Saturday, May 1, 2010

Just because this is never going to work is no reason to be negative - Giles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spring has sprung! Probably a while ago, but I just really noticed today. We took a walk up Michigan and the flowers were beautiful! Check them out.

Okay, I'm going to preface this entire entry by pointing out that I am not, in any way, an expert on art. I took an AP Art History class my senior year in high school, which I never really processed, remembered long enough to do well on the exam, and promptly forgot. But I like. Who doesn't like beautiful things? Take my opinions for what they are worth...

365 Days to go: 365 Things to do: day in Chicago = 1 new Chicago experience

1. Visit the City Gallery in the Water Tower
2. Truffles at Godiva
3. Skokie Sculpture Garden
4. Lunch at Ed Debevic's
5. Explore the Art Galleries in River North
6. Tea at Brett's Kitchen

First stop - The City Gallery, which is located in the Historic Water Tower. It's a quick stop - not a ton of space but they rotate local artists. Right now it's a photography exhibit. And the building is cool - it's one of the few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 - so it' worth the 10-15 minutes.

After the Historic Water Tower, we went across the street to the fourth floor of the modern metal (steel?) Water Tower Place and bought some truffles at Godiva. This is not a first for me. The truffles are amazing and I go every time someone from out of town visits. The Champagne truffle is my favorite.

Then we headed to the Skokie Sculpture Garden - about 30 minutes north of the city (unless you hit traffic which of course we did). It's a narrow strip of park between McCormick and some river or tributary, not sure which. It's about two miles long - although if you continue south there's additional sculptures, it's just not technically Skokie any more. So, be ready to walk. We didn't make it the entire stretch - but here are some of my favorite pieces.

Fairy Circle by Mark Chatterley

Charger I and II by Ted Gall, Gargoyle by John Parker, Plowing and Planting in Bosnia by Jim Buonaccorsi

Isolation by Sharon Loper, Katia by Curt Brill

Reverie by Sheila Oettinger

Second Breath by Maurice Blik

La Souterraine by Robert Smart (and my grandma - isn't she cute?)

After the the Sculpture Garden we headed back downtown and grabbed lunch at Ed Debevic's - this is one of those 50s style diners where the waitstaff all pretend to be cranky and mean. In general, I think it's a place everyone should check out - the atmosphere is kitschy and fun and the food is pretty good. Especially the malts. Def get a malt. I ordered a chocolate malt (yum) and a Route 66 Burger. Oh, and everyone gets a free paper hat. :) While we were there the waitstaff jumped on the counter and danced to YMCA - although they did it in character and rolled their eyes the entire time. I still appreciated. And am usually a fan of kitsch.

River North has the largest concentration of art galleries in the U.S. other than Manhattan. And I have yet, well HAD yet, to check them out. So today. Done.

We actually only did one block - 200 block of W Huron - and there was still so much to see! First stop was Maya Polsky Gallery, 215 W Huron,, current featured artist: Andy Paczos. Nice images, mainly of Chicago - he takes depressing urban scenes and makes them beautiful.

Immediately next door is Jean Albano Gallery, 215 W Huron,, current featured artist Karl Wirsom

I have to be honest, he wasn't really my particular taste and I enjoyed the artists in the back room more. There were a couple mixed media sculptures by Margaret Wharton I loved - The Facet and Tomboy. Tomboy was made completely out of baseballs and bats. Hysterical. And the sculptures made from vintage comic books by Donna Rosenthal were totally fun. She has a whole series called He Said, She Said of dresses and suits (yes made out of comic books).

Across the street is Vale Craft Gallery, 230 W Huron,

This was, by far, my favorite gallery we visited. The entrance is actually on Franklin and then you head downstairs to the gallery. They have more than a dozen different artists, using mixed media, ceramics, glass, stone, fabric, even jewelry. And they run the range in price as well, some totally affordable even as low as $30-$60. Some of my favorites:

Mark Brown - right at the entrance they've displayed his clocks made from recycled materials. A robot clock. And a bat. Hanging upside down. Awesome.

Karen Swildens - carved clay. GORGEOUS. I only noticed two pieces from her, but they were really beautiful.

Richard Parrish - really, really beautiful fused glass trays.

Michelle Sales - I think she mainly worked in paper, but used it to create sculptures of dresses and shoes.

Harold Siefert - Homebody series, very whimsical and fun.

And finally Mark Inskeep - and his ceramic cookie jars with mice on top that made me smile. One example - Marilyn Mouse in the iconic white dress standing above the air vent. On a cookie jar. Brilliant.

I could keep going but I'll stop here and highly recommend a visit to this gallery for one and all.

Back around the corner and on Huron again are the Gruen Galleries, 226 W Huron, and Belloc Lowndes Fine Art

This also includes the Aboriginal Art Collection (the only gallery in Chicago with Australian art - at least that's what I heard). These also had some really striking work although they didn't post information on the artwork next to the pieces which bothered me. I like knowing. Pieces from the Aboriginal collection were sprinkled throughout the three level gallery - and they were some of my favorites. Incredibly detailed carvings. The featured artists were Anna Pales, Debbie Angell, Raymond Eddy and Tom Brydelsky - all of which I really enjoyed.

Then we took a quick break - hopping across the street to Brett's Kitchen for some tea and a snack.

Refreshed we headed to the Zygman Voss Gallery, then Ann Nathan and finally, our last stop at Perimeter. There was a portrait at the Ann Nathan Gallery by Mary Borgman that I completely fell in love with. Simple charcoal on canvass but it was mesmerizing. They also had some gorgeous chests of drawers by Jim Rose that I wanted to take home with me. Zygman Voss has some work from the masters - Picasso, Miro and Dali to name a few. Elana Gutmann, the featured artist at Perimeter, I enjoyed as well. Her water colors reminded me of spring. Like the flowers!

Oh! And another happy coincidence - this weekend is Artropolis at the Merchandise Mart. So we'll be checking that out tomorrow.

364 Days to go: 358 Things to do: 1 day in Chicago = 5 new Chicago experiences

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