The Crucifixion Group: More Grotto Greatness

In an out-of-the-way cemetery in Wesley, Iowa, you can find Father Paul Dobberstein’s Crucifixion Group, a mini-grotto unto itself. It’s another example of the decorative impulse filling every available space with something that looks cool. And like the big grotto a few towns away, it provides an effective setting for the underlying religious message.

Back to the Grotto of the Redemption

Huge Vinyl Sale: Rock, Soul, Blues, Country, Jazz and More

Selling hundreds of LPs next Saturday, Sept. 9, at the big annual Lakewood-Balmoral neighborhood yard sale. 9-4 p.m. rain or shine. Prices shown, or best offer. Contact me early with offers for 10 or more. Or find me Saturday on the 5500 block of North Magnolia, Chicago. Also contact me if you are interested in 45s and 78s. I have hundreds of those for sale as well — punk, r&b, country, rockabilly, etc.
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Chicago Lakeshore Stone Carvings: Highlight Gallery

Here are some of the coolest stone carvings and paintings from Chicago’s Lake Michigan shoreline.

The final date in each caption reflects the year the photograph was taken. All stone and concrete paintings photographed in 2016 and 2017 were still extant as of mid-2017. Pieces south of Montrose Harbor photographed before that time are gone except those specifically noted as still existing. Pieces located between Belmont and Diversey Harbors and photographed prior to 2015 are gone, unless otherwise noted. Pieces from Montrose Harbor up to Bryn Mawr are all extant, other than paintings and drawings that may have weathered away. Pieces without a specified location are assumed to be lost.

Anonymous Masterpieces: The Chicago Lakeshore Art Story

Coming Soon:

The Lakefront Art Galleries

Lucy Sparrow: All Felt All The Time

Lucy Sparrow makes deeply felt art, literally. She creates facsimiles of real objects in felt, and does so on a massive scale. The current example, a fully stocked all-felt convenience store, opened June 5 in New York and will continue for four weeks.
The individual items — available for sale, of course — are each a treat in themselves. When they fill the shelves and fixtures of a shop, the colors and cultural resonances are wonderful. Sparrow, who hails from Bath, England, clearly wants to delight her audience with good feelings, but she also has some social commentary in mind.

“I want the work to make people think about the loss of community spaces when these small corner shops disappear; to remind them how valuable these corner shops really are and the color they bring to our lives,” she says on her web site.

It’s not exactly a blast at consumerism, but there is a critique lurking in there as well as a commentary on the corner store — an important fixture in many lives. Given that we’re all consumers and that most of us happily consume items exactly like these, a gentle critique might be more appropriate than a scathing assault.

The shop is open 8 to 8 through June 30 at 69 Little West 12th Street. Lucy told me she plans to be there every day. I highly recommend a visit.

Here’s her web site:

The Forevertron Forever — Genius by the Roadside

North of Madison and just south of Baraboo, Wisconsin, is one of the country’s great roadside attractions, Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron.

The Forevertron, built by Tom Every (Dr. Evermore), south of Baraboo, WisconsinThe Forevertron is a steampunk paradise, with a Victorian look in service of science-fiction vision. Creator Tom Every, born in 1938, has experience as a farmhand, salvager, construction worker and architect’s assistant, according to Leslie Umberger’s Sublime Spaces and Visionary Worlds catalog. Every also helped to fabricate attractions at The House on the Rock, Wisconsin’s foremost tourist trap and a whole other story.

He has involved explanations for the work, but the focus here is its visual impact. The site includes not just the enormous Forevertron itself, but lots of other sculptures, some quite massive in their own right. Junk sculpture isn’t always my favorite, but Every brings a distinct personal vision to the materials that set his apart, not to mention the impact of seeing so many of them in one place. The complexity, imagination and even the science-fiction themes percolating up through the junk make the site a visual wonderland.

Here is a link to the official Web site.

Collection of Old School Rap/Hip Hop Vinyl

Old School Rap131 hip-hop/rap records, mostly mid-1980s. Singles and albums. A few of the singles are 7 inch, as indicated. The rest are 12 inch. Generally original pressings in excellent condition. Most were bought new, played a few times and then stored. All are priced based on condition — probably near mint, though as I’m not a professional trader I’m reluctant to use official categories. $700 takes them all or a la carte as priced.

1. Afrika Bambaataa & James Brown: Unity $3
2. Anquette: Ghetto Style $7
3. Audio Two: Make It Funky (second original pressing) $7
4. Audio Two: What More Can I Say? (promo stamp, hype sticker and price tag) $10
5. B. Fats: Woppit $3
6. Big Daddy Kane: Get Into It $15
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Thomasson: The Life-Changing Hyperart

Hyperart: Thomasson, by Akasegawa Genpei. Kaya Press, 416 pages, 2010. ISBN: 978-1885030467. Paperback, $17.95.

Why did it take me half a dozen years to discover this life-changing book, introducing a concept that fundamentally enriches my relationship to the built environment?

The idea is the Thomasson, proposed as a form of “hyperart.” Continue reading

Review: California Crazy and Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture

California Crazy and Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture
California Crazy and Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture by Jim Heimann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

1980’s California Crazy was one of the early gospels for roadside art enthusiasts, documenting dozens of the state’s wonderful theme buildings of the early 20th century, from giant donuts to miniature sphinxes. Author Jim Heimann updated the book in 2001 with California Crazy and Beyond. The old version was presented as a logbook, and in some cases the images are larger. The new volume is redesigned as a more conventional picture book, with lots of additional pictures and a great deal more writing. Both are well worth having.

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Bottle Cap Valhalla: The Bottle Cap Inn

Joe Wiser’s Bottle Cap Inn in Miami was featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, but more importantly it was a triumph of an obsessive personal vision. Fortunately, many interior views were preserved in a series of postcards and press photos.

The bar was created in the 1930s by Joe Wiser, said to be a disabled World War I veteran. He choose to decorate with the most available ornamentation, covering every surface, and many objects, with bottle caps.

The bar went through a series of owners after Wiser, but was still functioning at least into the 1990s.

Bottle Cap Inn, Miami

The old Bottle Cap Inn building in 2008. It burned down July 4, 2012, victim of fireworks. Find more about the Bottle Cap Inn (and lots of other old Miami places) at Don Boyd’s site. (Photo by Dario Mercado)