The Art Institute of Chicago showcases exemplary David Adjaye exhibit

David Adjaye, Munson and Christina Steed at the exhibition Opening Celebration of "Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye" presented by The Art Institute of Chicago and Douglas Druick, President and Eloise W. Martin Director
David Adjaye, Munson and Christina Steed at the exhibition Opening Celebration of "Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye" presented by The Art Institute of Chicago and Douglas Druick, President and Eloise W. Martin Director

The Art Institute of Chicago is world-renowned and has a reputation for being the number one museum in the country. Museum curators have produced an exhibit for acclaimed architect David Adjaye, which serves as a prime example of their forward-thinking that pushes boundaries.

Internationally known for creating valuable ideas for space, Adjaye who has given us a prize at the Institute including scale models of homes, a remodeled factory, colorful scale models of buildings including the Whitechapel Idea Store located in London's East End.

The Art Institute of Chicago shares his gifts and are showcasing a level of creativity that will cause many to beg the question: Why did it take so long to birth this level of art?

Fellow British artist, Steve McQueen, whose work is primarily moving images, graced the stage at the Institute before his breakout film, 12 Years a Slave, caught the world by surprise. In 2012, his oeuvre was an un-cinematic collection of video, film, a slide projection and an unwonted sculpture.

Comparatively, their exhibitions are an example of the critical thinking and thought leadership that cause others to respect the very mission and creative integrity of the The Art Institute of Chicago and the individual foundations and corporations that support their vision.

It is here that Adjaye commands a community of supporters who are giving the world a perspective on design from individuals who have talent that needs to be showcased on a level that the international world can see and the importance of this body of artistic conversation and moment of historical recognition.

The Institute distinguishes itself with this exhibit. The Art Institute of Chicago is the only North American venue for this pioneering show, which precedes the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), designed by Adjaye Associates, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. There is chatter that Adjaye will design the Obama Presidential Center.


American Music Legends

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American Music Legends

The music world lost a great man this past weekend, as Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys passed away from cancer. I won’t claim to be a huge fan of the Beastie Boys, I honestly only know a few songs well, but Yauch is part of a generation that has influenced pop culture for 25 years, and his contributions deserve acknowledgement.

The band was the first rap group to grace the cover of Spin Magazine as well as the first to top the Billboard charts. I can attest to the appeal of the band’s eccentric sound, borrowing influences and samples from all kinds of music and making it accessible even to those who might not typically like rap music.

There is a great write-up on Spin.com about “the Yauch generation,” which details the exploits of the Beastie Boys and other musicians and artists from the same era in New York City, comparing them to modern “hipsters,” which puts in perspective the influence that that this group has had on our culture. It is also mentioned the Beastie Boys’ background in hardcore punk, mentioning the EP the band released in 1982, Polly Wog Stew. Give this a listen on YouTube and see the massive change in the band’s sound.

There’s not much more that I can personally say about Adam Yauch, other than to point toward sources like Spin and Pitchfork to see what they have to say about the man and his other projects, including the Tibetan Independence movement and Oscilloscope Productions. I would also like to look at other artists who, like Yauch, transcended their given genre and influenced great changes in music.

Joe Strummer, rhythm guitarist and vocalist for the iconic band the Clash, was another musician who changed perceptions of genres and created a unique sound that is still celebrated. The work that Strummer and the other members of the band did widened the appeal of punk rock and helped to sustain the genre as more than just a passing movement. While the band would implode after the Combat Rock album, the headway they made in combining the sounds of punk, ska, reggae and other genres solidified them as a wide influence.

Buddy Holly, an early pioneer of rock and roll, had a relatively short career but was a profound influence on both contemporaries and later artists. Holly’s rockabilly style was similar to the Sun Records sound of Elvis Presley, but was further influenced as he played with other musicians. Holly is known for singles “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll be the Day” and “Oh Boy!” Holly had the unique opportunity to shape rock and roll and is cited as a major influence by musicians like Elvis Costello and the sound that he pioneered can be heard all over. After dying in a plane crash at the age of 22, Holly is remembered in the song “American Pie” by Don McLean, which laments the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

Jimi Hendrix is recognized as one of the greatest guitar players of all time in many circles, pioneering the use of wah-wah pedals in mainstream music, as well as the overdriven sound that is now pervasive in modern rock. Hendrix is famous for his appearances at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock in 1969. Hendrix has had a profound influence on modern music, even influencing his predecessors, as Bob Dylan plays Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” live. The recording techniques which he pioneered, such as stereophonic phasing, are still popular in today’s music. Hendrix is also known for his antics, including behind the back playing, playing with his teeth and setting a guitar on fire at the end of a set.