Thursday was a nice day: temperature above freezing with hints of sunshine. Romy, Eli and I went downtown, where I introduced them to the Cultural Center, easily one of my favorite places in Chicago. You can see lots of photos of the building here. This was, originally, the main building of the Chicago Public Library, and I spent many happy hours there as a young girl. It’s sitting on a prime piece of real estate, and for a while, there were plans to tear it down and sell the land for mega- mega-bucks. Wiser heads prevailed, fortunately, and the building now enjoys a second life as one of Chicago’s primary tourist attractions.
One of the stated reasons for tearing it down was that it no longer fulfilled it’s function as a library. They put the books in storage where they were largely unavailable, and some years later built the Harold Washington Central Library. Here’s a page with statistics about the building. Note that they don’t tell you how many books are shelved, or how much use is made of them. They also don’t mention that the most prominent feature of the building is the escalators taking up huge amounts of space in the center. I suppose I shouldn’t write all of this; I haven’t been over there since I moved from Chicago 10 years ago. Maybe they have filled the place with books by now.
That turned into a rant, didn’t it. I seldom know where I’m going when I start one of these posts.
We met Betty at the Center, spent a little more time there, then lunch and a walk through Millennium Park. The city has put up a winter event: Museum of Modern Ice. I found the snow on the Anish Kapoor sculpture more interesting. I’ll have pictures next week.
We spent most of the afternoon at the Art Institute. Eli and Romy left us to do some shopping and return to campus; Betty and I sat over coffee for most of an hour; then she left and I returned to the Art Institute to spend serious time in the Asian Art Galleries. They have a wonderful collection of Japanese woodblock prints. Each time I come there is something different to see, and I always enjoy them. As I walked through the galleries with Buddhist sculptures I realized, for the first time, that while they give lots of information about each individual piece, how it was made and what it represents, there is no information about where the piece came from and why it was made. This is the kind of thing I’ve been studying, the context of the work, and I was uncomfortable. In the past, when I looked at these pieces, I thought about them only in terms of what they are as free-standing objects; now I want all of the context. Amazing what a little learning does for you.
I walked back through Millennium Park to see the ice sculpture with lights on it. Sometimes they make things more interesting. Then dinner and back to my cell; a nice day.