D.C.

Mar. 31st, 2012 04:08 pm
mojosmom: (Default)
Back last April, at B.C. in D.C., I won the raffle for a free weekend at the Sheraton Crystal City (the convention hotel). When I went to New York last July, I volunteered to be bumped from the plane in exchange for travel vouchers. So this past weekend, I put the two together and went to see the cherry blossoms.

I arrived on Friday by early afternoon, plenty of time to dash off to the National Gallery of Art for a very excellent exhibit, Marks of Ownership, of books drawn from the NGA's library showing bookplates, coats of arms, and just plain signatures. I had hoped to see another small show there at the same time, but the gallery was closed that day (guard shortages, apparently). I was able to see that exhibit, The Fleeting Structures of Early Modern Europe the next day, though.

The NGA people aren't dumb. To get from the West Building to the East Building, you must pass through three gift shops. Seriously. Two books and a necklace later . . .

After resting up a bit at the hotel, I went to Alexandria, wandered about a bit, and had a good pizza sitting outside at a restaurant on King St.

I started the next day at the Sackler, where an exhbit of Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji was opening, just in time for the Cherry Blossom Festival. There was also a koto concert going on just outside that gallery:


(I have no idea why this is sideways, and I can't rotate it. But enjoy the music.)

There was a light mist happening, which caused them to move the bento boxes from the garden to inside the museum, so I decided to head for the Tidal Basin before the rain got more serious. The cherry blossoms were seriously beautiful, and it really did look like a postcard:

Jefferson Memorial

I walked back to the mall, to catch the Fleeting Structures show at the NGA, pausing to listen to a bit of the Reason Rally, which was, in fact, only
"Ocassionally reasonable"

and had a quick bite to eat at the Museum of the American Indian.

Back to the hotel to rest up, and then have dinner with my friend Soching and her husband, both retired foreign service. Good dinner, good conversation.

The plan on Sunday was to go to the Folger, but as they did not open until noon, I first went to the U.S. Botanic Gardens, where there was an orchid show going on:

Orchids

I got a bit too distracted by the flowers, because it was already 1:00 by the time I got to the Folger, just as a tour was starting. I joined the group, but peeled off after a bit so I could spend more time with my reason for being there, namely, the Shakespeare's Sisters exhibit. Lots of gorgeous books, written by, owned by, translated by, women from 1500-1700 (well, a few were later). Including (nod to the NGA exhibit) marks of ownership:
The union of two noble and illustrate famelies of Lancasire and Yorke

Uneventful flight home (as they all should be).
mojosmom: (Default)
Since last I wrote, I have had quite a bit of music and music-related events in my life. Georg Friedrich figured prominently in a couple of them, hence the bad pun in my subject line.

I went to the dress rehearsal of Rinaldo at Lyric, which is basically little different from seeing an actual production. Some of the singers don't use full voice, and there is always the possibility of repeats (though none occurred on this occasion). It's absolutely marvelous, and I am looking forward to the actual event in a couple of weeks.

The next day, the Apollo Chorus (140 years old and still going strong) and the Elmhurst Symphony performed Handel's Dettingen Te Deum and Mozart's Requiem at Rockefeller Chapel. Both pieces were magnificently performed, and the setting was perfect:
Dressed for Christmas

On Sunday, I went back to the Civic Opera House for their backstage tour. What fun! We got to see all the various departments (wigs, wardrobe, props, etc.), and learned lots. So I can say that I have been on stage at Lyric and in the orchestra, and it wouldn't be a lie. And I got to wear a crown:
Crowned head
(The weird head position is because it was too big and wanted to fall off. "Uneasy lies the head", as they say.) Lots more pics here.

As you can see if you click through to the set, they're doing Showboat, which was, in my view, a waste of Lyric's resources. I don't go to Lyric to see musicals. It didn't help that it was miked, and not well, or that there was no chemistry between Magnolia and Gaylord Ravenal. Fortunately, their next foray into musical theatre will be outside the subscription series, so I can calm down about it.

Yesterday, they had a press conference to announce that Lyric has commissioned an opera based on Ann Patchett's book, Bel Canto, rather a natural, when you come to think about it. I am particularly thrilled that Nilo Cruz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, will do the libretto. Teatro Vista has done a ton of work with him, so I feel even more connected.

