Charles White: a Retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago

soldier

(Soldier, Charles White)

A Charles White retrospective is at the amazing Art Institute of Chicago right now through September third.  The Art Institute, on its web page Charles White at the Art Institute of Chicago, states:

Charles White, born and educated in Chicago, was one of the preeminent artists to emerge during the city’s Black Renaissance of the 1930s and 1940s. A passionate mural and easel painter and superbly gifted draftsman, White powerfully interpreted African American history, culture, and lives in striking works that nevertheless have a more universal resonance

I’m not an artist, nor am I an art critic.  But what comes to mind and to heart while viewing his works was all of this: dignity, pain, suffering, caring, compassion, strength. These are not art words, and I cannot speak about what White used to create such art. But I can speak to how White;s artwork affected me, a highly sensitive poet.  I would like to find words deserving of the near reverence I felt in the presence of art that is not only great, but art from a great person. White felt people were basically good and his works are imbued with love and respect as well as with a painful knowledge of social injustice, racism, poverty, separation, loss.

I almost feel I should step back, use few words, and just show the photos, simple photos taken by my little phone camera. You can see I am not a professional or even a good photographer, but I believe you can sense the greatness of White’s art work even from my phone photos.

If you can get to the Art Institute of Chicago, I would highly recommend seeing this retrospective.  I will go again, and perhaps find some words. If you cannot get to the AIC, look here for insights and images: http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/charles-white-retrospective.

White’s creative compassion stays with me.

Charles White, a retrospective, now at the AIC through September 3rd. 

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http://m.artic.edu/node/7905

— from the blog of Fred Klonsky  Please note: this is NOT my original blog, but reblogged 

 

— from the blog of Fred Klonsky

It is not something we often see on Michigan Avenue. Hanging over the entrance of the Art Institute of Chicago is a giant banner with a monumental image of Gideon, a Black portrait drawn in black and white, with glowing black skin, wide nose and wide lips. It’s style is classical realism. The banner announces the […]

via A Charles White retrospective on the centenary of his birth in Chicago. — Fred Klonsky

I (accidentally) grew up on a prairie (sort of)

Sand prairie at The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.                 I accidentally grew up with a few acres of rare Midwestern prairie behind our home.  When we moved from Chicago, my parents bought a house not yet built, in a neighborhood with streets not yet paved.  At first, we had sticks in mud with street names painted on them.  The area was filled with former soldiers using their benefits to buy their first home in that unknown place called the suburbs. The lure was land, open spaces, less crime, better schools, and a chance at the so-called American Dream.

Before we moved, neighbors had nearly burned us out of our apartment with cooking while drunk, had left their used needles in the common ways, and gangs were eyeing my now teen aged elder brother.

My parents were terrified of what would happen to my teen brother at first, then the rest of us.

So they headed west, to a suburb mostly mud and dreams at that time.

And a surprise behind the house? The few acres of prairie remained, with a small swamp at one end.  We didn’t know it at the time, but two towns were suing for the right to build on this land.  Each town felt these precious acres were part of their town, and the lawsuit went on for a dozen years.

But during those years, we had this piece of prairie heaven to ourselves; it was a place for children to safely play and explore.  We grew to believe that butterflies lived everywhere and were plentiful, that wildflowers would forever grow, that the summer days would never end as we played, made up stories (okay, that was me), and explored.

But to me, I was a bit afraid of the swamp up close, for the stories were becoming our childhood myths: witches lived there. Children–and even airplanes!–disappeared in the swamp.

So I spent a lot of time watching the prairie sunsets from my own backyard, often standing on a rickety picnic table to catch the very last rays of sun.  I was drawn to this beauty, drawn to the sky, the sun, the miracle of the ending of daylight.

I had no camera back then to capture a sunset, as I was just a child myself and cameras were something professionals had at weddings or older family members had for special days.

As to the swamp? I’ll write more about my love/ hate relationship with that magical place another time.

When I drive through the flat lands of the Midwest now, I often think of how boring all this flatness is–no variety.  But then I remember the magic of sunsets on a prairie.

These are not my photographs, (these are photos in the public domain) but they do capture something of what I remember: the beauty of wide open land that led to the miracle of a sunset.  Every day.

 

 

 

ChicagoReader.com article on CPS scandals

pexels-photo-459846     I felt sick reading this article: Chicago public schools scandals

Behind the scandal are kids, living, breathing kids in schools.   Heartbreaking that kids are denied needed special ed. services and that all are denied clean schools.  Oh, let’s not forget the safety aspect of sexual abuse scandals!  Are we creating a generation of traumatized youth from our schools, when schools should be a safe place?

Read more if you can stomach it.  If I feel sick just reading this, what is happening to the students, faculty, and staff that work in these schools?