FEATURE Image: The Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, 10915 S. Lemont Road, Lemont IL. Author’s photograph, 7/2017 5.75 mb
What is Hierotopy?
It is a term developed at the start of the 21st century by Alexei Lidov (b. 1959), a Russian art historian who specializes in Byzantium.
Hierotopy derives from two Ancient Greek words meaning “Sacred Space” and in a specifically broad sense.
Hierotopy is the study of the creation and frequent re-creation of sacred spaces whose inter-disciplinary application extends to a vast array of media (i.e., images, shrines, architectural spaces, pilgrimage, song, incense, ritual, natural forces, such as light and darkness) as well as spans the areas of art history, archeology, cultural anthropology (diversity in social practice), ethnology (groups and culture), and religious studies.
What hierotopy is NOT.
What hierotopy is not is the study of the phenomenology of the sacred. Rather, it is a look at projects that express the sacred and the relationship of the sacred and the mundane. It is a universal language posited in a nearly infinite number of forms marked by creative human activity and expression.
As such, icons and other sacred artifacts, for example, are not seen only as isolated objects but as part of any wider project to express a wide scope of communication of the sacred and mundane. It is these projects themselves – including both their conceptual and artistic aspects, as well as the historical developments leading to their formation – which are the primary focus of hierotopic study.
The wide range of Hierotopic projects takes in churches and sanctuaries but also architecture, lighting design, city places, and rituals, feasts and ceremonies.
Hierotopic projects are not limited to churches and sanctuaries but can be landscapes, architectural compounds, and greater entities such as urban settings. While edifices and other macro-art and architecture are hierotopic, so are individual and simple yet equally powerful components such as the use of light in church architecture as well as sacred (including revealed religious and other) ceremonies, feasts, and folk customs.
From photographic images of Lourdes grottos, labyrinths, and Hindu prayer poles to visual demonstrations of higher planes of the ineffable and transcendent.
While my photographs as a hierotopic project can include original sacred spaces which are those that appear as the result of a theophany (Ancient Greek meaning “appearance of a deity”) or a representative thereof, it can extend to its re-creation elsewhere, such as, popularly, a Lourdes grotto or Hindu prayer pole. Other hierotopic projects can involve less tangible ideas but look to express a higher order so that by way of the hierotopic project a common bond or experience on or towards such higher planes is manifested between the created sacred space and its human participant or beholder, such as, to start, the prayer labyrinth.
The hierotopic photograph may be limited only by its power for expression.
In regard to these photographs, seeing hierotopy as the study of the creative direction of projects coordinating artists and specialists in shaping a unified and comprehensive vision of the relation of the sacred and mundane, they share in its hierotopic object by being their own hierotopy project. In the seeking to capture others’ creative projects in the communication of the sacred and mundane along with those embodied human interactions with or among them, each photographic image is its own original hierotopy – and possibly suggests an opening for others to assemble theirs.
The Battle of Stillman’s Run was named for the first engagement between Illinois militia led by Major Isaiah Stillman (1793-1861) and Sauk warriors during the short, storied Black Hawk War in 1832. Maj. Stillman, who was born in Massachusetts, had settled in Illinois and joined its newly-formed militia in 1827. On that perilous Monday, May 14, 1832, in present-day Stillman Valley, a town in north-central Illinois, Maj. Stillman’s 275 Illinois militia were attacked by Sauk warriors of Black Hawk’s British Band. The numbers of Native American warriors is unknown but is placed somewhere between 50 and 200 fighters. The Black Hawk War began when Sauk chief Black Hawk (1767-1838) recrossed the Mississippi River from Iowa into Illinois on April 5, 1832 to re-settle with around 1,000 warriors and women, children and elders. Black Hawk believed that the Treaty of St. Louis dated from 1804 that ceded land of his birthplace was invalid. Though a state since 1818, Illinois was on the edge of wilderness awaiting an influx of settlers and the return by Black Hawk was viewed as antithetical to that immediate objective according to the U.S. Government. During the Battle of Stillman’s Run, a name characterized by a nearby creek as well as the militia’s desperate foot-race in defeat, 12 militiamen had been killed by Band warriors as they made a stand on a small hill. In the retreat, the militia fled back 30 miles south to the fort along the Rock River at Dixon’s Ferry (present-day Dixon, IL). Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), future 16th president of the United States, was stationed at Dixon’s Ferry and may have been present at the Battle of Stillman’s Run though it is not yet known. Recent scholarship does put Lincoln at the Battle of Kellogg’s Grove in Illinois in June 1832 nearly 50 miles farther west. Lincoln was also present for the formal burials of the 12 militiamen who were killed at the Battle of Stillman’s Run. It was reported by Black Hawk that just 5 or less of his Sauk warriors were lost in that first day of battle. The Black Hawk War ended on August 2, 1832 with the military defeat of Black Hawk’s by then starving band that had retreated towards the Mississippi River near present-day Victory, Wisconsin, where the state lines of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota meet.
