Last Christmas Eve, Jill and I were fortunate to see the “David Bowie is Now” exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago with our photography buddy and extended family member, Bernadette. The Windy City was the only U.S. venue to host the exhibit, and we were there with the kids to see Ben and the “Newsies” folks. It felt like serendipity, and proved to be a fascinating history lesson.
Just over a year later, Bowie has died following an 18-month battle with cancer, just two days after turning 69. He released his most recent CD, “Blackstar,” on his birthday. “Lazarus,” an Off-Broadway continuation of "The Man Who Fell To Earth" featuring old and new music from Bowie, has been one of the hottest tickets in New York since it opened in December. In terms of buzz, it is almost as hot as “Hamilton,” another genre-bending musical,
Like him or not, you have to admire Bowie for constantly pushing the boundaries in music, theatre and film in a career that spanned more than four decades, all of which were on display in the Chicago exhibit and are found in his recent work. I saw him live in the mid 1980s in Houston, on the tour that followed “Let’s Dance,” and remember being as captivated by the visuals as the music. And much of the music was excellent in its own way.
In showcasing his artistry and chameleon-like nature, “David Bowie is Now” provided excellent, thought-provoking insight into his career. If anyone deserved a museum exhibition devoted to his style alone, it was Bowie, but this was much more, proving to be a multimedia feast for the eyes and ears.
I wish I could have taken pictures, but they were strictly verboten, and security was tight. I understand why, and wondered at the time if I could have done it justice, given how difficult it is at times to get good images in museums
At the same time, I’m sure copyright and intellectual property were not the only reasons Bowie refused to allow photography. If anything, he was always the one in control of his ever-shifting image.
Another icon gone too soon.
Note: After writing this tribute just hours after the announcement of Bowie's death, I updated it with more observations for NoDepression.com. Check out the updated version here.
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