Sunday, July 06, 2008

Homes and arts in Beverly: Rodeo Drive it's not


Kathy Halper, Walter Burley Griffin


In my twenties I would drive up and down Sheridan Road looking at untouchable homes, wondering how the other half lives. In the Beverly neighborhood, large homes from the same era take the high ground on Longwood Drive.

But part of the Southwest Side's charm is that the other half is close at hand. A brick two-story on a quarter-acre lists for $285,000, a block from a Colonial on a half-acre at $675,000.

Southwest Side city landmarks include Longwood Drive, a pre-Chicago Fire Italianate, a smattering of Frank Lloyd Wright homes and a street renamed for his Prairie School acolyte Walter Burley Griffin. Houses on this stretch of 104th Place can list for close to $1 million, or half that for the Griffin home pictured here. The carpenter vernacular homes that surround them are charming too, and current listings include foursquare on an oversized lot.

Unlike their haughty North Shore counterparts, it was easy to picture yourself in any of them. The Ridge Historical Society website notes that swanky Beverly Hills was not named for the Chicago neighborhood.

An equally diverse yet grounded grouping rings the atrium activity room at the Beverly Arts Center, where a Chicago Artists' Coalition group exhibition is in its final days. Gabriella Boros and Millie Marnin foreshadow lives of struggle for their young subjects, while Kathy Halper place children in domestic scenes on wallpaper-pattern backgrounds, offering the same latent fury but with more hope.

Unsettling subtext is totally lacking in the upstairs installation by Perry Pollack. Its announcement claims Perry's work "avoids the gravitas and clichés of the art world," but the cool minimalist constructions steer straightaway to those twin destinations.

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