The Newberry Library had an exhibit which was closing that I wanted to catch. Entitled "Ballyhoo!" it was a small selected display of items in their circus collection. The exhibit wasn't all that I might have expected. Circus fans often have larger rooms full of memorabilia. But it was interesting, nonetheless. They had a few old programs, a book or two, a bunch of pictures (some of which I hadn't seen before like the Barnum family portrait.)
My favorite item was a newspaper ad from 1891. A two page full spread for Barnum & Bailey's "Greatest Show on Earth"; it was delightful.
The promotions talk of that era was just brilliant - and believable! Why can't people write so well and credibly any longer? I spent most of my time on this one item, just carefully lapping up the entire piece.
Circus fans might have found of particular note or special interest an item which it mentioned. In speaking of the seriousness of the artistic exhibition under the big top, the chatter said that nothing was sold in the performance tent during the show. Rather, one would need to go to the appropriate vendor in the menagerie area. Now, I'm certain there was some business sense and scheme to this particular model. But it certainly isn't what has grown up over the past century in typical circus hawking tactics... until of late. The more "serious" artistic endeavors such as Cirque du Soleil or Big Apple Circus have similar policies now. They want your attention directed entirely to the show, itself, when the performance is underway. Hmmm... everything old is new again. I suppose you could say that it has come "full circle"!
Later that evening....
I mosied on over to the Loyola Museum of Art in the Lewis Tower campus across from the legendary Water Tower.
I've heard a lot of chatter about this museum and wanted to check it out for some time. They have late hours (open till 8) and free admission Tuesday. Plus the advertised exhibit on Pope John Paul and his role in Catholic - Jewish relations seemed interesting. It was better than I thought.
There's been a lot of discussion on the life if this man, and having lived through his papacy I am no stranger to it's extent. Therefore, I expected this to be a nice little, short walkthrough. As I entered, there was a docent led tour occurring. I kind of felt that it got in my way. So I hung back, figuring that the lady wasn't going to tell me anything that I didn't already know or couldn't learn from the exhibit, itself. I'm glad I did. This gave me the opportunity to spend more time with items of interest. I had the chance to let it breathe and speak to me in a unique and individualized way.
I quickly found that there were aspects of his life which I didn't understand at all. Who knew that the town he grew up in, for instance, was about equidistant (and only around 30 miles) from both Krakow and the eventual location of Auschwich?
The entire exhibit is extremely well done. You get a genuine feel for the things it is expressing. Like the window of his native apartment overlooking the neighboring parish clocktower. Or the environment of his hometown during the Holocoust.
There was even a display which discussed the language of Good Friday's liturgical prayers pre and post Council reforms. This seemed so pertinent considering the recent re-establishment of the old Latin Mass.
Indeed, the exhibit as a whole brought to memory and life things which I might never have understood as well before. I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone who can attend!
Oh, and another tour caught up to me in the process. But this guide was more interesting, peppering her walkthrough with little stories of "Lolich"'s life (the childhood nickname of Karol Wotyla) and that of his friend, Jerzy Kluger, even adding in some local flavor. It made things interesting and I stuck it through with her little group.
On the upper level of LUMA is presently the artwork (largely religious oriented) of Chicagoan David Lee Csicsko. It's also worth walking through. His images are eclectic and thoroughly modern. Some of the stuff connected with me, other stuff just seemed weird. But, then, I suppose this is what art ought to do - cause us to have individual reactions and stir our emotions and intellects. EVERYONE has an opinion, afterall!
The funniest thing about his exhibit, however, was the room encircled with blackline drawings of Catholic saints. In the middle are some small statues and sculptures (perhaps not his work, but others on permanent display?) One is entitled, "Playboy Bunny". Well, now, how's that for offering artistic contrast!