After the tour, I dashed off to the Smart Museum for a short concert of food-related music, ranging from Purcell to Schubert to Ravel to Comden & Green. The program was done as part of the events around the exhibit Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art, which I didn't have time to see that afternoon, but will go back to view.

In non-classical music events, I went to a wonderful film last night, Chico and Rita. Set in Cuba, New York and (briefly) Las Vegas, this animated film tells the story of two Cuban jazz musicians, pianist Chico and singer Rita, and their star-crossed love affair, from when they first meet in 1948, up to the present. I loved the animations, particularly the cityscapes. And the music, well, it just can't be beat. See it if you can: http://www.chicoandrita.com or http://www.chicoandrita.co.uk/

And in non-music . . .

My financial advisor decided that, since I have now been retired for several months, we should have a meeting to review my situation. All is well, all is, indeed, very well, and I have decided to transfer another account I have over to her. I've actually been thinking about that for awhile, and now it's done.

I went to an interesting lecture at the Art Institute about restoration (and faking) of old masters, and how conservators can figure out what's been done.

Today bids fair to be a fair day (it was already in the '50s at 8:00 a.m.!), so I am going to go out and enjoy the day. It's personal pampering day - I'm getting a manicure this morning and a haircut this afternoon.

Busy-ness

Dec. 5th, 2011 02:11 pm
mojosmom: (Default)
The holiday season is now in full swing, with lots of shopping opportunities. The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust has a shop in The Rookery, a Burnham and Root designed office building with later renovations by Wright. They had an event a few days ago with choir, champagne and sweets, and tours, so how could I pass that up? I used it more as a photo op than a shopping op, though:
University of Chicago Motet Choir
(More pretty pics here.)

Yesterday, my friends Barb and Patrice, a bookbinder and potter respectively, had their annual open house cum sale. I enjoyed their gingerbread cake and hot cider, and bought a nice garden journal for my sister and a small, lidded casserole dish for me.

Saturday was the Hyde Park Art Center's auction, "Party with an Artist". It was fun, and my neighbor Marva, also a potter, had a piece up for auction. (I'll be going to her open house/sale next weekend!) There were several pieces that intrigued me, but starting bids on most were a bit rich for my blood. However, I did successfully bid on one, an abstract (not my usual!) piece called "Among the Rafters":
Among the Rafters, Holly Cahill

As I was leaving the house to go there, I saw three boxes of books sitting by the dumpster. My initial excitement faded, however, when I realized that they were almost all out-of-date economics textbooks. However, I did retrieve two Harvard Classics volumes: Charles Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, and Twenty-Four Years After, and a volume with bits of Plato, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius.

One of the things that I decided to do once I retired was to join The Saints, an organization of volunteers for the arts, to do some ushering. I did my first event on Saturday, at a performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors by the Chicago Chamber Opera, at the main library. That opera is one of my earliest television memories, being the very first show I saw on the first television my family owned. It was stage-directed by Menotti's son, Francis, and choreographed by Dame Libby Komaiko. I sniffled, as always.

In other things operatic, we went to Ariadne auf Naxos at Lyric on Friday, and enjoyed it tremendously.

Today, I dug up my rosemary from the planter on the back porch, put it in a pretty pot, and brought it indoors to sit on my kitchen window sill:
Rosemary

Apropos of nothing, just because she's cute:
Table décor
mojosmom: (Default)
How did it get to be September already? Gosh, the summer has simply flown. The Chicago Jazz Fest starts tonight (well, actually, last night with the Jazz Club Tour), and I'm planning to hit tomorrow night's concert, as well as the day and evening events on Saturday and Sunday. Rain is predicted, so I will take my umbrella - to ward off sun and rain as required.

This being Chicago, there's been a lot of jazz this summer, and last Thursday I went to hear trumpeter Corey Wilkes (and friends) at Millennium Park. Went back there on Saturday for the grand finale performance of Chicago Dancing, which I hadn't planned to do until my younger sister said that a friend of hers was having a dance performed there by River North Dance. Also performing were the Joffrey, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, dancers from the New York City Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company and Ballet West.

