Tuesday, May 09, 2017

At the Wonderful Chicago Cultural Center, 'Eugene Eda's Doors' Vibrantly Open My Eyes -- Art Exhibition Spotlight

Exhibit Overview

Eugene Eda's Doors for Malcolm X College
Chicago Cultural Center
Thru June 25

It feels strange to call the Chicago Cultural Center one of the city's great hidden gems, as it comprises a hulking building--long the main branch of the Chicago Public Library--set rather conspicuously along Michigan Avenue across from Millennium Park (between Randolph and Washington).

And anytime I've gone there, I've encountered a good number of people, whether at tables in the first floor lobby area or perusing the various exhibits, attractions and beautiful rooms--including two astonishing stained glass domes--contained within the Cultural Center.

But perhaps because the temporary exhibitions are always free of charge, the center seems to lack the kind of buzz and appreciation it deserves--even among artsy friends--and often doesn't pull me in with great urgency.

It's something of a backhanded compliment to say the Chicago Cultural Center is the best place to go if you're in the Loop with time to kill, for that shortchanges the quality of the exhibits that are regularly curated there.

But last Sunday, my mom and I found ourselves downtown more than an hour before a Goodman Theatre matinee (see my previous post), and without having planned on it beforehand, just kind of naturally gravitated to and into the Cultural Center.

And spent every minute there we could possibly spare.

Just within the foyer near the Randolph Street entrance, there is a display of banners with sayings such as "I AM SOMETIMES INSECURE ABOUT MYSELF," "I AM QUIET" and "I GIVE UP EASILY," which I imagine are meant to suggest feelings of commonality among those who utilize the common space.

In various spots within the Cultural Center, one can currently find various architectural elements that fell off other buildings, rock 'n roll concert posters, a collection of handmade cloth banners with slogans (many denouncing the president) and much more.

Painting by Candida Alvarez
Through July 30, there is a gallery featuring remnants and remembrances of The Wall of Respect, a black power mural that had adorned a south side building, and until August 6, a nice exhibition of a rather diverse selection of paintings by Candida Alvarez.

As usual, the most prominent exhibition is within the Sidney R. Yates Gallery, a sumptuous space on the building's 4th floor that--per Wikipedia--is a "replica of an assembly hall in the Doge's Palace, Venice, with heavily ornamented pilasters and coffered ceiling."

Dating back to January and running until June 25 is an exhibit titled:

Eugene Eda's Doors for Malcolm X College.

This showcases 32 mural-like paintings the college's artist-in-residence Eugene "Eda" Wade created between 1971-1973 to adorn stairwell doors--on both sides--within the West Side institution, which has moved to new buildings nearby.

As you will see below, and more so via a highly recommended in-person visit, as part of the Black Arts Movement that began in the mid-'60s, Eda depicted "African and African-American heritage, history and culture, as well as social commentary scenes"--in a wide variety of styles.

Especially in having greatly enjoyed the work of Diego Rivera on a trip to Mexico City in 2015--and also in Detroit--I appreciate muralist painting, and imagine there are great examples throughout Chicago, some within public view, some not.

Eda's doors were a great example of the latter, but now--at least for another 6 weeks; I'm not sure where they will go once the exhibition ends--the former. And I think you'll agree, they're rather eye-opening.

No comments: