Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chicago: Crazy, Four is WAY WAY Better than Two

It was another crazy day. Crazy because we were running from dusk to dawn. Crazy because it was so full of fun and adventure. Oh how I CHERISH crazyville.

Today began at the Art Institute of Chicago. I have been to a ton of museums and this one is by far one of my all time favorites. They have hundreds of incredible works of art here, and the place is gigantic. We arrived when the museum opened to begin our adventure.


Once we got inside, bought our tickets and checked our coats it was time to plan our plan for the day. In a museum so large if we just wandered around we were afraid we would miss something. We sat down in the main foyer and quickly studied the map. We decided at first to head toward the most popular section of the museum first.


The one thing that Mrs. Painter had to see was Georges Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Seurat’s largest pointillism work it was a fantastic painting to see to start the day and the grin on Mrs. Painters face was luminous! She was so happy.


After seeing the Seurat we visited the other galleries on the floor. Amazing piece of artwork after amazing piece of artwork. Many of my favorites are housed permanently at the Art Institute of Chicago.


1. Me looking at Vincent Van Gogh - Bedroom
2. Vincent Van Gogh – Self Portrait, detail
3. Claude Monet – Water Lily Pond, detail
4. Three Quarter Armor, detail
5. Vincent Van Gogh – Poppy (detail of signature)
6. Jean-Antoine Houdon – Bust of Anne-Marie-Louise Thomas (detail of lace sculpted in marble)
7. Jean-Louis Forain – Tightrope Walker, detail
8. Mrs. Painter looking at Pierre Auguste Renoir – Two Sisters
9. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – Moulin Rouge, detail

We took a break for a quick drink, diet coke of course for me, and some trail mix that I had brought. We studied the map trying to figure out where to go next.


Of course Mrs. Painter wanted to see the modern works of art, not my favorite but she loves it. At least the new modern wing of this museum is gorgeous.


Generally I am not a lover of modern art, sometimes I find one or two pieces that I like but in general I am more of a lover of the older works of art like ‘Fishing Boats with Hucksters Bargaining for Fish’ by Joseph Mallord William Turner (lower right hand painting). Mrs. Painter did a good job of trying to convince me of the beauty of some of her favorite modern painters. In the end we agreed to disagree.


One piece of modern art that I actually loved was a sculpture done called ‘Monk’ by Katharinia Fritsch. She created a lone brooding figure out of polyester and plaster and then covered the figure with a black matte finish. The work stood in front of a long window at the end of a hallway. At first I thought it might be a person standing there but as we got closer a feeling of otherworldliness invaded.


After dragging me though the modern wing we stopped for lunch. Most of the things offered weren’t exactly healthy but I did find a hummus appetizer with a few veggies and then I asked for a couple slices of tomato. YUMMMM!


One of the best things about this visit to the museum was the fact that Mrs. Painter knew so much about art history, technique and the various artists. Most of the time as we approached a painting she would know who had created it. It was fantastic being with someone who got art so well. I wish she lived closer so we could be art buddies more often.


A Young Lady with a Parrot by Rosalba Carriera – I WOULD JUST ADORE A POTRAIT OF ME PAINTED IN A STYLE LIKE THIS

The painting below, Resting by Antonio Mancini was one of my favorite paintings of the day. There is a raw kind of sensuality that emanates from the work. With the dark colors and the almost impressionistic loose technique of the brushstroke it made me look at it again and again. The young girl in the painting is arrestingly stunning and there is something about her gaze slanting off to the side that left me captivated.

Resting by Antonio Mancini

Batoni’s portrayed war by the god of Mars who was restrained by a woman carrying an olive branch personifying peace. I loved the neo classic style as well as the beautiful balance between good and evil, the gentle sweet peace and the brutal aggressive war.

Allegory of Peace and War by Pompeo Batoni

Something that I would LOVE to do would be to create a painting from a work of a master. The two museums in my area I inquired too do not allow an artist a permit to use paint near any of the works of art I would like to reproduce. The Art Institute of Chicago I found out is a museum that does and I was positively green with envy at a man creating the most beautiful copy of his chosen work. His art was an incredible copy.


I was SUPER excited to get to see ‘The America Windows’ by Marc Chegall a breathtaking three panel glass of artwork that was installed late last year. Commemorating America’s bicentennial the work, gifted to the Art Institute by Chegall, represents cultural and religious freedom, the arts and music, painting, literature and dance. Mrs. Painter and I took some photos and then we just sat on the benches in front of the windows for a while trying to take it all in. They were STUNNING!




