Last Saturday we had our “Saturated Landscape” art opening and tour collaboration with Azimuth Projects and it was a grand success. People filtered in around 2pm to check-in and get their hot chocolate and hand warmers for the 2:15pm sold-out tour of ordinary landscapes in the neighborhood. The hot chocolate, from Katherine Anne Confections, was thick and rich, and in addition to keeping us warm, it gave a great chocolate buzz!
Ordinary Landscape of Logan Square Tour
The one-hour-long walking tour considered how the landscape, that for many of us is mundane, effects us socially and psychologically and communicates messages that we overlook. Instead of awing at the mansions of Logan Boulevard and the lives of the rich and famous, we marveled at the extraordinary aspects of ordinary features of our landscape. In keeping with the visual arts angle of the event, we focused on the visual space and objects within it – not the sounds or smells.
Because the city landscape has been shaped by people, we can consider it as a physical expression of culture. Often the most overlooked things can most reveal to us our culture. Geographer Pierce Lewis said “the culture of any nation is unintentionally reflected in its ordinary landscape.”
I designed this walk around DW Meinig’s “The Beholding Eye: Ten Versions of the Same Scene.” He outlines ten different perspectives for the ways we all have different reactions and interpretations to the landscape features around us depending on our backgrounds, feelings, interests, and our identities.
The tour topics ranged all over the place. For example, we talked about why houses have the shapes that they do. But we also discussed what kind of bird lives in a nest that we passed. We talked about how we try to control nature in our city habitat, and yet it still defeats us. The two tour groups also looked at lawn ornaments, alleys, and fences, and learned a little about graffiti and the habitats of rats.
We also considered the front yard as a symbol of the American dream, and how the boulevard visually ends up being an extension of the front yard. The idea of aesthetics in the landscape inspired me to consider how we perceive our environment. So we made a “blind simulator” using welding goggles to see how a blind person might experience the landscape. Plus, we talked about the science behind why we perceive snow to be bluish in color.
Artists Peter Cardone and Madeleine Bailey showed their landscape-inspired art at the Azimuth Project apartment gallery in Logan Square. Peter’s photography, which involved him clearing the growth within a landscape, connected with Meinig’s idea of how we can see the landscape as untouched nature, or modify it to have it produce wealth, such as with real estate.
Much Thanks to Our Partners!
We’d like to extend a special thanks to the people and organizations that made this special event a grand success.
- Thanks to Katherine of Katherine Anne Confections for the incredible hot chocolate
- to Bill and Mike at Resolve Pest Solutions for the fascinating (and terrifying) information on rats in Logan Square
- to Kevin and Abby at Crosstown Tree Service for explanation of tree species
- to Mike at New Era Chicago Realty for perspective on real estate and some specific buildings we looked at
- to Tony at Cellar Door Provisions for background on their garden for their new restaurant and bakery
- to Shannon Kenney at Old Country Animal Clinic (in New York) for explanation of bird nests
- to Dr. Matt Gifford at Red Eye Optical for guidance in simulating the perception of blind people
- to Robin Amer formerly of WBEZ for presenting on wealth in the landscape
- to Matt Saurman of dSpace Studio for his architectural expertise
- to Denise Zaccardi at Community TV Network for guidance with gang graffiti
- to artist Peter Cardone for his feedback on a practice-run of the tour
- to MK at Comfort Station for graciously opening up to welcome our group
- to Paul Levin of the Chamber of Commerce in Logan Square for information on changes in the Logan Square community
- and to Maurene Cooper of Azimuth Projects for her collaboration, awesome input, and killer cookies
— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director of Chicago Detours