Archive for the ‘Arts Exhibits’ Category

A Day in Chicago

 

Third in series on bucket-list towns where there is so much to see that that it is easy to miss some really good places. The series, begun with A Day in LA and continued with A Day in DC, highlights two attractions and includes a foodie stop plus an alternative attraction.

 

Combine art and architecture

Your start and end spots are Michigan Avenue from Monroe to Randolph Streets.

Modern Wing of Art Institute of Chicago Monroe Street entrance. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Modern Wing of Art Institute of Chicago Monroe Street entrance. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Of course you know that the Art Institute of Chicago has the finest French Impressionist collection outside of Paris.

But you might not know that as of December 2016 with the addition of the ‘New Contemporay’ it also has on exhibit an outstanding collection of contemporary art by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, Robert Raushenberg and Takahi Murakami and other influential artists plus important photographs by Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince.

Comparable to that at the new Broad Museum in LA, the “New Contemporary” collection is on a long-term loan from philanthropists Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson. See it in the Art Institute’s Modern Wing.

However, the museum doesn’t open until 10:30 a.m. You don’t need to enter with the mass waiting for it to open. So think petit déjeuner at Toni Patisserie at 65 E. Washington Street, a couple of blocks north of the museum.

 

‘The People’s Palace’

You are now perfectly placed to go across the street to “The People’s Palace” as the Chicago Cultural Center was sometimes called. Its south door at 78 E. Washington Street, is across from the Patisserie and is a perfect place to start the day after your croissant and latte.

Pull out the smart phone. The outside of the building is somewhat ponderous but inside is one amazing sight after another starting with the awesome mosaics that line the entryway’s Carrara marble staircase and walls.

Designed by the renowned architecture firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, Boston in a Beaux Arts style in 1897 it reflected the taste of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The building housed the Chicago Public Library so look for literary and historical faces and saying in the mosaics.

Mosaics line stairway and walls in Chicago Culture Center known as the 'People's Palace' Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Mosaics line stairway and walls in Chicago Culture Center known as the ‘People’s Palace’
Photo by Jodie Jacobs

If you entered from Washington Street you might notice Roman style arches.If you walk through to the Randolph Street entrance you will see Greek influence and Doric columns.

On the National Register of Historic Places, its upstairs is filled with beautiful spaces. Look up when you reach the third floor on the Washington Street side. You are in the gorgeous Preston Bradley Hall capped by reportedly the world’s largest Tiffany Favrile glass dome. Surrounded by fish scales, the dome’s center has the signs of the zodiac.

Walk around the room to your left (west side) to get to the impressive Grand Army of the Republic Rotunda and its stained-glass dome. Go into the decorative GAR Memorial Hall.

Chicagoans come to the building for literary readings, dance and music programs, lectures, expos and concerts and to admire GAR rooms and Preston Bradley Hall.

They also come to see the ever changing art exhibits. So, take time to stroll to see what’s being shown around the building. Featured art shows are typically on the fourth floor and sometimes in the Chicago Room on Level Two. The main floor has exhibition space running along both the east and west sides of the building.

 

The ‘Modern Wing’

When ready to check out the Art Institute’s Modern Wing cross Michigan Avenue and walk south to the museum’s Monroe Street entrance. Designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano, the wing opened in 2009 to mainly house modern European painting and sculpture and contemporary art collections. Tip: don’t try to do all of the Art Institute in one trip. The museum has nearly one million square feet.

At the Monroe Street Modern Wing entrance, you walk into the two-story, sky-lit Griffin Court.

The elevator up to Levels Two and Three take you to the museum’s 20th and 21st century collections. To see what’s on exhibit regarding architecture, go up to the café overlooking the Court. The room off the back is devoted to architecture.

 

Lunch break

When ready for sustenance, take an elevator from the short corridor on the west side off Griffin Court up to Terzo Piano, an upscale Italian restaurant guided by famed Chef Tony Mantuano. Reservations are highly recommended because lunch, from 11 to 3 p.m. fills fast (312-443-8650).

'Cloud Gate' better known as 'The Bean' in Millennium Park. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

‘Cloud Gate’ better known as ‘The Bean’ in Millennium Park. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Even if you don’t snag a reservation go out onto the Bluhm Family Terrace outside the restaurant for a spectacular photo op. You can capture Chicago’s skyline, Millennium Park and Lake Michigan in your lens. Plus there usually are some sculptures on the Terrace.

From there take Piano’s unusual Nichols Bridgeway pedestrian walk over Monroe Street down to Millennium Park. About halfway down turn around and take a photo of the Modern Wing.

If you’re still looking for a lunch spot see if a table is available in Millennium Park’s Park Grill. It is street level (behind the ice rink in winter) at 11 N. Michigan Ave.

