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:

Four Seasons-1

The north facade:

Four Seasons-2

The west facade:

Four Seasons-3

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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Four Seasons-16

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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!

Marc Chagall-Still Frame-1

Marc Chagall-Still Frame-2

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

* * *

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!

Last night…

…this wondrous storm came rolling in slowly from the west.

21JUL2013 Storm NW

You can see a heavy rain falling at lower camera right, such a heavy rain that the view of downtown Evanston was almost not there at all!

21JUL2013 Storm N Downtown Evanston

* * *

Many of you know I am also a painter, and I have been spending some amount of time in the studio, working on a project dedicated to my deceased younger son.

I’ve had his business card for all these seventeen years, and needed to do something with the Chinese characters which translate to:

Gold(en)

Silent

Man

Its progress was interrupted last year by my nine days in the hospital and a fairly long recuperation time.

Recently, I pulled it out, and struggled to find a ‘good’ direction…of course, it’s not finished yet, as I have many other projects going on, but I feel you’ll get the idea?

The border was taped off, then stippled in with a mixture of regular joint compound mixed with flexible white glue (SOBO brand), a combination I've used for many years, beginning way back when I was a Scenic Artist.

The border was taped off, then stippled in with a mixture of regular joint compound mixed with flexible white glue (SOBO brand), a combination I’ve used for many years, beginning way back when I was a Scenic Artist.

The characters are painted in a pointillistic manner with Liquitex Deep Hooker’s Green Heavy Body acrylic…it took four passes to get this texture.

The border was then given several coats of acrylic polyurethane, which, while still wet, I sifted some variegated gold leaf pieces over.

The border was then given several coats of acrylic polyurethane, onto which, while still wet, I sifted some variegated gold leaf pieces.

I then carefully washed with a thin Venetian red, but still was not getting what I wanted to see…so I brushed on an oil-based deep gold, then sponged it off–NOW I was getting somewhere!

The last step (I hope!) will be washing in shadows along each edge of the border in the Deep Hooker's Green...I may or may not also add a drop shadow of the same to the characters.

The last step (I hope!) will be washing in shadows along each edge of the border in the Deep Hooker’s Green…I may or may not also add a drop shadow of the same to the characters, which need a bit of touch-up…and possibly add a bit more selectively-placed gold leaf to the border.

Here’s the entire 12″ x 16″ work in its current state:

I know my dear friend Ng Tom in Hong Kong has been patiently waiting to see this ouevre...it shall be finished soon, Tom, and of course I'll post it, completely framed!

I know my dear friend Ng Tom in Hong Kong has been patiently waiting to see this ouevre…it shall be finished soon, Tom, and of course I’ll post it, completely framed!

* * *

You might also want to visit Tom’s blog, that’s how I see the world, just to understand a bit more of the beauty in Hong Kong.

When it’s cold and damp…

…and snowy, as it has been lately, there’s nothing like a pizza from scratch!

Pizza-Ready for the Oven!

Pizza–Ready for the Oven!

The ‘sauce’ is pesto–thinned with a little Extra Virgin olive oil–and topped with raw onion, sliced Crimini mushrooms, chopped tomatoes which sat for awhile in Balsamic vinegar, dried minced garlic and black olives.

The crust is unbleached flour, sea salt, yeast–dissolved in warm water with a half-teaspoon of organic honey–and this time I added basil and fennel seed!

Sprinkled on top was more dried basil, a combo of parmesan/romano/asiago cheese, and topped with grated Monterey Jack cheese.

Twenty-five minutes later, my pizza from scratch looked like this:

Pizza-Done

Oh, let me give you a closer look!

I'll wager you can almost smell the lovely blend of aromas!

I’ll wager you can almost smell the lovely blend of aromas!

I’ve been making my own pizza for well over forty years now…the ingredients occasionally vary, but the satisfaction?

NEVER!

Creating a Gift for my Doctor

Back in 2007, I made this "Leaf Bowl" with runners from faux leaves, because a friend laughed and said, "Oh, sure...I'd like to see THAT"!  Here it is!

