Labor Day, East Chicago
  • Labor Day, East Chicago

Starting tonight and running through July 21, the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport will host a multimedia retrospective devoted to local hero Tom Palazzolo. The exhibit will include paintings, photographs, sculptures, and video installations of three documentary shorts that he directed: Labor Day, East Chicago (1979); At Maxwell Street (1984); and I Married a Munchkin (1994). According to the exhibit notes, these films reflect Palazzolo’s interests in reportage and niche communities. (The latter interest carries over to his work in other media, which often displays the influence of surrealism and outsider art.)

Palazzolo will be present at tomorrow night’s kick-off event, which begins at 6 PM. At some point he’ll take part in a live conversation with Sun-Times columnist Dave Hoekstra about his artistic career of almost 50 years. Palazzolo’s sure to have plenty of great stories about his work and its reception—he could probably fill the time just with anecdotes about his filmmaking efforts. Here’s an example, from the exhibit notes:

Palazzolo made one of his first 16-millimeter films O, a homage to Rene Clair’s dadaist Entr’acte. Screened in a church auditorium and although not subject to review by the Chicago Censor Board (made up of the wives of deceased aldermen) its minister, the Rev. Shiflett, was arrested by the authorities, mirroring the scandals and reactionary outcries caused by dadaist and surrealist performances in the 1920s. Palazzolo’s next film HE was also censored, the appeals board made up of all Catholic lawyers agreed and the film was not shown until 1968 when censorship was struck down by the court.