Chicago Was Better Than This Chair.

I know what the Bean is now. The Sears Tower is the tallest building in North America and has, I found out, been called the Willis Tower since 2009.

This is me feeling very afraid to step out into glass boxes hanging on the sides of Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).

Who knew? I do. Since I went to Chicago (for the first time!) this past week.I discovered art and architecture and facts about the Windy City, which yes, is windy, and also beautiful and diverse.  But probably everyone else in the universe knows that because they’ve been to Chicago.

One of my favorite things was the smallish Museum of Contemporary Art‘s exhibition called This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s. I tend to go for littler museums, especially, contemporary art, so this was perfect for me. Also I grew up in the eighties.

I was a kid back then, so I didn’t know that artists were being marginalized or that Reagan wasn’t acknowledging the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Back then, I attended a Christian school and was handwriting letters to Reagan as a class assignment pleading with him to do more to allow prayer in schools. He sent me a signed picture of himself riding a black horse.

I still have that picture, but apparently Reagan answered more of his mail than any president. Well, probably not Reagan personally, but he made sure someone was writing back. Direct marketing, right? A zillion other people my age likely have that same photo. I’m still keeping it, though.

I also went to the Art Institute, but opted for the lower-priced “last hour” ticket, so I targeted just those exhibits I most wanted to see. Of course the contemporary art was on the top of my list.

I love artist Marc Chagall and when I found out the Institute had many works by Chagall including a stained glass exhibit of his called American Windows, I had to go.

Green Violinist by Marc ChagallI fell in love with Chagall when I was about twenty. I went to NYC for the first time and found myself in the amazing Guggenheim museum staring at his Green Violinist.

I rounded a curve and there he was. I couldn’t take my eyes off his bright green face and purple hat. Every time I go new places, I try to see Chagall’s work. When I was in France, I made a special trip to Nice to see the Chagall Museum.

Chagall is kind of a poet’s painter, which may be why I was so drawn to him at the time. I was writing a lot of poetry in my teens and twenties. The Guggenheim website says Chagall “refused literal interpretations of his paintings, and it is perhaps best to think of them as lyrical evocations, similar to the allusive plastic poetry of the artist’s friends Blaise Cendrars and Guillaume Apollinaire.”

American Windows was lovely, but my favorite image was Chagall’s White Crucifixion, a moving oil on canvas painted in 1938 that depicts “Christ as a Jewish martyr” and calls attention to “the persecution and suffering of the Jews in 1930s Germany.” (Quotes are from the placard next to the painting).

So now the trip’s over and I’m back in the Pacific Northwest and yes, the weather’s divine and I love it, but I miss the freedom of being on vacation and having no responsibilities.

This is my office and my chair. Usually I'm sitting in it, but since I'm taking the picture...

I’m sitting here in my office chair looking out at the sun and writing my butt off, like a good MFA student.

But I miss Chicago.

I miss you, Chicago

P.S. “The Bean” is actually a public sculpture in Millennium Park formally called Cloud Gate by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor.

Me in Millennium Park with "the Bean" in the background.

10 thoughts on “Chicago Was Better Than This Chair.

  1. Had two of my children while living in Chicago. It will always be home for us and we try very hard to get back there at least every other year, if not once a year. Love it every time, even though so many of my personal land marks have been taken down. Chicago is also the city that changes the most! buildings go up and come down, faster than you could imagine! Great food, wonderful shoreline, fabulous art and architecture… love it! Check out my archive, and I posed a piece in October called Big City, Little Food: Chicago. Welcome home!

    • Thanks, Dawn! I’ll check it out. Chicago was lovely. Though I’m not a huge fan of wind, the weather while we were there was warm and sunny.

      I’ll try to get back there again, for sure.

    • Thanks, Debra! Though I’m not going to near the exciting places that Jen’s going to these days. I hope I make it over to see her at least one more time before she leaves Italy. I’m so excited I get to see her this summer!!! Woot!

  2. Yes, Leah, the glass floor was incredible. It tricks you into feeling like you’re in big danger; your whole body thinks it’s going to fall and has the normal reactions (quickened breathing, speeding pulse, etc.).

    For so long we’ve used the metaphor of a “glass ceiling” to describe the difficulty women have had ascending to leadership positions. This is still a very real challenge, but in my own life, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to work in an executive position. I did it for five years and, strangely, the glass floor as a metaphor applied. The experience was exhilarating, but also nerve-wracking. I worried about failing (falling). And I had reoccurring elevator dreams. No kidding.

    P.S. The office chair is nice, but looks better than it is. I use a pillow on the seat now. It has endured quite a bit of sitting, but isn’t broken, so that’s good.. 🙂

  3. Upon my first visit to Chicago last year, I felt the same way when I came back home. I missed Chicago. I actually considered moving there, but then I am not a cold-weather type of person.

    • It’s a beautiful and unique city. I’m not sure I could do the wind, but what an exciting and culturally vibrant place to visit! Thanks for the comment and for sharing your similar experience, Frances!

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