Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chicago Streetscene - Piranesi on Adams Street

Monday, February 23, 2009

This Saturday: In a Landmark the Archdiocese wanted Destroyed, a Lecture on Catholic Church Achitecture in Chicago

Saturday, February 28th at 3:00 P.M., Dr. Denis McNamara, architectural historian and author of Heavenly City, will give a lecture on the architecture of Chicago Catholic Churches at one of its most beautiful examples, the Shrine of Christ the King on Woodlawn just south of the University of Chicago, which wouldn't be here today if the Archdiocese had had its way. Admission is free, but you need a ticket, and can get one by calling 773/363.7409.

It seems like only yesterday that the Chicago Archdiocese was sending its high-powered lawyers into courts and hearing rooms to declare they had the right to destroy historic churches, many among Chicago's most beautiful buildings, at will and with impunity. It was 2003, and the Archdiocese was hell-bent on demolishing Christ the King, then known as St. Gelasius, and no one was going to stop them. especially since they had in their back pocket an amendment to the landmarks ordinance pushed through by former 42nd ward alderman Burton Natarus that exempted churches from being declared landmarks without their consent.

They hadn't counted on two things, however. First, the forceful opposition of Arenda Troutman, now a recently sentenced boodler, but then the powerful alderman of the parish's ward. Second, the Chicago Corporation Counsel's discovery of what should have been an obvious fact. As there had been no services held at St. Gelasius for years, the building no longer functioned as a church, and was ineligible for the exemption. In 2004, St. Gelasius was declared an official Chicago landmark.

Bowing to the inevitable, the Archidiocese turned over St. Gelasius to the Institute of Christ the King, which had already taken on and restored the historic St. Mary's church in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Built in the 1920's by famed church architect Henry J. Schlacks, the handsome renaisssance revival building at 6401-09 South Woodlawn was opened as St. Clara, run by the Carmelite Fathers. Clad in gray limestone, Schlacks' design included a 120-foot-high bell tower, larger than life statues of the saints adorning the roofline, and a handsomely appointed sanctuary, seen below in a vintage photo.
That interior was destroyed in a 1976 fire, and the church, now renamed St. Gelasius, led a troubled existence in a declining neighborhood. The ornate ceiling has never been replaced, and while the new owners have taken steps to secure the building with a new roof and critical repairs, the sanctuary remains an open shell, taking on an almost Miesian quality with classical pilasters standing beneath vaults of bare exposed metal.
A design for a restoration based on baroque principles by Abbé Alexander Willweber, who was also behind the St. Mary's restoration, with Notre Dame alumni William C. Heyer as the local managing architect, awaits additional fund raising. The Institute estimates it will cost about $7,350,000, and you can make your own donation here.

McNamara's Saturday lecture is particularly timely, as the Archidiocese is poised to smash still another beautiful church designed by Henry Schlacks, the long closed and poorly secured St. Boniface, into dust. A local group of activists is racing against the clock to confound the Archidiocese's scorched earth culture to repeat the miracle of St. Gelasius.

Chicago Streetscene: Medusa

Friday, February 20, 2009

March from the Scaffold continues on State

Between the crackdown on terra cotta facade repair and the construction boom just ended, sometimes it seemed like every other block in the Loop was clad in ugly scaffolding that obscured buildings and made walking down the street feel like passing through a series of constricted, steel-tubed gauntlets.
Slowly, the scaffolds are receding and the streetscape restored. The latest unveiling is at the 1872 Page Brothers Building next to the Chicago Theatre, where it seemed the structure had been obscured forever.
The cast iron facade, the work of John M. Van Osdel, Chicago's first real architect, is the last one surviving in the Loop, and the Corinthian columns and stamped ornament is a time capsule back to an era before State Street was that Great Street, and it was Lake Street, soon to be cast down in shadowed gloom with the construction of the Loop "L", that was the city's premiere shopping avenue.
Strange thing about scaffolding, though. As soon as you think you've stuffed it back into the tube, it seems always to find a way to pop out somewhere else, in this case the First National/Bank One/Chase Tower, shrouding an entire half-block in the usual dispiriting plywood and pipe motley.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's Too Damn Bright in Here! Lecture on Light Pollution Tonight

So that we might feel safe, the heavens disappear.

