Chicago’s Non-conforming MCA


I’ll be honest.  It doesn’t take me as long to go through a contemporary art museum as a traditional one.  I like a lot of contemporary art, much more so than Ruth who gets impatient with, say, black squares on white canvasses and waits for me at the exit.  A black square on a white canvas just doesn’t take as long, for me, to view and evaluate as a Rembrandt.  So that’s why I was surprised by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.  We were in it for well over an hour, and even Ruth liked what she saw, mostly.  At least she was in the gift shop later than usual.

I’m not promoting the shows we saw at 220 East Chicago Avenue.  Most of them either have already closed or are going away soon.  But I’m going to refer to them to illustrate my belief that this contemporary museum is different.   Many years ago when Chicago’s museum of contemporary art was in a smaller building in the same neighborhood, Ruth and I saw a display of Gerhard Richter’s work there.  Even though we knew nothing about him, we both thought he was a contemporary painter worth paying attention to.  He is now pretty much recognized as a major artist.  This museum has vision.

We took the elevator to MCA’s top floor.  The first exhibit, which has since closed, was several works by Alexander Calder.  Ruth & I both love his quirky mobiles, stabiles, etc. like the cat below.



Calder could play with an old coffee can and some copper wire and create a work of art.

We went down to 3 via the unusual staircase seen above that ended a few levels below at a koi pool.  The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s building, in other  words, is as interesting as the art it displays.   Also, MCA allows non-flash photography throughout, which is unusual in museums showing living artists, who generally don’t want their stuff photographed. On 3 we saw the quirky works of Lilli Carré, who has an impressive résumé, cofounder of the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation, for example.

On 2 was MCA DNA: Warhol and Marisol, which is still at MCA until June 15, 2014.  Andy Warhol is my least favorite favored artist, and I had never heard of Marisol.  These 2 were friends.  She made a portrait of him titled Andy, appeared in many of his early films, and they partied together. An MCA Chicago booklet I picked up called her, “…one of the few women to reach the same heights of critical, popular, and commercial attention as her male counterparts…”.  So, I learned about a new and excellent artist and developed greater understanding of another, one who has made his way into almost every museum in the world.

On the same level was William J. O’B (b)rien.   Ruth found his over-the-top, glittery works too much and headed for the gift shop.   I looked at everything and judged him tomorrow’s Gerhard Richter.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago…5 Compass.




About roadsrus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roadsrus

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