William C. “Bill” Henry (1935-1992) for which this portion of 16th Street is named, was a 24th Ward Chicago alderman. Ald. Henry put together the coalition of Black and white aldermen to elect Eugene Sawyer (1934-2008) as mayor of the City of Chicago following the sudden death of Harold Washington (1922-1987), the first black mayor elected in Chicago.
Responding to accusations of deal cutting, Ald. Henry declared during the debate in the City Council chamber: “Deals? We was all making deals!” Henry’s constituents voted their alderman out of office for helping Sawyer in preference to Tim Evans, the reform candidate. Ald. Henry passed away from cancer in 1992 at 56 years old. In 2021 Timothy C. Evans is the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
FEATURE image: Over the Top to Victory (“Doughboy”), 1921, John Paulding, Memorial Park, Wheaton, Illinois.
“Over the Top to Victory” is a bronze sculpture that depicts an American infantryman in World War I (known popularly as “doughboys”) that was created by American sculptor John Paulding (1883-1935).
The statue was cast in 1921 by the American Art Bronze Foundry in Chicago and stands in Memorial Park in Wheaton, Illinois.
Paulding studied sculpture at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is best remembered today for his World War I memorials.
When the United States entered World War I in April 1917 the soldiers fought valiantly. An armistice was signed on November 11, 1918—the origin of today’s Veterans Day—in a victory for the allies. The war had started in August 1914 and had gone on for over four years.
The statue was dedicated on Armistice Day, November 11, 1929, in honor of all World War I veterans in Wheaton, Illinois. Memorial Park had been established in central Wheaton in 1921 specifically to honor war veterans. Four months before this statue was dedicated—on July 12, 1929—the WheatonIllinoian opined about The Doughboy: “The statue is a fitting memorial to the soldiers of the community who died fighting for our cause. Let us not forget so easily!”
After more than 70 years standing proudly outside in the elements, the statue was refurbished and conserved in August 2000 by Venus Bronze Work, Inc., in Detroit, Michigan—and rededicated on Veteran’s Day of that year. The same local American Legion Post led the dedication ceremonies in both 1929 and 2000.
Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket (above in 2016) is 22 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. Its address is 645 Joliet Road, Willowbrook, Illinois.
The Chicken Basket is a mandatory dine-in or carry-out stop on a “Midwest Roads” visit. Vintage roadhouse decor and family-oriented service is joined to the menu which features fresh, succulent fried chicken cooked-to-order.
Opened in 1926
The business first opened in 1926 as a gas station and lunch counter on the brand-new Route 66. U.S. Route 66 traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles, California —a distance of more than 2,000 miles.
In 1939, fried chicken was served for the first time by its original owner, Irv Kolarik.
In 1946 the present one-story brick commercial building was designed and built by architect Eugene F. Stoyke (1912-1993) next to the original building. It was during the post-World-War-II travel (and baby) boom that it became a full-service restaurant.
Original windows and signage
Dell Rhea’s bay of 9 single-light-glass-and-wood-canted windows is original where an immense fireplace anchored the dining area’s north wall. The neon-and-metal sign in the photograph was original when this photograph was taken. It was replaced in 2017 with an exact replica. In 1956, a cocktail lounge was added to the south.
Bluebird Bus stop to St. Louis
In 1962 Interstate 55 opened—the major expressway connecting Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans—and effectively retired U.S. Route 66 in this part of Illinois.
In front of the restaurant there was a Bluebird Bus stop (founded in 1927) which people could take to St. Louis or use to send packages across country.
In 1963 the Chicken Basket was bought by Chicago businessman Delbert Francis “Dell” Rhea (1907-1992) who knew how to invigorate the eatery while maintaining its tradition for a new era.
The popular Chicken Basket was owned and managed by the Rhea family until 2019. The Lombardi family took over with the promise to keep intact the original recipe which is unchanged since 1946 and continue the same Chicken Basket tradition.
These are some of my photographs featuring people, places, and things I have met and seen along today’s American Midwest roads.
I have a personal affinity and affection for the American Midwest. I grew up in Chicago and its suburbs, and went to school here and live here today. My family has been in Illinois since at least the 1830s.
Growing up in the Midwest, my experiences included family, friends, diverse outings, engaging jobs, and being married here. I love to explore this vast region that’s rightly called “The Heart of America.”
Memories of the Middle West — its sights, sounds, smells, and tastes — and mostly in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan — are the mother’s milk of my life. In steamy summers, multi-colored autumns, ice-bitten winters, and flowering, reawakening springs to get outside to walk and ride on Midwest roads are pure adventure, then and now.
The American Midwest is filled with human stories and diverse and awesome natural beauty. There is timeless nostalgia, and, if such things don’t entice for the moment, unexpected curiosities.