The Chicago Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America is sponsoring a lecture tonight, February 19th, by Audrey Fischer, co-leader of the Chicago Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association: Light Pollution, The Significance of Dark Sky Compliance. Arrival 6:00 P.M., Presentation 6:30 - 8:30 P.M., at AIA Chicago, 35 East Wacker Drive. $20.00 for IES members, $30.00 non-members, $5 students. Information on-line. Register on-line.

Anselm Franke on Jimmie Durham, at the Graham February 24th

In a late addition to the February calendar, Anselm Franke, Artistic Director of Extra City Center for Contemporary Art, Antwerp, will give a talk at 6:30 P.M., Tuesday, February 24th at the Graham Foundation on American artist Jimmie Durham.

Durham, a Wolf Clan Cherokee born in Arkansas in 1940, was an American Indian Movement activist in the 1970's. His sculptures of the 1980's "radically challenged conventional representations of North American Indians." After moving to Mexico in 1987, and then to Europe in 1994, his work has become a quest to find ways of liberating stone from architecture's straightjacket of monumentality.

"I'm calling my thesis 'Against Architecture,'" Durham said in a 2005 interview with hEyOka magazine, "and I also mean 'Against Narration, 'Against Structure.'"

"I try to make art that's not connected to metaphor," Durham has , "that hasn't this descriptive, metaphorical, architectural weight to it . . . I already have an ongoing project of working with stone. I want to do different things with stone to make stone light, to make it free of its metaphorical weight, its architectural weight, to make it light. So I've been thinking of different ways to make stone work and to make stone move instead of making stone into an architectural element."

Franke considers his most treasured possession to be a work of art by Jimmie Durham given as payment for an article. He has written a major essay on the artist's work for the catalogue of Essence, a 2007 solo exhibition at the de Pury & Luxembourg Gallery in Zurich.

On the 24th at the Graham, doors open at 6:00 P.M. The event is free, but seating is limited. RSVP to Katie Freeman via email or call 312/787.4071, ext. 226. The Graham Foundation is at 4 West Burton Place.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

There's Gold in that there H20: Archeworks, UrbanLab win flush 2009 Latrobe Prize

In November of 2006, UrbanLab beat out a who's who of local architecture firms to win the $10,000 first prize of the Chicago leg of the History Channel's City of the Future competition, which posted the question, ""What will Chicago look like 100 years from?," UrbanLab came up with Growing Water in Chicago, which drew on the fact that the great lakes account for 20% of the world's - and 95% of the United States - fresh water, with Chicago using a billion gallons every day, only 1% of which is returned. UrbanLab's entry envisioned a "living system of eco-boulevards" - wetlands, marshes, recreation space, and Chicago's historic interlocking system of boulevards - that would treat every last drop of the region's waste/stormwater and return it to the Great Lakes Basin. Growing Water then went on to to face off other regional winners from N.Y. and L.A. Again it came out on top, another $10,000 check pocketed.

Chump change.

UrbanLab's Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn, Director and Research Director at Archeworks, respectively, made The Water Project their inaugural project at the school as they took over the reins from founders Stanley Tigerman and Eva Maddox. According to the project description, it would . . .
. . . focus on how better to take advantage of existing infrastructure: roadways, sidewalks, alley-ways and public parks . . . which comprise more than a quarter of the land in a city such as Chicago [and] will illustrate the unrealized potential of the public way infrastructural grid, and give policy makers the validated information they require for recommending utilizing the grid to:
• Drastically reduce our reliance on non-renewable, non-local energy sources;
• Sustain water resources, and;
• Contribute to our city’s overall health, financial well-being and quality of life.

The goal of the research project is to create a metrically based predictive modeling tool to provide decision makers with the data necessary to invest in an entirely new form of infrastructure that is more financially, ecologically and socially beneficial to all.
Now they've really hit the jackpot.

It's just been announced that earlier this month Growing Energy/Water: Using the Grid to Get Off the Grid, the partnership project of UrbanLab and Archeworks, has won the $100,000 2009 Latrobe Prize from the American Institute of Architects, awarded every other year for innovative research proposals. Proceeds will go to purchasing a massive stockpile of bottled water to increase the school's chances of surviving the impending dissolution of civilization as we now know it.

