Museum of Contemporary Art – Chicago, Illinois

In a building that was originally a bakery, the Museum of Contemporary Art (or MCA) in Chicago, Illinois was founded in 1967. It was initially intended to be a space for temporary exhibitions. In 1974, the MCA began acquiring a permanent collection. This permanent collection of contemporary art consisted of pieces created after 1945. After years of expanding into neighboring buildings, the MCA relocated to its current site in 1996. The current site at 220 East Chicago Avenue was the site of a former National Guard Armory from 1907 until 1993. The first American structure designed by architect Josef Paul Kleihues, the new structure consists of limestone and aluminum and contains 45,000 square feet of gallery space as well as a sculpture garden and an auditorium.

Today, the MCA has a collection of 2,345 contemporary art pieces focusing on surrealism, minimalism and conceptual photography. There is also a monthly exhibit of art created by Chicago’s up and coming artists. Only a small percentage of the total collection is displayed at any given time and these pieces may be displayed in any space within the museum. The MCA collaborated with Chef Wolfgang Puck to create a full service restaurant and express counter. Museum admission is not required to dine at Puck’s at the MCA, but reservations are recommended. The cuisine at Puck’s at the MCA has a Mediterranean and Asia influence.

The MCA offers free tours of the museum daily as well as private tours, family tours and school tours among others. The “Exhibition Focus” free tour lasts for 45 minutes and operates Tuesday at 1:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M., Wednesday through Friday at 1:00 P.M., and Saturday and Sunday at 12:00 P.M. and 2:00 P.M.. The “Highlights Tours” free tour lasts for 20 to 30 minutes and only operates on Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 P.M. and 3:00 P.M.. Both of these free tours begin in the second floor lobby.

Classes, workshops and lectures are also offered at the MCA for any skill level. MCA members receive a discount on participation fees. There are many programs and events going on all the time so there is something suitable for every visitor. Live performances are held at the MCA as well on a regular basis.

If you plan to visit the MCA, discounted parking is available in their parking garage on Chicago Avenue. Be sure to validate your parking at the admission desk or you won’t receive the discount and will have to pay full price for parking. There is free bicycle parking in front of the parking garage.

The Need For Original Art In Home And Office

Why original art? Why not a poster? There are many reasons. The space that you live in and work in is important to you and those who visit you. You can improve the look and feel of those spaces with real, original artworks.

Many people buy a copy of a poster – which nowadays may be called a “litho”, or an “art litho”, etc. Many people even believe they will save some money decorating their homes, condos, offices with posters. The people who buy these posters are buying a copy of a copy of a well-known popular work. The original work was usually created years ago by a now well-known artist.

These posters are appreciated both for the image and as a sort of logo that represents a body of work, period, or school that the buyer sees as a personal favorite. While there is nothing wrong with this per se, it is certainly not as much a personal statement as the buying of an original work.

Posters and giclee’s (a textured copy of a poster on canvas) also offer less ambience and presence than original works of art. Certainly some copies are better than others – but the copy always loses many of the properties of the original work.

Very few can afford a Van Gogh, Monet, or Renoir unless they buy a poster copy of those works. There is a difference between listening to music on the radio or a CD and being present during a performance by living musicians. This difference is the same for visual art. After you have seen some Van Goghs and Monets you know it’s different than looking at copies. An original artwork appears to have more intensity, it has textural properties and it has a physical presence among other things that a poster cannot attain.

Frame shops can put a poster into a decorator moulding, add a matte, etc. – which is becoming very expensive – to display the poster. It is now a well-displayed poster, for which you have spent $50-500 to display.

There are many so-called “limited edition fine art prints – signed by the artist and numbered” that are sold under the pretense that they will probably appreciate in value. You have only to check eBay and garage sales to see that at least 99.9% of these are next to worthless. These “fine art prints” are originally priced anywhere from $50-1000. These are possibly the worst investment ever sold.

Buying orignal artworks need not be expensive. The artists of today are turning out a vast array of beautiful pieces in every medium. These works of art do not have to be purchased through the highest priced galleries either.

Many artists represent themselves or sell through reasonably priced galleries. There are also art auctions, charity art exhibits, art festivals, and many local artist groups that have creative, journeyman artists offering amazing values.

The prices of original artworks can be very negotiable. This depends of the artist, dealer or broker to whom you are talking. Many of my friends make it a point to buy directly from artists that they can talk with, possibly befriend. Others get direction from publications or a particular art dealer that they trust.

Display of original works costs about the same as for posters, possibly less is the frame is part of the purchase or the canvas is gallery wrapped so that there is no need for a frame.

Countless artists that I have spoken to have original works available that they will sell for $30-1000. Most people I speak with are able to find excellent values for an average of $400 per piece. And, there is a real possibility that these originals will appreciate in value. But I am writing about this in a different article.

So, you can do the math, is a poster in a frame (with little chance of appreciation) a better value than an original. Be a real art buyer! Shop for beautiful, well-executed, original works by serious, living artists with whom you can negotiate good prices.
Tia Marks