February Travelogue: Belgium and Luxembourg

The next travelogue in our 2017 Winter Series is tomorrow!

Join us tomorrow at 1pm in Chicago Cultural Center’s Renaissance Room to hear Ralph Danielsen’s presentation on Belgium and Luxembourg. More information about the talk can be found below:

“Belgium & Luxembourg are a perfect microcosm of the best of Europe, with a long history right up to and especially including last century’s world wars.

We’ll visit some of these battle sights and somber monuments, as well as the world’s most beautiful town squares, marvelous medieval towns, imposing castles, ancient art, and dramatic architecture. Highlights include EU capital Brussels, Bastogne, and bewitching Bruges.”

We will see you there!

The 606: Chicago’s Elevated Park

Opening Weekend of the 606 – June 2015
Photo credit: the 606

by Emily Speelman

Running 2.7 miles through Chicago’s northwest side, the Bloomingdale Trail has become an iconic part of the Chicago landscape and a favorite of athletes and families alike. Also known as the 606, this once held an elevated railroad run by the Chicago & Pacific Railroad. It was used to move goods from the Chicago River to industrial ports on the city’s north side. In 1893, after a number of dangerous encounters with pedestrians and trains on the ground-level tracks, Chicago mandated all railways become elevated throughout the city. Trains frequently ran on Bloomingdale Lane, passing through the Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Bucktown, and Wicker Park neighborhoods, until freight carriage through this corridor ended in the mid-1990s.


The early days of the Bloomingdale Trail – 1965
Photo Credit: Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail

The elevated track lay abandoned through the 1990s as community partners discussed what to do. Since the trains had stopped running there, trees, flowers, and other plant life began blooming on and around the tracks, creating an unplanned, natural trail above the neighborhoods. The first official plans for the 606 came as the Logan Square Open Space Plan in 2004. Though the elevated area was built over 100 years ago, the railroad’s foundation reaches seven feet thick, creating a solid and ideal platform for new construction. After several meetings with city officials and community organizers, the first stage of the plan was approved and construction began in August 2013. The trail’s renovation was spearheaded and established by the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, who desired to make a mixed-use park space that would connect neighborhoods and provide a safe, elevated space for Chicago communities.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail break ground on the 606 construction
Photo credit: The 606

The 606 opened to the public on June 6, 2015. The name 606 is based off the first three digits of all Chicago area codes, showing that all residents are welcome to the trail. Currently, the 606 is home to 37 bridges, 1400 trees, and 200 different plant species. The 606 arts initiative, called the 606 Arts Program, features a rotating set of sculptures and murals placed along the trail. A number of community events are hosted throughout the year, such as the Arts Blitz and the Walk 606 With Light parade. Visit http://www.the606.org/ for more information and upcoming events.

The trail is open from 6:00am to 11:00pm daily to walkers, runners, and bikers alike. You can even bring your furry friends!


Swayze loves walks on the 606! Photo credit: Alli Rooney


The trail can be accessed at a number of points shown on the map below:






Explore the Philippines at the January 17 Travelogue

THE PHILIPPINES: The Most DIVErse Underwater and Above

presented by Lynn Funkhouser

(Photo  Credit:  Brian  Siegel) Lynn  Presenting  at  the  Diving  and  Equipment  Marketing  Association  in  2016                                         

The Verde Island Passage (VIP) has been scientifically proven to have more diversity than elsewhere.  Surprisingly, Luzon Island has more species of mammals than anywhere else on Earth!  Lynn will explain the reason for this diversity, as she shows you amazing critters and pristine reefs in The Philippines.

Lynn Funkhouser, inducted into the inaugural Women Divers Hall of Fame, is an internationally published photographer, author, presenter, environmentalist, adventuress, and leader in dive travel.  She has photographed over 261 islands in the Philippines.  As an environmentalist, Lynn is committed to making a difference on this planet through her images and presentations.

1 p.m.
Tuesday, January 17 
Chicago Cultural Center, Renaissance Court, 78 E. Washington Street

This event is free and open to the public. There is no cost for attending the presentation.

Art in the City: Wabash Arts Corridor

By Emily Speelman

On October 24, 2016, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in conjunction with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), declared 2017 the “Year of Public Art” in Chicago. This will be ushered in through projects like the 50×50 Neighborhood Art Project, where Alderman from all 50 Wards may use up to $10,000 of their budgets to finance permanent art installations in their area (which the Mayor will match). As noted on the City of Chicago website, the project will invest one million dollars into neighborhoods for local artists to work there. Art related events will also be held at museums throughout the city such as the DuSable Museum of African American History, the South Side Community Art Center, the National Museum of Mexican Art, and the Chicago Cultural Center. All of these play a role in Emanuel’s “Chicago Cultural Plan”, which has increased attention toward Chicago’s public libraries, CTA stations, and public parks.

