Last week and yesterday

LAST WEEK

For several days last week, my spare time was spent getting the Christmas decorations together.

This is just one of the results:

The red and green wreath from last year was ttoally revamped, using gold-leafed pears, small gol and deep green balls, and gold-tipped large pine cones. The old red and green lights were replaced with warm white LED lights, which use about 4.5 watts per 50-light string...I'm very happy I purchased them!

The red and green wreath from last year was totally revamped, using gold-leafed pears, small gold and deep green balls, and gold-tipped large pine cones.
The old red and green lights were replaced with warm white LED lights, which use about 4.5 watts per 50-light string…I’m very happy I purchased them!

Some close-ups:

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YESTERDAY

It had been quite foggy for several days, but yesterday’s was the thickest.

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Thrilled with being able to take the time to go out and photograph a few things, I walked over to Sherwin Beach to see the effect of fog at the shore.

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Just to the south is the veranda of 1205 W. Sherwin Avenue, a beautiful spot to look at the lake which had virtually disappeared.

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Finally, I headed back home, but not before photographing my own window.

The lights were wrapped around the wreath intentionally...and it's great that it can be seen quite well, even at mid-afternoon, so that all can share the beauty of the Christmas season!

The lights were wrapped around the wreath intentionally…and it’s great that it can be seen quite well, even at mid-afternoon, so that all can share the beauty of the Christmas season!

I’d be lying…

…like a politician if I told you how much fun the past few days have been, but so much has been accomplished, my feeling of satisfaction trumps the aches and pains!

I mentioned previously that I would try to finish everything but the studio and then begin redecorating.

Yep, I did it!

Even the windows and blinds have been washed, some badly needed weather-stripping put in place, and a few paintings have been hung.

See for yourself!

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All my mismatched, second-hand furniture now looks great, although it took three coats of paint to get it right!

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If you think that was hard work, the tree specialists arrived Thursday morning, and put it four solid days work clearing the land next door, which began like this…

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and ended like this, taken early this morning:

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Here are the in-between images, arranged sequentially:

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This is the 'high man', whom I complimented the other day as he returned from lunch. He is an expert and works quietly because he directs his men with hand signals, which I found pretty amazing!

This is the ‘high man’, whom I complimented the other day as he returned from lunch.
He is an expert and works quietly because he directs his men with hand signals, which I found pretty amazing!

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This industrious crew should be applauded for their work, executed in what I consider a very short amount of time!

They kept me busy at every short break I took, and I’ll say I was truly awed, watching all these un-cared-for trees come down, seeing all the dead limbs, and listening to the sound of the chipper as I continued my little (?) paint adventure!

Word is that construction of the parking structure will begin before the end of the year…you can bet I’ll be at my window (and, on the ground!) covering the progress!

This past Saturday…

…I took a break from all the work and walked up the street to the ArchitectureChicago Open House, a city-wide event.

Of course, my sole architectural interests were a mere block and a half walk away!

The Emil Bach House Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1915

The Emil Bach House
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1915

As much as I wanted to see inside, I passed by because there was no waiting line next door at the Cat’s Cradle Bed and Breakfast, another renovation financed a few years back by Col. J.N. Pritzker of Tawani Enterprises, Inc.

The Bach House sure looked great from the outside, though the renovation is not yet 100% complete!

The Bach House sure looked great from the outside, though the renovation is not yet 100% complete!

As I walked up the steps to Cat's Cradle, I looked back and took a shot of the looong line at the Bach House. It was a beautiful Autumn morning, and the plantings at both properties were spectacular! But, I quickly turned, and entered a structure I've been very, very curious about.

As I walked up the steps to Cat’s Cradle, I looked back and took a shot of the loooong line at the Bach House.
It was a beautiful Autumn morning, and the plantings at both properties were spectacular!
But, I quickly turned, and entered a structure I’ve been very, very curious about.

Love this door which I believe is the original from 1919, and knew I'd also love the interior!

LOVE this door which I believe is the original from 1919, and knew I’d also love the interior!

I almost felt as if I had somehow ‘gone back in time’, to a much gentler, more civilized era.

The Architect was a Mr. Newman, who drew much inspiration from FLW, as evidenced by the amount of fine woodworking, original wood flooring...

The architect was a Mr. Newman, who drew much inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright, as evidenced by the amount of fine woodworking, original wood flooring…

...and decorative touches such as this lovely lamp atop the newel post.

…and decorative touches such as this lovely lamp atop the newel post.

Cat’s Cradle contains five bedrooms, each with the flavor of that bygone time, yet each is technologically up-to-date.

I’ll title them in the sequence I viewed them.

