LORADO TAFT. The Iroquois Memorial

The thing I like most about Taft -- after his beautiful people - is his balance of composition. Not quite symmetry - more aptly described as balance - it allows a remarkable variance of detail within a well defined whole. We're all familiar with his Fountain of the Great Lakes (below).

Lesser known is his Memorial to the Iroquois Fire dated 1910. Within the overall tragedy Taft finds space for  touching scenes of Mother and Child (below).

This Plaque hangs near the West Entrance of City Hall. It's easy to overlook the detail -- but worth a couple of minutes. Next time you're there. To pick up a Building Permit.

The Iroquois Fire disaster was caused by improper electrical wiring and its proximity to flammable materials -- and had significant impact on the Chicago Building Code. (The doors in this picture actually swing INWARD -- for easy entry)

Chicago loves its disasters.  Ghost Tours prowl the alley behind the site of the Iroquois on Randolph and talk about screams in the night. Link to this THE IROQUOIS THEATER FIRE for a particularly ghoulish description of the disaster.


LORADO TAFT. The Elusuve Lady


I've photographed Lorado Taft's FOUNTAIN OF THE GREAT LAKES (1907-1913) in the South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago more times than I can count. In light and in shadow. I think I've found the others, but Lady Superior has remained elusive. She is badly damaged. And looking downward, her face never sees full light.

It seems to me that Taft would not have short-sheeted the most important character of his composition. And, indeed, I believe he has not.

Her eyes are gently, serenely, closed. Her mouth turns slightly downward. But not in sadness. There is some determination here. Perfect confidence. And she is beautiful .
In a moment she will awaken. Smiling fully. Freely pouring water in abundance. To the end of time.