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Art Fri Jan 30 2009
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Lakeview resident Amy Karatz.
Tuesday night a crowd packed the largest room at Ann Sather's on Belmont to hear the City of Chicago Curator of Public Art, Elizabeth Kelley, talk about the new permanent art installation at the renovated Belmont El stop. Ms. Kelley carefully explained the 11-step process for acquiring art for a public setting, from choosing the site, to picking participating artists, to installation. The CTA worked from a database of several hundred artists, then gave each of the six finalists $500 to develop a submission.
On-site requirements included filling a 6 feet tall by 20 feet wide wall space with a tile mosaic. Two columns several feet in front of the wall would be similarly tiled. The artists were asked to reference this work to an orange steel sculpture that will sit outside the station. They were also specifically asked not to create a baseball/Cubs theme.
The crowd, aged 7 to 70, enjoyed viewing large illustrations representing ideas from the six artist finalists. Each individual idea was carried through the room while Ms. Kelley read the artist's inspirations and intentions, so all present were easily able to see each idea. The audience were not given artist's names, and later, artists in the audience were asked not to comment.
It would be foolish to describe the art, because words would not do it justice. The six entries included sweet cartoons, fantasy images, abstract thoughts, and even classical references. More than one included samples of finished mosaic tiles.
When solicited for their opinions, various audience members spoke in favor of all but one of the six. The vast majority of comments, however, praised the work of David Csicsko, whose work had been seen in the old station. His mural presentation, showing wonderful characters on a train car, had a life and energy that wowed. Close up, his sample tile revealed multi-colored striped faces with raised eyes that seemed to pop. He also proposed a mosaic of three giant stylized eyes on each pillar -- a perfect image for their placement.
When the audience was asked for opinions, particular attention was paid to two small girls, each of whom spoke up in favor of Csiscko's ideas, because those were the citizens who would be using the station for the next 20 years. Noteworthy was the audience member who remarked that while all of the entries would work for several of the CTA stations, only Csiscko's was perfect for Belmont. A common audience theme was that his entry embodied the essence of the Lakeview neighborhood.
No decision was made at the meeting. The final decisions will be made by the Department of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program.
[Image courtesy of Csicsko.com]