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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On the Road, Part VI: Chicago

The Windy City. The Second City. The...enough. Suffice it to say we arrived in Chicago on the night of Thursday, September 3, and checked into the Best Western River North Hotel, close to Michigan Avenue. The next day we set out on foot along that famed road:



Michigan Avenue eventually brought us to Millenium Park, arguably the most modernist green space in the entire country. Case in point is the Pritzker Pavilion, a band shell designed by Frank Gehry and the site of free band concerts in the summer:


The pavilion can be seen from the BP Bridge which crosses Columbus Drive (and which was also designed by Gehry): 


Another famous installation is Cloud Gate, designed by Anish Kapoor and known as "The Bean" for obvious reasons:



Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa is a combination water fountain/video sculpture that provides a somewhat creepy setting for cooling off on a hot, humid afternoon:



From Millenium Park, the Nichols Bridgeway leads up to the 3rd-floor contemporary sculpture garden of the Art Institute of Chicago, offering nice views back to the park:


Visiting the second-largest art museum in the United States took up several hours of our Friday, and every minute was worthwhile. If I were a Chicago resident, I would seriously consider becoming a museum member and making multiple visits in order to see everything on display. With limited time, however, we made do with downloading an app that gave us a two-hour tour of the museum's highlights. The following photos are just a taste of what we saw there:

The Assumption of the Virgin, El Greco

Old Man with a Gold Chain, Rembrandt (circa 1631)

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat (1884)

Stacks of Wheat (End of Day, Autumn), Claude Monet (circa 1890)

The Bedroom,Vincent van Gogh (1888)

Nighthawks, Edward Hopper (1942)

American Gothic, Grant Wood (1930). But you knew that already. What you may not have known (and I didn't) was that the couple in the painting were not a husband-and-wife pair. Rather, the man was Wood's dentist, while the woman was the artist's sister. Furthermore, Wood may have intended to portray a father and his daughter, though he never clarified this point.
 


America Windows, Marc Chagall (1977)

Bathers by a River, Henri Matisse

Venus de Milo with Drawers, Salvador Dalí (1936)

Hinoki, Charles Ray

Buddha Shakyamuni Seated in Meditation (circa 12th century)

Power Figure, a figure made in the mid-19th century in what is now the Congo region of Africa

Coronation Stone of Motecuhzoma II, commemorating the beginning of the reign of the Aztec emperor Motecuhzoma II in 1503. 


And finally the Ando Gallery, created by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Andō 安藤忠雄.
 
From the Art Institute, we resumed walking, turning from Michigan Avenue onto Jackson Boulevard. Walking under the "L" evoked images from The French Connection: 



On LaSalle Street, we stopped to have a look inside the 1888 Rookery, the lobby of which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I bought a book on some of Wright's creations from the gift shop in the lobby, which was to inspire a change in our travel plans between Chicago and Falls Church:



In front of Daley Plaza stands Untitled, an abstract sculpture by Pablo Picasso. It must be the only Picasso in the world on which kids can climb and slide down, a fact which impressed my daughter (who can be seen in the photo below):



Taking a break on Washington Street at Toni Patisserie & Cafe:


Back on Michigan Avenue en route to our hotel:



That evening we had dinner at a Chinese/Thai fusion restaurant, which was actually a nice break from all the American-style meals we'd been having on our trek across the country. After nine days of driving across the vast open spaces of the American West, and taking in the natural majesties of Yellowstone and the Black Hills (the latter including the man-made wonder that graces the face of Mt. Rushmore), it was a big change to be back in a large, urban area. Downtown Chicago pulsates with a vibrant energy that makes it an understandable (and irresistible) lure for young single professionals with money to spend. Had I been 30 years younger...then again, I've never experienced a Chicago winter, and speculation is moot anyway at this point. I'm satisfied at this stage in life to put Chicago on that list of places I wish I could have had more time to explore, but which I still thoroughly enjoyed during the relatively brief time (three nights) we were there:


To be continued at Wrigley Field...

Amber in front of the Rainforest Cafe















 





 


 



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