Take a Palm Springs escape back in time

Frank Sinatra House, Palm Springs (Jake Holt photo)
Frank Sinatra House, Palm Springs (Jake Holt photo)

 

It’s not too late to get tickets for An Afternoon of Jazz at the Modernist Loretta Young Estate  or a architectural Bus Tour of Palm Springs neighborhoods where such stars as Dinah Shore and Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack took refuge from Hollywood or hob nob with VIPs at Palm Springs Modern Committee Annual Gala Benefit  at the Lawrence Welk Estate or see designer Christopher Kennedy’s renovation of the  Modernism Week Featured Home: La Vie en Rose  a 1958 home in posh Vista Las Palmas that backs up to the San Jacinto mountains.

You get the gist of this escape. It’s a trip back to mid last century architecture and homes of famous people who wanted to be within a director’s calling distance of LA studios or not too far from Las Vegas stages.

A mere 119 miles southeast of Los Angeles and about 230 miles from Las Vegas, Palm Springs, CA sits on the always sunny (more than 350 days) western edge of Coachella Valley in the Colorado Desert. The events just mentions are a few of the dozens of tours and activities taking place in and around Palm Springs during the town’s annual Modernism Week, Feb. 14-24, 2019.

The bonus is two, really good shows in the Palm Springs Convention Center. Feb. 15-18, 2019. One is the high-end, Art Palm Springs. The other is a dealers’ Modernism exhibit. Feb. 15-18.

The week, actually 10 days, celebrates the area’s reputation for having more mid-last century homes than anywhere else in the world. Here, old homes are not torn down but are instead, preserved for people who appreciate mid-1900s designs. Indeed, the National Trust for Historic Preservation put the area on its America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations architecture list in 2006.

Modernism Week happens twice a year, October and February. The fall event is small but the February one runs out of tickets to some of the popular tours and lectures. Check Tickets to see what is left and snap them up before you go.

 

Bus tour of Palm Springs (David A. Lee photo)
Bus tour of Palm Springs (David A. Lee photo)

 

Do a bus tour

Definitely get tickets for the Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tour. Taking  about 2.5 hours, the bus drives around Mid-Century Modern neighborhoods, and past Desert Spanish estates.

Knowledgeable guides tell stories about the stars and are likely to explain that the Palm Springs area was chosen because of what was then the studios’ “two-hour rule.” Actors had to be available within a couple of hour’s driving time for film and photo shoot calls..

It’s where tour guides have been known to say, “There is Frank Sinatra’s home, Twin Palms. When he was ready to party he hoisted a Jack Daniels flag between the palms.”

Mid-century architecture is so valued that the much photographed  gas station at the foot of the area’s Tram, is on the tour as a re-purposed Visitors Center.

Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Barack Obama have gotten away from cameras here but it is also a resort and golf area for folks who like its year-round summery weather.

 

Go to the Convention Center shows

At the Modernism Show, wander around the booths of dealers who specialize in 20th century design movements to see furniture and accessories similar to what your parents or grandparents cherished that are now back in style.

At the Art Palm Springs show check out the post war and contemporary art works.

 

Shop, Visit Galleries, Relax

There is so much to do during Modernism Week, that you should schedule in down-time. Stay awhile to explore the area, shop the boutiques and art galleries. One of the best galleries is Heather James in neighboring Palm Desert. Oh, and get in some golf and spa time. The Greater Palm SpringsVisitors Bureau has lots of ideas.

 

 

 

An unexpectedly grand trip

 

Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids reconnects the past. (Photos by Jodie Jacobs
Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids reconnects the past. (Photos by Jodie Jacobs

 

Picture a Midwestern river town that celebrates a favorite son with a presidential museum, its furniture history with a public museum, its appreciation of sculpture with an amazing garden and appreciation of art with a mega fall fair that awards half a million dollars in prizes.

Grand Rapids, Mi., a former U.S. furniture hub on the Grand River and childhood home of Gerald R. Ford is fun to visit year round. But come in the fall when the colors paint the scenery and  ArtPrize paints the town. An art fair where the public gets to votes and thus, choose where some of the prize money goes, ArtPrize attracts artists from across the globe and visitors from across North America.

 

Sometimes ArtPrize works can be seen in the Grand River and on its bridges.
Sometimes ArtPrize works can be seen in the Grand River and on its bridges.

 

Unlike fine art exhibits that are confined indoors to one museum or outside to a single city plaza or street, ArtPrize blankets Grand Rapids from banks to bistros and breweries to bridges.

Because works are displayed throughout the city visitors walk through buildings and neighborhoods they may not normally get to on a brief vacation.