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #1

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Bedroom #2

Bedroom #2

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Bedroom #3

Bedroom #3

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Bedroom #4

Bedroom #4

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Bedroom #5

Bedroom #5

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Because I’ve been so busy in the apartment, painting not only walls but also furniture, and doing some fall cleaning in between, I haven’t gotten around to processing any other images from this wonderful tour.

There’s just one ceiling area to give a third coat, and then only the studio remains…I’ll take my time and do that piecemeal, as it is small and requires a lot of shuffling things back and forth—and I’m pretty ‘pooped’ right now!

I did, however, have a fine chat with one of the Innkeepers, Wayde Cartwright, which was both informative and most enjoyable!

If you plan to visit Chicago on business or vacation, give Wayde or his fellow Innkeeper, Bruce Boyd, a call at 1.773.764.9851, or you can visit www.catscradlechicago.com.

The rates are extremely reasonable, especially when you consider the surroundings and all the amenities provided!

(Yes, that was pretty blatant advertising from me, but if I were visiting, I’d surely love staying here!)

It has begun!

I’ve been working pretty hard this week, getting walls and ceilings primed with stain blocker and applying the finish coat of paint…but the REAL work has begun next door, with the first bit of demolition of the Shambhala Meditation Center!!!

A crew began constructing the surrounding fence on the property shortly after noon.

A crew began constructing the surrounding fence on the property shortly after noon.

 

Just before 2:30, the shovel fired up and clawed down a metal cable tube...

Just before 2:30, the shovel fired up and clawed down a metal cable tube…

 

...then began the tear-down in earnest on a rear addition of the building.

…then began the tear-down in earnest on a rear addition of the building.

 

Bricks went flying, the pile of rubble growing by the minute!

Bricks went flying, the pile of rubble growing by the minute!

 

I rushed down to street level, taking a shot from the parking lot...

I rushed down to street level, taking a shot from the parking lot…

 

...then walked around to the rear of the building, where the shovel was already shut down before 3:30 PM!

…then walked around to the rear of the building, where the shovel was already shut down before 3:30 PM!

One man, one shovel…managed to take down the addition in less than an hour (image taken at 3:22 PM)!

That’s what I call efficiency!

After speaking with one of the fence constructors, who has worked for Tawani Enterprises (chaired by Col. J. N. Pritzker), I have no knowledge if work will continue over the weekend or hold off until Monday…but I’ll be here, photographing as much as I possibly can.

The best thing, at this point?  That ugly halogen vapor light, which illuminated my apartment every evening for the past 4+ years, is OFFpermanently!!!

At the Emil Bach House parkway…

Leaves on the trees are yellowing...

…leaves on the trees are yellowing…

...the daisies lose color and petals in stages...

…the Daisies lose color and petals in stages…

...and the Hostas fade gracefully.

…and the Hostas fade gracefully.

As for the renovation of the 1915 Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house, the new layer of stucco is being applied, and I’m certain there is work going on inside as well.

Bach House Stucco-1

A closer look:

Bach House Stucco-2

Yesterday’s fog…

…rolled in and out throughout the day.

Take a look…and just enjoy!

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On my walk back home, I took this shot of the top of the recently renovated Farcroft building’s north facade.

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That statue in the lower middle always looked like a camel to me until I walked farther east on Fargo Avenue, zoomed in as far as I could, and caught this:

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Phoenix?  Goony bird?  I do know it’s not a cockatoo!

I’ve found no documentation as to what it is, but it’s definitely a pretty incredible, huge sculpture sitting atop that thirteen story building!

It occurred to me the other day…

…while walking to the grocer’s, that I hadn’t kept you informed of the progress in the renovation of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Emil Bach House here on Sheridan Road in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.

The west and south facades

The west and south facades

Lots of building supplies clutter the front yard, and the scaffolding remains while the fascias are being strip-sanded and repainted, and the walls are being prepared for the application of a new layer of stucco.

The west facade

The west facade

A pile of rubble next to an already-full Dumpster is all that remains of the old roof–I don’t know if this was the original.

Mr. Wright did have a reputation for creating leaky roofs, such as those at the Johnson Wax Center in Racine, Wisconsin, and at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The front Tulip garden

The front Tulip Garden

I’m not certain if the fabulous Tulip Garden will be brought back, but the garden will be smaller with the addition of about six feet of sod laid as a buffer between bushes and the rich-looking soil.

The deck and rear entryway

The deck and rear entryway

The former sunroom walls have been removed to expose the original deck, which at the time of construction (1915) overlooked the shore of Lake Michigan.

Sadly, the lake was filled in, and the rear of the Bach House is now a half-block west of the shoreline.

