Friday, January 11, 2008

Tomorrow: The Mayor

Friday, January 11th, 4:37 AM

From high above the pavement: a few wandering taxis and a host of empty lights against a grey sky all around. Another night of non-stop thinking; we both thrashed in the soft sheets, our heads filled with the colorful images of the day, tomorrow's promises.

Tim says he’s been lying wide-eyed, too. I’m in the living room of our suite, much too wired to nod off. Thankfully Gord lies sleeping. The Mayor visits Paintings Below Zero today, at 11:30 AM.

My sister in law wrote me a note yesterday, excited about all the press we’ve been getting. “Nicely done!” she said, “Is that Jaz we saw in the ABC piece? Where are you in this? Does this mean you have hit the "big time"? “

“Dear Debbie: Yes, this is definitely the big time.”

We try not to think about it, just to keep our eyes on the work at hand. J.C. arrived last night, and we greeted him hello at our morning coffee stop. J.C. has worked with us since Italy. He's totally committed, Gets It Done, and we were glad to see him.

He and Tim worked all day today at the Public Art Warehouse, re-configuring the plates.

Meanwhile, back at The Fulton: a contingent of people from the City of Chicago gather in the warm streets outside, waiting for the Mayor’s advance staff to arrive for a once-over. They devise the plan for his visit, which has been confirmed for Friday morning: how the Mayor, his photographers and media will walk through the building, what’s the best route? Can we turn off that banging noise when the tv interviews take place? Everyone’s in on this.

Amidst the brouhaha, the paintings go on. They're glorious today.

Then: Chon, the videographer from "Chicago Works" shows up to get some b-roll, and we break for lunch at Le Peep. Today we induct our waitress into our crew, as an honorable member.

And back to The Fulton to meet with Pam Grimes from WLS, a ‘super station’ - she’s working on a multi-part feature which would tell the story of the making of the paintings all the way through opening. It will be broadcast in Canada, she said as well as across the U.S. Here we are outside The Fulton with her cameraman, Mike D'Angelo.

We spend five hours at the market in and out of the cold room, taking breaks when necessary; (hovering pathetically around the bumpy radiator for the most wonderful flush of warmth). Pam follows Gord as he pours color solution into forms, full of a multitude of brightly colored shards. She interviews Jaz, and even Eric. Keith Klaxton and Sue-Lyn Erbeck from the Chicago Tribune watch the proceedings for a few hours; getting more information for their upcoming article.

I have the best-ever time with Brooke, basking in the grace of her generous personality and sound of her voice. We are both trying to refine a protocol for the press which makes sense both to everyone’s schedule and to Gord’s ability to work so many hours in the cold and still be fresh and available for interviews.

There is so much interest from the press, that each well-intentioned and planned five minute interview morphs into ten minutes, then fifteen, sometimes forty. Three hours yesterday, five hours today. The visits have been unexpectedly long; but it's a good thing if Gord can handle it, as it seems each reporter or camera person gets lured into the story, the beauty, the excitement of this project. Here's another Patrick Pszyka photo, below.

Finally after 4 we are released. After squash at 6, dinner with Colleen Duke and her husband, Kieran, at 8. Colleen is the Academic and Cultural Affairs Officer at the Canadian Consulate in Chicago and we’ve been corresponding via email ever since the blog went up, even though her offices are literally across the street. We have several things to organize in the next month but our schedule is so full. There was this gap today, after everything.

Here we are, at a new Italian restaurant, Marcello, very close to the L, where we dined late into the evening, our speech peppered with remembered words from our stint in Italy, “prego”, “Cin Cin”, and “Panna cotta”. More on that, see our Italy blog: (

Colleen said, “I’ve lived in this city for twenty something years, and I’ve never been so excited about February in Chicago.” She was, of course, referring to Paintings Below Zero at Millennium Park.

In a few hours: Mayor Daley visits Paintings Below Zero at The Fulton.

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