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.