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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sam Rosenthal: Summer in the City

Sam Rosenthal, Mean Old Man, 18 x 24
Summer? Already?

Here it is three weeks before it’s even official, and I’m already sick of summer. Not, of course, that this year’s any different: I‘ve never liked summer, not even when I was a kid, and especially not in the city. You can have your free music festivals, street fairs and farmers’ markets. To me, summer in Chicago means only one thing: misery. Relentless sun, gritty wind & pavement so hot you can get a tan standing in the shade. I hate all of it.

No, this is my idea of a nice summer day: indoors, in a handsome room with the curtains drawn, the shades pulled, and just enough light to read by. If you know this picture--it's a detail of "Hide & Seek" by James Tissot, at the National Gallery in Washington--you know that the actual painting also includes four little girls at play. It’s popularly thought to be about the innocent joys of childhood or some such thing, but to me the picture’s main appeal is the way Tissot captures the feeling of refuge in a cool, dark, high room when it‘s hotter than hell outside. All that’s missing from the scene is a servant coming in with a cold drink. If you ask me, November can’t come soon enough.

Sam Rosenthal, Twilight on Wacker Drive,  84 x 72
Still, even though I dread the sort of blasting heat in that top image, I happen to love the picture itself, an oil painting by the talented Chicago artist Sam Rosenthal, who just happens to be a friend of mine. Back at the end of winter, I invited Sam to show his art in the shop for spring, so Debra Phillips, the owner of the shop--& I went over to Sam’s studio and picked out ten of our favorite paintings, mostly scenes of urban life, a few of them right here in the neighborhood. Whether it’s the blinding glare of a sun-blasted sidewalk, the Beaux-Arts lanterns along Wacker Drive on a humid June evening or the glow of truck headlights in the winter dusk, Sam Rosenthal’s has a way with light. And weather.

Sam Rosenthal, Industrial Sunset, 40 x 38
All I can say is that I am hugely pleased to be able to introduce Sam's work to our friends.  
His show continues until June 19, so stop in to see it while you still can. And just in case you’re like me, and don’t like the heat, don’t let that stop you from coming down--we have air conditioning. It's cool inside. And for those of you who don't want to go outside at all, you can see more of Sam's work at

        SG Grand, 1822 West Grand Avenue, Chicago Illinois, 60622. 312-226-6654
                               email me at Bart[at]sggrand[dot]com

1 comment:

  1. wonderful, albeit crabby intro.....then again it describes the painting and our shared sentiment. but i do believe we are quite alone in those summer time blues.
    hey it's only 120 days till october 1st!