Earlier that day, a friend and I went to Graceland Cemetery for the Chicago Architecture Foundation's "Women of Influence" tour. It was very interesting, and even though I knew about most of the women the docent talked about, I learned new things about them, and met some new ones. Walking tours are free to members; now that I have all this free time, I just might have to join. I'd definitely get my money's worth.

Friday evening there was a reception at the Chicago Public Library for the "One Book, Many Interpretations: Second Edition" exhibit, wherein bookbinders were invited to bind copies of the books that have been chosen for the "One Book, One Chicago" program over the last five years. They haven't put the catalogue online yet, though I understand that they are planning to do so. When and if that happens, I'll have to link to it, because there were some stunning pieces. In fact, they were giving out copies of all the books (labeled "This book has been placed here for you to Read, Enjoy and Pass It On . . .") and I picked up Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" solely on the strength of the bindings people had done for it, which were quite intriguing. I hadn't liked the one other novel of his I'd read ("American Gods"), so likely would not have considered reading this one otherwise. I also picked up the newest selection, "The Adventures of Augie March", by Saul Bellow.

On Tuesday, I went to the Art Institute to see the show, "Windows on the War: Soviet TASS Posters at Home and Abroad, 1941-1945".
The Motherland Calls!

Fascinating story of how this exhibit came about. Back in 1997, when renovations were going on in the Prints and Drawings Department, a couple of dozen wrapped parcels were found on the back of a shelf in a closet. They contained propaganda posters that had been created during the war by the Soviet news agency, TASS. The exhibition includes these restored posters, as well as some from earlier in Soviet history, some U.S. and British posters using some of the same images, and other Allied propaganda posters. After victory, came false hopes:
"Peace - we won it together"

Went from there to my bank, where I refinanced my mortgage (something I should have done a long time ago, but better late than never).

And in a move that got me much thanks from my fellow Teatro Vista board members, yesterday I made chocolate chip scones and took them to our board meeting. I do so like baking, but you can't bake just a couple of cookies or one cupcake!
mojosmom: (Default)
How did it get to be September already? Gosh, the summer has simply flown. The Chicago Jazz Fest starts tonight (well, actually, last night with the Jazz Club Tour), and I'm planning to hit tomorrow night's concert, as well as the day and evening events on Saturday and Sunday. Rain is predicted, so I will take my umbrella - to ward off sun and rain as required.

This being Chicago, there's been a lot of jazz this summer, and last Thursday I went to hear trumpeter Corey Wilkes (and friends) at Millennium Park. Went back there on Saturday for the grand finale performance of Chicago Dancing, which I hadn't planned to do until my younger sister said that a friend of hers was having a dance performed there by River North Dance. Also performing were the Joffrey, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, dancers from the New York City Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company and Ballet West.

Earlier that day, a friend and I went to Graceland Cemetery for the Chicago Architecture Foundation's "Women of Influence" tour. It was very interesting, and even though I knew about most of the women the docent talked about, I learned new things about them, and met some new ones. Walking tours are free to members; now that I have all this free time, I just might have to join. I'd definitely get my money's worth.

Friday evening there was a reception at the Chicago Public Library for the "One Book, Many Interpretations: Second Edition" exhibit, wherein bookbinders were invited to bind copies of the books that have been chosen for the "One Book, One Chicago" program over the last five years. They haven't put the catalogue online yet, though I understand that they are planning to do so. When and if that happens, I'll have to link to it, because there were some stunning pieces. In fact, they were giving out copies of all the books (labeled "This book has been placed here for you to Read, Enjoy and Pass It On . . .") and I picked up Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" solely on the strength of the bindings people had done for it, which were quite intriguing. I hadn't liked the one other novel of his I'd read ("American Gods"), so likely would not have considered reading this one otherwise. I also picked up the newest selection, "The Adventures of Augie March", by Saul Bellow.

On Tuesday, I went to the Art Institute to see the show, "Windows on the War: Soviet TASS Posters at Home and Abroad, 1941-1945".
The Motherland Calls!

Fascinating story of how this exhibit came about. Back in 1997, when renovations were going on in the Prints and Drawings Department, a couple of dozen wrapped parcels were found on the back of a shelf in a closet. They contained propaganda posters that had been created during the war by the Soviet news agency, TASS. The exhibition includes these restored posters, as well as some from earlier in Soviet history, some U.S. and British posters using some of the same images, and other Allied propaganda posters. After victory, came false hopes:
"Peace - we won it together"

Went from there to my bank, where I refinanced my mortgage (something I should have done a long time ago, but better late than never).

