Thursday, January 31, 2008

Opening day for Chicago's Popsicle

the sky is grey and white
and cloudy

and we're working in a blizzard to beat the band

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Adrenalin rush

The negative ions are out in full force today with such brilliant sunshine and minus sixteen degree temperature. Glorious, glorious, glorious.

Today, we’re running on adrenalin; everyone’s got lots of energy.

We can see the finish ahead and we’re still in the lead.

At lunch today, River was floating on last night’s blizzard: “That was intensely exciting, “ he enthused, “extreme art”.

Ari, who has been upgraded from being in charge of The Gulag to overseeing details of the rink paintings (with Matt and Katherine) said of the moment when Gord left him to tip the bucket over that huge white surface -

“That moment was like getting the keys to Dad’s car. I’m glad I got good at pouring.”

We’re all buoyed by the weather.

“I was concerned yesterday, when I saw the melty, drippy mess,” Ari said of the moment our visitors chose to view the paintings, “but when we cleaned it up today, it looked great.”

Gord is never anywhere for long enough to get a photo. Today he charged from the rink to the wall, disappearing like Zorro.

Even Patrick Pyszka agreed - you point to shoot and by the time you click, his back is turned or his arms are down, or he’s out of the shot. Here's one I got:

Jaz under the tarp.

Katie considering a green slab.

The press arrived today for the rink painting.

Valentine presided, dressed in that classic red coat and black hat, with her daughter Phoebe escorting. Here’s the contingent from City of Chicago in that brilliant sunshine watching the rink painting and the television cameras.

Usually I walk the block between Randolph and the park down the long corridors of the City of Chicago Cultural Center - it’s warmer than taking the street - and I’ve seen some fine art on the walls of the art gallery there.Today I opened the doors and was greeted with the most beautiful sound: Martha Councell on Flute and Richard Steinbach on piano playing Bach's Sonata in G Major. A concert in progress on the 2nd floor. I had to stop and just listen.

Preparations are going full throttle at the big white tent, getting ready for tomorrow's opening.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blizzard descends on The Popsicle

About 6 PM, it finally hit.

With temperatures quickly dropping to -14 celsius, we were back in business. Jaz called, wondering if I would brave the blizzard? The storm was beautiful and the paintings were coming together.

The winds were so strong, gromits in the tarps ripped out. That's River on the lift. Here's Tim, strapping down tarps at 10PM.

Everyone moved quickly, as a team. The paintings were radiant against the white.

Everyone was going to take a break, but it was much later than anyone realized. Standing on the street corner waiting for the light to change, Gord decided to call it off. Enough had been accomplished, and sometimes it's wise to know when nature has the upper hand. Tomorrow, at 7 am.

Storm Watch at The Bean

Waiting for the cold wind to blow in this “very Vancouver” weather.

It’s 46 degrees and cloudy, with a winter storm warning for 3 pm this afternoon.

We’re probably the only people in Chicago who want the temperature to dip.

Yesterday the winds rocked the Hard Rock Hotel, I could hear and feel their strong gusts shaking the building.

When I looked outside: it was unbelievable that snow had morphed into rain so quickly. This morning the ice shards in the river had disappeared. The streets are wet, instead of white.

At the ice rink it was so balmy, the crew worked in sweatshirts, no scarves.

Here's an NPR reporter, collecting sounds as we begin the yellow paintings on the rink. You can just see how warm it is. The ice is wet; we wait for it to freeze.

At 3PM, we’re expecting visitors to review the artwork-in-progress. The crew opens the tarps as rain hails down on us.

We’ve had a day and a half delay in the installation of the paintings because of the weather, and frost has built up on the outside of the work.

But it’s all about the here and now, the icebergs crashing into the sea, the strange, inclement weather which is global warming and the difference of one degree.

So we’re going with it, and we’ll see which way the wind blows.

Our original meeting place for Docent training outside at The Wall was switched to indoors due to storm warning. That's wind filling the sails of the orange tarp.

The crew is rested with a few days of warm weather -- and now we’ll be doing some very late nights into the darkness, just to get this baby done! Patrick Pyszka took a bunch of these photos.

Here are my favorite moments from today:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The weekend: weather, exhaustion

In Chicago there's a saying: if you don't like the weather, just wait: it will change. On the sidewalks, the Caution Falling Ice signs have been put out again, even as the air is softer. The crew is finally going to get R & R, come Monday morning, because it will be too warm to install the ice. Although we're four days from opening, everyone needs the break.

Nancy Barber arrived last night from Toronto, and we talked for hours, (docents, meetings, contacts). Gord finally walked in the door after nine thirty. Exhausted. His right eye, bright red bloodshot.

After a quick meal and a hot bath, he crawls into bed, huddling under the covers. And he wakes at dawn, unable to turn it off. River has his own story of fatigue: every night when he returns, just steps from the revolving door at The Hard Rock, he forgets that there is this ridge in the sidewalk and even though he's tripped on it before, and he trips on it again, catching himself before he falls. Today at breakfast, he laughed about it.

Ari claims to have gone postal Friday night, after so many overtime days at The Fulton, wrapping in the frigid dark there. Jaz keeps asking what the schedule? Everyone is just about maxed out, but a lot of work seems to get done after dark.

Tim is holding up well; rumor is that he has a Chicago girlfriend, but he won’t confirm. Today, Sunday, the call time was optional: 10:30 at Fox and Obel for omlettes. Gord’s picture was on the top right hand corner of The Chiago Tribune (The Iceman Cometh) and two articles about the project were inside -- one was a full page with color illustrations. It was a glorious day, much warmer.

Even the ice was breaking up in the river under Michigan Avenue, and Gord couldn’t get enough of it: a dusting of white snow sitting atop the shards; the melting around the edges, the darkness of the river.

At Millennium Park, the people of Chicago came out to skate, to stroll, to take pictures in front of the bean. You'd think it was the first day of spring.

A large contingent of docents and volunteers gathered around the wall for instruction, but at that time, the work had stopped, waiting for the temperature to go down again.

Because of the warm weather, the entire wall had been draped in blue and orange tarps - River had to peel it back to they could get a glimpse. Here they all are, waiting for our presentation, organized by Rose Di Pietro. Here’s Rose.

The warmth in the air is a physical relief for everyone, but it slows down install of the paintings. When the air is warmer than freezing, the ice can get soft between the freezer truck and the wall - as it gets shaped and cut. Once up on the wall, the plates freeze the paintings hard again. Gord says we lost a couple of hours Saturday, but there was nothing to be done: the tarps had to be lowered.

Today, everyone worked under the blue tarp on the back wall. Yesterday I bought dinner for Spence, the man who opens the interior door for guests at BACI. We high fived, because for some reason, he can’t talk.

Tonight after 9:30, we’re gathering in the suite for pizza. It’s already 10:20 and I haven’t heard a word from anyone. Photos today: opening photo: Friendly Joe; the bean & the wall: Patrick Pyszka; photo of Jaz & River on their backs: Art Sutherland.