You’ll want to end near there anyway because “The Bean,” Anish Kapoor’s stainless steel “Cloud Gate,” is directly above the Park Grill. You have to take a selfie at The Bean and a photo of Chicago’s reflected skyline on it. Everyone does.

 

A Day in LA

 

Sometimes you go to a city to visit relatives or friends. Other times you are passing through on the way to a vacation spot. Then there are those times the city is your vacation destination but there are so many things to do you’re not sure how much to fit into one day.

To help you start out the year on a you-can-do-it note, here is a Day In series for towns that ought to be on your  bucket list or when visiting friends and family. Don’t be surprised if the people you visit say they’ve been meaning to go there. People who live in an area often don’t  play tourist in their own city.

The recently redone Petersen Automotive Museum. A subway system is currently being extended just outside and below the museum.

The recently redone Petersen Automotive Museum. A subway system is currently being extended just outside and below the museum.

The Day In series spotlights two main places and a restaurant, however, one or two alternatives are also included. Tip: no matter what the reason for the trip or what you do – plan some down time.

 

First in the series: A Day in LA

A red building wrapped with a chrome-like grill, rises from one corner.  Across the road, another modern art structure seems to beckon you to go over there and see what’s inside. You’re at Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles,

Park the car within the red building’s garage and you are ready to go exploring.  You don’t have to try this building first. Both corner buildings are filled with treasures.

Inside the eye-catching striped structure is the newly remodeled  Petersen Automotive Museum. You don’t have to be a car buff to fall in love with the beautifully designed Bugatti, silver “gullwing” Corvette, Steve McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS or the Batmobile, all currently on exhibit.

Start on the third floor and then head down. You might come across a car your parents or grandparents drove such as  a red 1956 Bel Air Chevrolet convertible or a black 1922 Chevrolet 490 series coupe that the great grandparents might have driven.

The Petersen Automotive Museum is at 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

 

Chris Burden's 'UrbanLight'

Chris Burden’s ‘Urban Light’

Across the road is what everyone in LA knows as LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with its 21st century remodeled look and added buildings.

The very contemporary, multi-winged-topped structure on the campus’ western corner includes Renzo Piano’s Workshop-designed Broad (pronounced Brode) Contemporary Art Museum.

Often referred to as BCAM, it opened February 2008. It is adjacent to the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion added in 2010.

But first, pull out the smart phone to take photos of your group wandering through artist Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” outside LACMA. It’s a fun collection of old-looking street lights. Then, stop at the LACMA Will Call window for tickets to  “Picasso and Rivera: Conversations across time.”

Tip: Many LA area attractions including this exhibit need tickets so instead of waiting in long lines, purchase or reserve them on line to be picked up at the venue’s Will Call.

The ‘Picasso and Rivera’ show reveals how much the two famed artists were alike as they changed styles ranging from classical to abstract. Opened December 2016, the exhibit is in the BCAM section of LACMA through May 7, 2017.

Anyone who missed  the “Moholy-Nagy Future Present” show at the Art Institute of Chicago fall of 2016, can catch it at LACMA Feb. 12 through June 18. It’s a fabulous exhibit of  László Moholy-Nagy’s photographs, paintings, graphics and commercial designs.

Moholy, as he usually was called, was an influential Bauhaus teacher, founder of the Chicago Institute of Design and a pioneer of combining art with technology.

LACMA also has fine Asian, Latin American and Islamic collections. So you might want to divide up the time to do more than see a featured exhibit.  The museum is at 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90036.

 

Now about food. It would be a shame to be in the area and not take advantage of lunch at Canter’s Bakery and Deli about a mile east of the two museums on Fairfax Avenue. Since opening in 1931, the famed deli has been the background for the ‘Mad Men’ series and has fed such celebrities as Barack Obama, Wayne Gretzky, Mick Jagger and Larry King. Canter’s is at 419 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036.

 

Canter's Deli has been serving up some of the best Jewish food in the LA area since 1931

Canter’s Deli has been serving up some of the best Jewish food in the LA area since 1931

An alternative suggestion: The Broad Museum that opened to well deserved hype September, 2015 is worth a stop when in LA.

You will want to snap photos of the building, inside and out, see its exceptional collection of contemporary art and check out Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room.”

Museum admission is free but reservations are essential. If going there, get in line once inside for a timed ticket to the Infinity Room. The Broad is at 221 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

 

As to getting to these places, just be patient. Almost anywhere else you would likely time your forays to miss the rush hour. However, it always seems to be rush hour when driving the LA freeways. Since you are likely visiting or traveling with a companion take the car-pool lane.

Tips: Attractions are less crowded when they first open in the morning. Whatever attractions you choose, base your day on location. The places suggested here are near downtown LA.