Okay, what the press release actually says is, "The prize will support Archeworks' research projects and operations," but you have to admit my scenario is a lot more intriguing.

John Holabird Passes Away at 88

see the Tribune article here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

John Zukowsky on Architecture and Air Travel: Rare Chicago Appearance Tuesday Night at CAF

John Zukowsky, former curator of Architecture at the Art Institute when architecture still seemed to matter over there, returns to Chicago for a 6:00 P.M. presentation at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, On, Above, and Beyond the Tarmac: The Endless Dialogue Between Airplanes and Airport Design. Zukowsky, now chief curator at New York's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, will be examining the ongoing relationship between "airplanes and the architectural facilities created to ennoble and also functionally process the occupants, crew and passengers alike, of flying machines." During his years at the Art Institute, Zukowsky curated two landmark exhibitions in this area, 1996's, Building for Air Travel: Architecture and Design for Commercial Aviation, and 2001: Building for Space Travel, from, appropriately enough, 2001.

The lecture is being presented in conjunction with CAF's current exhibition ORD: Documenting the Definitive Modern Airport, which features photographs by Robert Burley and Hedrich Blessing, and is on display in the same John Buck Lecture Hall in which Zukowsky will be giving his talk. Come early or stay late and you can also take in my own exhibition at CAF, Boom Towns! Chicago Architects Design New Worlds, which has been remounted and will be on display through May 1.

There are reportedly still some seats available for John Zukowsky's lecture. Tickets are $10.00 ($5.00 for CAF members and students) and you can buy on-line. The lecture takes place 6:00 - 7:30 P.M., Tuesday, February 17th, at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S. Michigan.

Presidents Day Full House

Thursday, February 12, 2009

LvB plays MvdR, Gabrieli Crowned

Back in the 50's, architect John Vinci, when he was still a student at IIT, engineered a trifecta. He booked Duke Ellington and his orchestra to play at the annual dance, he got IIT to let him use Crown Hall as party central, and he got to see Mies himself, comfortably ensconced in a Barcelona chair and puffing on a cigar, enjoying the Duke's music on that memorable night.

Come March 15th, a mere half century later, the Chicago Chamber Musicians will again be bringing music to Mies. Their Sounds and Spaces event for this winter will begin at 4:00 p.m. with the CCM brass and strings playing Giovanni Gabrieli's Canzona per Sonare No. 1 and Spiritata and Sonata Pian'e Forte a 8, composed 400 years ago for the acoustics of Venice's Cathedral of St. Mark, in Crown Hall, the Cathedral of St. Mies.

The audience will then move over to a second Mies' creation, the Robert F. Carr Memorial Chapel, a/k/a "The God Box", where they will hear Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 9 in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3, Razumovsky. The evening finishes up at 6:30 with a reception with the players at the Pritzker Club in the Rem Koolhaas designed McCormick Student Center.

Tickets to the event, co-sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, AIA, and the Mies Society, are $50.00. Free Parking! Advance purchase is required. Buy tickets, by phone at 312-225-5226, or on-line. Information on-line includes Goethe's striking variant on his famous quote likening architecture to frozen music: "Architecture is not so much frozen music, as music fallen silent." Much better, no? When you stand in a great structure like Crown Hall, even silence has the energy of presence.

Chicago Streetscene: The Web

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Out of the Rubble, a Bertrand Goldberg Gem Shines a Little Brighter

As the cityscape evolves, vistas close, vistas open.

At the time they were constructed in 1975, the concrete cloverleaf towers of architect Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital rose like a flower over their Streeterville neighborhood. Over the years, larger, taller buildings rose all around, squeezing Prentice to the cramped, shadowed confines of its lot lines.

