Tag Archives: grand crossing

The Parishioner: St. Laurence’s Last Days.

Chicago-The Parishoner

 

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.

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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.

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Dorchester Projects June 2011

Visit us at Theaster Gates’ Dorchester Projects (recently featured in the Chicago Reader) this Friday Night (June 3rd from 7p-9p), as well as on Sunday, June 12th, from 3p-5p.  Come with a story about how music has impacted your life….

About the Dorchester Projects:

Dorchester Projects seeks to explore the ways in which thoughtful spaces committed to art, public education, design, and advocacy can contribute to the cultural and economic redevelopment of a neighborhood.

“[Gates] says: I was always making art that was asking questions about the city, and why the city functioned the way it did. How does cultural and economic disparity happen? How can we fight it? I was trying to present these questions in the form of little abandoned ceramic houses and drawings or performances that spoke to the issue. And I just got tired of pointing a finger at it and wanted to actually do something about it, challenge it in a real way.”Chicago Reader, June 2, 2011

click here for more on Theaster and the Projects


Theaster Gates’ Dorchester Projects

What do you get when you mix a maverick artist with strong community ties and an Urban Planner? For one thing, Theaster Gates. For another, the Dorchester Projects, pictured above. Theaster has been purchasing properties in the Woodlawn/Grand Crossing neighborhood for a few years now, and has quietly acquired the stock of the former Dr. Wax record store as well as the now defunct Prairie Avenue Bookstore (both businesses were revered in their respective collector communities). He created a home for glass lantern slides that depict the canon of Western Fine Art. Using reclaimed materials, he is turning his properties into cultural community hubs, featuring curators and programming that reflects the collections and the community.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll be curating the record collection in May and June of 2011, culminating in a series of talks on Chicago Music History (details to follow) and a couple of good, old-fashioned dance parties starring local-born music.

Read the New York Times article about what’s poppin on the South Side with the Dorchester Projects.


Representations: A Letter, An Essay, and Five Questions

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from the Experimental Station:

On Friday, April 10 at 6 pm, at the Experimental Station, Lee Ann Norman and Theaster Gates (below) will be presenting the next happening in their year-long series entitled “Representations: A series on Culture, Politics and Aesthetics.” Please join Lee Ann and Theaster at the Experimental Station for “A Letter, an Essay, and Five Questions” featuring Hamza Walker, Director of Education and Curator at the Renaissance Society.

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The Experimental Station is located at:

6100 S. Blackstone Ave.

Chicago, Il 60637

About the Experimental Station: Taking its name from a speech given by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1901 (“The Art and Craft of the Machine”), the Experimental Station exceeds even Wright’s dream of a place where art and technology would embrace one another under the same roof, where such an encounter would lead to new ideas and innovative designs and practices.  Please click on the book at left for more information.

webfarm-14NOTE: the Experimental Station’s 61st Street Farmers Market Opens SATURDAY, MAY 16!  More info to come.


Blue Sky Black Monk

black-monksA convergence of African-American and Japanese cultures and sounds is happening tonight on the South Side of Chicago….

from the Experimental Station’s website:

Please join the Experimental Station, Columbia College, and Theaster Gates in presenting “Blue Sky Black Monk,” Japan’s Sennichimae Blue Sky Dance Club and Chicago’s Black Monks of Mississippi.

During the last three months, Sennichimae and the Black Monks have used the Internet as a means of exchanging musical and body movements inspired by their cultural and artistic roots. The Sennichimae Blue Sky Dance Club, an all-female butoh-influenced Japanese company, is devoted to uncovering original physical expression with a pop sensibility. The Black Monks of Mississippi is a music and performance ensemble interesed in the relationship between black music, eastern philosophy and ritual aesthetics. In Chicago, the two will meet for the first time at the Experimental Station for “Blue Sky Black Monk,” a raw and extraordinary multicultural collaboration of body and sound. The event begins at 6:30pm and is FREE and open to the public.

The Experimental Station is located at:

6100 S. Blackstone Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637