Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Signs of the Times

Now that the season of giving is coming to an end and the holiday food drives and volunteering at local pantries and soup kitchens is slowing and the holiday bell ringing has faded away.  The cold Chicago winter begins to come at us full force.  Attention may not be on those in need, but they are out there and their stories, hand-scrawled on pieces of worn cardboard for any passerby to read.

Graphic Designer Christopher Devine has noticed these signs walking around the loop and believes most will just walk by without reading the signs, too uncomfortable to stare. He and the panhandlers around the Loop are banking that these new signs will help bring attention to the needs of those living on the streets.


They are written in that familiar font you see on the buildings of Michigan Avenue and State Street.  But now, along side American Apparel, Create&Barrel, The North Face, Sears and Staples you have men and women holding up white laminated placards with the simple message of “Homeless” or “Please Help”.  Devine and a couple friends have gone around the city and offered up these signs to those hoping for a little generosity while passing them by.  It’s too early to tell if the project has helped the panhandlers make more money.

The signs are quickly being seen all over downtown, making me more aware of the prevalence of this issue. Using the same font to deliver the message of Homelessness and The Gap is ironic and hopefully those in need will benefit as the brands have over the years.

Overtime, we shall see where this project will lead.  Devine is hoping to take the signs to other cities, but mostly as a grass roots campaign.  The recent success of the signs is great, but eventually those signs will be as ubiquitous as the stores filling the buildings they lean against and eventually leading to the power in the simple message.

Devine says some who initially accepted have returned to their bent up cardboard notes because they didn’t see dramatic changes, but others want a wider variety of sign.  For now he is planning on one addition, “Veteran”.  And that is surely a sign of the times.

You can contact Christopher Devine about his project directly at


Precocious Piano Performance

[Vimeo 8250054]

Pianist Phyllis Chen brings new life and seriousness to what some see as child’s play in an experimental piano performance Friday Night, December 11th in Chicago.  Its part of an ongoing Experimental Piano Series sponsored by the Chicago Composers Forum.  Ms. Chen and the Steve Cohn Trio will be performing at the intimate Piano Forte space on the 8th Floor of the Fine Arts Building, 410 South Michigan Avenue.  It begins at 7PM, followed by a reception.

Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage

December 4, 2009 3 comments

Long before Photoshop and Scrap-booking; long before Dadaists and Surrealists incorporated collage into their art, the women on England’s upper class created ornate works, mixing the new medium of photography with painting and drawing.

In the exhibition “Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage”, currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago Metropolitan Museum of Art, Elizabeth Siegel curates an exploration into a time and the inner circle of this privileged class.   These albums the aristocrats were creating tell fantastical stories, taking us into their world of literature or society.

"Butterfly" by Marie-Blanche-Hennelle Fournier

The technology of photography had been around for 20 years by the time these women began to create the works, but the advent of the “carte de visite” allowing for numerous images on one negative, increasing the amount of images available and they began to share the images with others.  The artists began to place those photographs in playful settings surrounded by hand painted worlds.

Lacking the heft of the surrealists’ messages, the works are a mixture of Terry Gilliams’ animation for Monty Python and the scrapbooking craze.   Heads on playing cards, as bubbles floating in the air and on the bodies of ducks, the images show a whimsy not often equated with Victorian Society.

The exhibition, “Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage” continues through January 3rd at the Art Institute of Chicago before heading to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The exhibition, “Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage” continues through May 9th at the  Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.