Monday, April 8, 2013

The Cityscape of Chicago

Jack is a junior in high school this year so it will be time for him to apply to colleges next Fall.  Last week, we started our first round of college tours by heading to Chicago for Spring Break.

The temperatures were still fairly chilly but the crisp air, the blue skies and white clouds made the miles of driving seem effortless.




We covered four schools (U of Chicago, Northwestern, U of Wisconsin, U of Michigan) in three states but kept our home base as Chicago.

Wow.  What a city!  Having never been before, I was grateful for some travel tips from blogging friend Carol (thank you!) and we made the most of our short time there.

Each time I adventure afield,  I tend to take whatever thoughts, ideas or projects that are top-of-mind with me.  This time, I brought my palette of grays and my focus on reflections and mirrors...all of which led me to look at Chicago through those lenses.

First of all, there's this captivating sculpture in Grant Park called Cloud Gate which is commonly referred to as 'The Bean'...



The artist was inspired by liquid mercury when creating it and I can see why.  No matter which way you looked into this sculpture, you were rewarded with an everchanging, panoramic view...


Which delighted and enthralled no matter where you stood...



This pic is taken from underneath the Bean looking up...you can see Jack's red hat and me standing next to him in the center circle...Jim's is bottom center outside the inner circle.

The artist really did a phenomenal job of creating a piece of interactive art.

We were mesmerized.



And I had a great time photographing views of Chicago through the curved, reflective surface of this Bean.



There's an openness to Chicago that allows for each building to breathe and tell its story.  Whether viewed as a cohesive city skyline or as individual buildings, the sky gives the town a fresh, open feeling that is unusual for such a large city.  It was marvelous.

And talk about a palette of grays...


Honestly, I have never really felt that modern cities (and I mean "modern" compared to the cities of Europe) are all that beautiful with their chrome, glass and steel.

This visit changed my mind.

We climbed to the top of the Hancock building to get a birds-eye view of the city.  We each went our separate ways...me, taking pictures of the city...


Here's the Navy Pier...



And Jack, sitting in one spot and thinking about whether or not he'd like to live in this city...



About 15 mins later we both realized that we hadn't seen Jim.  We went on a search and Jack found him on the floor with his back against the wall...



Jim is afraid of heights.  See how his fist is gripping my bag?

Jack was encouraging him to "Get up.  It's not so bad."



And Jim, just answered, "Yes, it is.  I'll stay right here, thank you very much."



He did get up eventually and go inside to read Chicago's History on display.  Once absorbed in that, he relaxed and enjoyed the visit.

The next day, my thoughts would return to city structures when we visited the Art Institute of Chicago and I saw this painting by Georgia O'Keefe, The Shelton with Sunspots painted in 1926 .


 Even though the building is in NYC, O'Keefe was playing with the concept that sunspots remove color from buildings...and in this painting, the building appears as if it has a hole in it.

O'Keefe spent only one year at the School of the Art Institute as a student but Chicago did have an influence on her and many of her paintings are on display there.

All of these views of cities and skies and sunlight reminded me of a class I had taken online through the Shining Needle Society *many years ago by Betty Chen Louis.  Betty Chen Louis had designed a Cityscape of NYC on Canvas which she had taught at the ANG National Seminar in 2003 (?)which I have always admired...

Copyright Betty Chen Louis

I had never had a chance to study with her since my Mom was ill when she came to teach at our Guild.

The real brilliance of her design didn't really strike me back then but it does now.  I appreciate how tricky it is to use all of the many shades of gray in translating a reflective, living city scene.

Yesterday, while looking for something else, I found the kit I had started from her online class, Cityscape Hearts in Black and White...

There it was, having been tucked away in a bag for years.

 And all of a sudden I have a renewed interest because now I feel a kinship with Betty.  I too, have stood there in a city and thought about the light, the reflection, the shades of gray...and how I might choose to stitch the scene.  I get it now.

See.  Unfinished projects are important.  And you should never feel guilty about having them.  Sometimes they just need to incubate until the time is right.

At the bottom of the instructions I noticed that another blogging friend, Sue Dulle, had helped Betty with the compilation and format of the written instructions.  I smiled at the serendipity of it...another connection.  I wouldn't "meet" Sue online until a few years later.  (Waving at you Sue.)

And there you have it.  Cities, reflections, grays, steels, light and dark...


All firing off synapses in my brain from one college-hunting trip to Chicago.

* Here's a link to the Shining Needle Society Yahoo Group.  Feel free to request to join the group so you can receive notifications of upcoming classes.  They offer all types of great classes.

