Do the Camel Walk! Last week on Reclaimed Soul, host Ayana Contreras played this rare local Chicago Blues/Soul record by Bobby Rush (not the former Black Panther turned Politician) from about 1968.
In case you were wondering how to do the then-popular dance, here’s a clip of James Brown asking Sammy Davis, Jr. if he “remembers” how to do it. And he does it. And it’s pretty great.
…But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. James Brown at the time was known for integrating the Camel Walk into his stage show. But the dance had its roots way back in the 1920s as a ragtime dance… So, it was retro even in the 1960s. Good things come back around. Or, so they say. Jive on.
This Summer, on the South Side of Chicago, St. Laurence’s is finally coming down. The grounds, which included a rectory and a school, already suffered through a devastating fire and neglect. the Archdiocese of Chicago closed the church in 2002.
The former parishioner in the above photo came to pay his respects, fittingly, on a honeyed Sunday evening. He attended St. Laurence’s School next door as a child.
It’s hard to express the stunning beauty of this building, even as it crumbled before our eyes. According to Preservation Chicago, the building dates back to 1911. The complex was listed as one of Chicago’s 7 most threatened buildings by Preservation Chicago in 2011, the building’s 100th anniversary. Landmarks Illinois, an organization dedicated to historic preservation, stated that “this collection of buildings is one of Chicago’s most intact and impressive early-20th century religious complexes.” And yet, it’s being demolished. Brick by Chicago brick.
Here’s some more recent pictures of the complex from danxoneil’s Flickr page:
There’s a metaphor here, somewhere. Perhaps it’s like watching a sleeping giant. Or a fallen warrior. Watching this building decay slowly has been surreal. Now that slow decay has been quickened.
I had a student a couple of years ago who didn’t really talk a lot. I asked her one day to sum up the toll an abandoned building puts on a block, on a community.
Her words still haunt me: “They are a black hole in the community”. Of course. Everything dark circulates around them: drugs, crime, strife. Darkness itself is housed within it. Yet, St. Laurence’s still shone bright, especially on sunny, cloudless days. A passerby might almost forget that time was ravaging the building from the inside out. Still, if a building could be proud, despite decay, that building was.
Grand Crossing’s Patron Saint of Building Redemption, artist Theaster Gates, told me not long ago that he had looked into saving it, but it was beyond repair by then. Its days were numbered.
I can’t help but feel as though if this building had been on the North Side (Roscoe Village, perhaps) and not nestled in Grand Crossing, its fate might have been different.
Below is my audio recap of last week’s 100 Saxophones for Sun Ra. It originally aired on the radio program Reclaimed Soul on Vocalo, 89.5fm and 90.7fm here in Chicago. For more about the event click here.
The “Shacks & Shanties” project is a South Side Chicago installation initiative organized by Faheem Majeed. Shacks were constructed as platforms for artistic performances and installations. I attended one such installation/performance, titled “Ghana Must Go” after the infamous plaid patterned tote bags that are so prevalent in West Africa. I talked to Faheem Wajeed as well as Abbéy Odunlami, the artist behind “Ghana Must Go”. We talked about community engagement, fashion, and appropriation.
The piece below was produced for “Reclaimed Soul” (hosted by Ayana Contreras). Reclaimed Soul airs Thursdays from 8-10pm on http://vocalo.org, and over the airwaves on 89.5fm (NWindy) and 90.7fm (CHI).
This Friday, Shacks and Shanties is hosting a community open mic. See details below:
In this audio piece, I eavesdrop on rehearsals for Opera-matic’s very cool New Moon on the Lagoon, an “evening lullaby parade”, featuring a 15 foot tall giant moon that will be lit up from within by projections of facial expressions.
This piece originally aired on Reclaimed Soul on Vocalo. Reclaimed Soul features music spun on original vinyl records, and stories of people making our world better (artistically, economically, etc) with old materials.
You can tune in to Reclaimed Soul live at 8pm CST on vocalo.org, 89.5fm (NWI/CHI) and 90.7fm (CHI)
Fresh from New Orleans, it’s my interview with Ted Riederer…. that he cut by hand on clear wax. It’s the first Reclaimed Soul interview that was played directly from a real record to play on the radio show!
Ted Riederer is a New York based artist who is in New Orleans running a pop-up record store this month called Never Records. Never Records is outfitted with recording equipment and his record cutting machine (or lathe), and he is recording local artists for free this month. Only two copies of the sessions are committed to wax: one copy for the artists and one for Never Records.
