After 21 years in office, it’s hard to imagine Chicago without Mayor Richard M. Daley in the driver’s seat. What direction will the Mayor’s signature accomplishments and noted controversies take now?
Pundits, politicians and citizen activists aren’t the only folks to weigh in. Fourteen Chicago artists have created works representing their take on Chicago’s future. The art will be displayed in a special exhibit titled “Chicago A.D. (After Daley)” at the Jackson Junge Gallery, 1389 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago from Friday, January 21, thru Sunday, February, 27. An opening reception, free to the public, will be held on January 21st, from 6pm – 9pm.
The collection includes paintings, digital images, illustration, collage, jewelry and more. The visual commentaries offer tributes and critiques of the long-serving Mayor as well as projection over what comes next. The economy, diversity, housing, corruption, airport expansion and those infamous parking meters are just a few of the subjects addressed in this clever, provocative and timely exhibit.
“As a venue that showcases contemporary Chicago artists we couldn’t resist the upcoming mayoral election,” said Chris Jackson, director and co-owner of the Jackson Junge Gallery. “We gave the artists considerable leeway simply asking them to create a visual perspective on what this turning point might mean for the City of Chicago. As a result, we received a broad range of work ranging in tone from political and satirical to reflective and inspiring. We can only hope that the election itself proves as insightful!”
“The Mayor of Mayhem,” Laura Lee Junge (oil on canvas, 62”x48”): Mayor of Mayhem is a portrait of the future Mayor of Chicago. While the image is figurative it is meant to represent the complexities that will greet the city’s new top executive, rather than the individual elected to fill those shoes. The portrait incorporates a machine-like quality that underscores Chicago style politics. The Mayor’s apparel is decorated with Chicago’s finest institutions from museums and landmarks to sports teams and entertainment. There are subtle and not-so-subtle references to the myriad of problems the city faces today. A rabbit fishing for a carrot is perched on the future Mayor’s top hat suggesting the reputed corruption of city government.
“This Meter Has Been Left As A Courtesy To Cyclists,” Brian Morgan (India ink, acrylic and vinyl paint on wood, 20” x 16): According to the artist, Mayor Richard M. Daley embodies everything that is Chicago…passion, corruption, tenacity, ingenuity. While he may be rough around the edges he is also a compassionate man who flouts high-tech innovation while enjoying a ride to work on his bicycle. The parking meter controversy illustrates Daley’s approach. He leaves a legacy of parking frustration for motorists but has been careful to maintain a number of the old-fashioned meters so that citizens have a post to lock their bikes (and presumably leave their cars at home.) Brian Morgan’s painting depicts a smiling portrait of Mayor Daley wearing a lapel pin that toots the benefit of meters for cyclists.
“Owls Over The Windy City,” Anastasia Mak (acrylic on canvas, 24” x 26”): Owls that hover above the city scoping out the skyline represent Chicago’s mayoral candidates. Owls are symbolic creatures with multiple meanings. They are perceived to be wise and protective, qualities the citizens of Chicago hope their new Mayor will possess. But, they are also nocturnal and mysterious birds adverse to light and “sunshine.” The artist notes that owls are aggressive predators. She questions whether the city’s new leader will strive for personal gain at the expense of those less powerful or work to rid the city of the many “rodents” it has harbored over the years.
"O’Hare Expansion,” Bobbie Bolociuch (sterling silver ring): The world’s busiest (or second busiest?) airport is reduced to sit on the head a finger ring. With travelers, revenue and airline support in decline, the O’Hare Airport runway expansion continues to face challenges. What was once considered to be a Daley legacy now seems ripe with uncertainty. The new Mayor will inherit what this artist claims is a “tangle of ambition, politics and profit.” Ironically, the magnitude and complexity of the airport project far out measure the parameter of a pinky finger ring. The piece evokes the indecision, confusion and multiple direction the artist ascribes to the expansion plans.
“Passing The Mantle,” Tim Jackson (Illustration / cartoon 81/2” x 11”) : Political cartoonist Tim Jackson says “Passing the Mantle” illustrates the ending of a political dynasty in Chicago. With an image reminiscent of “The Sword in the Stone,” Mayor Daley lays down the governmental gauntlet before a sea of eager, reaching and diverse hands. Who will prove himself or herself charismatic enough to woo the voting masses while mastering the leadership skills worthy of ruling over Chicago? Out of the throngs of contenders for the throne, there can be only one!