Now, thanks to the destruction of a skyscraper that actually predated Prentice, we can again see the beauty of Goldberg's building in a more flattering perspective. The graceful, 17-story slabs of Schmidt, Garden & Erikson's 1950's Lakeside Veterans Hospital, just across the street, are now mere stubs, steep on the incline to oblivion, and their absence is giving Prentice a little temporary breathing room, casting its beauty in higher, brighter relief.
Let's hope the mountains of rubble above which Prentice now rises won't turn out to be an omen of its own eventual fate. In 2007, hospital operations moved to a new, 18th story, VOA, OWP&P designed tower at Chicago and Fairbanks. The Northwestern Hospital behemoth has spared Prentice for the moment, but there are no long-term guarantees, and the Goldberg work has no landmark protection.
Water is sprayed like a rainstorm to keep down the dust rising from Lakeside's freshly crumbled debris, but a bit of death still lingers in the air. Just in the next block, another remnant of Streeterville's past, the amiably eccentric former Chicago Riding Club, for decades the home of CBS Chicago and the site of the first 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate, staggers toward erasure.

The Essential Chicago Blogs: Time Tells

Chicago Architectural Coverage Withers - can it really be a year and a half since I posted that item, bemoaning the disappearance of architectural coverage in the Chicago Sun-Times (which, under the tutelage of Neil Steinberg, has suddenly gone opera crazy), as well as bloggers Edward Lifson and John Hill to either coast, and Lee Bey, whose blog has been on hiatus since January 7th? There's still been nothing that really replaces them, but there are compensations - AIA Chicago's new Chicago Architect magazine, and fine specialty websites like Forgotten Chicago, holding a party for its redesigned relaunch this Thursday, February 12th at Cuneen's Pub, 1424 W. Devon.

Another voice I had lost track of is Vince Michael, Director of the Historic Preservation Program at the School of the Art Institute. who has a great blog, Time Tells, "about Historic Preservation, History, Heritage, Landmarks in Chicago and the rest of the world and the techntempo of current times and past times."

Being an academic, Michael can be a bit wordy (yeah, I can hear you saying, like you're not), but he's also thought provoking in writing about the hidden costs of our "obsolescence economy" versus the suppressed virtues of preservation and reuse, including such factoids as the Brookings Institution finding that "it will take up to 65 years for a new energy-efficient building to offset the demolition of an existing building."

He also gets around a lot, and there's plenty of striking pictures, as can be seen in his end of year round-up that goes from Price Tower, to New Harmony, to China and points in between. Add Time Tells to your bookmarks and check it all out here.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

T.C. Boyle, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Women Who Loved Him at Unity Temple Monday, February 16th

It's still another late listing to the February calendar of architectural events, but you still have time to adjust your own calendar and post a reminder to head out to Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple in Oak Park on Monday, February 16th for a reading and book signing by acclaimed novelist T.C. Boyle for his newest novel, The Women, described by the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation as "a masterful ode to the complex and create live of Frank Lloyd Wright told through the experiences of four women who loved him." Four women who were, successively, abandoned by Wright, murdered (not by Wright), addicted to morphine, and, only after he had lived 92 years, actually survived him. But what marriage doesn't have its ups and downs?

Getting a handle on the slippery Frank Lloyd Wright can be a bit of a minefield. Just ask playwright Richard Nelson. And, of course, you can never please everyone. Case in the point is a post I put up last week regarding the New York Times rather schizoid reaction to Boyle's latest work. On a recent Monday, reviewer Michiko Kakutani slammed it as "dreary . . . tedious, predictable melodrama." By the following Sunday, however, on the cover, no less, of the weekend book review section, the book had morphed, in the eyes of Joanna Scott, into something "powerful . . . mesmerizing . . . Boyle at his best."

Being, as I've frequently mentioned, basically illiterate, I've yet to tackle Boyle's opus, but he's written highly praised takes on John Harvey Kellogg (The Road to Wellville) and Alfred Kinsey (The Inner Circle). And what better way to spend an evening than in one of the great buildings of the 20th century? 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street in Oak Park, a talk and reading by Boyle, followed by a book signing and refreshments in Unity House. More info on-line, or call 708/383.8873.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What Is It with You Classical Music Nuts, Anyway?

