago is known as a city of neighborhoods, each with it’s own ethnic identity. It’s no surprise that public art appears on walls throughout the city representing the local culture. Here is just a sampling of murals (or you may call it graffiti) in some of Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods.
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras has been offering music education for more than 60 years. The CYSO consists of five orchestras and a chamber music program, plus it offers classes and international touring. Since I’m not between 7 and 18, I can’t enroll, but I did have an opportunity to photograph the orchestra during a rehearsal before a performance at Symphony Hall. It was inspirational to see so much talent and dedication in people so young, though it did cause me to wonder: Don’t kids spend their teen years perfecting their Frisbee skills anymore?
I just learned of the death of Terry Callier, 67, a blues-folk-jazz musician whose career spanned 50 years. While he was relatively unknown in this country, he had a thriving career in the UK. He may not have gained wide commercial fame, but among musicians he was greatly influential and respected. Ten years ago I had the privilege of photographing Mr Callier for a Canadian jazz magazine, and we went straight to one of his favorite local venues, the historic Green Mill Lounge in Uptown. He struck me as being soft-spoken, polite, and eager to please, not the persona of a performer with a long-career and huge following around the world. In the early 80s he put his music career on hold to raise his daughter, and became a computer programmer at the University of Chicago; ten years later his music was rediscovered and he began performing and recording again. Callier was born in Chicago and grew up in the Cabrini-Green housing project, becoming friends with Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler. Here are some photos that offer a glimpse of the man I met in spring 2002.
The Modern Wing of the venerable Art Institute of Chicago opened three years ago and has been an unqualified hit among art lovers and tourists alike–not that these two groups are mutually exclusive, but… This museum is home to 20th and 21th-century art plus the world-renowned collections of modern European painting and sculpture, contemporary art, architecture and design, and photography. In this photo we see the museum’s popular “Yoga and Picasso” class held on Tuesday mornings. Most people are not aware that Pablo was a yoga enthusiast, often cited as the inspiration for his Blue Period. Next month the museum will feature “Cooking with Matisse”–sure to be a big hit.