Mosaic-spotting in Chicago

I was recently in Chicago for a few days, just for fun. I loved the city so so much and was really impressed by its commitment to both public art and fantastic public spaces. While I usually stumble upon at least one mosaic in every city I travel to, I didn’t really expect to find so many in Chicago. Maybe it was just the areas we chose to explore, but it seemed like there was a mosaic hidden around almost every corner (and I’m sure what I saw was only the tip of the iceberg). So I figured I’d show you a few of my favourites. You know, so you can put them on your ‘to do’ list for when you visit Chicago :-)

‘El’ train stations — I know there are plenty more that I didn’t see, but I did manage to see the mosaics at the Damen (“Vida Simple”), Irving Park (“Commonplaces”), and 18th Street stations.

Miró’s “Chicago” — I know this isn’t all mosaic, but I love Miró, I love sculpture, and I love mosaic, and this has all three, so indulge me!

Chagall’s “The Four Seasons” — I knew about the Chagall mosaic before going to Chicago and I was super excited to be able to see it in person. In preparation (anticipation?) I watched a really retro ‘making of’ video that showed how Chagall worked with the mosaic artisans to achieve his vision. It was incredibly fascinating and it made seeing it in person all the better.

Jim Bachor pothole repair — R and I were on our way to the Museum of Contemporary Art, and I knew Jim Bachor had recently installed one of his mosaic pothole repairs in the area, so we took a little detour to find it. R was the one who spotted it first (she’ll be angry if I don’t give her credit), and she then played traffic-lookout while I took a closer look and snapped some pictures. Such fun! This particular mosaic has the number of a local car repair shop in it, while others have a random sequence of numbers (a nod to how many potholes there are in the city).

The Art Institute of Chicago — I actually didn’t expect to find any mosaics at the Art Institute. I’m not sure why – maybe because I didn’t realize how extensive their collection of antiquities is. So imagine my delight when I came upon a bunch of Byzantine mosaics AND some amazing Mesoamerican mosaics. The Mixtec mosaic disk, in particular, took my breath away. I was also very fond of the knobby-kneed camel.

Interstizi (at the Chicago Mosaic School) — I was so pleased that my trip coincided with the dates for this exhibition. It was actually the first time that I’d ever been in a room full of professional fine art mosaics. It was quite the experience being surrounded by the work of artists who, for me, are the stuff of legend. Among them were two pieces by Verdiano Marzi, which only served to make me way more excited about returning to Chicago to take his workshop in August. Can’t wait!

You know the drill – click to embiggen any of the photos below!

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