By Isalyn Connell
Growing up I looked forward to summer days filled with play dates, popsicles and my prized trips to the zoo. One of my favorite activities was watching the seals and sea lions dazzle the audience with their tricks–headstands, high fives, even hula-hooping, and of course, the classic beach ball balancing act. Not having visited the zoo in the long time since elementary school, I was delighted to encounter Alexander Calder’s standing mobile, “Performing Seal” (1950), on my walk through Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art. Its sharp angles, stark color and hanging design that delineate the ball-and-seal circus shape made me feel like a kid again, as did many of the other works of art by Calder and his 30 contemporary counterparts. From Calder’s “Performing Seal”, to Jason Meadows’ wireframe “Pig Latin” (2008) and Kristi Lippire’s concrete “Balloons” (2008), the exhibition tickled my childlike curiosity and brought me back to those summer days when school was out and my imagination could wander. As the mobiles and stabiles sway in the gallery’s cool breeze, I knew visitors young and old alike would likewise echo my effervescent sentiments.
IMAGE: Alexander Calder. “Performing Seal”. Painted sheet metal and steel wire, 33 x 23 x 36 inches. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The Leonard and Ruth Horwich Family Loan (EL1995.7). © 2012 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo by Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.