For ArtPrize 2018, the numbers as of mid-August were 1,417 artists working on 1,271 entries at 166 venues. The event runs from Sept. 19 through Oct. 7.

Among the places that have been venues in past years but are destinations anyway to put on the must visit list are the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, the Public Museum across the road from it downtown on the river and the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on the eastern outskirts of town.

 

This opera house is on an old Grand Rapids street inside the PUblic Museum
This opera house is on an old Grand Rapids street inside the Public Museum.

 

At the Ford Presidential Museum learn more about Watergate and Ford’s time in Congress, in the White House and at the University of Michigan. The museum is at 303 Pearl St. NW. Gerald Ford and wife Betty are buried on the grounds.

Cross the road to the Public Museum, 272 Pearl St., NW  to browse through rooms of native American artifacts, treasured examples from when the town was the US furniture hub, stroll through some old Grand Rapids streets, sit at consoles as an astronaut and ride a 1928 Spillman Carousel.

Save time to visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

 

Sown a Sculpture Park path look for a Henry Moore.
Sown a Sculpture Park path look for a Henry Moore.

 

Amble through the Sculpture Park and inside the main building to discover more than 200 pieces by well-known artists. Around every curve in the path come across works by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Jean Arp, Richard Hunt Anish Kapoor, Claes Oldenburg, Jaume Plensa and other pieces to photograph and put on Facebook or Instagram.

There is also a terrific children’s garden that adults would love and a peaceful Japanese Garden.  The Meijer Gardens are at 1000 East Beltline Ave NE.

 

BTW Grand Rapids is a good stop on the way up to Traverse City or when doing a triangle that includes Holland and Grand Haven, MI.

 

 

 

 

The Door: A heavenly vacation spot belies its death passage name

Hike, bike or take the Door County Trolley through Peninsula State Park for great views of Green Bay. Jodie Jacobs photos
Hike, bike or take the Door County Trolley through Peninsula State Park for great views of Green Bay. Jodie Jacobs photos

The best part of vacationing in Door County, WI is the way its delightful harbors make you feel you left work and daily stress miles back at the last stoplight.

The county actually begins back a ways on a thumb shaped peninsula that separates Lake Michigan from Green Bay (the body of water, not the city). There are a smattering of stoplights at its southern end.

But once you cross a drawbridge over Sturgeon Bay, a shipping waterway cut across the peninsula to  connect Lake Michigan to Green Bay, you enter a world where a curve in the road reveals yet another scenic view and where villages have a few scattered stop signs, not stop lights.

However, to experience the dangerous waters where Lake Michigan waves bump against those from Green Bay that give the peninsula its name, you should drive north about 40 miles from Sturgeon Bay to Gills Rock and then a short distance to Northport. There you would take a ferry across to Washington Island.

Among the stories floating between the peninsula and the island is a tale of how when one native tribe lured another tribe to cross from Washington Island to the peninsula, those who attempted the crossing died in the stormy waters, thus giving the crossing the name Death’s Door.

Safe? Yes, though sometimes the trip can be rocky. But the Washington Island Ferry is so popular the best plan is to check the season’s schedule and get to its departure ramp at Northport ahead of time so there is room for your car.

While exploring look for Island Stavkirke, a recreated 12th century Norwegian church and the Jacobsen Museum of island artifacts.

OK, you’re here, meaning at the Door County room, condo, guest house or cottage or other lodging you booked ahead of time, and you are already gazing out at the quiet blue expanse of Green Bay or the ever changing colors of Lake Michigan.

Ah, but an hour later comes the stomach rumble, so next is investigate food options. Do ask your accommodation manager because Door County is loaded with good restaurants and diners so choosing one is a matter of what kind of food you’re in the mood for and how far you want to go. Continue reading “The Door: A heavenly vacation spot belies its death passage name”

Five Memorial Day Weekend ideas

Chicago Memorial Day Parade is on State Street May 27. City of Chicago photo
Chicago Memorial Day Parade is on State Street May 27. City of Chicago photo

Say Memorial Day to some folks and the response is it’s the time to commemorate people who died while in military service. To others it signifies the beginning of summer vacation.

On some town’s websites are parades, ceremonies and even a history note explaining that Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day and started shortly after the Civil War.

On others, it begins the period from the end of May through Labor Day when beaches are open, lifeguards are on duty, several outdoor fests and tourist activities take place and bus routes are added.

Five suggested Memorial Day Weekend activities in the Chicago area range from fireworks and festivals to a parade and party plus there’s a bus route bonus.