Listen to fresh episodes of Reclaimed Soul Thursdays at 8pm CST on vocalo.org!
Visual Artists Amanda Williams + Krista Franklin have collaborated on “Dreams in Jay-Z Minor”, a new exhibition at Blanc Gallery in Bronzeville running October 5, 2012 – December 29, 2012.
Connected by dual recurring dreams of Jay-Z, Williams and Franklin explore the natures of upward mobility, excess, fantasy, and hip-hop luxury. In their works they utilize a variety of mediums including handformed paper, altered books, and collage.
Tonight on Reclaimed Soul, in anticipation of tomorrow’s opening, you can listen to the artists talk about their work and the Societal cravings for Fabulousness and Upward Mobility that inspired it.
We’ll also listen to loads of samples and feature other audio surprises. OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, October 5th, 2012, 6pm-9pm
Featuring Sounds by Jamal “JayToo” Jefferies
Of course, this wouldn’t be Darkjive without a throwback Chicago hook, so without further ado:
One of Jay-Z’s most memorable collabos (that recently begat a wife and baby makes three) was his verse on Beyonce’s 2003 hit “Crazy In Love”. The song samples Chicago legends the Chi-Lites, and their single, “Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)”.
Perhaps the lesson learned is that if you are “Crazy in Love” but unsure if she is “Your Woman”, maybe you ought to “Put a Ring On It”, lest she be a “Single Lady”. Jive on.
UPDATE: In case you missed the Reclaimed Soul broadcast mentioned above, below is the link to the podcast version. Also, there will be a Curator/Artist Coffee Talk on Saturday October 20th at Blanc Gallery from 2pm-4pm.
from our friends at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport:
Objet Petit Ahh… is a single-evening exhibition and smashing party of artist-created piñata-sculptures.
In what could be the most destructive art exhibition in the history of Chicago, all of the artwork in the show will be obliterated by the show’s closing that evening. Whatever various and sundry contents should spill forth from the piñata sculptures will immediately be considered public property.
A User-Directed Super Raffle™ will determine the privilege of smashing each piñata, and all proceeds will go to benefit Version Festival 12. Each raffle ticket is $2. If you buy 5 tickets for $10 you will get a copy of the just released Proximity #009.
PLUS! In addition to the curated piñatas in the exhibition, the event will conclude with a Bring Your Own Piñata finale. Anyone attending the show may bring a piñata to add to the fun. Plus, all BYOP’s will be exhibited until the finale, so basically, yeah, you’re in the show. Put it on your resume… Whatever!
I’ll be spinning for the opening of this… The record store is completely modular and made to encourage the kind of listening-based cultural interchange that makes record stores awesome. Over 4,000 records on loan from community members’ collections. None of them are for sale, but visitors can listen to them all: from “Belly Dancing Favorites” to the Moody Blues to Earth, Wind, & Fire.
Record Store — an installation presented by Seattle Art Museum in collaboration with [storefront] Olson Kundig Architects (MacDowell architect Tom Kundig’s firm) — December 13th in Seattle! Attempting to remove the barrier between artist and audience, Record Store encourages the community to participate in the curation of this Olson Kundig Architects-designed traveling installation. Record Store is on view at Olson Kundig Architects (406 Occidental Ave., Seattle, WA 98104) from December 13 to January 31, 2012, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. An opening event will be held on December 13, 2011 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Special DJ listening parties will take place during the installation’s run.
When I met Garland Taylor recently, it was at a Jazz concert held on the lawn of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. I commented on his sandals (brown leather that appeared to be custom), and he proceeded to tell me about how he blew all of his money on them some years back while interning with a metalworking artist in Italy. So far, they were still holding up, he said. The investment had not been in vain. Shoes do, in fact, tell stories.
Speaking of stories, Taylor says of his work:
“[It is] informed by characteristics of people, and designs in nature. My sculptures are short stories that illuminate the evidence of my labor, that is, my struggle to create logic, balance, and harmony with welding electrodes and tiny pieces of steel discards from railroad maintenance crews, the construction trades, and the manufacturing industry.”
According to his website, his works “deal with improving that which has fallen into decline.”
Unassuming and friendly, Taylor has a studio not too far from Bronzeville on the South Side, and he creates otherworldly metal sculptures utilizing reclaimed materials, slick finishes suited for an automobile, and organic yet mechanical forms. Jive on!