Last Sunday was perfect for an excursion to the city for creative renewal and to emerge from winter hibernation.
The early part of our afternoon was spent at the Chicago Art Institute. Regular visitors to this Journal have accompanied me here, to one of my favorite places in the city. It was quiet in the galleries until later in the day.
A lack of winter tourists to Chicago ensures that local folks like Mark and me have leisurely access to the Art Institute's beauty, and plenty of space to quietly immerse ourselves in the warm embrace of the various rooms, which are themselves works of art, with their carefully selected pedestals and frames, and much natural light.
Possibly the museum was quieter than usual because it seemed like everyone who lived downtown was outside. Compared to the crushing snows and bitter cold of just over a week ago, the near-40-degree day was like a promise of spring, an invitation to hoard all of the fresh air your lungs could take in, and enjoy the wonder of the lakefront and the architecture once again.
Of course there was still plenty of snow, but over half of the blizzard-dump had melted. What remained made for some amusing images.
After the museum we joined the throngs at Millennium Park on the lakefront. Ice skaters entertained onlookers while the loudspeakers played '80's music for nostalgic adults.
In the background, past the rink, is the Chicago Cultural Center, a grand old building whose interior walls are covered with beautiful mosaics. This is where the Governor of Illinois signed the Civil Unions Bill into law. On Sunday, a classical concert was performed in the upstairs auditorium.
One of the marvels of the Park is "The Bean", the name given by Chicagoans to sculptor Anish Kapoor's three-story reflective-steel piece called CloudGate. Made of 168 steel plates welded together, there are no visible seams, and the curves of the surface produce compelling and provocative reflections. The privately-funded piece cost about 23 million dollars, and posed some challenges in its year-long construction. It awakened my long-dormant photographic muse.
Coming up, some of my favorite paintings from the 3rd Floor Gallery of European Art...among them, the Cubists, and the Surrealists.