Monthly Archives: June 2008

“Portraits of Downtown” Naperville Photography Exhibit Now Open Through July 28th at Art and Frame Naperville

I’m pleased to announce that “Portraits of Downtown” is now open through July 28th at Art and Frame Naperville.  I want to thank those who braved the ominous weather and a busy summer weekend evening to drop by the opening yesterday. 

I also want to personally thanks Agatha Blaszkowska, owner of Art and Frame Napeville, for her support, encouragement and efforts in assembling this special exhibit which is truly a timeless celebration of Downtown Naperville.  I met Agatha and discovered Art and Frame Naperville while shopping around for the best framing solution for the Naperville Corporate Center photography installation.  After looking all over town, I went with Art and Frame for the strong customer-focus, quality of work and excellent pricing.  I’ve been extremely impressed with their work and would not hesitate in recommending Art and Frame Naperville whether you are looking for local artwork or a wide spectrum of framing and preservation options.  It’s clear to see how Agatha has built a loyal customer base.  Many have asked me about the exhibit, why I’m doing it and whether or not I’m a professional photographer by trade.  The answer is the exhibit has provided me a way to combine my artistic passions with my passion for Naperville to create a celebration of our community.  These photos represent the Downtown Naperville I see through my own eyes.  Engaging in opportunities like these enables me to advance my own life mission in humbly sharing my art, in its various forms, with the world.  Through art, I’ve always been able to make greater sense of the world around me and to share these perspectives with others is my personal measure of success.While the prints are available for purchase, my greatest hope is that you will drop in to take a look whether you intend to acquire anything or not.  I know Agatha would love to have the opportunity to meet you. 

If you head over to Art and Frame Naperville, it can be a little confusing to find.  Take Mill Street from either direction to Fifth Avenue, then turn West on Fifth Avenue behind Naperville North High School and drive down the long row of strip mall shops until you see the Art and Frame sign at the entrance.

Much like my love of artistic expression, my motivation for the World of Naperville, my role as the Naperville Examiner and my overall online/offline activism, my goal is to simply express my passion for our community to the rest of the world.  We live in a busy stress-filled world and I believe strongly in the lost art of “community” in all of its beauty and simplicity.  If you have a long-running passion for Naperville or merely a fleeting interest, you will always find a friend in me and the World of Naperville. 

“Portraits of Downtown” is open now through July 28th at Art and Frame Naperville (702 West Fifth Avenue, behind Naperville North High School) M-F 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM and Saturday from 9:30 – 4:00.  SM

 

    

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“Portraits of Downtown” Opens Tomorrow (June 28th) – Naperville Sun Potluck Mention

A quick thanks to the Naperville Sun for posting a short piece, entitled Photo exhibit highlights Naperville architecture regarding the opening of my photogrpahy exhibit, entitled “Portraits of Downtown”.

“Portraits of Downtown” will open tomorrow evening (Saturday evening, June 28th) with a special reception from 5:00 – 8:00 PM.  I would like to personally invite each of you to join me and my family at this event to see a special collection of Downtown Naperville photograpy prints as well as an electronic presentation of my extended portfolio.

Both framed and unframed exhibited prints will be available for purchase.  In addition, you will be able to order special-sized prints and framing from my entire collection if you wish.  In a show of support to the Naperville Arts Community, 10% of all sales on June 28th will be donated to the Naperville Art League . 

Again, the exhibit opens on tomorrow evening, Saturday, June 28th, from 5:00 – 8:00 PM at Art and Frame Naperville, 702 West 5th Avenue just behind Naperville North High School. 

I look forward to meeting you for this celebration of our community.  SM     

Cross-Court Naperville Crew Journeys into Chicago to Witness the Cubs vs. White Sox Cross-Town Classic – Part 3

(continued… 3rd and final part)

We had a little bit of time before the game and headed down Clark Street to Goose Island.  Wrigleyville has a special place in my heart not because of the famed Wrigley confines, but because I spent a number of years living in the area from just a block away in Wrigleyville and down Addison into Roscoe Village.  Clark Street was not just Cub’s country, it was home.  Of course, as life goes, the place has even changed a bit since I lived there a short 8 years ago. 

We entered Goose Island and there was definitely an energy in the air.  We headed toward the bar at which point we began the time honored tradition of taking turns buying rounds of beer.  This was also the location of my first drink of the day which tasted a little too good on my empty stomach.  As I mentioned, Pete brews and kegs his own beer thus the golden beverage has a special place in his heart.  He also happens to love Goose Island.  Thus, it was a no-brainer that I would buy a round of Goose Island’s special reserve beer, Matilda.  All you need to know about Matilda is the Goose tap is golden, the beer is served in oversized wine glasses and the final product is priced accordingly.  I must say it was one of the most interesting beers I’ve ever tasted and after the unexpected first sip, I truly enjoyed and could appreciate its uniqueness.

