2010-09-23 Rev. 2010-09-25
Each section of this page serves a different purpose and I could scatter
them on several different pages, but I don't want to. They are
roughly in the order of my trip. The Crystal Lake pictures are
partly a record and partly for my family. The Reunion pictures are
to share with people there. The Chicago visit is mostly blog type
stuff and the Glass Studio visits serve the purpose of most of my site.
In September 2010,
I traveled by Amtrak coach from Dallas to Chicago along
with my mobility scooter and a bunch of soft bags strapped on or hanging
and then by Metra out to Crystal Lake to rent a car and do my 50th Reunion
of the Crystal Lake Community High School Class of 1960.
didn't take a lot of pictures while traveling, but when I awoke on
Thursday morning the train was stopped beside the Mississippi River and I
took several of the progressive sunrise and clouds. We were stopped
for an hour and a half because of poles and power lines down across the
We traveled through the center of Illinois on a detour route that skipped most of the usual stops (they were served by bus from St. Louis) because of track work on the high speed rail link.
But I felt strongly as I saw scenes like this because this mildly rolling country is the way farm land "ought" to look - from growing up in it.
Of course, the detour also meant getting in at 3:20 instead of 1:52. :-)
I found that both Union Station and the old Chicago and Northwestern
Station, which were free standing buildings in my youth are now hidden
inside tall skyscrapers although the Great Hall of Union Station is
preserved across the street and I rested there on the way back.
Union Station uses buried tracks so one has to find elevators to go down,
while Ogilvy Transportation Center-Metra Northwest - still has raised tracks so one
takes a mobility scooter into a corner to elevate up. Both places
have food and shopping centers on the ground floor.
I stayed with classmate Randy Woodman and wife Sharon in a lovely house
just north of the house I knew his family in, now occupied by a daughter,
while his father, who died in June, lived across the street. I would
be remiss if I missed mentioning Dusty the charcoal gray cat that shares
the house. I could not have made the trip without their gracious
accommodation of me as an alternative to motel cost.
As with my trip to the 45th Reunion,
this visit included looking over the town of Crystal Lake,
looking up old houses, Friday and Saturday night events for the Reunion,
and hot glass studio visits. The longer five day visit let me add a day in
downtown Chicago on Sunday.
2005 I took this picture. When
we lived in this house ca.1950-55 it was 478 N. Shore Drive. At some point
it was renumbered 1079. When we lived there the house was a white cube
(the two story section) and the extension into the yard of the kitchen and
porch was done by succeeding owners as well as the rooms leading to a
|This is the Google Earth view, with north at the top. It is my recollection that the house on the left was in 1960 centered on its "lot" with about the same size yard on both sides. As far as I can figure, they sold a half lot and the 1.5 lots the house our house sat on was divided to make two plat lots and these two were built. Our house (above) was roughly where the gray roofed house to the right is now and our yard extended to roughly the center line of the brown roofed house. North is to the top and the dark car in the top center is in the same position as the dark car in the next picture. 88.361396°W 42.237743°N|
The two houses now (2010) on the site. According to Google Earth's measuring tool on the roofs, they are about 55 feet long, 33 feet wide and about 20 feet apart. The white house on the left actually has two garages - a two car just showing at the left and a one car set back from the street with a drive to hold a car to the left of that.
|The view from the lake, courtesy of Mr. Zeman boat ride (below.) With very few windows on the sides, I have to wonder how much natural light there is inside, but the end facing the lake certainly has enough.|
After my time on North Shore Drive, I drove around the end of the lake to see our house on South Shore Drive.
|During the time we lived here, this lot was empty, the house being built in 1975. The owner of the place said - "It's not all that big, only 4000 square feet." Yah, right.|
|Below we see the house at 564 S. Shore Drive from the lake, where family lived from about 1955-1966. The house is back to a tile roof from black asphalt shingles it had for a while and the only outer change is the sunroom/porch to the left of the big tree which was a small patio outside French doors when we lived there. The picture to the right is the current owner, Ned Zeman, who knows lots about the changes on the lake and to the house. He lived across the street for six years until this one became available. There was a house down the lake built from the same plans, but white with wavy stucco, but it has been torn down to build a monster. He was good enough to take me out on the lake in his hot little boat and gave me a running commentary on who owned the monsters that had been built on the shore line. Lakewood, the village along the south shore which has extended itself west, has always biased the property tax assessments so the land takes the burden so a small house has taxes out of proportion to the house value. He told me his and I was stunned.|
house was decorated and landscaped by the owner's wife, Susan, who died 4 years ago
after an extended battle with cancer. She has a nice and somewhat
funky taste, including the manikin on the bench right, the small sculpture
climbing the tree, a pair of sheet metal birds before the front window and
the corner sculpture shown in the livingroom below.
