Inside the Strokirk House: A Misian-Inspired Masterpiece with Art to Match

Strokirk House

Some years back I had an awkward conversation with an art curator.

“If I had your job, I’d probably fill the walls with M.C. Escher prints and Mardi Gras posters,” I said.

After an awkward pause, the curator sighed and said, “Fortunately, that will never happen.”

Goran StrokirkHonestly, I don’t know much about what makes some art valuable and other stuff worthless. Two people who do have a critical eye for art are Goran and Marianne Strokirk.

I had the opportunity to tour their one-of-a-kind home on Saturday, in conjunction with EXPO Chicago. The Strokirk House from the outside looks unremarkable—a glass and steel structure on a quiet Lincoln Park street. Once you enter. . .wow! Natural light comes in seemingly from every angle. The openness of the 5,000 square foot dwelling is one of its most significant features.

So is the artwork. The Strokirk’s collection dates back nearly 30 years, with one of the first pieces they obtained at the Chicago Art Fair when it was held at the Armory. The works in their home include oil paintings, photography and sculptures. Goran picked up a glowing orb, shook it vigorously and smiled as the glowing innards moved to and fro. It was, evidently, a very high-grade snow globe.

“Everything here that’s quirky is from my wife,” Strokirk said. He pointed out a monkey sculpture (hanging from a vertical stairway) and a pile of what appeared to be rose petals scattered on an end table. They were actually balloons carefully orchestrated by a British artist.

Strokirk HouseThe house itself is a work of art. Glass blocks surround a spiral staircase and are also found on a second floor walkway. The design is simple, with the primary theme being light. It was designed in 1982 by Ron Krueck, principal of Krueck and Sexton, whose work includes the Spertus Institute (610 South Michigan Avenue). The Strokirk house was Krueck’s first big project. He was a student of Mies Van Der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and the home is clearly a Misian-inspired design.

Strokirk is the second owner of the home—he bought it 20 years ago from the original occupant. I asked him if he’s made any changes in two decades. Other than the artwork inside (which the Strokirks change out frequently, buying and selling to freshen their collection), the home looks much like it did 32 years ago.

“I’ve maintained it,” he said. “It’s like a big destroyer—you have to paint it and replace glass panels, but that’s about it.”

Bill Motchan

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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