Near the beginning of my third year in the College, I quit the football team and, days or weeks later, wandered for the first time into the Smart Museum. Though I did not notice it at the time, my life changed profoundly, and on the spot. I’d never been inside an art museum; as the son of a physicist teaching in the suburbs, our family visits to Chicago had always been bound for the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum or, most likely, Gino’s East Pizzeria. On display at the Smart that day were the watercolors of Wassily Kandinsky. I can’t explain what, but something fundamentally connected for me in viewing that exhibition. Before long, this econ-major-cum-MBA student was squeezing in as many classes as he could in art history, even convincing Professor Joel Snyder to spend a quarter conducting an independent study course in photography with me before I left for Wall Street. My wife Jan (AB ’85) and I started spending much of our free time in galleries and museums. An interest in all the other arts you’ll see covered in the pages of Newcity soon followed, and a year into my to-be-short-lived Goldman Sachs career, Jan, my brother Brent (AB ’88) and I started this publication. My life’s work connects in a direct line to that afternoon in the Smart Museum back in 1981.
You’re in a life-changing time yourself and, like me, you’re likely not even going to notice it when it happens. But change it will; this is the power of the University of Chicago. When we decided to publish this special U of C Orientation edition of Newcity, we wanted to share the collective experiences of as many Chicago alums as we could, from the newly minted College and MAPH graduates to some of us celebrating thirty, forty or more years since we walked in your shoes. And we asked a couple of folks who never went here to weigh in as well, like the ESPN personality and native South Sider Scoop Jackson, or the Hyde Parkers by choice Greg Baldino and John Wilmes. You’ll also find a taste of the regular coverage in Newcity, from Tony Fitzpatrick’s widely read “Dime Stories” to arts features and reviews, though all with a U of C or South Side orientation in this particular issue. And lest you think it’s just a reflection of the worldview of the geezers, Charlie Puckett, a brand new MAPH graduate, teamed up with me to edit it.
Take your time with this edition. Keep it and read things a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, as your life changes. And when you’re finished, send us a story we can share with those who follow you a year or ten from now. (Brian Hieggelke, AB ’83, MBA ’84)
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