Monday, January 21, 2008

Ice paintings go up on popsicle wall

Monday morning. January 21st. 2008

Before dawn. The streets, chalk white cold, are still empty. A light shines in the darkness against the building and I can see snow flurries sparkle in their billowy dance. Since Friday, the Dow has crashed 400 points; Hillary Clinton won in Nevada and John McCain in South Carolina. My sister sent me a photo with a blue scarf I bought for her from Italy when we were there in 2006 for the Olympics. (

On Saturday night, Ari & Matt drove to Michigan to watch 300 Christmas trees burn in an open field; Jaz and River explored The Navy Pier. There was a dance organized by Katie in a wonderful warehouse with high ceilings. On Sunday, along with an assortment of Chicagoans of every level of income, I went shopping. I'm looking for a fancy dress to wear for the Consular Ball in February.


Today we wake early for a radio interview at WGN with Spike O’Dell. Brooke escorts us into the Tribune Building where we listen to Gord’s short chat during drive time. It's Martin Luther King, Jr. day.

Here's Spike and Gord, a couple of Irish guys, jovial and the center of attention after having spun a yarn.

At Intelligentsia, Gord asks for everyone’s attention. “We’re really pushing for the next four or five days, so we can get ahead and be able to do some nice work at the end.” Today the first paintings go up on the huge wall.

Next week is the stretch before the opening. I know they’re all hoping to be able to take Sunday off.

More press arrangements for interviews in the park. At the drawing board, Gord announces, “I’ve got to go to The Fulton, to pick out some pieces and make sure they get on the pallet for tomorrow.”

Christine escorts another reporter to The Fulton. Gord’s withdrawn, concentrating, preoccupied with the challenges at hand: getting paintings up on the wall; which ones where? How to cut them? How well are they adhering? What's our process at this venue, with these particular conditions? Christine graciously re-schedules an eleven o’clock press meeting for one.

The sun beats down on the corner where the first yellow shard is set. Gord doesn’t like to tip his hand until he’s solved what’s in front of him. And yet. He’s under a microscope. Still, he smiles when he sees Noreen, who visits the site with her photographer, Chris Walker.

Afterwards, a crew meeting at BACI: a re-focus for the team. Instead of a symphony, I’m now thinking of a hockey game, and he’s the coach, firing up the players for a long, difficult stretch.

Everyone goes about their business. River, our resident stoneworker, says the ice cuts like butter with a skil saw. We sort through our collective memory re: proven ways to pour water -- the glue on the back of the paintings. Tim's going to get a turkey baster. A couple of lucky photographers in the right place at the right time - get shots as the first shards go up.

Suddenly the day is over. It’s nine o’clock at night. Dark outside, snowing huge flakes, a wet snow: it's warmer. I hear Gord's key in the door. He’s exhausted, “I got nothin’!” he says, but I do learn: a fuse blew, and the site was without power for several hours. But because the electricians (who were home for the holiday) had locked down the power, there was not even such a simple option as to flip a switch back on. So they lost a bit of time while Tim rented a generator. Now, they’re back in business, with an alternate power source. Nerve-wracking as it is, it’s good to have these things happen early. I can't wait to see what they've put up today!

No comments: