Friday, January 12, 2018

to Chicago

For many years now, the first half of January has included travel for me. It's a good time to take a break and recharge winter dulled batteries. But this year, I'm curbing my winter travel enthusiasm. I'm going small. Close by. I'm going to Chicago.

There is a triple pleasure in going there now (today!): the city has an art exhibit at the Art Institute that I really want to see. Too, my younger daughter lives in Chicago, so this provides a visit opportunity. And thirdly, it'll allow me to go out to dinner.

You'll think this last point is funny. We all eat out constantly, no? Well no, not me. Not dinners. Not on this side of the ocean. In fact, the last time I remember eating a dinner out would have been maybe in July. It's not that Ed hasn't offered a "night on the town," -- say eating mussels and fries at a bar counter (his favorite). It's me: when I am home, I like eating dinners at home. Snowdrop has this favorite book that she has me read over and over again where a family goes out to a restaurant to give the cooking mom a break and of course, the effort, the wait -- all of it, make for a more complicated evening than a dinner at home. My feelings exactly. And of course, I love to cook. When I really do need a break from it all, there's always takeout Thai.

Still, I love restaurants and I love art and I love my daughter (not in that order!) and going to Chicago creates for me an opportunity for all three.

Right after a quick and early breakfast...


... I catch the bus to Chicago. It's a cold day (freezing temperatures, scattered snow, fierce gale warnings) and so I table any idea of a long stroll through the downtown area.  I take the "L" train...


... and make my way to the Loop...


(Fierce gusts, bursts of snow -- what else could Chicago possibly deliver??)


I head straight for the Art Institute.

This is the exhibit that I want to see --  Soviet Art, noting (if not commemorating) the 100th year anniversary of the Russian Revolution.


I've heard about it first hand (older daughter had seen it, son-in-law's sister helped curate it) and I read about it in many places  -- both praising the effort and grumbling about the fact that it isn't political enough, as if the very conceptualization of art as being a Soviet endeavor isn't enough to have you recognize the nature of the enterprise!


Poland under communist regime is often lumped by westerners as being right there (in terms of propaganda, suppression and expression, etc) with the Soviet Union (and East Germany and Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria etc etc). This is of course nonsense. And yet I'll say this: Poles from my generation do know the images now referred to as Soviet art. Nothing about the exhibit is shocking or even surprising to me. Indeed, it becomes rather nostalgic as I study the stuff that in one way or another had been presented to me before. Not in a museum, but in school books, newspapers, and, well, real life.


I canvass the exhibit twice. I don't want to have missed any of it.

Here's one last photo -- of two  women, agrarian women, taking pride in their work. (At least, that is what I think the photo is meant to convey.)


 Yes, a lot is left unsaid here, I know that. I don't want to suggest answers. I'll just take you to the room next door to the Soviet Art exhibition. In rooms dedicated to American art, you'll find pieces from the same period -- early twentieth century. For example, this icon painting, straight from Iowa  -- he, with the pitchfork, she, bringing the foods to the table....


And let's jump to New York now, to the Hopper masterpiece, depicting the American diner. in New York ... a scene not of fulfillment, but of ... what? Disappointment?


Then there is the less known painting, by John Sloan -- depicting working class women,  in this instance, out for a night at an Italian restaurant in New York. It's a joyous scene of women celebrating their newly gained freedom to be out and about on their own, without male permission or presence.


Art offers so much room for commentary! But I'll leave you to you own musings and interpretations. It's time for me to meet up with my daughter and her husband!

I make my way to their home...


... where I am treated so well (a toast! bubbly wine for two, bubbly water for one) and so I linger, linger... until it is time for dinner. The three of us eat at Daisies. It's a current favorite and of course, this is the best part: I can join her world, their world for this one wintry evening.

It's oh so late. Time to head back. I had decided for this trip to spend the night at a hotel. Many reasons for it -- one being that the young couple has a full schedule this weekend and me, I'm thinking leisurely thoughts, at least as far as this day and tomorrow morning are concerned. Rates at their neighborhood place are exceptionally low now and so after dinner, we head straight for the Robey.

(Here's the room: so basic, so well  maintained, so perfect for me...)


We pause for a quick post dinner night cap at the top floor lounge and then call it a day. Oh, but what a day it was!