‘Gritty City’ exhibit set to open


The former Riverview amusement park at Western and Belmont avenues and other iconic images of Chicago will be featured in a new exhibit that will go on display on Jan. 11 at the Paschke Art Center, 5415 W. Higgins Ave.

The exhibit, which is called "Gritty City," features the photography and documentaries of Chicago multimedia artist Tom Palazzolo, who is a professor emeritus at Columbia College and Daley College. The exhibit will run through March 6.

"Tom Palazzolo was a classmate and friend of many of the Chicago imagists, including Ed Paschke," Paschke Foundation chairman Vesna Stelcer said. "Tom is a local legend, and we’re thrilled to share his ‘Gritty City’ with viewers."

In 1967 Palazzolo created a 14-minute film, "The Tattooed Lady of Riverview," which captures the final days of the amusement park, including the demolition of some of its rides.

The park opened in 1904, and at one time it covered more than 100 acres of land. A portion of the site is now occupied by Clark Park, a shopping center and Devry University.

The film features Jean Furella, the star of the park’s "Tattooed Lady" sideshow. According to the film, she started as the "Bearded Lady," but she later removed her beard at the request of a man whom she fell in love with and then proceeded to cover her body with tattoos so that she could continue to work as an attraction at the park.

Attractions at the park included several roller coasters, including the Bobs, Aladdin’s Castle fun house, the Shoot the Chutes water ride and the 180-foot-tall Pair-O-Chutes parachute ride.

The exhibit also features images of the Maxwell Street Market as well as city parades and festivals. Palazzolo has said that his art takes a raw look at the city, focusing on "truth, not beauty."

The exhibit also will feature Palazzolo’s in-progress film about artist Lee Godie, who was active in Chicago from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. Godie reportedly could be seen selling her art on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago when she first arrived in the city, and her works were part of the "Outside Art" movement, whose art is considered to be somewhat raw and unaffected by the norms of society.

The Paschke Art Center opened on June 22, 2014, which would have been Paschke’s 75th birthday. Admission to the center, which has a 2,800-square-foot galley that features many of Paschke’s works, is free, and it is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

The "Gritty City" exhibit will be discussed at the meeting of the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, at the center.