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Chicago (Day 6): Riches

30 December 2013 1 comment

Sunday, 1 December. Index.

The first stop for the day was Covenant Presbyterian Church. This was the first Sunday of advent. I didn’t get any of my own pictures of the interior of the church, which is a pity, since I remember it being quite nice, but here’s another I found online:

http://www.chicagoweddingceremonysites.com/main/by-religion/christian/presbyterian/covenant-presbyterian-church/

The choir stood in the balcony, which was above and behind the pews (and where I guess the above photo was shot from). It was a small choir, about one to two per vocal part – I thought they were very good, and the people in the pews kept looking back to see them. In the present time, my state in faith is rather wretched, and all I shall note at present is that it was less so when worshipping those few weeks ago.

Following the service, my next task was to procure some of this year’s Bourbon County Brand Stout – something I’d failed to do in the previous two days, with this being the last day it was on sale. The objective was to get into the queue early enough to buy. I had already been feeling slightly pressed for time when I left the service – actually it was something I had to consciously suppress going into the service, with less than total success – and so when I found my bus at a standstill for no immediately apparent reason, I was becoming quite exasperated. I decided to get off and walk.

As I approached the main road, the sound of revving engines (which I hadn’t noticed at first) became more apparent. When I reached the road, I found that all traffic was at a halt, with no pedestrians even allowed to cross the main avenue, because of a motorcycle procession going along the road. I have no idea what it was for, but here’s a picture of them riding out into the horizon:

motorcycle_procession

I got the shot from the train platform at a nearby CTA station. Fortunately for me, the station entrance wasn’t too far from where I emerged onto the main avenue. I’m not sure how long the procession went on, but my bus had been at a stop for nearly 10 minutes, I’d walked for about that long, and when I got on to the train it didn’t seem like the procession was slowing down at all.

In any case, some time later, I found myself in the queue for BCBS, thankfully not too far in the back. It was quite a close thing, but I managed to get a four-pack of the regular version of BCBS. I’d really wanted the coffee stout, but the procurement of special versions seems to require special dedication.

I returned with my prize to the apartment on Bosworth Ave, where I made lunch, after which it was time to sally forth again. My intention was to visit the Art Institute of Chicago before meeting a friend for dinner.

My experience of art appreciation and knowledge of art history are shallow at best, and I suppose that awareness is something that the Art Institute immediately inspires that the Museum of Contemporary Art doesn’t. Nevertheless, I took what time I could to sink into it – and what a luxuriantly pleasurable experience that turned out to be. I’ve got more photos up elsewhere of some of the paintings I liked, but one of the areas which was no-photography was the Judith exhibition, which you can read about here:

judith

The central work of the exhibition was Artemisia Gentileschi’s ‘Judith Slaying Holofernes’. It’s a pretty shocking image (due warning; here’s the link to the image from Wikipedia).

In addition to the paintings, the Art Institute had a few other collections which I found pretty interesting. I found the Thorne Miniature Room collection particularly fascinating.

Thorne_miniature_room

Each miniature room is a painstakingly detailed re-creation of rooms in the typical styles of a certain place and period, with the details accurate to even the frescoes on the ceilings (which are difficult even to notice, unless you look into the display boxes from a low angle).

Prior to my visit to the Art Institute, I’d felt a little bit uncertain about my ability to take it all in, having already been to a museum the day before. When I left, while I did have the vague apprehension of having feasted overmuch, I guess the thing to remember is that it was a treat.

It was dark by the time I left the museum, and when I got word that my friend might need an hour more to get to the dinner place, I quite happily took the opportunity to drift towards Millennium Park instead.

millennium_park_1

Millennium Park is home to the famous Bean, but there was much else to be seen, from the blocky light installations to the ice-skaters.

millenium_park_2

millenium_park_3

Finally, it was time for dinner at an Indonesian restaurant called Rickshaw Republic (I had my batik shirt on specially). The food was good, and a welcome taste of home. Also the place was BYOB, so I could share the prize I’d collected earlier in the day with my dining partner, Geneve.

rickshaw_republic

The smell of the beer really did infuse the room (to the extent that the cooking allowed), and it went surprisingly well with the dessert (we got pulut hitam and chendol). The conversation was also great, and has provided the material for more thought and conversation since then.

This has been a long post, about a full and richly satisfying day.

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Chicago (Day 5): Lightness

24 December 2013 1 comment

Saturday, 30 November. Index.

I started the day at a diner on Logan Square with a big platter of chorizo and eggs, toast, and coffee for breakfast. Breakfast was served over the diner counter, where I could comfortably watch the other diners and the staff working. The shop itself was pretty interesting: there was a sepia photo of the staff from what looks like more than ten years ago. Of the four men in the photo, two were in the shop.

At Johnny's Grill

The next stop was the Intelligentsia shop nearby, where I purchased new beans, which would be my light cargo for the day. caffeinated, and feeling more optimistic than I had been the day before (before shopping).

On the day before, I’d formed the intention to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art because I felt like I wanted something to lift the mood, so I took the CTA in that general direction and took a bus in the area. The route of the bus that I eventually ended up taking included a loop around Navy Pier, and I decided I’d stop there for a bit before catching the next one. It was actually really nice out.

Navy Pier

After that brief intermission it was on to the museum.

The night before, I had had to explain the reasoning behind the Contemporary Art thing to some of the guys in the apartment. One of them said that he found contemporary art quite stress-inducing, mentioning something to do with the high abstraction and seriousness, but the way I saw the seriousness was quite different, in that I felt like the best way to deal with the ideas was without too much seriousness. I don’t think that contemporary art is necessarily trivial, and I don’t think the art fails to be thematically serious, but at the same time I find that seriousness, when made a principle, can get in the way of the art.

WP_20131130_044

I actually found myself enjoying the museum a lot more than even I’d hoped, helped by the general inclination towards levity, which made the strange stuff all the more fun, and which nevertheless admitted the serious stuff in their moments. I think ‘mordant’ is a word that applies to the mode of a lot of the criticism I was inclined to pick up, and if nothing else I think that having had a lighter starting presumption made the experience better; in any case, I was in pretty high spirits when I left the museum.

Categories: Events Tags: , , ,