Upon polishing off the last gulp of reserve it was time to head back up Clark Street to Wrigley Field for the very reason we had ventured into the city.  There was definitely an energy in the air as fans anxiously awaited the changing traffic lights and final go-ahead blessing from the mounted Chicago police to let them cross over Addison to the promised land… well, at least for Cubs fans.  We packed ourselves into the crush of humanity clamouring to have our ticket bar code scanned so we could make our way across this historic thresold of America’s great pastime.  Interestingly, the Cubs and White Sox fans were co-mingling quite nicely.  Of course, these games are about pride and I imagine the atmosphere might be somewhat different if these two teams are coming together once again during the Fall timeframe.

We carefully read our tickets in comparison to the Section boards overhead.  While waiting for Kevin to take care of business again, we got in line for our first traditional draft Old Style beer.  Tom, our White Sox fan, purchased the round and made fast friends with the concession staff as they exchanged smiling jabs about the foreign jersey he was wearing.  Once re-united, we began to head up the ramps… up…. up…. climbing higher… up… higher… until we finally reached the 500 section.  The good news was we were in the 9th row, the bad news, as we quickly discovered, was the 9th row is the final row of the highest point you can sit in Wrigley.  We arrived to find a mix of Cubs and White Sox fans.  The only thing seperating us from Wrigley Field and the Chicago skyline was a chain-link fence.  It was almost spiritual… of course, not as “spiritual” as what was about to happen. 

For anyone who has been to Wrigley, you know there isn’t a bad seat in the house and the seats were just fine for us.  We nervously drank our Old Style and began munching on some pistachios while Tom sat a few seats away nibbling on peanuts to create some distance between Cubs and Sox.  No distance could save him from the spirited verbal jabs we threw back and forth talking “smack” as the game started.

The game began, and early on the White Sox posted some runs on the iconic manual scoreboard at Wrigley.  Of course, as if some vision had come to us, we showed no fear or concern and instead continued to give Tom a hard time boasting about what we had hoped was about to happen.  He defended himself by lobbing the periodic peanut shell at us.  Our vision for the Cubs rally turned to reality in the now-epic 9 run inning which pretty much closed the White Sox down early.  The fever ran high in that inning, homerun after homerun, run after run.  It was like Christmas morning with one euphoric gift after another.  Soon, the entire section was united in sharing euphoric high fives.  The White Sox fans grew quiet, especially Tom who was suddenly at a loss for good-spirited comebacks.

The sixth inning rolled around and Tom decided to call it a day as he announced he was going back to Goose Island.  Of course, we had no intention of going anywhere given the way things were shaping up.  The sun was shining, the sky full of large marshmallow-like clouds.  The only drawback we learned the hard way was the beer guy kept running out of beer by the time he finally made it all the way up to the top.  We thought of sending a strong passenger pigeon to retrieve a couple of cold brews for us, but by the look in the birds eye we didn’t think we could trust the creature with our money. 

The seventh inning brought us emo teen icon and newlywed Simpson family member Pete Wentz of Chicagoland’s Fallout Boy who sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.  They seemed to be having a good time.  With the game in hand, the beer running dry and just a bit of concern over the White Sox member of our expedition, Pete decided to head out to Goose Island in search of Tom.  As for Kevin and myself, we weren’t going anywhere until the final chorus of “Go Cubs Go” ended at the conclusion of the game.  We did just that and enjoyed having the opportunity to catch up without the smack-talking banter going back-and-forth between Pete and Tom. 

The game ended, the Cub’s won and we were content to head back down the ramps, across the street and back down to Goose Island to meet up with Pete and Tom.  Still, the crowd was very calm and in seemingly good spirits Cubs and White Sox fans alike.  We worked our way down Clark Street and after a short wait in line headed back into Goose Island where we found Tom at the bar drinking off the pain of his fallen White Sox.  The only violent moment of the day occurred as I videotaped Tom’s face with my camera phone as we approached him with smack-talk-a-blaring.  He jokingly swatted his large hand and accidentally knocked the phone to the floor while the camera still rolled.  In retrospect, I suppose I deserved it.  Besides, it has made for a nice keepsake video in my phone’s archive. 