Back in 2007, I made this “Leaf Bowl” with runners from faux leaves, because a friend laughed and said, “Oh, sure…I’d like to see THAT”! Well, here it is…and it’s held everything from fruit to potpourri to pine cones and Christmas balls!

This year, because he has been so great, I decided to create something similar for my wonderful doctor…something like a…hmm…a bread basket, that’s it!

It begins with leaf-gathering, softening them (I use Neutrogena Hand cream) and flattening them, between two layers of paper towels, in my heavy dictionaries for a few days.  These are oak leaves from a neighboring park.

It begins with leaf-gathering, softening them (I use Neutrogena Hand Cream) and flattening them, between two layers of paper towels, in my heavy dictionaries for a few days. These are oak leaves from a neighboring park.

The leaves are traced onto heavy Bristol board to make the patterns, which are then traced (over and over!) until I figured I had enough for several projects.  I rough-cut them to make it easier when doing the next step.

The leaves are traced onto heavy Bristol board to make the patterns, which were cut with scissors and then traced onto 60 lb. kraft paper (over and over!)…until I figured I had enough for several projects. I rough-cut them to make it easier when doing the next step.

24 or 26 gauge copper wire pieces get hot-glued to the side of the blank side of the kraft paper.  Spread Sobo (TM) or any other flexible glue, making certain the edges of the kraft paper are well-coated...

24 or 26 gauge copper wire pieces get hot-glue dots to secure them to the  blank side of the kraft paper. Spread Sobo (TM) or any other flexible glue, making certain the edges of the kraft paper are well-coated…

...then press and flatten by rubbing onto a blank piece of kraft paper.  Don't be afraid to add more glue if those edges don't seem to stick well.  Yes, it gets messy, but the flexible glue washes off your hands easily with warm, soapy water.  Set the pages aside to dry for at least 4 hours.

…then press and flatten by rubbing onto a blank piece of kraft paper. Don’t be afraid to add more glue if those edges don’t seem to stick well. Yes, it gets messy, but the flexible glue washes off your hands easily with warm, soapy water. Set the pages aside to dry for at least 4 hours.

Next comes the hard part:  Cut along the trace line carefully, and you'll have a leaf!  Here's one right next to the real leaf...except for color/texture difference, the shape is perfect!

Next comes the hard part: Cut along the trace line carefully, and you’ll have a leaf! Here’s one right next to the real leaf…except for color/texture difference, the shape is perfect!

This step is also quite messy...the cut faux leaves must be given two coats of flexible glue on each side.  Don't bother doing this while wearing rubber gloves...just wash your hand a lot as they get too coated with glue!  Lay the leaves on plastic (I used pillow bags here, but you can used a tarp or even black garbage can liners.  The glue will stick a bit, but when dry, the leaf will pull right off, so no worries there!  Just make certain to allow them to dry thoroughly between coats.

This step is also quite messy…the cut faux leaves must be given two coats of flexible glue on each side. Don’t bother doing this while wearing rubber gloves…just wash your hand a lot as they get too coated with glue! Lay the leaves on plastic (I used pillow bags here, but you can used a tarp or even black garbage can liners). The glue will stick a bit, but when dry, the leaf will pull right off, so no worries there! Just make certain to allow them to dry thoroughly between coats.

The base is a piece of corrugated cardboard ( I recycle things!), which I cut with an exacto knife and a steel rule.  The rounded corners can be drawn with a circle template or free-handed...it's best not to have a sharp corner for the leaves to wind around.  Then, the cardboardboard gets traced onto kraft paper, with one piece to be cut larger by three-quarters of an inch or so, and the other piece cut about a quarter-inch less.  I hot-glued a piece of cotton twine to firm up the edges of the corrugated, then slashed almost to the line of the larger piece of kraft paper...then flex glued the cardboard to that piece and turned the flaps, giving each a dot of hot glue to secure them.  Coat this side of the base with flex glue and place the smaller piece of kraft paper, situating it so the edges are pretty equal all the war around.  This will be the bottom of the basket.  Give both sides two full coats of flex glue, allowing each coat to dry completely before adding another.