And in a move that got me much thanks from my fellow Teatro Vista board members, yesterday I made chocolate chip scones and took them to our board meeting. I do so like baking, but you can't bake just a couple of cookies or one cupcake!
mojosmom: (Default)
Cleveland. And Akron! Exciting, no?

Actually, a good time was had by all. My younger sister arrived in Chicago on Wednesday (the 15th). We went to the Art Institute on Thursday, and drove to Cleveland to my older sister's place on Friday. Next day, we drove to Akron to see the Herman Leonard photography exhibit at the Akron Museum of Art, and, of course, while we were there we looked at more of their collection. They had on display some pieces from the collection of Dorothy & Herbert Vogel, a librarian and postal worker who amassed one of the finest collections of contemporary art, all on the salaries of civil servants. Talk about living for art! Then we had lunch al fresco at Chrissie Hynde's restaurant, VegiTerranean. I managed to avoid fake meat and fake dairy in favor of a very nice pasta dish.

On Sunday, we went to the Cleveland Museum of Art to see a show of Japanese and Korean art, The Lure of Painted Poetry, which was quite marvelous. We had dinner at a very good soul food restaurant, Zanzibar. Stacey told us it was good, and we could see she was right by the number of people leaving the place with leftovers in hand. Excellent service, too.

The next day, it was on to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to see Stacey's exhibit. It's well worth seeing, and I would say that even if she weren't my sister.

In between all this running around, we hung out at her apartment with her seven cats (there are only six in the picture because one of them spent most of the time hiding in a closet):

Six cats

Cathy and I drove back to Chicago on Tuesday. I took off work on Wednesday, and, as it was perfect walking-around weather, we decided to got to Graceland Cemetery, where all sorts of well-known and not-so-well known Chicagoans are buried, including lots of architects (Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, Walter Netsch, Mies van der Rohe, and more).
Louis Henri Sullivan

Cathy went back to San Francisco on Thursday, and I went back to work.

We had fabulous weather over the weekend, and so on Saturday I went to the Poetry Foundation's Open House. Ruth Lilly, the pharmaceuticals heiress, left Poetry magazine tons of money (the bequest was valued at over $100 million at the time - more now), despite the fact that they rejected her submissions! The magazine formed a foundation to promote poetry, and built a lovely new facility, which was the reason for the open house. There were a lot of author readings both Saturday and Sunday; however, by the time I learned about this, all the tickets were gone. So I just checked out the building and participated in the Poetry Corps, which meant I got to read a poem for their archives. Look at all the poetry!
The library

The weather has continued fine, so I have been spending much of my spare time sitting on the back porch with a cat, a book, and a glass of ice tea (or wine, depending).

Ducky day!

Jun. 1st, 2011 11:39 am
mojosmom: (Default)
After a cold and rainy weekend, Memorial Day did, indeed, turn out beautiful. After running an errand on North Michigan Avenue, I went back south to the Art Institute, planning on just wandering a bit in the Japanese galleries (which I did). However, I discovered that it was the last day of the exhibit of French Renaissance art. I'd had it in mind to see that again, but thought it had closed, so when I discovered that it was still up, of course I had to go through it. I also visited the exhibit Altered and Adorned: Using Renaissance Prints in Daily Life. People stuck things in books and forgot about them even back then:
The Nuremberg Chronicle, Michael Wolgemut and workshop, 1493

I decided to have lunch in the sun, at the museum's McClintock Court, where I watched a duck swimming around in the fountain:
Duck at McClintock Court fountain

And then I had duck salad for lunch. Sorry, guy.

When I got home, I made the summer's first batch of iced tea, and sat out on the back porch with a glass of tea and a book.

All told, a very enjoyable day!

Since D.C.

May. 25th, 2011 10:23 pm
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
I haven't posted anything of significance since I came back from Washington, weeks ago! So this is a catch-up post.