To those you have never been bitten by the bug, the obsessions of classical music fans - including the endless comparisons, in minute detail of tempi, inflection, sonority and podium manner, of different performances by various conductors and orchestras of the same, hoary, centuries-year-old works must appear an inexplicable affectation. Music critic Andrew Patner, on tour with the Chicago Symphony in Japan, doesn't explain it, but in his vivid portrait of Tokyo's "ticket man", who stands outside the city's concert halls begging tickets, you can get a wonderful feel of what it's like inside the mania. Check it out here.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Freedom Proves Fleeting

Ah, the wonders of PRspeak.

"Exciting New Changes at the Freedom Museum" heralds their website.

Translation: We're Closing!

Less than three years after it's original opening in a low-rise annex to Tribune Tower, the McCormick Freedom Museum has announced it will be shutting its doors on March 1. After spending $10,000,000 to create the 10,000 square foot facility, the McCormick Foundation is shutting it down to focus on "outreach", a mobile facility barnstorming area schools and neighborhoods. Has a nice fig-leaf-like ring to it, no?

Clearly, the public rationale hides some private machinations only hinted at in reports in Crain's Chicago Business and the Chicago Tribune. McCormick Foundation CEO David Grange told Crain's the museum was "meeting the objectives we set." He tells the Trib "The number of people going to museums in general has been declining," yet admits that attendance at the Freedom Museum doubled last year, to 100,000, after a $5.00 admission fee was dropped.

"At Wellman Federal Savings, money is never mentioned," goes the old Second City mockumercial, but behind the Freedom Museum's closing, as at Wellman, money would appear to be a primary motivator. The McCormick Foundation has apparently decided its better to write off a $10,000,000 investment rather than to continue to throw cash at the museum's operation.Bankrupt landlord The Tribune Company, selling off assets to forestall liquidation, is shedding no tears over the departure of its tenant. Crain's quotes a spokesman as saying, “We look at the real estate as a wonderful bit of space", for which they will seeking "the best and most lucrative use."

You can read what I wrote about the Museum at the time of its opening here. Designed by VOA Associates with bright exhibits by Gallagher & Associates, it's two-story atrium is dominated by 12151791, a spiral sculpture by Peter Bernheim and Amy Larimer that resembles a tree whose metal leaves are embossed with the words of key moments in the history of freedom. I don't think it's going to fit into the van.

Some things worked, some didn't. The museum was a mixed bag, but it was a bright, welcome respite to the sprawling galleries of conspicuous consumption outside, a/k/a the Mag Mile. It was a bracing counterpoint reminding us that - the way we spend our average days notwithstanding - freedom is about far more serious things, with far serious demands, than the freedom to choose from an infinity of cell phone models.

Museums need time to evolve and mature. The Freedom Museum dies in infancy. 445 N. Michigan. Check it out one last time before March 1st.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Angélil, Goff, Mies, Bruegmann, Zukowsky, Andolino, Montgomery Ward, Sam Guard and more on February Architectural Calendar

Okay, so now we've filled our February calendar of Chicago architectural events all the way out to the end of the month.

Marc Angélil of ETH at UIC, restoring the Montgomery Ward Building, Friends of the Parks' annual meeting, The Hyde Park Historical Society annual awards dinner honoring Sam Guard, Mies's IBM goes hotel, Sustainable Technology in Germany and the U.S., the Roosevelt Collection, The Missing (Woman's) Voice on the Burnham Plan, sustainable landscapes, living in Bruce Goff's Ford House, John Guare's The Six Ways of Condensation, the Clinton Climate Initiative in 40 global cities, and O'Hare all over the map, in conjuction with the CAF's current exhibition on same, with events featuring airport expansion manager Rosemary Andolino, photographer Robert Burley, architectural historian Robert Bruegmann, and the return of the great John Zukowsky - all this, and much, much, more, (some already full up or sold out) over forty events in all. Check it all out here.

ARUP and the Modern Wing, The Montgomery Ward rehab, Somol at Archeworks

Yes, we're STILL working on the February calendar, but, as always, there's a number of great events bunched up in the first week, so we want to remind you of some of them here.

Tuesday, February 3rd

5:30 - 8:30 - AIA Chicago First Tuesdays Happy Hour at Emerald Loop, 216 N. Wabash Info. Free event.

