Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Fine Day in Chicago

There’s a vacation. And then there’s a staycation. I think we took a daycation yesterday. Scott and I drove into Chicago for the day. Just a little outing, but I’m always energized by a visit. We headed to the Art Institute, one of my favorite spots in the whole of Chicagoland.

I’ve driven enough in Chicago to no longer be too anxious, and I accept that paying $25 to park the car comes with the territory. So, once we parked in the Millennium garage, headed over to our destination, and plopped down 30 more bucks, we were ready to see some art.

We had in mind what we wanted to see and focused on that without being distracted by all manner of “art.” The quotes are because for the life of me I can’t appreciate some contemporary art. Maybe if someone could explain it to me, I’d say, “Yes, I see.” But I don’t. And I’m fine with liking what I like.

We spent the most time viewing the museum’s Impressionism and Post-Impressionism collection. Monet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec — whose famous paintings I never tire of visiting. The contemporary section held less interest, and I readily agreed with Scott that an immense canvas with charcoal and crayon doodling looked suspiciously like the artist might have been a preschooler. Picasso and a quick walk through the ancient Greek and Roman section of the Institute made up for our disappointment. An hour and a half in all. Just enough culture for the day.

With the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup playoffs, this day the whole city seemed awash with Blackhawk banners and t-shirts. Even the stately Art Institute lions proclaimed their support with giant black hockey helmets.

As Scott and I exited the Art Institute, a wedding party scurried across the street in front of us.

Craning our necks in admiration of buildings shooting upwards, we made our way amongst the growing throng of tourists and stopped at Millennium Park just long enough to snap a photo of Scott with the Bean (Cloud Gate) in the background.

As we neared the Chicago River, we got behind a group of ladies carrying neon green The Oprah Store shopping bags. We skipped the architecture boat trip today. It’s a lovely, albeit expensive way to see Chicago’s beautiful buildings. And on such a perfect pre-summer day, I do admit it would have been fun to take a ride on the double-decker tour buses parked near the bridge.

However, today was fine to walk, and soon we were at our little café just off Michigan. After a filling lunch of pasta, we lingered a bit before making our way back to the car, encountering two more wedding parties in Millennium Park.

Everything we saw and did today is why I love Chicago.

TOP: Art Institute lions love to sport seasonal and relevant attire;  Georgia O'Keeffe's Sky Above Clouds IV 1965. O'Keeffe was once a student at The Art Institute; first of three wedding parties; Streetside view of the Bean;  Chicago's First Lady loading up for river tour.

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