Since then, I've been to Springfield for a conference, and stopped at New Salem Historic Site, where Abraham Lincoln lived for a few years (though it wasn't a historic site then!), on my way home. I hadn't been there since I was a kid, and they've build a fancy-schmancy new visitor's center, and, naturally, a gift shop. Few of the buildings are original, but they are all built the way they would have been at the time, and are furnished with period pieces, many donated by descendants of the original settlers. Like many such sites, they have interpreters, dressed in period clothing and conducting period activities, like blacksmithing. And if you've ever wondered what Abe did with those rails he split, here you go:
Split-rail fence - New Salem Historic Site

I've also been up to Milwaukee with a bunch of friends to see the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit at the Milwaukee Museum of Art:
Milwaukee Art Museum
It was huge, lots of drawings and models, and some home movies! We have started talking about a road trip to Taliesin. We had an excellent lunch at a restaurant by the lake, in a park designed by Frederic Law Olmsted.

Unfortunately, my car met with an accident at the end of the trip. I was dropping people off at a friend's house, parked my car across the street, and when M. was pulling out of C.'s driveway, she didn't cut soon enough and backed into my car! Fortunately, no one was in it at the time, and it was driveable. It's currently in the body shop, though.

I've been to a couple of operas and plays, and last Saturday went to a workshop sponsored by the Network of Ensemble Theatres for artistic staff and board members of ensemble theatre companies to talk about ways to improve communications and understand the respective roles of each. I thought it was very useful. Teatro Vista's current play, Freedom, N.Y., opened about a couple of weeks ago, and we had a nice event at a pub down the street from the venue.

Thanks to Goldstar, I got a half-price ticket to the Alvin Ailey Dance Company at the Auditorium. It's Judith Jamison's last season as artistic director, and the 50th anniversary of Revelations, Ailey's iconic piece, which they danced at every performance. It's still wonderful.

Tonight, I went to a fascinating lecture at the National Museum of Mexican Art. In an event jointly sponsored by the Museum and the American Jewish Committee, Sophie Bejarano de Goldberg talked about the book she co-authored, Sefarad de ayer, oy i manyana (The Sephardic Jews of yesterday, today and tomorrow), a history of Sephardic Jews in Mexico. It's one of three Jewish communities in Mexico, the others being Ashkenazi and Arab Jews, and consists of about 1200 families (the entire Jewish population is around 40,000). She and her co-authors interviewed many people who came to Mexico during the third wave of Sephardic immigration in the '20s and '30s, mostly from Turkey and other parts of the Ottoman Empire (the first wave was in the 1500s, the second in the 1800s), and borrowed many documents and photographs to include. The Museum had some of those on display, including this Kaddish in Ladino (sorry for the lousy quality - I didn't have my good camera with me):
Kaddish in Ladino

Weekend before last, I braved the cold (yes, it was in the mid-'40s, and damp) and went to the Hyde Park Garden Fair to buy herbs. I finally got them planted on Sunday, when the sun decided to put in an appearance and it was warm! That same weekend, I was at my dry cleaners when I saw a sign for a yard sale to benefit victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I wandered over there and came away with a bunch of books. Then this past Friday, I finally used the Groupon coupon I had for a used bookstore and came away with another whole slew of books.

In between all this, I've been sending paperwork hither and yon for my retirement. Social Security and state pension applications are in, but the IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund) can't be submitted sooner than 30 days before my retirement date. So that will go in next week. I have also signed up for a second Italian class (a literature one) and a class on British women mystery writers between the wars, both of which meet on a weekday morning. I am so looking forward to being able to do stuff during the day!

I'm thinking about a trip to New York in July, maybe over my birthday weekend. There's a show at the Morgan Library, Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands, that I'd like to see. If I go in July, I can also check out the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met, too.

They've just announced the schedule for the Printers Row Lit Fest, and I immediately ordered tickets for a couple of author events. I may order a couple more. They're free, so if I don't go, I'm not out any money and someone else will get in.
mojosmom: (Default)
I had a marvelous time in Washington!

