All posts tagged: Olivia Gude

Hyde Park Public Art (5 of 5)

In a recent phone conversation, Olivia Gude of the Chicago Public Art Group (CPAG) expressed her opinion that when a site-specific piece of art needs repair, Americans take on an “either/or” mentality. The piece will either be restored or destroyed. In older areas of the world, a third alternative has been commonplace for centuries: adding something new to an older structure. Take the Basilica of St. Peter as an example. Begun by Michelangelo in the Renaissance, it was expanded and tweaked by other great architects as styles changed over time.  Recently, I have to admit I fell into the binary thinking that Gude has described. When reading the text next to The Spirit of Hyde Park mural at 57th Street and Lake Park Boulevard, I became confused.  “Restored and reinterpreted by CPAG,” it read. What did reinterpreted mean in the context of public art? Weren’t murals simply painted over or touched up over time? Taking in the wall, a mix of styles was evident. Bold, abstract patterns mingled with realistic depictions of students and protestors …

Hyde Park Public Art (2 of 5)

“Where are you coming from?” “Where are you going?” In 1991, Olivia Gude, an avid muralist, stood outside the 56th Street Metra station with a tape recorder asking these questions to people who passed by. As one might think, she came up with a wide variety of answers. “I’m coming from the comfortable middle class and I want to head to the upper class.” “I’m coming from Earth and going to heaven.” “I don’t know where I’m going. I’m lost.” With the responses, she created an oral history-based mural filled with other such quotations and wintry portraits of bundled up Chicagoans. She did so in partnership with the Chicago Public Art Group, with which she has now been working for twenty-five years. Gude recognized that art was “far from being this preserve that was separate from life, [but] intrinsically part of all of these issues about culture, about human possibility, about justice.” Her 56th street mural focuses on the former; namely, the culture of a neighborhood. Reading the quotations of the mural, I was fascinated …