Today the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced their 22 new fellows, including Chicago architect Jeanne Gang. Congratulations to Jeanne and everyone at Studio Gang. Best known for the Aqua Tower, the firm has generated consistently innovative solutions for houses, community and cultural projects, beginning, most notably, with the Starlight Theatre in 2003 all the way through their contribution to MoMA’s Foreclosed exhibition, currently in development. One of the most prestigious awards in the country for artistic, intellectual, scientific, and professional achievement, the MacArthur also comes with a $500,000 prize, doled out over five years.
File under: “Say What?” Retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has joined the jury for the Pritzker Prize. Prize organizers say the Justice has a long and demonstrable interest in architecture. Who knew? Also joining the jury is 2004 laureate Zaha Hadid. Is it just us, or does it seem strange for Zaha to be upstaged by a guy in a black robe known for his rigorous legal scholarship and even temperament? Read More
Brian Ulrich: Copia—Retail,
Thrift, and Dark Stores, 2001–11
Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Boulevard
Through January 16, 2012
Using only a hand-held camera, photographer Brian Ulrich captured the fluctuating economic climate’s impact on American consumerism in the last decade. Brian Ulrich: Copia – Retail, Thrift and Dark Stores, 2001–11 at the Cleveland Museum of Art features 50 color photographs, portraying anonymous commercial excess in three distinct venues. Whether engrossed by the saccharine colors and limitless temptation of big box stores or by the discarded whimsies of thrift shops, the photographed subjects are caught in a vicious cycle of spending. The final phase highlights the absent consumer, focusing on the prevalence of ghost stores and dark shopping malls as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, such as J.C. Penney, Dixie Square Mall (above).
Process and Artistry in the Soviet Vanguard
Smart Museum of Art
5550 South Greenwood Avenue
Through December 11
In Process and Artistry in the Soviet Vanguard the Smart Museum examines Soviet propaganda of the 1920s and 1930s, including a number of art pieces that set the creative precedent for mass-produced works. The show features artists Gustav Klutsis and Valentina Kulagina, from their informal drawings, collages, and visual studies to completed designs, posters, and printed material. Concerned with the “politicization of art making,” the works of Klutsis and Kulagina begin to tell a story about artistic expression, political institutions, and mass production. The show presents both experimental modes of representation and what became the iconic graphics associated with propaganda, such as Klutsis’ Glory to the Red Army of workers and peasants – loyal guard of Soviet borders!, 1935, pictured above.
Today Mayor Emanuel’s office announced plans to streamline the process for submitting and reviewing plans for building permits. The so-called “E-Plan” will eliminate paper drawings, and allow architects and engineers to submit projects to the Department of Buildings electronically. Architects and building owners will also be able to check the status of their permits instantly. “We are taking much-needed steps to increase efficiency and decrease the time it takes developers to obtain a building permit in the City of Chicago,” said the mayor, in a statement. According to an interview with NBC Chicago, Emanuel believes the new permitting measures will shave an average of 10 days off the process.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision of Broadacre City may have been the prototype for the modern American suburb, but in Cloquet, Minnesota, a small piece of the original plan was actually built and is still in operation. The R.W. Lindholm Service Station, the only gas station ever designed by the architect, was commissioned after the Lindholm family previously hired Wright to design their house. Finished in 1956, the service station offered a futuristic vision of the gas station as place of community and culture with a novel waiting room prominently perched overlooking the filling bays. Wright took the structure’s design seriously, even specifying that gas be dispensed from the ceiling to avoid obstacles to auto traffic flow, an innovation that didn’t make it through history.
Last month rumblings started going around the leafy Armour Hills neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri. “Those hippies are up to something,” exclaimed one the area’s more conservative residents.
Local artist Pete Cowdin, who goes by the pseudonym A. Bitterman, has created a unique outdoor experience in his front and back yards. Entitled Point of Interest, the installation takes the property of the single-family home, and transforms it into a “national park.” The installation is an interesting critique of how society views nature as somewhere outside of the built environment. “We confuse Nature for the natural world, and this has generated a kind of madness,” Cowdin said.
Mark Handforth Plaza Project
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue
July 8 through October 10
The formality of the plaza and entrance that Josef Paul Kleihues designed for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has always stood in contrast to the institution’s experimental spirit. This summer the Miami-based artist Mark Handforth will debut four playful sculptures on the plaza and west facade of the building, including a giant brass coat hanger (above) hand bent by the artist. Other pieces, which mine Surrealism even more explicitly, include a giant streetlamp coiled like a snake, a monumental bone with a telephone handset hanging off the top, and a massive crumpled traffic cone topped with an English bobby’s hat.