Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Post Script to a painting in winter

As Hilary and Obama tough it out in the final bid for the democratic nomination for president of the United States, as those desperate to influence the outcome have created a ‘scandal’ which tries a little too hard to smear Obama, we were on a plane to Minneapolis to meet with nine movers and shakers who are interested in bringing Paintings Below Zero to the twin cities.

My emailer yielded a note sent February 11th, which I just have to reproduce here, along with a neon memory of the installation, captured by Matt Hotz.

Congratulations on a splendid artistic endeavor for the city of Chicago!! As one of the underwriters of the recently installed Agora exhibit, I can't thank you enough for your commitment to artistic excellence in these elements, just outstanding!! KUDO's. Husband and I have always enjoyed all the winter festivals in Canada, especially Quebec (drank my first Caribou with Bill Shatner), Montreal, Toronto. You have managed to bring that kind of winter land joy to Chicago. THANK YOU!!!
-Gia McDermott

I’m playing catch up, but delight in remembering how Chicago has put us through our paces up until the last gasp. Our post wake ‘voluminous social calendar’ (as once described by Colleen Duke) included dinner with Colleen’s sister and mother. Above: totally hitting it off at wake dinner at Reza's.

Saturday, we stopped by the wall, already under much duress. Tim, Ari, Lucas et al (the Katies, Matt, Laura & John) had been at it for hours already.

It was just too painful, I couldn’t stay. Instead, squash at the Windy City Open in the Women’s 3.0 category. I lost my first match 3-0 (9-5,9-6, 9-7 because I didn't run) but won my second match 3-0 in a slam dunk.

Then, Saturday night, Amit’s mother, Judith Hasak, created a fabulous meal and theatrical occasion for her family and longtime Israeli friends. I learned the meaning of the word “goy” as we were two such creatures that night. She invited me to read/perform, and again I pulled out a couple of different characters.

At one point Nehemiah left the room to get me a kleenex -- then afterwards, told a moving story of his own. For us, an unforgettable connection with Amit and his remarkable family continues. I left my glittery jacket - Judith says it means we will return to Chicago. (And we will - Gord has a show at Aldo Castillo Gallery in Oct).

Sunday, I won my 3rd match 3 - 0, as I listened to Gord’s last minute direction: “don’t leave anything on the court” and to Peter Wendt’s “lob the ball deep”. I placed 2nd overall. Here's Peter, who plays Australian squash, who coached me.

And Imran, Lakeshore Athletic Club's squash pro.

It was a warm Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art where, after a delicious brunch, we took in the Gordon Matta Clark exhibit. Chicago just goes on and on. Jody Oshita-Bajor had given us tickets to the Canuks/Blackhawks game, but we were too exhausted. Then, onto a reception in Gord’s honor at the new, magnificent and thoroughly modern home of architect Brad Lynch. Georges and Sharon had just arrived back from Ottawa; Patrick Pyszka and the famous Emily toasted along with Colleen, Kieran and new friends, guests at the party.

Not to be forgotten, we had in the past week a warm and generous reception from Karen from Icy Indiana - she sought us out after her mother sent her a tear out from Reader’s Digest or some such magazine, (advertising the exhibit) and after reading the blog, as we have many many things in common. She’s keen to see Paintings Below Zero in South Korea and Columbus, Indiana. She came to Chicago expressly to see the wall, and came up early to catch my reading at Aldo Castillo Gallery. Here she is in front of the wall.

A long lost relative of Gordon’s, Gordon McLellan paid a visit, bearing family history and some sketchy news and family stories from earlier days when everyone was alive. Here they are, the two ruddy faced Gordons, at the wall at the wake.

We’re flying over Texas right now, strangely en route to Vancouver (one of the oddities of the American Airlines sponsorship). Yesterday the Twin Cities rallied with a wonderful idea for two installations - one in each city - to coincide with the finishing of the bridge repair. Art as healing. And here they are, those who can make it happen, post meeting in that wonderful surrounded-by-snow-parks-and-rec property just down the street from The Walker Museum.

It’s hot out the window and I can see how my life in front of me is going to take up all the visual space in my mind. So, I’m penning closure thoughts about Chicago on my laptop next to the window. Outside, below the landscape changes. We're heading west - into spring.

Come back - for photos, thanks.

Photo credits: Patrick Pyszka, Colleen Duke, Matt Hotz, Caitlin Hicks

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