The backyard

The backyard

This was a complete and beautiful surprise!

A curving hand-laid stone pathway now surrounds a short retaining wall and flower beds.

This area was originally several feet high and quite ‘wild-looking’.

The structure on the right (a guest house?) is not original to the property–it was built, if I correctly recall, in 2008 and is attached to the two-car garage, which I also think is not original.

The building permit

The building permit

It’s posted on the temporary cyclone fence at the alleyway, and gives you a pretty good idea of what is being added/renovated By Tawani Enterprises, Inc., which is headed by billionaire J. N. Pritzker.

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Tawani Enterprises also has bought the parking lot just north of my own building and the Shambhala Meditation Center just north of that.
Beginning October 1st, this building will be demolished--I don't look forward to the noise and dust right outside my living area window!

Beginning October 1st, this building will be demolished–I don’t look forward to the noise and dust right outside my living area window!

The corner will supposedly look something like this after construction of the Sheridan-Sherwin Parking Structure...except that this rendering is in very forced perspective--the length of the Sheridan Road footage is only about 160 feet +/-!

The corner will supposedly look something like this after construction of the four-story Sheridan-Sherwin Parking Structure…except that this rendering is in very forced perspective–the length of the Sheridan Road footage is only about 160 feet +/-!

That’s my building sticking up behind the structure–I hope I don’t lose my view !

In the previous post…

…I showed images of Exelon Plaza just south of what is now named the Chase Bank Tower, at the corner of Madison and Dearborn Streets.

At 60 stories and 850 feet in height, it’s the tallest building inside the tracks of the Chicago Loop–and its architecture is astounding at first glance.

Impressive, isn't it?

Impressive, isn’t it?

 

Even its reflection in the glass of 1 South Dearborn is impressive!

Even its reflection in the glass of 1 South Dearborn is impressive!

But I was there to see something much more of interest to me as an artist, The Four Seasons mosaic, designed by Marc Chagall and presented as a gift to the City of Chicago by Frederick H. Prince via the Prince Charitable Trusts in 1974.

First, the eastern facade:

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The north facade:

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The west facade:

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The south facade:

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The Four Seasons is, according to Wikipedia, 70 feet (21 m) long, 14 feet (4.3 m) high, 10 feet (3.0 m) wide rectangular box, and was dedicated on September 27, 1974.

It was renovated in 1994 and a protective glass canopy was installed.

The City of Chicago website presents a bit more information:

Composed of thousands of inlaid chips in over 250 colors, Marc Chagall’s mosaic artwork The Four Seasons portrays six scenes of Chicago. It features a vocabulary of images informed by the artist’s Russian-Jewish heritage and found in his Surrealist paintings such as birds, fish, flowers, suns and pairs of lovers. Chagall maintained, “the seasons represent human life, both physical and spiritual, at its different ages.” The design for this mosaic was created in Chagall’s studio in France, transferred onto full-scale panels and installed in Chicago with the help of a skilled mosaicist.

Chagall continued to modify his design after its arrival in Chicago, bringing up-to-date the areas containing the city’s skyline (last seen by the artist 30 years before installation) and adding pieces of native Chicago brick.

In Chagall’s words:

“I chose the theme of the four seasons because I believe there will be many people going through this plaza in the heart of the city of Chicago. In my mind, the four seasons represent human life, both physical and spiritual, at its different stages. I hope that the people of Chicago will feel the same emotion that I felt when doing this work.”

Here are closer-up images of Chagall’s enchanting oeuvre, which was executed in France by the mosaicist Michel Tharin–ENJOY!

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If you’re interested, there is a video of the creation of The Four Seasons by Chuck Olin called The Monumental Art of Marc Chagall here.

It’s well-worth watching the full 30 minutes to see and hear Chagall at work, correcting and making additions to Michel Tharin’s hand-cut tiles!

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These two still frames really don’t do justice to the mastery of Chagall, so if you can, watch the video.

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It was very exciting to work on and present Chagall’s masterpiece as I saw it, mesmerized by the placement of each subtly(and not-so-subtly)-colored tile, viewing this huge work in smaller images on a computer some 39 years after its construction.

I just wish I knew what the top looked like, as in the video, it was said that there are also mosaic panels which are no longer viewable due to the plastic canopy!

While walking home…

…from the grocer the other, I happened upon this signpost which I realized I’d never shown here before.

It’s just less than a block from where I live, and it brings back so many childhood memories, because this was the very first children’s program I viewed when my Dad bought our first television in 1950–“Kukla, Fran and Ollie”!

Please, take a moment to read…this TV program gave me and my brothers many hours of great entertainment!

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To think, he gave puppet shows from his apartment window!

