Jazz Loft Project exhibition in Chicago; venue two, it’s all new

Written by guest blogger Courtney Reid-Eaton, Exhibitions Director at the Center for Documentary Studies

wide Photo by Courtney Reid-Eaton

Exhibitions are about many things: art, objects, stories, and SPACE.

We sometimes bring shows to CDS that were organized elsewhere, and I get a great deal of satisfaction out of making them work in our galleries. Presenting work in our space adds our voice to the story the work is telling.

Sequence tells a story. Placement of objects adds emphasis, magnifies, or softens.

Dense text, no text, didactic, descriptive, narrative, lyric…sound.

The idea is to move the viewer through your interpretation of the story, without them noticing how (or that) they are being led. The installation, while an integral part of the viewing experience, shouldn’t draw attention away from the subject at hand; the work, the story.

I was fortunate to spend two weeks in New York, working with Barbara Cohen-Stratyner and wonderful staff at the NYPL for the Performing Arts, on the debut of the Jazz Loft project exhibition. It was fantastic; I was folded in as part of the crew. I helped uncrate the works, laid out the sequence, moved and cleaned display cases, set the ephemera, put up captions, helped solve problems. I was invited to have my hands in the installation as if I were working in my own space.

Last week I arrived at the Chicago Cultural Center to find the works all laid out and the crew from NFA SPACE (Contemporary Art + Exhibit Services, Inc.  http://www.nfaspace.com), drilling, leveling, and hanging the show. I got to weigh in on a few things, but Greg Lunceford, CCC exhibitions designer, had everything moving forward without me.

The room here seems huge, not as intimate as NY, and the ceilings are high. In this interpretation, the banners (of the tape boxes) are not as important, but they look great filling the space above the walls, drawing your gaze up to the amazing ceiling. The walls are freestanding, so it’s not possible to have the very linear presentation that was so effective in NY; but there’s a separate room where folks can comfortably spend time with the audio tracks on computer monitors.

Greg invested in the show in a way that has made it his – well, the CCC’s. I felt at a loss with not as much input, but also excited at his interpretation of the materials. I miss the banners being right down in the space, but the CCC equipment and the location of the gallery, enables the use of ambient sound in a way we’d imagined (dreamed of, hoped for), but were not able to execute in the NY show.

So, an exhibition that travels is new in every space. If you loved the Jazz Loft project in New York, check it out in Chicago. If you didn’t love the Jazz Loft project in New York, see it differently in Chicago. It opened to the public on July 17 and there’s a public reception Friday evening, July 23. I’ll be there celebrating with Sam, Lauren, Dan, AND Greg; and then I’ll start thinking about what might be possible at the next venue, knowing that there are some things I can’t even imagine.

View photos from the installation in Chicago on our Facebook page.


  1. Mark Sheldon Said,

    July 22, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

    …will be there tomorrow…can’t wait!

  2. Mark Sheldon Said,

    July 25, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

    ..made it to the opening…wonderful!!! If you’re interested in jazz, music, photography, art or history….it’s all here for you.

    Got to spend a few minutes with Sam as well…a wealth of interesting information.