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Chagall’s America Windows

Marc Chagall’s America Windows, Art Institute of Chicago (2020)

Marc Zakharovich Chagall, born Moishe Zakharovich Shagal, (1887 –1985) was a Russian-French artist of Belarusian Jewish origin.

Chagall visited Chicago in the early 1970s to install his mural The Four Seasons, and at that time was inspired to create a set of stained glass windows for the Art Institute of Chicago. Chagall made the windows a tribute to the American Bicentennial, and in particular the commitment of the United States to cultural and religious freedom.The windows appeared prominently in the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Chagall fled Nazi-occupied France in 1941 for the United States where he remained until 1948 when he returned to France. He died in France in 1985.

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Transforming DC’s Fireboxes into Art

From 2000 until 2009, Cultural Tourism DC led Art on Call, a city-wide effort to restore Washington’s abandoned police and fire call boxes as neighborhood artistic icons. The art in the reinvented call boxes ranges in style from representational to abstract. The boxes showcase each neighborhood’s unique identity and entice residents and visitors to explore the city’s distinctive communities.

© David H. Enzel 2019

Police and fire call boxes were installed in Washington, DC starting in the 1860s. They began to become obsolete with the introduction of the 911 emergency call system in the 1970s, and the working electronic components were all removed by 1995. Yet the call boxes remained, too large and heavy to remove yet subject to deterioration from weather and vandalism. The Art on Call initiative began in 2000 when the city surveyed and identified call boxes for refurbishment. More than 1,100 abandoned boxes have been located.

Example of some of the beautiful art around Washington, DC as a result of the “Art on Call” Project. © David H. Enzel 2019

Neighborhood organizations formed coalitions with residents and artists to propose, and then carry out, ideas for refurbishing their neighborhood’s call boxes. Each community selects a theme or color palette for its boxes, thereby creating recognizable identifiers for its geographic area.

At the time Cultural Tourism DC wrapped up its work with the project, 145 completed call boxes could be seen in the nation’s capital.

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