new-york

Judy Chicago, Rainbow Pickett, 1965/2004, latex paint on canvas-covered plywood, 10' 6“ × 10' 6” × 9' 10".

Judy Chicago

Brooklyn Museum

Judy Chicago, Rainbow Pickett, 1965/2004, latex paint on canvas-covered plywood, 10' 6“ × 10' 6” × 9' 10".

There we were, a contemporary Bruegel tableau in Prospect Park, waiting for Judy Chicago’s A Butterfly for Brooklyn fireworks display to begin: We had shimmied up trees for a better view or were madly waving glow sticks as if light begot light. The park at the end of April was already an explosion of pink, and when Butterfly spluttered into action in all its kitschy splendor, and the fuchsia smoke from the flares on the ground that outlined the giant wings started drifting over us and through the cherry blossoms, it was a transporting spectacle. Then the sky cleared into night, and our painting broke apart to go home.

Chicago hadn’t used fireworks since 1974, the final year covered in the terrific, focused exhibition “Chicago in L.A.: Judy Chicago’s Early Work, 1963–74,” organized by Catherine J. Morris with Saisha Grayson, and installed adjacent to the high drama of the artist’s

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