Sunday, June 14, 2009


Chicago skyline as I walk to work

I am in Chicago! No problems getting here and my friends Akemi and Jack Cohn picked me up at the airport and took me to my apartment. I have a view of Lake Michigan and a mooring of sailboats. The city ambient light and the excitement of being here kept me up most of the first night.

Walking to work with Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavillion in foreground

I had an appointment at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) yesterday morning for the summer chair, Amy Honchell, to show me the facilities and give me an ID so I can have access to the building. It was raining but I wanted to walk to school to see how long it would take. I just go down Randolph Avenue to Michigan Avenue and then left past Millennium Park to Monroe, where I turn right and find the temporary entrance on Monroe and Wabash. Look at the great views I will see each morning as I go to work.

Bicycles being rented, even in the rain

Even in the rain, people went into the building above to rent bicycles. It is so amazing how clean everything looked and how careful Chicago is to have good signage for visitors and locals. I was completely impressed and happy to be here again. I don't know if I will take advantage of any of the free events going on but there are plenty. I will be teaching 9 to 4:30 every weekday for the next three weeks, so I might just be crawling back to the apartment exhausted. Or I will be so energized by my class that I will wander into Grant's Park for some of the activities.

Some of the free events available in Chicago

View of Gehry's building from Michigan Avenue

Both Frank Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavillion and Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate are on my walk. The way the Cloud Gate, often referred to as The Bean, blended into the overcast sky was just thrilling. I have seen both these places before but had not been thinking of either, so when I came upon them, in sequence, I felt such a jolt of city joy. As a native New Yorker (born in Manhattan and lived there my most formative years--until I was 4.5--if you follow Freudian theory) I always have a sense of coming home when I am in a big city.

Anish Kapoor's Cloud, often called the Bean

Good signage at Millennium Park

Another wonderful place in Millennium Park is the Crown Fountain created by Jaume Piensa. I am sure I will return and take more pictures for you to see on this blog. I love sitting and watching people in general, and there, on a nice day, with children splashing and videos changing, and the buzz of Michigan Avenue, it is just spectacular.

Glimpse of Crown Fountain at Millennium Park

When I got to Michigan and Monroe, where I had to turn right, I looked over at the new wing of the Art Institute. I am going to go there today, after my morning appointment, which I will tell you about after it happens.

First View for me of New Wing of Art Institute of Chicago

I was told that the city of Chicago has decided to spruce up the area on Wabash known as Jewler's Row, where the normal entrance to SAIC is located. So there is this temporary entrance on Monroe. Again, the rain, the buildings (Chicago has the best), the tourist trolly, the bus, the speeding cars, the lights, the construction--I was just breathing in "city" and loving it.

Temporary Entrance to SAIC

Amy gave me a thorough comprehensive tour of the facilities and I am feeling confident that this is going to be a terrific class. After lunch I took a long way back to my apartment, trying to see if I could cross the river closer to my apartment, only to find myself having to back track and the rain getting harder. I was thoroughly soaked by the time I got back to the apartment. After a rest I had to go out to meet Akemi at Lillstreet Art Center where she was teaching a class. She is an expert on rice paste resist, but also on most aspects of surface design and this class was on nuno felting. The students had great results and all were pleased. She took me home for dinner and later she and Jack drove me home again. She is off to Japan so I won't get to see her again until the end of my stay.

Akemi teaching at Lillstreet Art Center

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