Now, I’ve passed this building many, many times, always admiring it for having that ‘certain something’…I just really like the look of it, so I began photographing it in relation to the information re: Mr. Burt Tillstrom.

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I figured that this had to have been the puppet show window, as I could envision the neighborhood kids gathering on the lawn below, enjoying themselves on a war Summer evening.

I figured that this had to have been the puppet show window, as I could envision the neighborhood kids gathering on the lawn below, enjoying themselves on a war Summer evening.

I was about to walk away when I noticed a plaque to the right of that window.

I walked right over the lawn to take a shot, thinking it was a typical ‘management’ sign–but NO!

To my surprise, it not only signified the name of the building, but also the architect!

Are you as surprised as I?

Are you as surprised as I?

As I recall from viewing a DVD on Mr. Wright’s life recently, he was really scrambling for money in 1918, so perhaps he took this commission ‘for the bucks’, diverging from his normal-for-that-time Prairie style architecture!

As I said, the building has that ‘certain something’, but I hadn’t realized it was THAT ‘certain something’!

I’ve neglected to give you…

…an update on the Farcroft apartment building long enough!

For about a month, there have been tenants moving in, and here’s a sample of what their spaces look like:

View of the 13 story Farcroft from The Jarvis Avenue "L" station platform

View of the 13 story Farcroft from the Jarvis Avenue “L” station platform

At the entryway is a leaded-glass window, flanked by two caryatids...

At the entryway is a leaded-glass window, flanked by two caryatids…

...one of which is 'the keyholder'...

…one of which is ‘the keyholder’…

...and the other seems to have lost what he originally held! Quite distinctive, aren't they?

…and the other seems to have lost what he originally held!
Quite distinctive, aren’t they?

The original door of this 1928 building was sent out to be restored, and the craftsman did an absolutely wonderful job of it!

The original door of this 1928 building was sent out to be restored, and the craftsman did an absolutely wonderful job of it!

Here's the lobby, about five steps down from street level.  This was taken before the building opened...that's the reason for the still-wrapped furniture.

Here’s the lobby, about five steps down from street level. This was taken before the building opened…that’s the reason for the still-wrapped furniture.

Everything was done right with this gut rehab...all the floors are oak, newly installed.

Everything was done right with this gut rehab…all the floors are oak, newly installed.

All the spaces were reconfigured.  Here is a north-facing wall of one of the highest floors' apartment...

All the spaces were reconfigured. Here is a north-facing wall of one of the highest floors’ apartment…

...and the view from that window!

…and the view from that window!  The thing hanging in the middle is the cordage from white-painted wooden blinds, which are installed at each newly-replaced window.

A typical kitchen, wonderfully appointed, with loads of workspace...

A typical kitchen, wonderfully appointed, with loads of workspace…

...and a typical bathroom--nothing fancy, but larger than those usually found here in Chicago's older buildings.

…and a typical bathroom–nothing fancy, but larger than those usually found here in Chicago’s older buildings.

The view looking south along the lake shore to downtown Chicago, taken from a twelfth floor window.  Oh, what I wouldn't give to wake up to this!

The view looking south along the lake shore to downtown Chicago, taken from a twelfth floor window. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to wake up to this!

If you noticed in the first image, there is a turret at the top of the Farcroft.  This is the entry to the apartment directly below--it's called the 'turret room'.

If you noticed in the first image, there is a turret at the top of the Farcroft. This is the entry to the apartment directly below–it’s called the ‘turret room’.  See that rectangular object in the wall?  That’s a radiator—very new technology and extremely practical, don’t you think?

Enchanting, isn't it...and check out the view to the north and west!

Enchanting, isn’t it…and check out the view to the north and west!

Finally, here is the 'turret room' apartment's kitchen...ready for any occupant who loves to cook! Note that in these kitchens, the stoves are NOT placed next to the refrigerators...that's called 'doing it right', because it ultimate saves electricity as the fridge does not have to run as long as it would being 'warmed' so often by the heat of the stove!

Finally, here is the ‘turret room’ apartment’s kitchen…ready for any occupant who loves to cook!  The fellow on the right is Bill Tentler, the Chief of Maintenance, who graciously allowed me to tour the building before it opened.
Note that in these kitchens, the stoves are NOT placed next to the refrigerators…that’s called ‘doing it right’, because it ultimate saves electricity as the fridge does not have to run as long as it would being ‘warmed’ so often by the heat of the stove!

At some point, I’ll present more details of this beautifully executed gut rehab/restoration of the Farcroft apartments, but for now, just dream of what it would be like to live in the tallest building in the Rogers park neighborhood of Chicago!