Saturday, August 22, 2009

Maclean-Hunter Ltd. (RIP)

These aren't from a newspaper office, but from the building that used to be the head office of Maclean-Hunter Ltd. on University Avenue here in Toronto. It was built in 1961 for MH which published Maclean’s and Chatelaine magazines as well as a large stable of trade publications.

Maclean-Hunter had been on this site long before that — the company, including its printing plant, had been on the corner of University and Dundas since 1911. The printing plant moved — when? — to Yonge Street and Highway 401, and later to Aurora, Ont.; Maclean-Hunter moved to College Park (the former Eaton's College Street store) in 1983, and ceased to exist when it was bought by Rogers Communications Inc. in 1995. Rogers now publishes Maclean's, Chatelaine and a much smaller (and shrinking) stable of trade and professional publications (including the Medical Post, where I do my Day Job).

So this building was never actually a newspaper office, but it was the hub of a considerable proportion of Canadian periodical publishing. As I describe in Faces on Places, it features an incised naked woman floating in front of a long ribbon on one side of a building, and a naked man floating and holding a ribbon on the other.

When she won the commission for “exterior decorations” on the new MH building, Elizabeth Wyn Wood apparently thought the company had something more sculptural in mind.

“Symptomatic of the diminishing role and significance of sculptural decoration in modern Canadian architecture, Maclean officials agreed to only two simplified entrance panels on ‘Communications,’” said Victoria Baker in her examination of Wood’s life and work.

“Wood interpreted this theme in the form of female and male nude figures symbolizing ‘Sending’ [above] and ‘Receiving,’ [below] respectively.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chicago Tribune

I'm still experiencing re-entry to the Day Job, after four weeks off, so forgive me (again) if I don't expound on the future of publishing just yet. However, I wanted to continue the series of newspaper office faces. These two are from Tribune Tower in Chicago.

"Souvenir of Tribune Tower," an undated booklet (looks as though it might be from the 1920s or 1930s) that gives the story of the building and the newspaper (and that I scored on eBay earlier this year), also describes the sculptures in and on the building.

It says that the "whispering man" (above) typifies "insidious rumour," while the "shouting man" (below) is the "spirit of open rumour or news."

Hmmm ... not sure I ever thought of news as "open rumour."

Monday, August 10, 2009

San Antonio Express-News

This is the second in a series of pictures of sculpture on old newspaper buildings. This is the San Antonio Express-News building. While a star marks Iowa City on the map on the former Iowa City Press-Citizen building, one of the figures here is merely pointing to San Antonio's location on this map. (See detail below, and click for larger)

The frieze, titled "Enlightening of the Press" and designed by sculptor Pompeo Coppini, allegorically describes the mission of a newspaper. The globe is connected to phone and telegraph wires representing news being communicated around the world. The six figures surrounding the globe represent Labour, Education, Knowledge (he's the one whose finger points to Texas on the globe), Enlightenment, Truth and Justice.

I'm still on vacation, so speculation on the future of journalism in general or newspapers in particular will have to wait for another day. It's too damned hot for serious thinking anyway.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Iowa City Press-Citizen

I'm just back from four days in Iowa City at my sister's wedding. I took more than 340 pictures at the wedding, rehearsal dinner, reception, visit to the county recorder's office, etc., so forgive me if I post some pictures I took from 2002. (That was the year she moved to the Midwest. She had fibromyalgia or something like it at the time and wasn't able to drive. So being the outstanding big sister that I am, I drove her (and her two cats and dog) from Blacksburg, Va., where she had been a math professor at Virginia Tech, to Iowa City where she was about to become a student again, in the University of Iowa's creative non-fiction programme. Yay me! I deserve a medal but will get one only if I bestow it upon myself.)

I shot these pictures on that trip — the sculptures on the former Iowa City Press-Citizen building, which include methods of newsgathering (above; there's a star on the map of the U.S. where Iowa City is), and these symbols of what goes on in Iowa City and environs:

This time I had other things to do in Iowa City than to contemplate the future of newspapers in particular and journalism in general, but as I post pictures of the sculpture on the buildings of other cities' current (and defunct) newspapers, I may do some musing on those subjects as well.