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Daley Honored, Criticized In Art Exhibit

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“This Meter Remains as a Courtesy to Cyclists”

“This Meter Remains as a Courtesy to Cyclists” by Brian Morgan. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – As we inch closer to our first mayoral election without Mayor Richard M. Daley since 1989, it allows us to look back on many levels at the mayor’s career.

As CBS 2’s Steve Bartelstein reports, that includes artists whose work is on display at the Jackson Junge Gallery in Wicker Park, who depict Hizzoner in several different ways.

Mayor Daley was, and is, larger than life, and the exhibit looks back on his legacy – the positive and the negative.

Fourteen Chicago artists participated in the exhibit, “Chicago A.D. (After Daley).”

One item, a digital collage by artist Scott Becker, depicts the border of the Chicago city seal, with a picture of a wrought-iron fence and an orange dump truck superimposed over a blurred Daley headshot in the center.

“The artist believes that the mayor has concentrated on the downtown area, usually at the expense of, more, the outlying communities,” said gallery owner Chris Jackson.

Artist and gallery co-owner Laura Junge’s take on the mayor is light and whimsical, yet filled with history, depicting the Blue Line ‘L,’ Wrigley Field, and the Marshall Field’s/Macy’s clock in a style somewhere between Dali and Disney. And the artwork reflected a healthy curiosity, showing Daley as a Willy Wonka-esque character.

“Really, who was controlling the whole thing, maybe like the guy behind the curtain, I always feel like, is more the person that’s running the city,” Junge said.

Her piece is titled “Mayor of Mayhem.” Its intent, according to the gallery, is to highlight “the complexities that will greet the city’s new top executive.”

Another piece, by artist Judith Gries, comments on the mayor’s 75-year lease of the city’s parking meters by showing a climbing weed strangling an old-fashioned meter.

And artist Brian Morgan honors the mayor with a blue, black and white depiction of Daley on a wooden board, sporting a pin reading, “This meter remains as a courtesy to cyclists” – a sticker that appeared on old parking meters after they were replaced with the pay-box system. “This Meter Remains as a Courtesy to Cyclists” is also the title of the work.

“He really feels that the mayor has done a great job with the city, and he didn’t want to depict him in a scandalous kind of pose,” Jackson said. “He wanted to give him a nice way; a nice exit.”

In the art community, there is a general feeling that Daley helped create a more urbane Chicago. Most wonder what the new mayor will bring.

In another work, “Over the Windy City” by Anastasia Mak, owls hover over the city’s skyline, representing the city’s mayoral candidates. There are only two owls; it’s not indicated whether they represent any specific candidates.

“What of the new candidates? Are they predatory, or are they one of the wise ones?” Jackson said of the work.

We’ll know the answer to that soon enough. But for now, Daley wins the canvass on canvas, as artists remember Hizzoner.

The Jackson-Junge Gallery is located at 1389 N. Milwaukee Ave. “Chicago A.D. (After Daley)” runs through Feb. 27.

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