5:15 cash bar, 6:00 dinner, 7:00 P.M., Dinner, Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Wing, SEAOI event with Matt Briedenthal of Arup, at the Cliff Dwellers. Registration officially closed a while back, but feel free totry to beg your way in for what looks to be a great program. Info. $45.00 members, $65.00 non-members.

6:00 at Archeworks, Robert E. Somol: Poli-Fi. The Director of the School of Architecture at UIC speaks. Free event. RSVP here. Info here.

Wednesday, February 4th

12:15 - 1:00 P.M., John Buck lecture hall at CAF, 224 S. Michigan, 6 North Michigan: Cataloging the Transformation of the Original Montgomery Ward Headquarters. Melissa H. Clark of DeStefano+Partners discusses the project. Guest welcome to bring bag lunch; gum only if they have enough for everyone. Info here.

Hopefully, we'll have the calendar up in time for Thursday's events.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Rosenwald Apartments on the Block - Again

Crain's Chicago Business had an item last week that the 1929 Rosenwald Apartments, at 47th and Michigan in Bronzeville, are again seeking a buyer.

The 447 unit complex has been vacant and boarded up for years. It was originally created by Sears Roebuck & Company executive Julius Rosenwald as the Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments, to provide affordable housing for working class minority families at a time when such housing was in acutely short supply.

According to an excellent history of the building on the Preservation Chicago website, Rosenwald hired his nephew Ernest Grunsfeld, Jr., an architect who would later win an AIA Gold Medal for Adler Planetarium, for the design. The Rosenwald Apartments were actually a full-block series of interconnected buildings with landscaped courtyards at two of the eight separate entrances, and a large central green space with the structures along its perimeter.

The Rosenwald remained well managed for decades. A 1953 story in Jet Magazine carried manager Robert R. Taylor's announcement that the complex would begin accepting white tenants, "mainly school teachers and social works [who] had been living in the famed upper class housing project ' off and on for some time'". In 1967, Jet reported the complex was to undergo a $2,000,000 modernization and be converted to condo's ranging in price from $6,265, for a one bedroom, to $9,215, for a three bedroom unit.
Another rehabilitation in the 1980's failed to arrest the Rosenwald's decline. In 2003, the National Trust placed it on its "Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places" list. Landmarks Illinois followed in 2005, placing it on its "Chicagoland Watch List" for that year. In 2007, it made the "Chicago 7", Preservation Chicago's annual list of most threatened sites.

The complex was left to rot throughout the long tenure of controversial 3rd ward alderman Dorothy Tillman, and for years it has been vacant, the storefronts empty. Tillman was finally defeated by Pat Dowell, who reported in a newsletter that the Rosenwald has finally been "boarded-up and secured." Powell wrote that she had met with the owners, the same owners who are now looking to unload the building.

No less than at the time it was built, in 1929, Chicago suffers from an shortage of affordable housing, but for decades the Rosenwald, one of the proudest examples of the campaign to provide decent housing for all city residents, has been left, in essence, abandoned. You can see a Flikr set of photos of the Rosenwald's current state here.

This is how Chicago works. A billion dollars for a new "Olympic Village" to house 1,700 athletes for a couple of weeks. For a building that stands as one of proudest beacons of hope in Chicago history, with 400 units of affordable housing just waiting for a rehab, not a dime.

After 142 years, Frank Lloyd Wright continues to confound

New York Times, meet the New York Times . . .

“T. C. Boyle’s dreary new novel, The Women, isn’t a rewrite of Clare Boothe Luce’s wicked 1936 play The Women. It’s a rewrite of the life of Frank Lloyd Wright that somehow manages to turn the gripping, operatic saga of America’s premier architect and the women in his life into a tedious, predictable melodrama.”
- Michiko Kakutani, An Egotistical Architect as Seen by His Women,
New York Times 1/26/09

“. . . The Women adds a powerful new chapter to this continuing narrative, and it is Boyle at his best. It is a mesmerizing story of women who invest everything, at great risk, in that mysterious 'bank of feeling' named Frank Lloyd Wright. ”
Joanna Scott, The Architect of Love, cover review, New York Times Sunday Review of Books, 2/1/2009