Beverly Hills/Morgan Park: Photographs by Mati Maldre

Artist’s statement on exhibit literature for: Chicago Architectural Foundation exhibit at ArchiCenter Gallery, Chicago, 1986; Beverly Art Center, Chicago, 1987; Ridge Historical Society, Chicago, 1988

In September of 1985, I began documenting the Beverly Hills/Morgan Park residential community through its historic and significant architecture and distinctive landscape using my 4×5/5×7 Deardorff view camera. As a Beverly resident, I had an interest in and familiarity with the diversity of architectural styles in this twin community.

My normal working procedure was to drive around the communities, scouting out and photographing visually interesting sites in relationship to the seasons, weather, and lighting conditions. From the outset, I concentrated on recording the entire structure or façade and avoided photographing details of the buildings. I also felt it important to widen my view and expand the concept of the project by showing the relationship of individual structures to one another and their landscape, by photographing with one-half of a 5×7 sheet film and a wide-angle lens. These neighborhoods are not like the rest of Chicago, a city of endless flat miles of 90-degree-angled streets. The winding streets, spacious lawns, wooded glens, and diverse architecture of this area complement the varied terrain of the glacial ridge that runs the length of both neighborhoods. The panoramic format allowed me to record the special relationships of these components, while continuing to further explore the direct documentary aesthetic.

My ongoing efforts have been to record the collective visual richness of this unique, urban area. These are also reasons for large portions of Beverly Hills and Morgan Park being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 as the Ridge Historic District. The city of Chicago has designated two areas, Walter Burley Griffin Place and Longwood Drive, as landmark districts as well.

I am grateful to the Beverly Area Planning Association, the project’s sponsor, for allowing me complete personal freedom in executing this project and for its continued support of my work. And I feel indebted to the residents of Beverly Hills/Morgan Park for their cooperation.

Selected photos

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