Although not clear in the pictures below, the walls are back to pale yellow from the silver grey that mother redecorated with after the mid-60's fire. The views shown are from the left corner near the dressing room doors, down the adjacent hall to the entry walled with glass brick, the fire place and shelves and wall and entry to the dining room. Note the paintings, the masks up high against the dark beams, and the maroon carpet.
|The kitchen still has the St. Charles cabinets that were installed by the people we bought from. When the Zeman's moved in, a previous owner had taken the doors off and had them painted white but the inside of the cabinets were still pink, which they had redone. (Pink and turquoise being 50's colors, I learned on the way home ) The stainless steel counters of our era were gone but his wife did the maroon tile counters. A previous owner had torn out the wall to the once sewing room for the sit down counter, but they bought the massive wall unit that just fits. (left below) When I walked in, I was stunned as to how small the kitchen really was - notice the width of the passage before the frig plus the counter behind the decorated chair back and then there is the other counter shown in the picture to the right. Six or seven feet between the counters! I didn't remember it has huge but not this small.|
|Besides the two glass brick walls that separate the entry from the office (above), the tub downstairs has glass brick lighted from behind at its base.|
|And they found the pond filled in so dug it out and repair it so has a recirculating fountain splashing on to a large rock.|
The formal Reunion activities were held Friday and Saturday evenings and I also went to visit the high school on Friday afternoon. People holding their 40th reunion were having a tour Saturday morning, but I skipped that feeling I could not walk the distance.
The couple at the left below are classmate Randy Woodman and his wife
Sharon who graciously made me their guest for the long weekend. Caught in
a non-smiling moment on the right is classmate Jim Michaels.
Left below is Jeff Jones whose family interacted with mine
through out my youth. Behind is classmate Suzie Fisher and her husband.
In the right picture the lady in the white dress is --- Berg, our hostess
Friday night at her house, which is shown
in the 2005 visit. Her husband Jim is unfortunately mostly hidden to
|Sunday took me into Chicago by commuter train, repeating a trip done dozens of times while going through high school, although, as the pictures show, places changed.|
Millennium Park has been photographed millions of times so I won't add the
shots I made for my memory but will show these two related "art" shots.
The one below is the natural garden with the long, long ramp behind it
that goes from the park up to the third level of the new Modern addition
to the Art Institute. The view at right with its guard and solitary
lady is down the great hall of the addition with dome like arches of the
concert venue in the distance. Below are images of the former
Chicago Public Library, now cleaned up as a Cultural Center.
I try to visit Glass Studios whenever I visit a location for other purposes. For this trip, before leaving I located eight studios as shown at right (for interactive map with details see chicagogls.htm Crystal Lake is directly west of the blue push pin at top)
I traveled on Monday to visit the two
overlapping ones at the top, to talk to the man responsible for the studio
at the light blue marker and to visit two of the four near downtown
Chicago. Along the way I learned a few things about the others and
much about one that showed up in Evanston on Google but actually closed
two years ago.
|My first visit of the day was with Peter Patterson www.patersonglass.com in Mundelein about 40 minutes east of my base. The first image group is his hot wall and some of his equipment. He has, perhaps, as much equipment in a small space as I have seen, several pieces of which were purchased from Chaos Glass when it went down. All the equipment I saw was very solidly built and include 4 large flats cold working wheels. As shown in both of the upper pictures, Peter puts mirrors on the back of all of his heat shields so he can quickly see what the glass is doing from the side while he is working it. Barely visible in the back of the upper left image is Sue, his "studio wife" as she said; Peter's actual wife is a jewelry maker. The lower right picture is about as good a shot of a small continuous feed furnace as I am likely to get - he had just relined it after several years use. New glass is added behind the wall in mid picture and as it melts the glass enters the forechamber through the hole - bubbles and crud are left behind the wall.|
|This image group is of the glass on display in the front of Peter's studio in a small industrial building of identical spaces, several of which had auto repair shops. Peter goes to craft shows throughout the midwest selling small to medium pieces like those shown as well as placing with galleries across the country. He told me of a couple of marketing plans that sound very interesting but asked me not to detail them. The most unique items in the images that I would to point out are the light bulbs and tubes. These and less obviously many of the others contain phosphorescent pigment which both glows under black light and continues to glow after light of any kind is removed. He said it took him years to work out compatible glass methods for using it. The bent tubes have ghosts of white inside and real fluorescent lamp fittings on the end, which he told me he bought new from the manufacturer. The bulb shapes have metal bases from the same source, although the bulbs have color as well the glow white. The solid spheres in the lower right are fairly large - 5-6" Note that the ornaments are flat cookies, not blown - a lot easier to take to shows. Peter has groups of people in for trying glass and offers a CD of his work and sells one showing the steps for making four of the items he has people do in the quicky workshops.|
I crossed the road to James R Wilbat's Glass Studio, (854 Tower Road, Mundelein, IL 60060-3810 http://wilbatglass.com firstname.lastname@example.org) for a completely different experience in two parts. Walking in past plastic tote bins of small glass items suitable for craft show sales, I found an uncluttered space with James watching and assisting his assistant, Gabrielle "Gabe" Wilson, doing her work between his morning and afternoon sessions.
