Chicago: Loop / Chicago: Lake.
Photographs by Michael A. Smith. Photographs, drawings and paintings by Paula Chamlee.
Lodima Press, 2010. 104 pp., 76 illustrations, 16¾x8½".
Chicago: Loop/Chicago: Lake by Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee is two books in one. Begin on one side for Chicago: Loop. Flip the book over and begin with Chicago: Lake.
Known worldwide as “the city that works,” Chicago has the architecture to back up its reputation: muscular office buildings, soaring skyscrapers, and bridges and train tracks that shuttle workers to and from the Loop. Yet Chicago’s residents play just as hard as they work—and when weather permits, they can be found playing on their city’s glorious twenty-six-mile stretch of lakefront.
In their combined book, husband-and-wife team Paula Chamlee and Michael A. Smith reveal their different takes on one of America’s most captivating cities through the two elements that make Chicago so unique: its stellar architecture and its unmatched lakefront of public parks and beaches.
Individually, Chamlee and Smith have received acclaim for their striking images of places as diverse as Tuscany, Iceland, the American West, the markets of San Francisco, and a farm in Texas. Commissioned to photograph Chicago, Chamlee and Smith trained their lenses in different directions. Chamlee explored the less tamed beauty of the lakefront while Smith photographed the manmade grandeur of the Loop’s architecture. This combined book of their pictures, a first for Chamlee and Smith, unites these two visions of the Chicago landscape to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Tuned into the rhythms of Chicago buildings, Smith’s photographs in Chicago: Loop, made with an 8x20-inch view camera, offer up a horizontal view of this most vertical city. While panoramic in format, most of the photographs do not, in fact, capture wide views. Rather, these “anti-panorama panoramas” hone in on architectural patterns that formed, somewhat haphazardly, as Chicago’s downtown has grown through the decades. The result is a series of photographs that allow even Chicago natives to view the Loop, so iconic and familiar, through new eyes.
In Chicago: Lake, Chamlee returns to her roots as a painter by combining her photographs of the lakefront with her drawings, assemblages, ephemeral constructions, and writing. In her photographs and artwork, Chamlee creates a multi-layered experience that reflects the nearly seamless interplay between manmade structures and nature that flows along Chicago’s shoreline. Chicago: Lake documents the beauty—both humble and dramatic—that emerges when a teeming city revels in the good fortune of its natural environment.
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