Saturday, September 08, 2007

Vote Bohemian

American Express has a novel program to protect and celebrate American architecture, they are calling Partners in Preservation. The idea sure sounds like a pleasnt one, in sort of 1960's radio contest way: Amex will donate $1 Million to the upkeep of a Chicago area landmark, based on the leader in number of votes on their website to maintain the landmark (it also sounds a bit like the SNL skit where callers voted on whether to boil a live lobster or not).

John Mallin is the premier ecclesiastical mural painter in the United States. He did work all over the Archdiocese of Chicago, following Henry Schlacks with his finishing touches to Schlacks Churches. One of his finest works, however, was not at a Catholic Chapel, rather at the non-denominational Bohemian National Cemetery Chapel at Pulaski and Foster in Chicago.

There are many fine architectural works that Amex is considering for support. I campaign here for the BNC and the restoration of the John Mallin paintings (they are in rough shape), with the following criteria:

1) Landmarks such as the Robie House are supported by the Multi-Billion$ University of Chicago endowment, and have no need for additional funds.
2) Landmarks, such as the Humbolt Park Stables, are supported by the Chicago Park District, and have huge maintenance budgets, albeit, maintenance that is sometimes skipped for more pressing needs like Chicago style political shennanigans.
3) John Mallin lived a very long time, and was still producing classical artwork in the 1960's when the rest of the world had given up on 2000 + years of tradition in exchange for Roy Lichtenstein. We need more artists such as Mallin to uphold the fine arts regardless of the prevailing artistic norms.
4) There is not a soul in Chicago (or most of the rest of the world) that has not heard of the Unity Temple and Frank Lloyd Wright. Do we really need more promotion of architect (albeit a great one) who built his career on hype and exposure?
So, I urge you, in Chicago style, to vote early and often for John Mallin and the Bohemian National Cemetery in American Express Partners in Preservation contest. $1 Million will go a long way to keeping this gem in tact.


MJM said...

The AMEX site states that funding will be used for preservation of the wooden water tower at
BNC. Are you suggesting BNC should instead use the money to preserve Mallin's paintings or is that an ancillary project not mentioned on the website?

JB Powers said...


Not real clear, but the artist's (Mallin) grandaughter gave it the green light, so it should be appropriate.