Art is Fleeting
Tree Studios was designed by architect Arthur Woltersdorf with bas-relief sculptures by Richard Bock. In addition to these bas-relief sculptures the pediment above the second storey windows on Ontario Street feature ornamental banners referencing "A Psalm of Life" by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
"A Psalm of Life" encouraged readers to live in the present, exhorting people to make their impact in the living rather than hoping for a presumed happy afterlife. The Tree Studio building features two couplets from the poem, "Art Is Long / Time Is Fleeting" and "Then, Be Up And Doing / Still Achieving, Still Pursuing"
Reflecting upon Longfellow's poem and the banners Bock designed for Tree Studios I started thinking about why secular buildings have ornamentation in the first place? What do architects, designers, owners hope to achieve by decorating their structure? How do these types of structures compare then to the austere modernist structures Chicago is known for?
Where decoration is overt on secular structures it seems that part of the desire was to change how people saw the building and perceived its purpose. Or how they / we are meant to see / saw the people who built it.
This projects asks what happens then when we change the statements being made - when we update the ornamentation, or create new ways to think about the structures we encounter on a day to day basis.
Art is long if people and institutions choose to remember / keep / preserve / collect / hold / conserve. Without this kind of support art works like other artifacts of culture quickly fade and disappear. Artists are the ones who are fleeting - for it is they and their lives who make the work.
Time is fleeting. But the arrow of time reaches so far back into the past that our perception of this idea is unfathomable. The concept of time in relation to the universe is very very very long. Human kind is but a very very very small moment in this series of events. Time is long.
For this work I took the couplet "Art Is Long / Time Is Fleeting" and recombined the words into different couplets such as "Time Is Long / Fleeting Is Art" to create different interpretations of the sayings that adorn Tree Studios.
At the performative maker space on July 28th, people were encouraged to make rubbings using wax crayons, charcoal and graphite from the new banners produced for the event.
The event engaged scholars and artists to ask vital questions about how we remember immigrant creativity to envision a new future. The tour includes a performative maker space by Tom Burtonwood, a discussion of Bock’s work by Dr. Sharon Grimes of the Richard W. Bock Sculpture Museum at Greenville University, and a performance by Carlos Salazar Lermont.
This event was free and open to the public.