It seems like years since the first talk began of removing the National Veterans Art Museum from our midst...to somewhere else. And it always made me mad when I heard that talk. What a unique and wonderful resource we've had in the neighborhood for the last 15 years. (Before moving to their present location in 1996, the artwork travelled from place to place starting in 1981.) What a claim to fame in our own back/front yard. A huge art museum devoted to all kinds of US veterans who create art. Combat-inspired art. It was a huge and moving idea. And we had it right here.
But the talk started. The museum lacked money at 18th and Indiana, said the pundits
. And so it sold the one-time hell-hole of a building devoted originally to Viet Nam vets back to the city (it had purchased it originally for a dollar), which sold it to the Chicago Park District to use as a neighborhood field house
. The museum got squeezed into a fairly big, but claustrophobic built-out space upstairs. The art squeezes the viewer not only because of the layout of the museum's walls but also because of the nature of the art. It's compelling. Often dark and sad.
The space has three shows going now. There were openings this past weekend in honor of Veteran's Day, of course. But people standing around were not only viewing the art, oohing and aahing and taking in the show--but also thinking of the future, I believe. The Park District will soon take over the entire building. And the scuttlebutt is that the museum, with it's 2000 pieces of art, will move to the River East Art Center
near Navy Pier this coming spring.
That's a great location. Centrally located. And tons of visitors flock to the area. It's convenient to get there. I'm afraid the South Loop didn't appreciate the gem we had. And so I'm glad the museum will move on and be appreciated by a maximum number of people throughout the year.
But if you want to catch the three shows in the South Loop right now, do it. Don't put it on the back burner. One installation is called "Radical Vulnerability
," another is "The Things They Carried
"--and there is also a 30th Anniversary exhibit.
We are no longer accepting new comments on ChicagoJournal.com