Southern Exposure

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 07 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

As this is a book about photography I cannot review it as the download options prevent the photographs from being shown.  Please provide another version for review.
Thanks!
Debra
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This is a very interesting and insightful look at the architecture and history of the South Side of Chicago. The photography is beautiful and the stories are great!
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This is an incredibly well-written and impeccably researched book. However first, before I review it, I want to put a disclaimer out there that as a white person, I'm probably not the best person to be reviewing it. But I'm in this position, and I have to review it a little bit. And I think this book is very good. Clearly, the author feels passionate about this subject. He begins his writing by remembering a time when he went for a drive with his father through the South Side of Chicago, and taking notice of all the well-crafted and unique architecture that was being pointed out to him. This little peek into his past, no matter how small, sets up the book and provides an underlying theme - how these buildings on the South Side are disappearing in less than a generation due to the lack of recognition from a discriminatory world. There are dozens of buildings touched upon in this book, all having unique features and histories that deserve to be preserved, but are victims of systemic racism and lack of respect by the greater Chicago community. But let me tell you this: there are two identical schools, one one the North Side and one on the South Side. Almost exactly the same, both in design and age. One of them is recognised as a landmark; the other is not. I'll let you take a guess which one is which. Or, another fierce indication: a documentary that heavily features the work of Eero Saarinen, specifically his work on universities, yet excludes the D’Angelo Law Library on the campus of the University of Chicago, conveniently located on the South Side. There are so many buildings that have been destructed, or abandoned, or mistreated, that it is not even possible to go into extensive detail about any of them in this book. This is not a fault of the book, but instead points again to the problematic nature of the topic the book promises to cover.

The way the author writes is like that of a cool uncle - one who is keenly aware and familiar with modern day slang. Although he does not use it, he does cheekily poke fun at it. It is because he writes this way that makes this book more accessible to younger people, or even just those who are uncomfortable with academic language. Because this isn't particularly an academic book. It's a cross between a casual coffee table book and one with a really important and crucial message to share. And the passion for the content is incredibly clear - the author's way with words exudes ease, as if he has been waiting his whole life to write this text.

I understand that this type of book is not for everyone. You do actually have to care about architecture even just a little bit, but it is so much more than that. It outlines an underlying problem that many may not recognise, some because they don't realise it is happening, but others also because they don't believe it exists.There is one particular passage near the end of the book when it is revealed that the beautiful limestone exterior of a historically black church was removed and relocated to form the exterior of a church in a largely white town near the Wisconsin border. If that doesn't emphasize to you how problematic this really is, I don’t know what to tell you.  Instances like this, of which there are dozens, is why this book needs to exist and be shared with the world.
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Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago's South Side by Lee Bey is currently scheduled for release on October 15 2019. Inspired by Bey’s 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibition, Southern Exposure visits sixty sites, including lesser-known but important work by luminaries such as Jeanne Gang, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Eero Saarinen, as well as buildings by pioneering black architects such as Walter T. Bailey, John Moutoussamy, and Roger Margerum. Pushing against the popular narrative that depicts Chicago’s South Side as an architectural wasteland, Bey shows beautiful and intact buildings and neighborhoods that reflect the value—and potential—of the area. Southern Exposure offers much to delight architecture aficionados and writers, native Chicagoans and guests to the city alike.

Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago's South Side is a lovely book of photography with well written and interesting information about the buildings pictured.The tone was very conversational, making it an enjoyable read.  It was very interesting to learn about the history surrounding some of the locations, as well as the current uses, and hope for the future. I have never been to Chicago, and have no current plans, so I was glad to see a piece of the city, particularly since it does not always receive this kind of attention. I think those from the area, and those that are interested in architecture, photography, and Chicago's history will all get a great deal from exploring this book.
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Southern Exposure by Lee Bey analyzes the differences in the Chicago's North and South sides through the lens of historic architecture.  By relating the stories of great buildings, he traces the development of the city, particular the black neighborhoods to the south, the changes in demographics, and unequal attention given to areas of the city through the years.  His photography is excellent (and I wish there was more of it!!) and his writing is easy to digest and passionate.  Highly recommend for architecture fans, Chicagoans, and those interested in the growth and development of urban environments.
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I really loved this book, it gets you discover the beautiful structures of a side of Chicago that you wouldn’t usually see as a tourist. I can’t wait to go and visit these next year.
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I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  			
			
From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.			
			
Chicago South Side represents two-thirds of the city and is the birthplace of many of the most emblematic parts of Chicago culture. Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side is the first book devoted to the South Side’s rich and unfairly ignored architectural heritage.

With lively, insightful text and gallery-quality colour photographs by noted Chicago architecture expert Lee Bey, Southern Exposure documents the remarkable and largely unsung architecture of the South Side. The book features an array of landmarks—from a Space Age dry cleaner to a nineteenth-century lagoon that meanders down the middle of a working-class neighborhood street—that are largely absent from arts discourse, in no small part because they sit in a predominantly African American and Latino section of town that’s better known as a place of disinvestment, abandonment, and violence.

Inspired by Bey’s 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibition, Southern Exposure visits sixty sites, including lesser-known but important work by luminaries such as Jeanne Gang, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Eero Saarinen, as well as buildings by pioneering black architects such as Walter T. Bailey, John Moutoussamy, and Roger Margerum.

Pushing against the popular narrative that depicts Chicago’s South Side as an architectural wasteland, Bey shows beautiful and intact buildings and neighbourhoods that reflect the value—and potential—of the area. Southern Exposure offers much to delight architecture aficionados and writers, native Chicagoans and guests to the city alike.

I expected a coffee-table type book full of photos so was surprised at the amount of writing involved - pleasantly surprised. I don't know a lot about the southside outside of the movie "South Side with You" about Barack and Michelle Obama's first date aside from "talk" about its possible gentrification in Jennifer Lancaster's books. Much like Detroit, there are hidden gems everywhere - the photos are stunning and frameable, but it was the writing that I truly enjoyed. 

Lee Bey loves the South Side and it is evident he loves the place no matter what I call "scared white folk" think of the are.  This is a great book for architecture lovers and those who love Chicago for reasons beyond the food and sports teams.  I loved the Space Age dry cleaners: it reminds me of the Flying Saucer Restaurant in Niagara Falls (Canadian Side!) 

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by Millennials on Instagram and Twitter) so let's give it some world famous, deep dish 🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕		
			
NOTE: I cannot link this review to LinkedIn - there is something wrong with the linking/programming and it will not happen.
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Visually stimulating while also being informative, SOUTHERN EXPOSURE is great for anyone interested in architecture, photography or Chicago and its history.
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