18 comments:

wendy said...

Oh I want to go to Chicago! I love your pictures and the Bean looks really interesting! Your husband is a real trooper, my husband doesn't like heights either. It looks like everyone enjoyed themselves in the Windy City!

Marie Costa said...

It feels like magic when I visit your blog. Your photography and eye for framing the pictures is outstanding.

Thank you very much for sharing so many gorgeous pictures and projects!

Shirley said...

Oh the bean is amazing, great pictures.

Miriam said...

Ha, I would have been sitting on the floor with your husband! I don't do heights either!!! Lol
Thank you for making me feel better about all my UFOs waiting for their time to be finished!
That "bean" is amazing!
Good luck to Jack for the search for the right college for his future studies.

Momma Bear said...

glad you had a good time in my old city! it is a beautiful place to visit but I don't know if I would ever want to live there again.....
like any city it has it's good and it's bad points, right now there are too many bad memories and to many good things here in washington state. that may change in the future who knows?
you want a real "Chicago experience"?
next time you go take a day and ride the el you can get on every line from down town and transfer from train to train without paying more than your original fare. from the there you can see almost every neighborhood the city has to offer from the best to the worst, over and through alleys and backyards. there is a map on every platform and every train (almost) the blue green and red lines are the oldest with purple and skokie swift(can't remember the color for that one!) orange is the newest going to midway airport through china town. it's an interesting view of the city and not may "Outsiders" take advantage of it. though i suggest going with someone, it can be a bit scary/intimidating/confusing when you aren't familiar with the eccentricities of some of it's more colorful passengers !) and all roads lead eventually back downtown.

Createology said...

Having never been to Chicago and hearing of all the shooting deaths it is hard to imagine how beautiful your photos are of the cityscape. This is such a great view and insight you have shown. Betty's stitchery kit will be stunning now that you can relate to the actual beauty of the grays and reflections of the skyline. College searching is daunting but at least it offers new adventures and explorations. Spring Sunshine Smiles...

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I love it that you loved the diverse architecture. I love downtown. So much to see every time you go. Terry is scared of heights too. I would never get him to go to the top of the Handcock...heck...he hates Chitown. For all the plays I have seen there, and the many times I have gone to Chinatown and the Loop..he has never gone there with me. We've been on the freeways passing through and going to the burbs but no downtown adventures together. Laurie and the kids are my kindred spirits.

And you didn't check out Notre Dame? That's REALLY my neck of the woods!
xx, Carol

Laurie said...

What lovely photos! I'll be doing that with my son next year, too!

Sweetpea said...

INCUBATION.

oh thank you, Susan, for reminding me of this extremely important word ... for me, and this interval in my life.

Must be so bittersweet to be going through this time with your Jack ....

love & best wishes to you, to you all.

margaret said...

what a beautiful city, so many have the most hideous buildings but the designs here look wonderful, lovely photos too you really captured the feel of the city

FLOWER FRIEND said...

A great insight Susan into a city I knew nothing about.As for unfinished projects of which I have many,its amazing how many memories flood back when you look at them again isn't it?

Rachel said...

You are so right about unfinished projects surfacing when you're ready for them. Anothr reason not to be too apologetic for my butterfly mind!

Judy S. said...

Loved your comment about unfinished projects as I just found one from 1971! What no photos from Madison? Looks like the snow is finally melted in Chicago and trust that it was warmer than it was in mid-March. Our DD#1 has lived in the area since 1993 and loves it. And of all the times we've been there, can you believed we've never once seen the BEAN?

Moonsilk Stitches said...

Great portrait of my city. I wish I knew you were coming--I work at U of Chicago (Law School) and would have loved to show you around. Most students here stay on or near campus, especially for the first few years, and Hyde Park is very different in atmosphere and scale than downtown Chicago. (I don't think better or worse, just different--Chicago is a city of unique neighborhoods.) I love Chicago (but live in the suburbs--it's a bit too intense for me in the city proper).

Catherine said...

Fantastic photos!

Marsha said...

So glad you liked Chicago. It is the only city I truly like. I feel very comfortable there and it is easy to get around.

Lycoris said...

I have been to Chicago a million times. I still find the best way to see it is though a new visitors eyes. Thank you ,

a2susan said...

I wish I had known you were coming to the deuce, I would have loved to meet you and family and given you a tour. My husband I went to grad school at the Univ. of Michigan and are among the many who have gravitated back here to live - it'll be 23 years soon. Plus Dennis is a professor here, so if Jack is interested in aerospace engineering, please get in touch for more info.

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