Over this past year, Ruth Aizuss Migdal has been a regular participant in the Cliff Dwellers book club, which I moderate, but more importantly she has become my friend. I so enjoy her enthusiasm and insights, and her vigorous approach to her work, at a time in life when most others have retired to more staid interests. Ruth, you see, is a sculptor, and one of the best in Chicago. She just finished a magnificent piece entitled “Whirling Dervish,” which has been recently installed near the lagoon and field house in Chicago’s Douglas Park on the West Side.
Those of you with Chicago literary interests know that Douglas Park has been featured in the stories of Meyer Levin and Stuart Dybek. In the past, one could hear the sounds of klezmer and polka in this public space, nowadays replaced by hip-hop and salsa. The park still looks good, and invites you to stroll along its paths and take in its beauty during all of Chicago’s varied seasons. Please make sure you stop by to see “Whirling Dervish,” the latest addition to the cultural landscape of Douglas Park.
I missed the Richard Hunt sculpture exhibit reception at the Chicago Cultural Center last week, but I was intent on seeing it anyhow, so I saw it last night when I had a half hour to kill downtown. And, serendipitously, the sculptor, Mr. Hunt, was there and I had an opportunity to talk with him. I mentioned to him that one of my favorite pieces of his was “Slabs of the Sunburnt West,” adjacent to the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The title of this sculpture is from a Carl Sandburg poem where the poet writes: “stand up, sandstone slabs of red, tell the overland passengers who burnt you.”
Mr. Hunt and I had a nice conversation. I told him how much I enjoyed the iconic Chicago movie “Goldstein” (1964) where his sculpture was featured. We were amazed that fifty years had passed since the film was released, and we both smiled gratefully that we still are around to talk about it. We chatted about his presentation last year at the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame ceremony where his longtime friend Leon Forrest had been inducted. Finally, we both found it a point of interest that in Chicago major libraries seemed to be named after politicians rather than poets.
We want to congratulate our friend and neighbor Ellen Blum Barish on the launch of her online brainchild, “Thread: A Literary Magazine.” It can be found at http://www.threadliterary.com The launch was held at a packed Curt’s Cafe in Evanston last Wednesday evening, where nine writers read their personal essays to the assembled. I was so happy to be there and personally witness the magic that a good story by the reader sparks with an attentive audience. Ellen, a highly talented author, writing coach and teacher, sincerely hopes that both new and seasoned writers participate in this new and exciting online forum. I know at some point I will be. I’m also pleased to announce that Ellen will be the featured author at the Chicago Jewish Authors Literary Series at Max and Benny’s on the evening of February 23 starting at 7:00.
The highly popular Jewish Authors series at Max and Benny’s resumes once again this January. The programs are always on Monday evenings, beginning at 7:00. Now in our fourth year, we have the lineup of presentations for January through April:
January 19- D.M. Pirrone, author of Shall We Not Revenge
February 23-Ellen Blum Barish, author of Views from the Home Office: On Motherhood, Family and Life
March 23-Richard Reeder will discuss the life and work of author Saul Bellow, as part of the Saul Bellow Centennial Celebration
April 13-Lisa Barr, author of Fugitive Colors