After gathering some food and engaging in smalltalk at the bar, we were at the point that we had enough.  I think the bartenders had had enough as well given the fact Tom kept tossing peanut shells at them and threatening to drink shots from 15 shot glassed lined up in front of us.  We left Goose Island to make our way down Addison toward the Red Line Station with bucket drums rythmically pounding in the background. 

Once on the train, Tom was the only one who seemed to have a White Sox jersey on and in full form proceeded to make some more friends as he entertained everyone.  We know Tom well as a gentle giant but the other riders didn’t quite know what to make of him.  Needless to say, plenty of laughter was to be had as the story of his recently fired co-worker and the “universal sign” found another new audience. 

We hopped off the train at Jackson and headed toward Union Station for the 5:25…um… I mean 6:30 train.  Our wives had expected us on the 5:25 pm train but it wasn’t in the cards for the day.  Along the walk, Tom had the opporutnity to expand his pool of friends to a Chineese tourist who approached him asking where Union Station was.  We were heading west toward Union Station, but in predictable form, Tom sent him back two blocks east just to see if the lost tourist would take the bait… fortunately, the tourist caught on to his obvious plot.  With some time to kill, we stopped at the Giordano’s pizza off of Jackson.  It’s amazing to me that any restaurant is open in the loop during the weekend.  We settled at the bar on the other end of the restaurant and began trying to figure out when exactly the next train to Naperville ran. 

As I was searching my phone for the metra website, a clean-cut unsuspecting kid walked up and sat down next to none other than Tom.  I just shook my head slowly as I tried to anticipate in my mind what misadventure this unsuspecting kid had just stumbled into.  As it turns out the kid was stationed at Great Lakes and was experiencing his first trip out of Texas.  He asked us if the pizza was good… at Giordanos… in Chicago.  For those of you familiar with the stuffed delight, the kid asked what size of pizza he should order.  Before I could suggest the personal size based on my own experience, Tom jumped in quickly and said, “no, no… you definitely needed to the get the small… you look hungry.”  Mind you there were plenty of empty seats along the bar but this kid chooses the spot next Tom’s one-man show.  

A couple of minutes later, the kid asks us if there is a barber shop nearby.  With it being the loop late on a Saturday afternoon, we all kind of looked at each other.  Then we waited in anticipation of the enlightened advice Tom would dispense to the poor lad.  Tom told him he had to go to “State Street Barbers” which, according to Tom, was two blocks east just around the corner on Jackson.  Again, the kid wasn’t buying the advice or any belief in this mythical barbershop.  

Eventually, Tom shifted his attention and one-man show to an older gentleman standing a few feet away dressed in a suit nursing a Heinikein.  He mumbled to me that this guy owned the place.  I politely acknowledged Tom’s misguided and seemingly baseless hypothesis, but it didn’t end there.  Tom questioned our belief in the theory that the guy owned the place.  I think we all know the collision course this one was on.  The bet finally surfaced and was issued to Pete… a small sum of money that they guy was owner of this Giordanos.   For those playing along at home, believe me, there was no way on earth this guy was the owner of this Giordanos hanging out at the bar of “his restaurant” dressed in a suit on a dead Saturday evening in the loop.  Nonetheless, Pete smelled easy money in the air and gladly took the bet.  Tom called the bartender over and in scraping together all the confident accumen of a TV private eye, pointed to the guy and asked who he was.  The bartender, with a degree of confusion on her face, said she had no idea.  In disbelief, Tom questioned “he’s not the owner or manager?”, the bartender responded that she had never seen this guy in her life and that the real manager was standing at the host stand at the other end of the restaurant.  With a gloating “sucker” laugh, Pete gathered his winnings as Tom nursed the sting of his lost bet as he resumed his position at the bar sitting in a dejected slump. 

After a plate of fried mushroom delight, it was time to head to Union Station to spend the next hour heading home toward Naperville on a train mixed full of families, their children and baked Cubs and Sox fans heading home, still talking smack.  And Tom had one last chance to find a new audience for the now legendary story of his former co-worker and, yes, the “universal sign”.

The train came to a stop at the Downtown Naperville station, we exited and quietly got into the car.  Responsibly, having only had a couple of beers hours before, I was happy to make sure our crew got back home safely.  We turned the corner into the old neighborhood and then into my former cul-de-sac and Tom, Pete and Kevin exited the car quietly heading for their garage doors and slowly one-by-one vanished behind the dull hum of their doors slowly moving toward the driveway surface. 