For those who love it, the Midwest terrain carries all Edgar Lee Masters (1868-1950) spoke on in his last major book, The Sangamon. There is “magic in that soil, in the plains, the borders of forest, the oak trees on the hills,” the poet wrote. Masters was sure that “if you should drive through (this region)…strange dreams would come to you, and moreover those dreams would tally with mine.”
The region continues to offer the sightseer magical things. This includes its primordial aspects, such as animals, birds, natural outcroppings and waterways, as well as impressive remnants of Native American mound-building culture from the Midwest’s southern to northern reaches.
Edgar Lee Masters understood that it is the Midwest’s people – often defined as individualistic, hospitable, diverse, industrious, good-willed, courageous and independent – who imbue the region its greatest distinction. It is a populace and setting that, despite various economic setbacks and pockets of unfortunate decline, build and display what is often photographed on Midwest roads: historic canals, roads, barns and farms, houses. In the 21st century new things of interest can be seen on Midwest roads such as cellphone towers and wind turbines as older things, like barns and even some towns, decay or disappear.
Many famous American and international figures have lived and traveled on Midwest roads such as U.S. presidents, writers, actors, artists, business people, etc. This includes James Monroe (in 1785), Charles Dickens (1842), John Muir (1849), Henry David Thoreau (1861), Antonín Dvořák (1893), Winston Churchill (1946). Midwest natives include Carl Sandburg, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Edison, Edgar Lee Masters, Walt Disney, Mark Twain, Jane Addams, Harry S Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Barack and Michelle Obama, Frank Lloyd Wright, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., John Wayne, Wyatt Earp, “Wild Bill” Hickok, Jesse James, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Dinah Washington (“Queen of the Blues”), and many, many more.
But It is Abraham Lincoln whose memory is most famously linked to Midwest Roads. Riding on his horse, “Old Bob,” Lincoln loved to travel the Eighth Judicial Circuit in central Illinois as a defense lawyer. It is to the 16th U.S. president and a Midwestern spirit he manifested to whom this photographic essay is dedicated.
SOURCES: E.L. Masters quotes from The Sangamon by Edgar Lee Masters with Introduction by Charles E. Burgess, University of Illinois Press, Urbana & Chicago, 1988 (first published 1942), p.6.
The Ronald Reagan Trail (IL-26) is a route in Illinois that follows sites of interest associated with the 40th president of The United States. Reagan grew up in Dixon, Illinois.
Originally Route 26 ran north-south for about 25 miles from Freeport, Illinois to Polo, Illinois.
In 1937, IL-26 was extended about 15 miles north to the Illinois-Wisconsin state line and about 15 miles south to Dixon, Illinois.
In 1969, IL-26 was extended almost 100 miles from Dixon south to East Peoria, Illinois.
U.S. Route 20 is the longest road in the country. It stretches east to west from Boston, Massachusetts to Newport, Oregon– about 3,100 miles.
Route 20 began on the East coast in the early to mid1920’s. The road reached Illinois in 1938 and is mostly unchanged since that time.
In 1955 the Illinois General Assembly designated the length of U.S. 20 in Illinois the U.S. Grant Memorial Highway. The sign in htis photograph was produced in late 2006.
The Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, IL, is a popular 12-acre Japanese garden established in 1978. The gardens are on lands surrounding Rockford businessman John Anderson’s home. Anderson was inspired by gardens he visited in japan and other Japanese gardens in the U.S.
Under the guidance of Hoichi Kurisu, renowned master craftsman and landscape designer, the Andersons’ land along Rockford’s Spring Creek was transformed into an outdoor space of water, wood, stone, and flora representative of 1,000 years of Japanese horticultural tradition.
White Fence Farm was established in the 1920s by Stuyvesant “Jack” Peabody (1888-1926), the son of a wealthy coal baron. Jack Peabody opened the restaurant to feed his guests who visited his nearly 500-acre horse farm on the opposite side of a newly-opened U.S. Route 66.
In the mid1930s Peabody started to promote the domestic wine industry by featuring California wines at the restaurant.
Since 1954, the Hastert family has owned and operated White Fence Farm. Advertising itself as the “World’s Greatest Chicken,” the restaurant building has been expanded many times under the Hasterts. Within a country farm manor ambience, the popular restaurant boasts several dining rooms that can seat over 1,000 diners.
White Fence Farm continues to offer some of freshest and best-tasting fried chicken in and around historic U.S. Route 66. The restaurant is a perennially popular destination, especially on weekends and during the warm weather months, where people in the area as well as tourists arrive in droves.
In the early 1950’s, Alfred, Jr. (Mitch) and Norma Mitchell opened a small grocery store on the corner of Raynor and Curtis Avenues. In 1957, it was expanded to the present location adjacent to the original building. A short time later, Harley Mitchell joined his brother.
Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the U.S. (1981-1989), is the only U.S. president who was born, grew up and received his education in the state of Illinois. Reagan was a Eureka College graduate, class of 1932.