Open House Chicago

Details and patterns

Details make patterns.  Choices make habits.  Imagining makes art.  Believing makes seeing.

It’s been a while since I went out to wander and photograph just for the sake of wandering and photographing.  It felt good:  stretching my legs, stretching my imagination and shaking off this long strange summer.  This was the weekend at Open House Chicago 2016.

Sandstone held to a bell tower with metal band-aids and hair nets.  The bell tower survived the Great Fire in 1871, and still wears the blackened crown to prove it.  Saint James Episcopal Cathedral.

Six red galeros, hats of dead bishops, streaming from the ceiling of Holy Name Cathedral.  Hanging high behind the crucifix carved from one large piece of balsam wood, they wait for the day they collapse to dust and nothingness and return to the ground.

Ornate chandeliers are turned down low to let the stained glass windows tell their bible stories  in the 2nd floor chapel of Saint James Chapel at Archbishop Quigley Center.

Ivy climbs and clings to the detail on the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue, in the morning shadow of the Hancock.  And in this church, at long last we get to go upstairs to the balcony…and there’s a pipe organ, gentle at first and then lighting up the guests with a loud pounce.

The 5th place was an art house in an old mansion.  Giant windows, rimmed in dark wood.  Pocket doors and white marble fireplaces in every room.  Studios for rent and live models seven days a week.  An open studio on the 3rd floor smelled of oil paint as I rounded the final set of stairs up.  The old floors were for dancing when this was a home and this level housed a ballroom. Now the wood floors showed wear from drops of paint as artists made their art.  At this moment, they were sans model, but they worked as if she were still there.  An imaginary model.  Cross breezes fluffed papers from the transom windows along the floor where the band used to sit.

The Monroe Building, with Rookwood tiles, and tiles, and tiles, and a working mail chute for the 14-story building.  This building and the one across the street, on the north side of Monroe at Michigan stand like sentinels, equal sized gate posts, greeting traffic entering Chicago on what used to be the main thoroughfare.

The chapel in the sky at the Chicago Temple.  The highest place of worship above street level.  Twenty two floors via elevator, then A through E floors via a cozy elevator, then 31 steps up to this tiny little Sky Chapel.  Stained glass windows line the room and limit views of the sky and the surrounding city.  The wood is ash, preserved forever from the Emerald Ash Borers that have killed so many trees in the Midwest.

Bell Tower details St. James Episcopal Cathedral
Sandstone held to a bell tower with metal band-aids and hair nets. The bell tower survived the Great Fire in 1871, and still wears the blackened crown to prove it. Saint James Episcopal Cathedral.
Holy Name Cathedral galeros
Six red galeros, hats of dead bishops, streaming from the ceiling of Holy Name Cathedral. Hanging high behind the crucifix carved from one large piece of balsam wood, they wait for the day they collapse to dust and nothingness and return to the ground.
Saint James Chapel at Archbishop Quigley Center stained glass windows
Ornate chandeliers are turned down low to let the stained glass windows tell their bible stories in the 2nd floor chapel of Saint James Chapel at Archbishop Quigley Center.

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Fourth Presbyterian Church ivy
Ivy climbs and clings to the detail on the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue
Fourth Presbyterian Church Michigan Avenue
The pipe organ rings out at the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue
Marble fireplace detail Palette & Chisel
Marble fireplace mantel detail from Palette & Chisel.

 

palette & chisel live model art studio
Palette & Chisel artists taking a break in the 3rd floor ballroom studio
palette and chisel chicago model art studio
Palette & Chisel: Imagination.
Monroe Building Chicago rook wood tiles
The Monroe Building, with Rookwood tiles, and tiles, and tiles. Muted earth tones in the foyer, just waiting to wow you when you go through those doors.
The Monroe Building Rookwood details make patterns
The Monroe Building, with Rookwood tiles, and tiles, and tiles.
The Chapel in the Sky Chicago Temple
The chapel in the sky at the Chicago Temple. The wood is ash, preserved forever from the Emerald Ash Borers that have killed so many trees in the Midwest.
Stenciling on ceiling of Chicago Temple
Chicago Temple ceiling stenciling.
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Details…They don’t make them like they used to!

At this year’s Open House Chicago, sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, I went to see the interiors of buildings not normally open to the public.  And what struck me most were the rich details…the ornate little extras, little treats for the eyes built in to the old spaces.

Whatever happened to those days of craftsmanship?  When those little flourishes mattered?   Now it seems that buildings are mundane.  Character has disappeared in favor of efficiency, productivity, mass production and bottom lines.

Nope.  They don’t make ’em like they used to!

Staircase spiral steps chicago motor club
In the Chicago Motor Club building (now a Hampton Inn), there is the muraled map of the old U.S. highways and parks, some exquisite– picture grandma’s-silver –detail around the elevators, and a wavy curve to the staircase in that same smooth silver.
Union Carbide hard rock virgin old dearborn bank building
A view of the Union Carbide Building (built in 1929, now the Hard Rock Hotel), supposedly built to resemble a champagne bottle with gold foil at the top…as seen from the Old Dearborn Bank Building (built in 1928, now the Virgin Hotel).
oriental palace theater chicago
Built in 1926, this place is lusciously FULL of ornaments…Isis, seahorses, cats, jesters, plush red seats and elaborate lanterns and chandeliers.
Chicago model miniature
An accurately scaled model of Chicago made in plastic…right down to the Bean.
Elevator floor indicator santa fe building chicago
Elevator floor indicator in the building that houses the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
Fine arts building elevator chicago
The Fine Arts Building elevator…still manually operated, with a grated door and up/down bulbs, these elevators make the smoothest sound.
stairwell fine arts building chicago
Practicing violins, pianos and voices echo through the stairwell of this old building, still an artists community, just as the Chicago’s Fine Arts Building was meant to be.
lyre banister knob stairwell fine arts building chicago
Well worn and appropriately detailed banister knobs in the stairwell of the Fine Arts Building in Chicago.
File Gumbo fiddle violin maker
At the William Harris Lee & Company stringed instrument shop in the Fine Arts Building Chicago. Seeing these workstations where violins, violas, cellos, and stand-up basses are lovingly carved and brought to life was a highlight of the day! And who knew that a little File Gumbo spice is built-in?
violins cellos whlee stringed instrument makers
At W.H. Lee & Company, Violins, Violas and Cellos wait. Fine Arts Building in Chicago.
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