#uskchicagosymposium

Epilogue to Chicago

The Urban Sketch Symposium was officially over July 30. But of course I’ve left so much out of my story. . .like KK’s (Kiah Kiean Chng) demonstration of his “stick” and ink drawings and Rita Sabler‘s inspiring lecture titled “Urban Sketch as a form of Protest”. And then there were the demonstration tables with all the vendors who filled our “goody bag” with materials to try!

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Bettina and I were staying at Roosevelt University housing on the 21st floor where there is a study lounge with floor to ceiling windows and a 180 degree view of Lake Michigan, Millennial Park, and well, many of the coveted architectural wonders and city views. So we invited a couple teacher friends up to enjoy sketching. And the next morning the room filled up with many of the Symposium teachers, each approaching the scene in his/her trademark way while we watched and did our own.

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Rob Sketcherman here on his iPad. Gail Wong finishing a several foot long accordian fold sketchbook, Virginia Hein doing her color magic, Shari Blaukopf getting it all in with freshness and detail, Uma Kelkar painting those beautiful soft edges.

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My sketchbook was not wide enough for the other side of the room where Marc Taro Holmes was painting the entire scene with brush only, Suhita Shirodhar appeared at some point (check out her blog posts about the Symposium), Laurel Holmes and Joel our treasurer, Bettina and Cathy McAuliff. And to add to the excitement of the morning a helicopter was delivering an air conditioner to the roof of the Art Institute next door! A handy bit of orange accent to include in the sketches!

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After that we took the time to eat an actual full midday meal, which we hadn’t had time for previously in the week! And then headed to one of the other iconic sketch spots, the Chicago Theatre.

And then the for last sketch of the week, one of the lions in front of the Art Institute Chicago, where we indulged in a full day of art viewing. My favorites, Gauguin, Saul Steinberg, and The Paintings of M. F. Husain.

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(The tail was a necessary after thought!)

But I’d missed sketching a scene I saw daily, mostly because it involved sitting under the train with its deafening roar and smelly eructations. So I did the next one from a photo at home.

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And so I’ll end it there, with the very same train that took us to the airport the next morning for only $3. What a bargain!

Chicago: Part II

I guess you haven’t really seen Chicago until you’ve visited The Bean (aka Cloud Gate) in Millenium Park on the Lake. At least I don’t think there were any UsK Symposium people who didn’t sketch it. My first sight of it was on our first night in the city. A woman who claimed to be an official greeter offered to take a picture of Bettina and I and did an expert job.

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So the Bean/Cloud Gate is an enormous, reflective kidney bean. But here’s another picture to get a better idea.

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And by the way, the whole city is reflected here, and the sky, and you can’t take your eyes off it!

The next evening I got there a bit late, and by the time I’d sat down next to a charming sketcher from Paris and opened up my sketchbook next to hers, it was dark. Knowing we might not get a second chance Sandrine and I loaded up our brushes and went for it while she smoked her Parisiene cigarettes.

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The caption seemed appropriate for this one.

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The Calder sculpture titled “Flamingo” in a plaza among skyscrapers was another popular sketch sight. I was tempted to sketch the Falun Dafa (like Tai Chi for older people in the park) group who were using the plaza for their morning routine. People are more my comfort zone, but I was in Chicago, a capital of the architecture-universe, to sketch city architecture! But in this spot, the sculpture actually got top billing.

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That afternoon the Urban Sketcher Symposium was launched with a “sketchwalk” in the Art Institute Garden, a magical place of lacy foliage!

chicago34The next morning the workshops began and those of us with Basic Passes participated in sketchwalks around the city. I was grateful to go along at my own speed, thinking I would get more sketching done.

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I had watched Paul Wang, one of my instructors from last year, sketch this very scene the day before and thought I’d try my hand at it. It’s a typical one point perspective scene in Chicago with the train (the El) crossing over the street between tall buildings, many of them with reflective surfaces.

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Let me explain. Not far from The Bean is Crown fountain, consisting of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project video images from a broad social spectrum of Chicago citizens, a reference to the traditional use of gargoyles in fountains, where faces of mythological beings were sculpted with open mouths to allow water, a symbol of life, to flow out. The images are slowing morphing all the time and periodically a spout in the mouth opens and sprays a stream of water out, delighting all the children who engage in delirious water play in the summer.

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That evening a bunch of SF Bay Area sketchers met for dinner, drinks, and the proverbial “drink and draw” at Exchecquer, a nearby restaurant. Luckily the food took a while in coming. Otherwise, hungry as I was at 9pm I would have immediately abandoned the sketch!

I hope you’ll stay tuned for Part III!