 

Parade

The City of Chicago is holding a Wreath Laying ceremony in Daley Plaza at Dearborn and Washington Streets at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 27, 2017.  It will be followed by a parade that starts at noon from nearby State and Lake Streets and travels south on State to Van Buren Street. The Grand Marshal is Marine Corps Commanding General Robert S. Walsh. The parade, among the country’s largest, includes veterans’ groups, marching bands and antique military vehicles. Visit Chicago for more info. The national Memorial Day remembrance is 3 p.m. Monday, May 29, 2017.   For an excellent government-based web-site with history and other info visit Government.

 

Parties

View the city while partying at Roof on the Wit Memorial Day Weekend. Mike Reeves photo
View the city while partying at Roof on the Wit Memorial Day Weekend. Mike Reeves photo

Chicago House Party – DJs and performers take over Millennium Park,’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion and North Chase Promenade Tent May 27, 2017, from 2 to 9 p.m. Expect a variety of “house music” a style started in Chicago that is danced to throughout the country. The grassy areas are good for picnics or dancing. For performer schedules check City of Chicago. Millennium Park is at Randolph through Monroe Parkways along Michigan Avenue.

 

ROOF on theWit, a fun space with great cocktails and views of the city is starting its JETSET s series May 26-27, 2017. The party transports  guests to Barcelona, Spain  minus the airline hassle. ROOF on theWit is 27 stories above the Wit Hotel at 201 N. State St. at Lake Street, Chicago. For reservations visit Roof. JetSet weekends start at 2pm.  For more information and reservations, visit Roof or call  (312) 239-9502.

 

 

Festivals

The Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest runs from noon to 10 p.m. May 27 and May 28, 2017. A street party that has been going on for more than 20 years, the fest attracts excellent bands, good food, beer and wine booths and also features arts and crafts. A $5 entry donation benefits the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. Entry is at 3200 N. Sheffield, Chicago. Vist Chicago Events for more information.

Dovetail owners Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink welcome visitors to their brewery.
Dovetail owners Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink welcome visitors to their brewery.

 

Celebrate “Mayfestiversary,” a block party at and around Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine Rd. Dovetail is celebrating its first anniversary with Begyle Brewing which is marking the second  anniversary of its taproom. There will be food trucks,  live music and games. B elle Plaine Avenue will be closed from Ravensood to the CTA line. Part of proceeds benefit Foundations of Music.The festival goes from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 27 and 28, 2017. For more information visit at Dovetail or call (773) 683-1414.

 

Fireworks

Navy Pier is always good for a holiday outing but the Chicago attraction restarts its summer fireworks display Saturday, May 27 at 10:15 p.m. Among the ways to celebrate the weekend is to cruise on the Spirit of Chicago or Odyssey or stop in at the Miller Lite Beer Garden to hear Hot Rocks do Rolling Stones tributes from 2 to 11:30 p.m. BTW the Rolling Stones Exhibitionism upstairs at Navy Pier is worth seeing.  Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. , Chicago, IL 800 )595-PIER (7437) For more information visit Navy Pier or call (800) 595-PIER (7437).

 

Bonus

The CTA’s No 10 Bus that goes to the Museum of Science and Industry starts again Memorial Day weekend. That means it will be easier to get there from downtown Chicago to see the terrific Robots  exhibit.

 

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 is a don’t miss experience no matter what style or period of art peaks your interest

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.

Fun holiday shopping ideas

Museum gift shops are a treasure trove of unique, artistic items.

First, toss away the idea that museums visits are just for occasional drop-ins to see current exhibits. Their gift shops are a treasure trove of unique, artistic items.

Secondly, think two-for-one when shopping at a museum store. You are getting a special item and a portion of the price goes to the museum so you are helping a not-for profit place you enjoy visiting.

Third, you can go in person to spend some fun hours browsing or shop at the museum store online.

Here are three museums with fun and fascinating gifts for the holidays.

Find artistic gifts at the Art Institute of Chicago
Find artistic gifts at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S, Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603

It’s fun to walk through the main store in the original building to see cases of jewelry, shelves of ties, stationery, cards and books and displays of pottery and art glass. But don’t forget the shop in the Modern Wing for its home decorative items. Many of the items are online so you can go to art institute shop and call 1-855-301-9612. If you go in person be sure to stop downstairs to see how some of the Thorne Rooms are decorated for the holidays.

The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605

The museum is always worth a visit to see dinosaurs, American Indian artifacts and wander inside an Egyptian pyramid tomb. But for the holidays also go to lose yourself in The Field Museum’s huge shop where you roam among large stuffed animals, exotic art items, out-of-the-ordinary jewelry and clothing and fun t-shirts. Best plan is to visit in person but when time doesn’t allow go to fieldstore.

Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637

Go to see the museum’s Grand Tree in the Rotunda and the 50 smaller trees that for years are a holiday tradition because they are decorated by Chicago’s ethnic communities. While there go through the museum’s Mirror Maze and visit the robots currently moving around a special exhibit area. However, the museum store is also a good place to find a great gift for your budding scientist or an historic photo for someone’s wall from the photography store.

Visit the Antiques Roadshow online or in person

Here are some of the nuggets I picked up while interviewing the Antiques Roadshow’s directors, executives, experts and people who brought items to be valued.

Antiques Roadshow Chicago visitors wait near the appropriate table to see an appraisal expert.
Antiques Roadshow Chicago visitors wait near the appropriate table to see an appraisal expert.

I recently had the good fortune to cover the Antiques Roadshow when it taped in Chicago this summer. It was fun, interesting and surprising. Here are some of the nuggets I picked up while interviewing its directors, executives, experts and people who brought items to be valued.

1. If you live in Albuquerque, NM, Chicago, IL, New York, NY, Charleston, WV, Austin, TX, Birmingham, AL, Santa Clara, CA, Bismark, ND, the towns visited this spring and summer, you can check  Antiques Roadshow about late September or early October to see when the segment closest to home will air in 2015.

2. To get more information about the 2014 summer tour click here. To see photos of some gems taped during the 2014 summer tour, go to behind the scenes.

3. If you want to attend an Antiques Roadshow appraisal event, check the first Monday in January when the show premiers its 19th season. Announcements are made on line and usually at the premier about where the show will tape that spring and summer.  Look online for ticket application information.  Tickets are given out by random drawing, not first come, but be sure to get yours in before the deadline, usually early April. Two tickets are given free of charge to the applicant drawn.

Surprises

A century-old German doll with all its original clothes was worth much more than its owner thought.
A century-old German doll with all its original clothes was worth much more than its owner thought.

There’s more to an Antiques Roadshow event than the expected wow.  Yes, some items are valued much higher than the people who brought them think. But other items are chosen for their education value as copies, tourist market objects or fakes. An art object brought to the Chicago taping could be worth $20,000 if authenticated but would be $2,000 as a decorative piece, if not.

Among the surprises in Chicago was that even though 3,000 people received two tickets each and could bring two items, meaning that the experts had 18,000 objects to consider, the appraisals and discussions were all done in one Saturday starting with 8 a.m. ticket holders and not ending until all 5 p.m. ticket holders were seen.

Another amazing tidbit is that the experts pay their own way to come to the cities being taped. They do get television exposure but they cannot hand their cards to the people they meet.  Of the approximately 150 experts on the show’s roster, about 70 came to the Chicago taping.

Reaction to an appraisal value is often a surprise. During a Chicago taping that evaluated a century-old doll, its owner became emotional when learning she would have to add a zero to the couple hundred dollars she thought it would bring. She kept it in a closet but originally was going to sell it. After the appraisal she changed her mind.

Keeping an object after appraisal is not surprising according to Executive Producer Marsha Bemko who speaks to groups across the country. “ One of the interesting things is whether its business or another group, 20-year-olds, 60 or 80, they have a question in common:  what happened to the objects after a person leaves the Roadshow. I tell them it’s about the relationship. It does not matter what the object is worth. They never sell the objects,” Bemko said. She added that a few exceptions did occur when the object was picked up cheap at a garage sale and had no family value.

Visitors were divided according to objects they brought by a generalist appraiser who gave them a ticket for the right table and area.
Visitors were divided according to objects they brought by a generalist appraiser who gave them a ticket for the right table and area.

Interesting

No matter where the Antiques Roadshow visits and how the the town’s convention center is configured, the set where the appraisals and taping are done will be the same. Windows are shut off and backdrops are set up.

Each town’s one-day taping is divided into three episodes. Host Mark Walberg introduces three visits outside the convention center using a different expert at each place. The outside visits, typically to a museum, a person’s collection or a significant building, is to give a sense of place to the town visited, according to Bemko. “Otherwise, all you see is the convention center,” she said.

In Chicago, the outside the convention center visits were to the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lyric Opera and Crab Tree Farm in the northern suburbs.

For more Antiques Roadshow interesting insight visit the Roadshow Scene

Fun

Merely circulating among the experts, camera crew and folks carrying paintings, sculptures, vases and carefully wrapped treasures was fun. It was also delightful to talk with people who loved coming even though their objects were not worth much

To learn about some of the items that  will appear on Chicago segments click Chicago

Photos by Jodie Jacobs