The base is a piece of corrugated cardboard ( I recycle things!), which I cut with an Exacto knife and a steel rule. The rounded corners can be drawn with a circle template or free-handed…it’s best not to have a sharp corner for the leaves to wrap around. Then, the cardboard gets traced onto kraft paper, with one piece to be cut larger by three-quarters of an inch or so, and the other piece cut about a quarter-inch less. I hot-glued a piece of cotton twine to firm up the edges of the corrugated, then slashed almost to the line of the larger piece of kraft paper…then flex glued the cardboard to that piece and turned the flaps, positioned and hot-glued the leaves, then gave each flap a dot of hot glue to secure them. Coat this side of the base with flex glue and place the smaller piece of kraft paper, situating it so the edges are pretty equal all the way around. This will be the bottom of the basket. Give both sides two full coats of flex glue, allowing each coat to dry completely before adding another.

The leaves have been base-coated, then hot-glued to the corrugated, the smaller piece of kraft paper applied with flex glue and placed between two sheets of freezer paper with a heavy weight upon it.  Next, apply a base coat to that side and you're finally ready for the real fun part!

The leaves have been base-coated,  Next, apply a base coat to that side and you’re finally ready for the real fun part!

I sponged various colors of metallic acrylic paint on the leaves to give them a texture.  In addition, I suspend various colors of bronzing powders in Acrylic Polyurethane Satin finish varnish, which not only adds to the beauty of the faux leaves, but also protets them from moisture damage, and allows the to retain their flexibility.  The leaves are then bent upward to be ready for the next step.

I sponged various colors of metallic acrylic paint on the leaves to give them a texture. In addition, I suspend various colors of bronze powder in Acrylic Polyurethane Satin finish varnish, which not only adds to the beauty of the faux leaves, but also protets them from moisture damage, and allows the to retain their flexibility. The leaves are then bent upward to be ready for the next step.

The branches are crafted from aluminum wire and floral tape (both available at a wholesale florist's supply house).  I've kept bits and pieces of wire over the years, knowing one day I could use them for something!  I wound varying lengths in spots along a wire that was approximately the circumference of the base of my 'bread basket, then wrapped the floral tape around that.  Two coats (yes, again!) of flexible glue and tou have a flexible branch to add.  I painted, used the bronze powder/varnish combo and, using super glue, attached it to the base, weaving it in and out of the leaves, then securing it with low-tack painters' tape until dry.

The branches are crafted from aluminum wire and floral tape (both available at a wholesale florist’s supply house). I’ve kept bits and pieces of wire over the years, knowing one day I could use them for something! I wound varying lengths in spots along a wire that was approximately the circumference of the base of my ‘bread basket’, then wrapped the floral tape around that. Two coats (yes, again!) of flexible glue and you have a flexible branch to add. I painted, used the bronze powder/varnish combo and, using super glue, attached it to the base, weaving it in and out of the leaves, then securing it with low-tack painters’ tape until dry.  When thoroughly tried, you can then bend the leaves (thanks to the copper wire inside) to any shape that look aesthetically pleasing.

The entire basket, once assembled, was given three coats of Acrylic Polyurethane for protection…in between the first and second coats, I added some sprinkles of shreds of variegated red ‘gold leaf’ I had saved from other previous projects.

And here it is...my doctor's 'bread basket'!It's filled with cinnamon pine cones, because I had no time to bake a loaf of challah bread!  I presented it to him (and his family) last Friday as a Chanukah gift of 'gelt'...and he was thrilled!

And here it is…my doctor’s ‘bread basket’!
It’s filled with cinnamon-scented pine cones, because I had no time to bake a loaf of challah bread! I presented it to him (and his family) last Friday as a Chanukah gift of ‘gelt’…and he was thrilled!

I have seven other, smaller baskets in the works, which hopefully I’ll be able to sell before Christmas…if not, they are just such pretty ‘catch-alls’ or future gifts for any occasion!