The End  

Cross-Court Naperville Crew Journeys into Chicago to Witness the Cubs vs. White Sox Cross-Town Classic – Part 2

(Part 2… the saga continues)

Our plans were to take the train into the city and I headed over to old neighborhood for a prompt 9:00 AM arrival.  Along the way, I decided to stop off at the local Walgreens to grab a Rockstar energy drink to get the engine running full stride for this early Saturday morning.  I pulled up to Pete’s house and waited a few moments as I was certain there would be no way he and Tom weren’t promptly ready to roll for the big showdown. 

The garage door rose slowly with its dull hum subtly breaking the early morning silence.  Pete proudly walked out of the garage proudly sporting the Cub’s jeresey and hat.  He’d asked if I’d been waiting long but I told him I pretty much just arrived after having stopped off for the energy boost.  Shortly thereafter, another garage door awakened with it’s equally dull hum two doors down across the street.  Tom emerged with his trademark smile strutting slowly sporting his crisp White Sox jeresey.  Pete and I walked over to discuss logistics prior to heading toward the train station.  The first order of the day was Pete and Tom’s desire to stock up on a couple of 24 ounce Monster energy drinks and to fill up an empty water bottle with… well… you know… “water”.  As Tom was placing the “water” source bottle back in the freezer, Kevin pulled quickly into his driveway ready to go.

We all loaded into my car and were off to the train station, stopping along the way for big vat cans of Monster drink.  As we drove along the joking and razzing began to peak early as the spirit of the morning began to take hold.  We arrived at the train station with a few minutes to spare, purchased a block of round-trip tickets and headed out to await the arrival of the 9:30 AM train.  We were far from the only Naperville residents with the same Wrigleyville plans for the day.

Prominently displayed posters announced that alcoholic beverages and containers were prohibited on the train.  With great relief, I was glad to see that our crew was only drinking Monster energy beverages.  Strangely though, there must have been too much carbonation in the drink as Pete and Tom kept adding “water” to the screw-top 24 ounce bottles.  I was certain the guys would have plenty of “energy” for the long day.  Energy… check.

I think the energy drink worked better at a higher altitude as we decided to settle into the the remote corner seats on the top level of the train.  Even more, we wanted to make sure nobody saw our cans of Monster energy drink as they may have become insanely jealous because we had lots of energy and they didn’t. 

The train filled quickly and as we awaited our more direct shot into town from the last pickup, Tom proceeded to regale us with a story of misfortune regarding a co-worker who was recently fired for a series of recent customer service interactions during a pickup in Lincoln Park.  Let is suffice to say, the way in which Tom brought the story to life complete with a pristine reinactment of a series of rather unorthidox sign language gestures used by his fallen co-worker had us on the floor laughing.  It really makes us realize that we are truly one world when it comes to universally understood hand gestures combining repeated motions and facial coordination for effect.  We would fallback on the story at many points throughout the day to rekindle the unrestrained laughter. 

As fellow fans standing below in the aisle slowly nursed their beers on the alcohol-free train, Kevin came to the realization that he had consumed far too many fluids throughout the morning and set out to locate the tiny onboard facilities.  He didn’t get far as no sooner did he head down the steps than he re-emerged up to the second level for a cautious walk back down the aisle to our seats.  The excruciating wait would have to continue to Union Station. 

We arrived at Union Station and felt our own sense of great relief for Kevin as his time was near.  We headed up the escalators, past the Cinnabons and Beach of Burrito fare to the restrooms.  As we turned the corner, Kevin’s could sense the long wait coming to a comforting end; however, his anxious grin turned to disbelief as the line had already formed.  The good news is everyone made it in and out without accident and, as a matter of fact, yet another humorous story was discovered with the restroom.

Pete, who had anxiously scorned the obstructive detour on our journey toward Jackson Street, walked out ahead at deliberate pace up the escalators, out the door and down Jackson Street as a light rain began to fall.  Given our determined pace and rainy denial as we headed toward the red line, I joked that it was merely condensation blowing off of rooftop high-rise units rather than rain.  The denial worked as this would be the last of the raindrops we would see for the day.

Finally, we turned the corner and headed down into the subway with the rain’s final curtain call safely behind us.  Once on the train, it was time to continue the Monster energization process.  Even more, it was time to re-visit the story of Tom’s now former co-worker and this time an unsuspecting passenger standing up was welcomed into the involuntary circle of trust to hear the story.  Tom has this knack for making fast friends and by the end of this story, there were will be a number of newfound friendships welcomed into the involuntary circle of trust on this day of cross-town rivalry.