Photography by Jodie Jacobs

 

Where to see or make a scarecrow

No question that pumpkin faces are fun to draw or carve but pumpkins abound wherever you turn around. However, do you know where you can see or make a scarecrow? Check out these suggestions.

Scarecrows are fun to make and take home. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Scarecrows are fun to make and take home. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Chalet Garden Center Scarecrow Festival

The Chalet, a garden center across from Edens Plaza in north suburban Wilmette does a terrific job of helping folks celebrate fall and the winter holidays. Its shop is filled, literally to the rafters with witches at Halloween and you bump into large snowmen and Santas after Thanksgiving. But to add to the fall fun, it hosts a Scarecrow Festival the first weekend of October. This year, the festival is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 1 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 2. The Chalet has heads and straw for you to use. Just bring some old clothes and you have a scarecrow to take home. The event is free. The Chalet Garden Center is at 3132 Lake Ave. at Skokie Road, Wilmette, IL 60091. For other information call (847) 256-0561 and visit Chalet.

St. Charles Scarecrow Festival

Scary and funny scarecrows take up residence downtown west suburban St. Charles the second weekend of October. This is the big one, the area’s largest scarecrow festival with more than 100 of those gangly, weird, straw people. The festival activities are all over downtown so there are zones. The scarecrow contest is in the Arcadia Theatre zone on Main Street between 4th and 5th. Walk among them and vote for you favorite. But don’t forget to check out those that are at the businesses in the Jewel Osco Zone on 3rd Street between State and Cedar Streets.. Both zones are on the west side of the Fox River. To make your own scarecrow, cross the bridge to the Baltria Vintage Auto Zone on the east side of the river, north of Main Street. There’s no charge. Tickets at the festival are for rides and food. Hours are Oct.7-8 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For other information call the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 777-4373 and visit Scarecrowfest.

Tom’s Fall Festival

Drive out to the countryside of Huntley, a small town northwest of Chicago between Oct. 1st and Oct. 31 to see yard full of pumpkin families, a market where the aroma is apple and pumpkin pie and the garden center has what you need to make and take a scarecrow. You don’t have to bring any materials but the scarecrow workshop costs $20. There are lots of children’s activities from mazes to explore, animals to pet and bouncy constructions. The activities are pumpkin families activities are $7 children and $5 adults, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and $10 adults and children Saturday, Sunday and Columbus Day. Saturday and Columbus Day hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Sunday is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tom’s is at 10214 Algonquin Road, Huntley, IL 60142. For other information call (847) 669-3421 and visit Toms.

Art and architecture make The Broad museum memorable

The Broad experience begins in an unusual lobby

The Broad experience begins in an unusual lobby

What do you try to visit when you travel?

Certainly scenic views are high on my list as well as most travelers’. But next to nature’s wonders I seek out art museums. So luckily our California daughter picked up tickets for The Broad, a new museum downtown LA where visitors may wait in line for hours for a ticket if not reserved in advance.

And yes, it is worth the wait if need be. But if going to LA, reserve tickets ahead of time. Admission is free but the museum just opened in September 2015 so is still on everyone’s to-do list.

BTW, the building and art collection is a gift of Eli and Edythe Broad (pronounced Brode with a long o) to the public, thus the free admission. However, special exhibits and programs will have fees. Check programs.

Much of the free museum collection is on the first and second floor. The third floor will have special installations.

So why all the excitement? First, the building, itself, is an architectural attraction. Described as a “veil and vault” construction, it was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Gensler for about $140 million. Indeed, as visitors descend from the second floor they can peer through a window into the vault that holds more art works. The veil is the building’s honeycombed-style roof and sides.

Another $200 million has been put in trust by the Broads to cover maintenance, operating expenses and acquisitions. The “docents” there will tell you they really are paid staff with art backgrounds and not volunteers.

Peek through a window to see the vault

Peek through a window to see the vault

Secondly, the collection is an art history lesson of some of the best examples of works from the 1950s to now. Not all pieces in the 2,000 work collection are up at one time. To see some of the collection and its artists on line click here.

Among them are works by Henry Moore, Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Cy Twombly. Chicagoans who have recently seen the “New Contemporary” exhibit recently donated to the Art Institute of Chicago will recognize editions of some of the same and similar pieces.

If you go, stop in a darkened room to see “The Visitors,” a video installation by Ragnar Kjartansson that shows eight musicians in different places and on different screens but all playing the same music.

The other must-do stop is “Infinity.” To go in to it you have to sign in at a registration screen in the lobby because only one person is allowed entry at a time so entrance is a time slot.

A Roy Lichtenstein sculpture is set off by the honeycomb's reflected light

A Roy Lichtenstein sculpture is set off by the honeycomb's reflected light

The Broad is a don’t miss experience no matter what style or period of art peaks your interest. For more information visit The Broad.

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