Just to the left of this picture are dozens of small wooden drawers of color and bits. He owns this space in a multi-bay building - condominium style. Wilbat and Patterson worked together for several years in a studio on Peter's parents property until James moved here with Peter following a few years later.
I might have learned and seen more but for the start of part two: a younger man walked in with a box topped with a piece of foam and set it down next to me. I introduced myself as he did and when I asked what kind of work he did he took off the foam and pulled out a stunning piece of glass - a solid sculpture of a full-sized man's head in clear glass with radiant lines color in the forehead and polished flat planes on the back looking inside the cone of color at a small bubble - like this. Michael Angelo Menconi is working with Charles Lowrie on an elaborate project called Transcensions that is intended for museum display while they both continue to make their own pieces for sale - solid sculpture and large vessels. Going back out to his car, Michael brought in a hollow glass sphere about 16-18" in diameter which contained a solid sculpted seated figure holding a hollow sphere about the size of grapefruit which contained a seated figure holding a sphere about the size of a pingpong ball with a figure in it. He explained that the next step was to make the figure holding the 16" sphere - about 4 feet tall. They work independently, setting aside money, and when they have assembled several tens of thousands of dollars, they rent a space such as the studios at the Toledo Museum of Art or The Studio at Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG) and fly serious glass handlers who have worked with major glass names to make several pieces. The pieces were at Wilbat's to be worked on - the sphere having black scribbles all over it marking places needing polishing and the head showing slight frosting in several awkward-to-work locations.
Studio and Gallery Highland Park, IL was a public access studio that
closed down not long ago due to the high monthly costs of keeping it open.
I was able to talk to the owner, Daniel N. Marder about the costs of
operating such a place and the alternatives for working glass in the
Chicago area and his continuing availability (he used to be a professor)
for information. as of today the website is still available 2010-10-10
|Next visit went to Lance Friedman's studio (Shatter Glass Group) (http://shatterglassgroup.com/ 3400 North Knox Ave. Chicago 60641, at W. Roscoe, 312-860-5454 email@example.com ) Lance has done stints as an instructor at Corning and will be artist in residence at the Tacoma Museum of Art for a day later in October. His work can be seen at http://www.lancefriedmansculpture.com/ During the visit he was working with/assisting/training ...|
My last visit of the day was to Chicago Hot Glass.(1250
North Central Park Avenue Chicago, IL 60651 (773) 394-3252
www.chicagohotglass.com ) The hot wall
looked the same as my last visit but
considerable changes are being carried out in the next space. The
man shown lower right is Nick Paul and with three silent partners he took over
Chicago Hot Glass in January. This space, behind the hot wall, was
storage of some kind, but it has been cleared out and the table is a ten
torch flameworking operation. The balcony across the room (right image) has been
put in and wire cages installed so that artists can leave their
equipment and work onsite instead of hauling it. Nick has
considerable plans to become a significant part of the glass community -
like distributing color in the Midwest - and the educational and support
activities of Chicago with fund raising activities that include making
glass objects - a firemen's fund raiser had a planning meeting the morning
|Before my visit, I had located ten studios in the Chicago area that I thought I might be able to visit, link. As mentioned above two of the open studios had closed in the last two years, Chaos and Making Glass, and one was so far away I knew I could not make it down there. Others were unavailable due to working a confidential project or simply being away from the studio. During the trip, I discovered Eric Bladholm's unfortunately named Chicago Glassworks http://cgwglass.com/index.html [near 25th Street and S. Kedzie] I say unfortunate because Chicago Glassworks is also the name of a commercial window and auto glass business that comes up with a lot of hits on Google.|
Contact Mike Firth