Alas, as Tom rounded out the story the train emerged from the subterranean tunnel and low and behold we found ourselves passing through the actual site where the fable of the downtrodden co-worker took place along the DePaul University campus in Lincoln Park.  A few more stops, and the screeching train came to a stop at the familiar, and now sun-drenched, Addison station.  We had finally arrived at Wrigley Field at full energy boost. 

(To Be Continued… Stay Tuned for Part 3)        

Cross-Court Naperville Crew Journeys into Chicago to Witness the Cubs vs. White Sox Cross-Town Classic – Part 1

Part 1 of 2 – While visiting our former Naperville cul-de-sac a few weeks ago for an impromptu early season “schools out” block gathering, I was approached by one of our former neighbors who, for the purpose of this posting, we will refer to as “Pete”.  In the spirit of the evening, with the kids chasing each other madly around the circle in the night, Pete took pause between games of bags and began hatching a plan asking me if I’d be interested in joining an expedition into the city to see the Cubs play the White Sox at Wrigley if he could get his hands on some tickets.  It didn’t take the Rockstar energy drink which was coursing through my veins to enthusiastically reply “yes”.  

In addition to being a Cubs fan, Pete works in sales, brews his own kegs of beer and is no stranger to having a good social time.  He and our other neighbor, who will be referred to as “Tom”, have a proud tradition of tossing bags (a.k.a. cornhole, beanbag toss) on weekend evenings into the early hours of morning.  Tom is a proud hardworking truck driver and devoted family man who plays as hard as he works.  A gentle giant and  Southside Chicago native, it may come as no suprise that he is a White Sox fan. 

Pete delievered on those plans hashed out in Tom’s driveway weeks before as the phone rang on Monday night of last week with the news that he had scored four tickets to Saturday’s game.  Despite a busy travel season, rounds of family visitors over the past week and my wife’s own reservations over the simple fact that our lives have been too busy lately, I couldn’t say no to this opportunity.

The day was set and in addition to Tom, the final member of our expedition was also added… another former neighbor of ours, let’s call him “Kevin”.  Kevin is a sometimes quiet former restaurant manager with a wonderfully reserved sense of humor.  These days, he’s a real estate agent fighting hard to keep the local real estate market moving.  Kevin is also a regular member of the cul-de-sac all-staff bags team and also a Cubs fan.   

I will readily confess that I am the lightweight version of the Pete, Tom and Kevin and far less skilled in throwing bags, however, I have always enjoyed hanging out with them even though I’m typically the first one to call it a night.  In a way, the other three are legendary fixtures of our former neighborhood who together add the personality and flavor to the Court.

Suffice it to say, I knew from the first thought of this odyssey it would be an interesting roundtrip journey to witness this epic Chicago baseball rivlary.  So there we were, three Cubs fans and one White Sox fan, poised for what would prove to be a memorable day. 

To Be Continued… Stay tuned for Part 2… SM        

       

World of Naperville Expands Reach into Chicago Metro Audience as the Official Naperville Examiner on Examiner.com

I was recently approached by www.examiner.com and offered the opportunity to become the first suburban Chicago examiner.  As the Naperville Examiner, my role is to write insights and perspectives into all things Naperville.  Not a far stretch from my current World of Naperville blog.

For anyone concerned about the future of the World of Naperville blog, rest your fears as I will continue to publish here as well.  In many ways, I will likely cross-purpose content from here to examiner.com. 

The benefit?  I now have the ability to present an insider perspective about our community to millions of examiner visitors.  Additionally, I am also able to cross-promote the World of Naperville as well.

I submitted my first posting last night (see above image) and my Chicago-based editor responded by saying she was ready to pack her bags and move to Naperville by the end of the posting.  If you would like to access the Naperville Examiner, click on the following link:  http://www.examiner.com/x-430-Naperville-Examiner  

 

Downtown Naperville Photograph of the Week – The Riverwalk

I thought the timing might be perfect to featuring the adjacent photograph given the current state of this portion of the Riverwalk, which is being rehabbed and expanded.  Based on what I’ve heard, this area will once again be open in the August timeframe.  Hopefully we be able to enjoy the Dandelion Fountain again before the end of the summer.  What would summer in Naperville be without the familiar fountain?

I’ve been receiving a terrific response regarding the upcoming “Portraits of Downtown” exhibit, which will open with a special reception on Saturday, June 28th at Art and Frame Naperville on 5th Avenue behind Naperville North High School.  I’m looking forward to meeting all of my readers and fellow Napervillians at this celebration of our community.  If you love Naperville, you won’t want to miss this event.

To learn more, click on the posting link below:

“Portraits of Downtown” Naperville Photography Exhibit to be Featured at Art and Frame Naperville