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More Janiak Films Head to CFA

October 9, 2013

You may remember back in April when CFA announced the acquisition of three experimental films by Chicago-based filmmaker & designer Lawrence Janiak (in case you missed it, you can read about it here)….. well, we are THRILLED to announce that Larry has donated more of his films (and affiliated ephemera) to CFA!

New to the collection: 10 composite prints (5 with printing elements!), 1 8mm videocassette, 1 audiocassette and a packed box of ephemera that holds 2 Chicago International Film Festival Hugo awards, books on underground film & animation and Center Cinema Co-op catalogs designed by Larry (more on this ephemera filled box later). Here’s a sneak peek of the new 16mm films added to the collection:

Janiak Allegro2

Allegro, Lawrence Janiak, 1960, 16mm., Color, Sound, 3 min.

Like Larry’s previously donated films, Disintegration Line #1 (1960) and Disintegration Line #2 (1970), Allegro is a direct animation film. This time around, though, Larry hand painted and scratched the surface of the celluloid and set the dazzling results to a classical soundtrack. According to Larry, the film screened at the second annual International Design Conference at Aspen in 1961. After the screening Larry and fellow Chicagoans Wayne Boyer and Mort & Millie Goldsholl joined Canadian animator Norman McLaren for ice cream floats (!!). Here, McLaren told Larry that Allegro was “the best film I’ve seen drawn on 16mm.”

Janiak GlassHouse3 500

Glasshouse, Lawrence Janiak, 1964, 16mm., B&W, Sound, 7 min.

Through double exposures, stillness/movement and a handmade scratch soundtrack, Glasshouse introduces viewers to an unnamed illusive structure. (Side note: Larry compared the soundtrack to “tap dancing bugs clicking in nature.”)

Janiak Agamemnon3 500

Agamemnon in New York, Lawrence Janiak & Wayne Boyer, 1960s, 16mm., B&W, Sound, 4.5 min.

Made with fellow Institute of Design classmate and Goldsholl Associates colleague, Wayne Boyer, Agamemnon in New York tells a humorous tale of Agamemnon visiting a modern day New York City. Janiak delivers the story (outtakes and all), while Boyer films it.

Janiak HaleHouse3 500

Hale House, Lawrence Janiak, 1965, 16mm., B&W, Sound, 11 min.

Before we dive into this one, let’s first cover some local history: The Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago is a branch of the Hindu Ramakrishna Order whose motto is “For one’s own liberation and for the welfare of the world.” The historical roots of the society can be traced back to Swami Vivekananda’s visit to Chicago in the July 1893 to attend the World’s Parliament of Religions. During his 1893 visit, Mrs. and Mr. George Hale’s home on 120 E. Dearborn Ave served as Swamiji’s headquarters in the Midwest. Thirty years later, Swami Jnaneswarananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order arrived in Chicago to start a center in the city of Swami Vivekananda’s triumph, establishing the Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago and the Hale’s home as its official headquarters. With a devout interest in Eastern religions and as a member of the Society (now headquartered in the southwest suburb of Homer Glen), Larry went to the Hale House and filmed architectural details both inside and outside of the home. These images are paired with traditional Hindu music and prayers. The Hale home (located at 1415 North Dearborn Street) was demolished in the late 1960’s and a high rise apartment complex built on the site.

Janiak LifeFilm1

Larry Janiak in LIFE AND FILM (1965)

Life & Film, Lawrence Janiak, Robert Stiegler & Jeffrey Pasco, 1966, B&W, Sound, 4.5 min.

Chicago based designers and artists experiment (and have fun) with their cameras to the tune of “Tomorrow Never Knows” by the Beatles. This film about filmmaking was shot at the nearby Michigan dunes and Chicago’s Humboldt Park.

Janiak VedantaTemple4 500

Vedanta Temple Dedication Ceremony, Lawrence Janiak & Steohen Rose, 1966, 16mm., B&W, Sound, 25 min.

A documentary film made by Larry Janiak and Stephen Rose for Swami Bhashyananda about a Vendata Temple Dedication in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood (5423 S Hyde Park Boulevard to be exact). Hindus, Christians, Unitarians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists unite to celebrate the dedication of the Vivekanada Vedanta Society of Chicago’s new home.

Janiak Homage2

Homage #5 , Lawrence Janiak, 1970, 16mm., Color, Sound, 6 min.

An unfinished film or “preliminary sketch” by Larry that he describes as “an early experiment of collage image editing style with a slow pace spoken narration soundtrack, with a non-literal relationship between the two.” The images seen are those of a rural Wisconsin, while the audio was transferred from an audiocassette recording of a Baba Ram Dass lecture at the University of Illinois.


Although Larry hasn’t completed a new film in decades, he continues his conceptual art practice today through various mediums. My favorite example is the surprise I found inside his medicine cabinet :

Janiak Medicinecabinet 500

Stay tuned for more news on this exciting new acquisition!

— Anne


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