After our time with the windows we only had about a half hour left before closing time. The photography exhibit was the last part of the museum that I wanted to see so we swung by to see the photos being showcased. One of my favorite photographs was the photo of a young child working at a cotton mill by Lewis Wickes. The photo was commissioned by the National Child Labor committee to document scenes of child labor in Pittsburgh. Photoed next to the dangerous cotton mill machinery she worked with every single day the photo overwhelmed everyone who saw it. This photograph was one of the first instances of photography helping to enact social change. LOVED IT!


Another photo, or set of photos, of New York City by Joel Meyerowitz caught my eye. He photographed studies of light and seasons on the New York City skyline. His photos included the twin towers and I felt they reflected a raw beauty to them when shown in a series. Like the artist Claude Monet and his light falling on haystacks series I loved how both show how quality of light is the real focus of beauty.

New York City Skyline by Joel Meyerowitz – detail of three of his photographs

Wheatstacks by Claude Monet

Mrs. Painter and I walked the museum until it closed. We were tired, our feet ached, but we were filled with the brightness of seeing greatness. Seven hours of gorgeous deliciousness. We visited the gift store both hoping to get a small souvenir to take home. I was originally looking at the books thinking of picking up a general art history book. However since we have a new house with a ton of empty wall space and since I fell in love with a painting I decided to get it instead. Now when it is hung in my front room and as I pass by it every day I will be reminded of the museum and my incredible trip to Chicago.

Still Life, Hydrangeas by Edouard Vuillard

After we finally finished with the museum our third and fourth musketter arrived. Ms. Pool Shark and her adorable little girl decided to drive up last minute from Pittsburgh to play in Chicago. HURAHHHHH.



Since the museum had just closed and since Millennium Park was right next door we met up and walked around for a while. There was after all the famous ‘The Bean’ to explore. Yea it is just what it sounds like a gigantic metallic lima bean shaped structure left smack dab in the middle of the park. Created from 168 pieces of stainless steel plates welded together it is huge... weird but pretty! I loved how it reflected and distorted the Chicago skyline.




Also home of the Jay Pritzker Pavillion, the centerpiece of the park, which was a pretty piece of architecture created by architect Frank Gehry. The pavilion holds concerts and plays in the warmer months.



Pretty park for sure, we even let the little lady walk around a little bit and play but after a while the temperatures convinced us it was time to head inside. Also it was time to head over to the restaurant for our dinner reservations.


We decided to have dinner at the Signature Room, a restaurant located on the top floor of the second tallest building of the city with fantastic views. We grabbed a table near the window with terrific views and then ordered our drinks. Walking all day long was exhausting and it was time to relax. I chose the Pumpkin Cheesecake Martini, so not on the diet but OH SO yummmmmmy.


I had made reservations so we could eat as dusk turned to night. The sun set and we were offered beautiful views of the city as the light dropped off. A meal and a view, yes thank you very much!


The food was pretty great. I ordered the Warm Mushroom and Truffle Dullexe, which was OUT OF THIS WORLD AMAZING! For the main course I got the Roasted Lamb Loin Chops and then I ordered the Creme Brulee to go.


Of course dinner was LOVELY but it is a whole new world when trying to eat with an active little girl at the table. A girl full of curiosity and wonder, a girl I couldn’t help but scoop up and shower with kisses and giggles. She is so STINKING CUTE with her white blond hair and big blue eyes.


The only major catch in our plan was when we tried to leave the parking garage. We paid for the ticket at the machine, we got the receipt, and then somewhere in the 30 steps between the ticket machine and the car we lost the ticket. Between the leftovers, the desserts, the baby and baby parafinilla, the purses and the cameras we somehow misplaced the parking ticket. Of course they hold your car hostage or charge you for an entire day without it so we all got out of the car and tore everything apart looking for it... it took 20 minutes to find. When Ms. Pool Shark FINALLY found the ticket her smile was luminous. Disaster averted, and after a VERY long day it was time for bed!



paul peggy zeus said...

It's fun to share things with people who have common interests. So many great photos on this post. Amazing how fast Ms. Pool sharks baby is getting. She must be on that Miracle Grow formula!

Jennifer Arens said...

the 'resting' photo reminded me, for some reason of your bff in CA(her surname escapes me). Granted, I've never seen her nipple....I agree about the modern art too. But its part of the world so we get to accept it :)

Um I'm obsessed with hummus!

My dad celebrated his 50th at the signature room!

Seriously can all of your friends be my personal shopper?! Ah I love you gals!

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