The Art Institute of Chicago – A New Favorite

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, sculpture, Charles Ray, Samsung Galaxy, Hancock Tower

Chicago is many things but dull it isn’t.  This city is rich in culture, architecture, outdoors fun (in the summer, at least!), food and many other things.  I love coming to this city but have rarely been here on my own to explore.  I have greatly enjoyed coming to Chicago with friends, whether to party in the early 1990s, or to get to know the best of the city in the last few years via local friends who know it well.  I wrote a couple of years ago about the architecture of the city.

When a business trip to Minnesota arose, I thought it may give me another opportunity to head to the Windy City on my way home and see more of it.  One of the things that I have NEVER done in Chicago is go to a museum so I decided my weekend would be anchored around at least on a museum visit.

And so it was.  After reading a little bit, and being quite torn on which one to attack, I decided for The Art Institute of Chicago.  It is one of people’s favorites (or so I read!) and it was close to my hotel.  Also, while I had studied about the Chicago History Museum and was curious to see it in person, I was not feeling historical this weekend.  I was more in the mood for art.  And, finally, The Art Institute featured in one of my favorite movies:  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, architecture, Samsung Galaxy

The museum has an old wing and a newer one with a cleverly built hallway/gallery that was built to bridge over the railroad lines separating the old building (right on Michigan Avenue) from the new building, behind the old building towards the lake.  The new building has an entrance on Monroe whereas the old building has its entrance on Michigan Avenue.

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, architecture, Samsung Galaxy

The modern wing from Monroe St.

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, architecture, Samsung Galaxy

To the right, the bridge connecting the new gallery (shown here) to the old

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, architecture, Samsung Galaxy

And the bridge connecting to the old building over the rail lines

I like the newer building because it just feels “light” both in the sense of illumination but also on the sense of weight or heaviness of the architecture and the interiors.  Well done, whoever was/were the architect(s)!

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, architecture, Samsung Galaxy

Lightness in space and materials

The museum has art from ancient Greece and China to the most modern sculptures (Charles Ray was a special exhibit).  I started at the Charles Ray exhibit mainly because it was right there after I entered.  The space was huge and the sculptures were distributed over the entire space creating what felt like vast spaces between the pieces.  I don’t know much about art (it’s been a while since I stayed at a Holiday Inn…) but I definitely felt the openness and emptiness of the galleries only added to the sculptures by truly making them stand out.  I also feel that it also made the people walking around almost part of the exhibit itself.  I took some photos that, now when I look at them, I am almost as interested in the people walking the space as in the sculptures themselves.  I wonder if that was the intent of the curators…

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, sculpture, Charles Ray, Samsung Galaxy

Boy holding a frog seemingly holding a statue in the back…

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, sculpture, Charles Ray, Samsung Galaxy, Hancock Tower

A crashed Grand Am sculpture with the Hancock Tower in the background

My favorites were the impressionist artists, as usual:  Pisarro, Cézanne, Monet, etc..  But I also was pleased to see several El Greco and more modern favorites like Miró, Picasso, Matisse, Pollock, and Roy Lichtenstein (am I a name-thrower or what?!).

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Van Gogh’s selfie (at least one ear is still there!)

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, architecture, Samsung Galaxy, Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein’s almost comic book-like imagery

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, architecture, Samsung Galaxy, Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, architecture, Samsung Galaxy, Monet

Monet’s foggy London

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, architecture, Samsung Galaxy, Cezanne

Cézanne’s wife on yellow chair

I also enjoyed seeing American Gothic in person.  It truly is a brilliant piece, not because I know about art itself but because I certainly feel the emotion (or lack thereof) in the two characters!

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, architecture, Samsung Galaxy, American Gothic

American Gothic

Oh, and here is the charmer that Ferris and his bud and girlfriend admired while on their escapade!

Art Institute, Chicago, art, travel, architecture, Samsung Galaxy

You don’t have to be an art connoisseur or lover even – just have an open mind and go explore this incredible institution on the shores of Lake Michigan!

For a Good Time, Head to Chicago

We can all talk about Chicago food, help write the next guidebook on what to see, its architecture, or just muse about the city’s history (be it the city’s founding, Ferris Bueller, the mafia wars, or the baseball wars).  But Chicago is a great “canvas for curiosities” (fun little stories or curious sights); what with its size, multitude of places to go & hang out, and colorful locals/visitors alike there can be no shortage of curiosities or good times!

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that other places can’t provide perfect backdrops for good stories (New Orleans certainly is! I could tell you stories… if I remembered them), but Chicago offers such a variety of possibilities, that it is inevitable to leave the place with good stories or good pictures.

A group of folks passionate about the experience of travels (who also share an interest in meeting like-minded folks) got together in Chicago for the Windy City tweetup in May 2012.  There will be/are blog entries here and in their blogs (check them out – links below!) written about the weekend but I thought I’d devote one to the curiosities and/or the good times of the weekend as captured with my camera…

Plenty of Odd Birds

People watching doesn’t get much better than in this city with the sheer number of people out and about (OK, it does in some places but not by much more).  But this strange bird caught my eye as he was sitting perfectly still in-air 😉  Or was he just watching tourists play at The Bean?

A bird on the Cloud Gate, or The Bean

We Didn’t Start the Fire (No, Not THAT Chicago Fire)

No matter what anyone claims, we did NOT cause this mishap in Michigan Ave.  Some other group of marauders must have done it.  (Notice that the city kindly placed an orange cone to protect pedestrians!)

Traffic light mishap

We Think We Are Having a Good Time until We Look at the Photo Days Later…

Our group enjoyed standing in front of The Bean while we all shot pictures at ourselves – we thought that was a cool idea.  But the real action was taking place right next to us.  Now THEY were having a good time!

Tourists at the Cloud Gate in Chicago, also known as The Bean

Warning – Don’t Make Me Smite You Guys (or Is It “Youse” Guys?)

Well, early on, a warning seemed to have been delivered to us to NOT have too much of a wild time while at The Pump Room on our first night enjoying drinks, dinner, and the ambience.  I want to say we were not affected by it but some had an odd glow all weekend.  Oh, wait that could have been the boa…

Indoor lightning strike

The Angels Are in Town – and not the Baseball Team

Friday night, as we walked the streets in the Water Tower district, a local realized that Charlie’s Angels were in town.  I took a look around me, and, oh dear, I was Charlie.  Better than Bosley for sure.  So, we decided that the Angels needed to do their thing.  And here it is:

Charlie's Angel in Chicago

Good times.

Spread ‘Em, Lady

Chicago,of course, can provide a rather large playground for bachelor and bachelorette parties – ALL sorts of good times.  We believe that was what we ran into as we went to the Cloud Gate (or The Bean) at Millenium Park as a group of ladies kept hoisting one of their lot up in various poses…  One of our guys was “had” as he heard the words of legs being spread…

And Just When You Think You Have Had a Good Time…

… the BOA enters the picture.  Then all bets are off.  What you thought had been fun so far, becomes childplay-fun only.  We don’t know where the boa originally came from.  I can’t tell you much else about it – the moment it enters the picture, the fun begins and the time for chit chat is not gonna happen…  You see, the boa has a mind of its own, it wraps you within its feathers, and then… well, this is the point where I have to use that old and wise adage and give it a local twist:  “What happens in Chicago, stays in Chicago… or else the ghost of Mr. Capone will make me regret it!”

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Check out these folks with a great point of view and travel stories to tell!

http://lolastravels.com

http://leahtravels.com

www.jettingaround.com

www.elatlboy.com

www.travelingted.tv

http://theworkingmomstravels.com/

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