Yvette Meltzer ~ Picasso's Playground in Chicago

I'd like to introduce you to some delightful work by fellow Evanstonian, Yvette Meltzer. These photographs sing and it seems like a wonderful portfolio to share this time of year. This work was produced by Yvette from her office window overlooking the Picasso Statue in downtown Chicago's Daley Plaza. Yvette's creativity and photographic eye are so strong, as she captures the spirit of childhood.

In Yvette's words...

"My office window overlooks Daley Plaza in Chicago in which the Picasso Statue stands. I have been captivated by the freedom and the spontaneity of children’s movements as they play on the Picasso Statue. The children there have a willingness to venture into the unknown, to explore with joy. Their free movements stand in sharp contrast to the photos that were taken of me as a child where I posed stiffly and often against my will. These children appeared to be living dolls which also tapped into my interest in dolls and doll houses which I also collect and photograph. I was also drawn to the interplay of color and light on the form of the sculpture which changes over the course of my eight hour day in the office. The images I captured are not staged but rather the spontaneous movements that I have viewed through my office window over the last three years.

I have been taking photographs of my family since age ten. Next I included my friends as subjects and gradually in my thirties, I turned the camera to people I did not know personally. My photography reflects my interest in people, the narratives of their lives, and the environments that shape them.

Children and youth have inspired my spirit and they continue to be the subject of many of the images which I have captured both locally and in my travels. This comes as no surprise to those who know me as I have been a life long children’s advocate whose professional career has focused on protecting the rights of children, working to keep their spirits free.

I viewed the Picasso sculpture as a playground on which the children were able to exercise their initiative, determination, confidence, and courage, as well as their muscles, as they climbed, often from a running start, away from their parents or grandparents or whatever adult accompanied them, motivated to interact with their environment. I see children as intrinsically strong, competent and powerful, and I think these images illustrate that belief."

You can see more of Yvette's work HERE.

A Few Summer Highlights

This has been an action packed summer with so many highlights, one of which just happened for the second day in a row. I was riding my bicycle this morning when I spotted 2 wild parakeets. I was stunned. Yesterday I thought maybe one escaped from someone's home. Today, that theory didn't hold up. There was a couple sitting on their porch and I inquired if they belonged to them. Turns out there are wild parakeets nesting in Hyde Park...and I guess some have migrated to Evanston! It was so thrilling. Here is an article from the Chicago Wilderness Magazine.

My all time very favorite thing to do is go for an early morning swim in Lake Michigan. The season is short which makes the activity all that more precious. Last weekend I went for a sunrise swim. While I was out in the water the temperatures of the air and water were such that steam started to rise all around me. I was stunned with how beautiful the old wood pilings were with the sea gulls sitting on top surrounded by a veil of mist. It was magical. The image is seared in my memory.

I love to sit in my backyard watching all the life affirming activity. Between the birds, butterflies, bees, cicadas, dragonflies, bunnies and chipmunks, it is a very busy place!

I loved celebrating my mother's 90th birthday with my entire family, including my 3 month old grandchild. What was really amazing was when my nephew tilted a fan upwards and placed several balloons in the "wind tunnel." Watching the balloons dancing while suspended in the air was enormously entertaining. I highly recommend it.

I loved watching my granddaughter run around the back yard in her pick tutu and butterfly wings...

And I loved being in Mexico on top of the pyramid of Teotihuacan at noon, watching the swarms of butterflies....so much that I will be working on an installation piece for Frontera Grill this fall...more to come on that!

Reflections on the Oil Spill and Life

One of the many surprises of my Crude Awakening work is how widespread the work has traveled. I am in the process of answering some interview questions that were emailed to me by a newspaper in Puerto Rico. The first question totally stumped me. It was "Where were you when you heard about the oil spill for the first time?" Nothing came to mind. I had to look up on the internet when the Deep Water Horizon explosion happened. It was April 20, 2010. Then it all made sense. I was meeting my grandson at the hospital for the first time. He was a day old.

During the 3 weeks I was helping out with my grandson's arrival, I never read any newspapers. I had some vague awareness that something terrible was happening in the world but chose not to learn more about it and just focus on the immediate joys of a new little person coming into the world.

It is now a full 3 months later. 3 Months of growth...

...or 3 months of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. On Jul 15, 2010, for the first time in 87 days, oil stopped flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

I always assumed that we would leave this world in better condition than how it was passed on to us. Now I am not so sure it is possible. The challenges are great but for the sake of the future of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren I have hopes that we can learn from our mistakes and be better stewards of mother earth.