Friday, January 25, 2008

Bobby Hull, The Gulag, Day #5 install

January 25, 2008

It's Friday, and between fahrenheit and celsius, there's only one way to know how frigid it really is: how fast your fingers freeze, and beyond that, how quickly they thaw. Happily, we're on a mission and it gets more exciting every day. Art emailed with a photo he'd captured before he left: The Hard Rock & Museum of Modern Ice banners. You can see the windows of our suite, second row from the top.

The painting goes up slab by shard. Mr. Tambourine Man plays on the ice rink behind the bean. The music comes up & over the square, landing in our laps, whether we want to sing along or not. The sound of the skil saw is the only thing loud enough to cut through it.

The crew misses the radiator at The Fulton, as when gloves get wet, now there's no place to warm them.

The work is hard, but life is good. The people we meet, intelligent, fun, interesting. Chicago hospitality.

Everyone: reporters, photographers, staff at Chicago Cultural Center, people behind the desk at The Hard Rock, Intelligentsia baristas, the chef who makes my egg white omelet, even the guy on the street acknowledges me as I pass.

Here's Susie An, with Chicago Public Radio in a photo shot by a guy named Joe Friendly. Joe's doing a still-photo doc report on Gord's work at Millennium Park. You can see more of his stuff at

Here's Danielle Dai, a student at University of Chicago who is interested in making a documentary of Paintings Below Zero at Millennium Park.

Yesterday, this really great gal, Jody Oshita-Bajor hosted us on behalf of NBC at a Blackhawks game. (She's on the right).

I told Brooke way back about Gord's link with the team. The obvious promotional connection - hockey rinks and Gord's inspiration for frozen paintings. More personal: Gord's father(Marty Halloran) was a softball hero of the famous Blackhawks player Bobby Hull. One day in the peak of Bobby Hull's career, he sees Marty back in Ontario and runs after him saying, "Remember me, Marty? I was your bat boy." Bobby's brother, Dennis worked for Marty at Halloran Motors in Niagara Falls, alongside Gord, when they both were young. Marty died a couple years ago, but Bobby could still be out there, still playing hockey with an old timers team, perhaps, and Gord would really like to get on the ice with him. A gesture for his dad, perhaps? A tribute to a great hockey player? Gord is still a pretty nifty stick handler, for an artist, and I think he would just be honored and thrilled. And, he'd have a story to take back - to his team, The Rusty Cranks.

Anyway, someone knew someone and the next thing you know, we're handing in our tickets to watch the game in The Blackhawk's suite; we're listening to the national anthem on super loud speakers; we're watching the players move like stink around that rink and Gord's got a Blackhawks sweater -- his name, correctly spelled, on the back.

Here we are, just before the cameras zero in on us. This after a 30 second spot, advertising Paintings Below Zero on the Jumbo Tron. That's Dillon on the left, the kid who's been playing hockey for as long as I have, and who loves it just as much. And there's Sarah Best (on the right), who is in charge of the website for Chicago Cultural Center. She and Karen Ryan, were our escorts from the city.

I remembered last year, when we were guests of Eric & Vizma Sprott at a Toronto Maple Leafs game - against our home team, the Canuks. Who cares who won? It's the people -- their generosity and goodwill -- whose memory stays long after the score is forgotten.

Today at the Gulag, Ari and a small crew huddled around the radiator in the warm room as Friendly Joe and I came upon them.

Ari was tired but smiled bravely; he's holding down the fort over there with a skeleton crew of interns, Katie (#2) and Katherine (in the photo) plus a couple others, making ready the pieces Gord wants to mount on the wall back at the park.

The photo here was one of Joe's taken today; kudos.

Meetings and interviews, phone calls with press. Gord spent both of his 'breaks' on the phone. It was so cold, they left the site and went into the warm when they had to - when it was just too bone chilling to go on. It was almost time to go home when I learned that the blue jackets from the City of Chicago arrived - in two huge boxes. So, doncha know, Leo Rodriguez, here he is, got a dolly and walked them back to the Hard Rock with me. And then I find out he was one of those guys helping Ari pack the ice at The Fulton. Have a look at that photo again, he's there, helping out.

At dusk, a thinned crew was still at it. (The rest had been sent back to The Gulag, to wrap and break and sort and send). I couldn't stop singing Jeremiah was a bullfrog. . . because that's what was coming through the loudspeakers, as skaters went round and round that little rink below The Bean.

Okay, one more indulgence: here's a photo of the wall going up -- sans paintings - which Art took. Look at this magnificent thing.

1 comment:

urbanpanda said...

amazing! can't wait!