25 Jul 4th of July in Chicago
4th of July in Chicago was a treat. I spent the early part of my day exploring bits of the city, like Chinatown with its various shoppettes and restaurants where I ate peculiar foods off of menus written in foreign tongues.
In the afternoon, my cousin Nicole took me on a grand tour of Southside Chicago where she creates art at Mana Contemporary. Mana is a very nice and hidden little jewel of the art world.
After climbing nearly six flights of stairs, we made it to a vacant level of thick industrial beams and whitewashed walls that made up a large convention-type room. The space was lit by the blue sun in its blue hour and overlooked the spires of Chicago’s famous cityscape.
We made it to Nicole’s studio where she had pieces of her fleshy art hanging from the ceiling. Her worktable was dusted with small shavings from a dried grapefruit rind that molted as she peeled its thick and veiny skin in large sloughs. The room smelled faintly of chemical, mostly due to a mixture of the mediums she works with as well as that used by her quiet studio-mate, a painter.
While showcasing her art – a collection of phallus molds, vagina-inspired sculptures and hairy specimens made of latex and brightly colored paints – Nicole explained to me why she uses the materials she does. Here is a neat video I made of my cousin and her work.
Afterward we hit Hyde Park for the July 4th extravaganza. It’s a bit of a neighborhood tradition to watch the fireworks from the banks of Lake Michigan. Folks set up grandiose picnics with grillers, bonfires, blankets, chips ’n’ dip and beers. I enjoyed myself to some oatmeal stout by the can and watched a couple learn how to rollerblade. Friends of my cousin arrived and folks I met somewhere along my 5-day adventure joined as well. Although there isn’t much else to say about the night except that we enjoyed the fireworks and the glow of Downtown Chicago, this day, of all days, was a total treat to be in this great city, with my cousin and other fine people.