Wednesday, December 23, 2009

22. Chicago Christmas Lights

It is said that in early November, the veil between the the living and the dead is the thinnest. It is in that part of the year that summer is passing, the nights are lengthening, and many cold days lay ahead. What then can we expect of these early winter days? We have just passed the darkest day of the year. The winter solstice represents the last day of waning light.

In Chicago, these December days are typically marked by the initial shock of the crisp, cold air. The bare trees and low winter sun can make the world feel stark and clear. Into to those days comes the twinkle of Christmas lights mingling with the glimmer of the Chicago skyline and snowflakes fluttering gracefully to the ground. Fresh snow coats the trees, each branch left glistening white. The snow reflects light and the newness of the season on gray winter days. Unlike the bleakness of the days which come after several months of icey coldness, on these days I feel refreshed in this new season, sentimental about winters past, and hopeful.

Merry Christmas!
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Monday, December 7, 2009

21. Amate House North

In August, my sister began a year with Amate House, in Chicago. She will work for a year at Mercy Housing Lakefront, organizing tenants in three of their SRO (Single Room Occupancy) buildings and will receive an Americorp award for her year of service. It is a GREAT JOY to have her living in Chicago and an opportunity of which I want to take full advantage as I don't know for how long I will have the delight of my sister living in close proximity. As a consequence of my scheming to spend time with my sister, I have also had the opportunity to spend time with her thirteen housemates. It has been an unexpected pleasure to come to know these people who are doing wonderful work with organizations (primarily social service providers) around the city.

On Friday, I had dinner with the Amate Volunteers and I gave them this painting as an early Christmas present. This image is of their front door. I was intrigued to create this painting of something thoroughly ordinary. Can a simple painting of a typical weathered door be special, when the image is familiar and possibly evocative of nostalgia?
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