Teachers Write July 16th Assignment
We got off the Metra at the Ogilvie Station. The tracks have always terrified me so we hurried down the stairs to the station. We were surprised to find an organized, shiny floored lobby with bistro tables with umbrellas labeled 'The French Market'. We were happy to check that out. There was an abundance of fresh fruit in crates when you entered and then a roomful of counters with every kind of food imaginable. What a great introduction to the big city.
Then we headed out to the skyscraper canyons. It was a sweltering hot day but the buildings mostly protected us from the hot sun. The streets were strangely empty due to the construction going on further down the road. The sidewalks however, were filled with tourists and their backpacks so we fit right in. We had decided to skip the bus ride and walk from the Metra station to the Chicago Institute of Art. I was pleased to see the efforts businesses made to give the city some greenery. There was a raised bed in front of a bank that actually had a small green lawn with automatic sprinklers embedded. Many businesses had large containers brimming over with colorful exotic plants. After we walked a few blocks we crossed an antiquated black iron bridge that went over the Chicago River. There was a large yacht going under the bridge with a swimming suit and life vest clad family heading in from a morning of adventure on Lake Michigan. We gazed up at the beautiful architecture of the older buildings: so much beautiful detail in the design. At times we had to scoot under scaffolding and almost walk in the street from improvements being added on to buildings. The locals stood out from the tourists by how fast they moved, scooting and skirting around us as we lumbered our way down the crowded sidewalk. In a few places men sat on the sidewalk with a cup to collect money for their sustenance. One creative fellow was sitting against a telephone pole singing in a beautiful bass voice at the top of his lungs. I admired his voice but didn't give him monetary assistance although it was tempting to show I appreciated his talent! When we approached the art museum, we were surprised to see a line of about 100 people snaking out of the doors and down the street. We were not the only people to think of visiting on this hot summer day. This proved to be a test of will as the sun beat down on us unmercifully. Thankfully we were entertained by a street vendor who threatened to tell his jokes if no one purchased his magazine. Since no one did, we heard his joke several times in varied renditions. I should have given him a donation just to take my mind off the perspiration trickling down my back!
The stone lions outside the art institute stand guard in front of the handsome building. Last week someone rigged them up to roar scaring the daylights out of the tourists. Since I was aware of this, of course they didn't roar for us.
The museum itself is a maze of galleries with seemingly no rhyme or reason to it. It wasn't just us that became confused, other patrons also expressed dismay about getting lost looking for the cafe. We started off looking at a collection of miniatures, small dollhouse like displays collected by a wealthy woman to show architecture in all stages of history: Asian, American, European, Greek, and others. I tended to like the Japanese for its peacefulness and the English Manor house with its medieval look. Next we stumbled upon the Asian artifacts, seeming more like a museum collection rather than an art collection. We saw beautiful porcelain pillows that women used to preserve their elaborated hairstyles while they slept. The museum has fascinating details next to each display, but one starts to go blind after trying to read each one. I set off an alarm pointing out an ancient hinge on a stone carved Japanese couch. This was only the first of many blunders I made that day.
The highlight of the day was the beautiful display of impressionistic art by Monet, Renoir, Pisarro, Gaugin, and Seurat. There was a Frenchwoman giving a lecture to a group of French tourists in front of the "Sunday in the Park with George" pointilism painting. I stared at them to see if it is true that they are more fashionable than us but I wouldn't have even have known they weren't Americans if they hadn't been speaking French. They were thinner than us, but just as wrinkled...One young woman had a scarf twisted around her neck even though it was a beastly warm day.