Landmarks: What history is worth preserving?
Day jobs for artists are known to be soul-sucking voids to make ends meet. I am fortunate/lucky to have a day job that incorporates visual art, performing, and great office views. I'm an architecture guide on the Chicago River! Chicago has a rich history of architecture that has made impacts all around the world, including what is widely accepted as the world’s first skyscraper. While The Home Insurance Building was demolished long ago, Chicago still maintains and preserves many of its architectural treasures through the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Landmark status allows for legal protections to honor and preserve the site’s history (i.e. prohibits demolition, required upkeep by owner, restrictions on redevelopment etc.) The process, though, to receive such status is not easy. The site or building must provide a significant historic, cultural, or artistic value to the community brought before and decided by the commission. With limited resources and a people being drawn back into cities not everything can remain the same, so the question remains: What is worth preserving?
This question has been in the forefront of my mind as we created Ethereal Abandonment, in rehearsals and well as during my tours. We cannot learn from history if we do not remind ourselves of its residual effects of our daily lives. Yet if we cherish everything, then nothing is sacred. As audiences witness the stories told in our show, I hope they will also consider: With beautiful palaces of art like The Uptown Theatre (and the one created in our show) laying vacant and decrepit along the streets of Chicago, should they make way for the needs of today or be saved and forever etched into our city’s consciousness? And if the answer is the latter, which few places should we designate as indispensable?
Are you a fan of Chicago's Corn Cob Towers? Well rejoice as they were welcomed into the collection of Chicago Landmarks this past winter!