The Joel Oppenheimer Gallery, The Peccary, and Me.

posted in: Art, Uncategorized 4
John Audubon, Collared Peccary - AUD501
Plate 31, Collared Peccary, by John J. Audubon. Image: Internet.

 

I pass by the Joel Oppenheimer Gallery on Michigan Avenue at least a few times a week when I’m home. It’s on the ground floor of the Wrigley Building, and for several years I didn’t go in because it appeared painfully fancy from the outside. The Wrigley Building, referred to as “the jewel of the Mile,” is a two-winged castle, Chicago’s Big Ben, a tribute to human potential and intelligence, it is among our finest hours as a city. A gallery worthy of space on the first floor of a building like this can’t help but be intimidating, but then I reminded myself one afternoon that the whole Wrigley empire was built on chewing gum. That day, I went in.

The Joel Oppenheimer Gallery, which is staffed by a small number of terrifically friendly people (including the handsome Sarah and Mr. Oppenheimer himself, who on the day I met him was wearing a snappy bow-tie I’ll wager is part of his daily ensemble), specializes in John James Audubon prints. Did you have Audubon’s Birds of America in your house as a kid? We did. Kids are nuts about animals and drawings and drawings of animals and I remember poring over the illustrations in that huge book for hours, freaked out by what I considered ugly birds (vultures, and I was right) and delighting in the sweet ones (lo, the tufted titmouse!) All creatures great and small may be wise and wonderful but some are more wonderful than others:

I had my eye on a print in the window for so long and when greeted by the kindly Sarah on the day of a big sale at the gallery, I pulled the trigger. I love my art and I now love the gallery. On their website they say, “Inquiries are received with pleasure.” With pleasure! Note: Sarah’s desk is a bit foreboding when you walk in, all lacquered and finely turned, but her ever-present, generous wine glass of orange juice atop it quells nerves.

There’s one other piece I’m after. Something about life in the last few years has made me more open to a certain strain of ugliness. The jolie-laide is cool with me, surely because I’m more of a realist than I ever was and there is comfort in looking at things the way they are and the way they are is not always soft n’ glossy. While I don’t plan to inquire to Joel or Sarah’s pleasure about any vulture renderings, I have been obsessing slightly about that guy up top. The warthog.

He’s huge. Several feet across and so tall. Where would I put him? The bathroom? Would I get ready faster in the morning? He couldn’t go into my bedroom; I’d scare my guests. Perhaps the hall, but he needs room to breathe. If the price is even within the galaxy of possibility for my budget (doubtful) I’d get him and figure it out later. Maybe he could go in the kitchen. He looks pretty hungry.

I like him because he’s ugly. I like him because he’s so ugly, he magnificent. He didn’t choose not to be a titmouse. He’s just a lil’ peccary, squalling and stomping, feral and powerful enough to go into any building, faster than me.

4 Responses

  1. Kathy Douglass
    | Reply

    Glad you are back, paper girl.

  2. Crystle
    | Reply

    Oh my gosh…that is a real animal! I had to Google it. I say hallway for sure..that way if anyone ever tries to sneak down your hall they will see your beloved Peccary and be so startled you would know someone was there!

    He looks just a little like my new fascination the Capybara….but much more mean….and hungry!

  3. Figurines G Scale
    | Reply

    Stunning quest there. What happened after? Good luck!

  4. Cathern
    | Reply

    Hello there I am so happy I found your webpage, I really found you by error, while I was looking on Bing
    for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a incredible post and a all round thrilling
    blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added in your RSS feeds,
    so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more,
    Please do keep up the fantastic work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.