Monday, April 16, 2007

Temple of Cinema: Uptown Chicago

Originally uploaded by primeau.
There are some decent photographs on Flickr of Rapp and Rapp's Uptown Theater. One has to wonder, what on earth can you do with a building so obsolete as the Uptown, but one look at the lobby (in photo), and you can see why people are still interested. This is the largest theater in the United States (excluding converted stadiums).

I have been involved with the Uptown for nearly 10 years now, and given up on it many times. Re-use of the facility is not a matter of economics, since the neighborhood has genetrified, leaving only the bruised beauty of the Uptown to scar the neighborhood. Fixing the property could actually make money now. The issue, as usual in Chicago, is the wicked group of crooks preventing gentrification, as part of some time honored testament to graft, incompetence, and petty tyranny of the local Aldermen.

While it is still standing, enjoy it. It is open every now and then to the public. The owners, or whoever has the key will rent it out for a reasonable price.


Primo said...

1. There are amazing photographers on Flickr.

2. I was unaware of the Architect but after reviewing his Chicago Area churches, concluded, yes, this is a typical masterpiece. We can thank the 300 candlelight protestors in 1999 for preventing its demolition.

3. It is very dangerous to crawl around old abandoned buildings. The idea of trespassing, though, is usually the least of an explorer’s worries. Riding bikes on streets infested with 2 ton vehicles is probably more risky.

4. I would like to see a selection of images before I come to a conclusion.

5. I am unfamiliar with James Morris but this idea sparks interest for me. If there are any possible collaboration projects looming ahead, feel free to contact me. Any opportunity to record, document, and elaborate on the cultural problems in the United States are always welcomed.

6. I just recently succumbed to this argument when determining the allocation of space for a thesis show. Stupid is a matter of opinion and maybe unnecessary would be a better alternative.

7. Perhaps

8. My commentary is not intended to be a representation of the photographs. In fact, very rarely will I include my descriptive experiences in a more professional setting. As an unknown artist seeking to make a small mark in my community, I connect my photographs with my elaborate narratives to build a stronger base for myself. In other words, if the words lead to the images or vise-a-versa, than so be it. The ultimate goal is to leave an impression with either one. Leaving an impact with both is simply a bonus.

9. Technology is rampant. Industry is dead. My lenses and cameras will soon find a fate similar to the buildings I explore. Until the day when sensors or digital optics can act as bellows, I must deal with a little imperfection.

10. This answer is probably a big fat NO. This is precisely why we need to preserve buildings, complexes and campuses like St. Boniface. We were preached history with words, illustrations and photographs during school, but wouldn’t it be something if we could teach it with surviving artifacts.

As much as you may dislike my words, that’s ok. You must have at least a small appreciation for some of the images you have seen and I am honored to have them associated with your blog. I hope that James Morris and I can meet. Primo

Publia said...

You should organize a field trip to the Uptown for your readers! There used to be a number of these fancy old cinemas in Chicago, but is the Uptown the last?