Chicago is known for its public art. Many sculptures and murals are central to the city’s image such as Monument with Standing Beast, Four Seasons, and the Flamingo (all pictured below). Many of these are located in the Loop: however, these are just a small selection of the neighborhood’s ever-growing art presence. Earlier this year, the Mayor and Columbia College Chicago teamed up to increase art in the South Loop area, showing what similar development during the ‘Year of Public Art’ could look like. 






The Wabash Art Corridor (WAC) in the South Loop presents Chicago as a ‘living urban canvas’ through their BIG WALLS project. In collaboration with Columbia College Chicago, WAC brought initiated twenty mural installations by both local and world-renowned street artists. The project was launched last May (incorporating pieces installed over the last few years) with events surrounding the project running throughout 2016, including guided ‘Corridor Crawls’ of the pieces. WAC serves as a part of the greater Chicago Cultural Plan in 2013, hoping to increase Chicago’s image as a cultural hub and bring together the talents of local artists in the city.

Below are a few of my favorites from the collection. Keep your eye out for these and many more pieces next time you are in the South Loop neighborhood!


Stop Telling Women to Smile

Artist: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Location: 801 S. Wabash

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s series “Stop Telling Women to Smile” addresses the ongoing street harassment of women, drawing from her own and other women’s experiences. Fazlalizadeh interviews individuals about their experiences with harassment before drawing their portrait. She turns this into a poster, including a small message or theme from the interview. Fazlalizadeh then pastes the posters throughout the city, hoping to create a conversation around harassment in that area that it occurs. The project began in Brooklyn in 2012 and has now expanded worldwide to Mexico City, Paris, and now Chicago. Here Fazlalizadeh features over a dozen hand-drawn images of women with one central message: Stop Telling Women to Smile. 

Learn more about the project and see more of Fazlalizadeh’s portaits here: http://stoptellingwomentosmile.com/


Chi Boy

Artist: Hebru Brantley

Location: 1132 S. Wabash Avenue

Flying outside the Roosevelt L Station, Chi Boy was one of the earliest murals of the Wabash Arts Corridor project. Hebru Brantley, a Chicago native from the South Side, says his style “derives from graffiti-worn buildings and sneaker-hung telephone poles honoring memories of local legends” Based off his ‘Flyboy’ character, who is personalized for each of Brantley’s murals, Chiboy rockets across the building, hoping to empower and bring hope to all who see him. Brantely’s work can be found throughout Chicago including at the Cermak-McCormick Place Green Line Station, outside the Lincoln Square Athletic Club, and on the Uptown Broadway Building.

See more of Brantley’s work and learn more about him here: http://hebrubrantley.com/


From Bloom to Doom

Artist: Collin van der Sluijs

Location: 1006 S. Michigan Avenue

Artist van der Sluijs use this south Michigan mural to showcase two endangered Illinois birds, surrounding them with local flowers. After researching native birds of Illinois, the artist chose to highlight the Yellow-headed Blackbird and the Red-Headed Woodpecker, which have all but disappeared from the Chicago landscape. He hoped to highlight that while these species are dying, there is still time to prevent them from extinction. Though he hails from the Netherlands, Collin van der Sluijs is no stranger to Chicago, having painted murals in the Pilsen neighborhood and hosted shows at Vertical Gallery.

Learn more about From Bloom to Doom here: http://collinvandersluijs.com/news/14-5-2016-%C2%B4from-doom-to-boom%C2%B4-michigan-ave-chicago/


Don’t Fret

Artist: Don’t Fret

Location: 1152 S. Wabash

The artist, known as Don’t Fret, is a Chicago native and alum of Columbia College. He is one of three Columbia College alum that were brought back for the Wabash Art Corridor project. He notes the piece is reminiscent of his time at Columbia, describing it an interview with the Columbia Chronicle as reflective of his ‘“glass half-empty” personality’ and finding the humor in darker subjects. He has worked both in galleries on the street, displaying his work in cities like New York, Miami, São Paulo, and Berlin.

See more of Don’t Fret’s work here: http://dontfretart.com/


Make Your Own Luck

Artist: ASVP

Location: 1 East Balbo, South Loop Club

Make Your Own Luck is a part of the Vertical Gallery’s ‘The Power of Paint’ series, promoting how visual art can help others. As a part of this campaign, the duo ASVP donated part of their commission to charity. ASVP utilizes hand-drawn, comic style paintings in bright colors and have worked both nationally and internationally. They are based out of Brooklyn, New York.

Learn more about this piece here: http://wabashartscorridor.org/portfolio_page/asvps-make-your-own-luck/

Learn about the artists here: http://www.asvp.nyc/about/   



Press Relase about WAC: http://wabashartscorridor.org/mayor-emanuel-columbia-college-chicago-announce-wabash-arts-corridor/

Learn more about the project here: https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/provdrs/public_art_program/news/2016/october/yopa.html

Project website: http://wabashartscorridor.org/