Thursday )

Friday )

Saturday )

Sunday )

Monday )

That cold I brought home with me was dreadful. I usually kick a cold within a few days, but it was still hanging on at the end of the week, despite cold meds and swilling of orange juice and chicken soup, so I went to the clinic on Saturday and left with five different meds. I spent all day Sunday and Monday in bed, missing work and class on Monday, but by Tuesday was actually feeling human again, and was pretty much completely back to normal on Wednesday. I hate being sick!
mojosmom: (art)
I mentioned in a previous post that I saw David Wojnarowicz' Fire in the Belly. Tonight, there was a panel discussion at the University about the controversy, with Geoffrey Stone of the U of C Law School; Barry Blinderman, gallery director at Illinois State University, who curated a show of Wojnarowicz' work about 20 years ago; Betty Farrell of the U of C's Cultural Policy Center; and Lauren Berlant, a professor in the English Department. Quite a crowd - they needed an overflow room. As you can tell from the panelists, it was quite a wide-ranging discussion, and the audience was very engaged. I'm just sorry that Hide/Seek is closing before the BC Convention; I'd really like to have seen the show.

Tomorrow, I'm going to see the Belarus Free Theatre's Being Harold Pinter. At least we don't arrest or kill artists here.
mojosmom: (art)
This quiz was pathetically easy. Got nearly all of them even before seeing the multiple choices.

Your result for The Famous (and Not So Famous) Art Quiz...

Art History Major

100% Artiste!

Art History Major: You scored 100% Artiste!


You've studied art for years, and therefore you recognized almost if not all the works represented here. Way to go!



Take The Famous (and Not So Famous) Art Quiz at HelloQuizzy

mojosmom: (Librarian books)
Seven years ago, I went to a fabulous exhibit at the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts, called "Only on Paper: Six Centuries of Judaica from the Gross Family Collection": video clip There was supposed to be a catalog forthcoming, so I paid my $20 and waited. And waited, and waited, and after a while called them, and they said they'd run into technical issues and it was delayed. So I waited some more, and then they said that it looked like it wasn't going to happen - something about copyright, I think. I got my $20 back, and forgot about it.

Today, I got a package in the mail from Columbia. And inside was a DVD of the exhibit! Finally! And well worth the wait.
mojosmom: (art)
There were an insane number of events in or near my neighborhood on Friday night, but as I am only one person, I went to only two of them. I'd heard Fretwork the night before, so skipped their Mandel Hall concert, and the South Shore Opera Company had to do without me, as did the art opening at Experimental Station.

Instead, I went to hear Buzz Spector talk about his altered books and book-related installations, with slides (well, Power Point, but you know what I mean). I got to the venue, went to look at some stuff on the wall, and realized I had left my glasses at home! However, it was only a five-minute walk home, and I'd gotten there early, so I dashed home, got the glasses, and came back in plenty of time for the lecture.

Then I walked a couple of blocks over to the Hyde Park Art Center for their Back Alley Party benefit. Food and drink, music and art, and a blind auction, the last of which resulted in my acquisition of a new piece of art, Goya, by Josue Pellot:

"Goya", by Josue Pellot

Yesterday, I ran a bunch of errands, and then came home and hung the picture, which entailed moving another one. I also decided it was about time that I brought in the bay laurel plant, and cut the remaining herbs to dry them.

The Art Center was having an all-day event called "Mischief Night", with a lot of stuff for kids, and general mash-ups of art and Hallowe'en, including someone recording herself dropping pumpkins off the roof of the Center. After dinner (spinach fettucine with roasted fennel and onions, excellent, if I do say so myself!), I wandered over for some of the evening events. They had a "no-budget scary movie shorts" party, though I must say that the one I watched was more risible that actually scary. Watched a bit of a dance performance, and then went to the wedding. Here's the happy couple:
The happy couple
(Yeah, it was performance art.)

Today, I am moving summer clothes to the hall closet and winter clothes to the bedroom closet. I also went to Sears to look at dishwashers. Shortly, I am going to pay bills and do my Italian homework. Exciting, huh?

Catch-up

Oct. 26th, 2010 07:17 pm
mojosmom: (Default)
Okay, now that I've calmed down from last night's excitement, I'll talk about what I did this weekend.

Friday night we went to see Carmen at Lyric Opera. Carmen was "meh", Don Jose got better in the second act, and Escamillo was excellent.

Saturday was the University of Chicago Humanities Day, which is always chock-a-block with interesting programs. I went to hear: Justin Steinberg on "Dante's Right of Way through Hell", Martha Feldman, the keynote speaker, on "Castrato De Luxe: Blood, Gifts, and Goods in the Making of Early Modern Singing Stars", and a panel discussion on "Robie House, 100 Years New", with Katherine Fischer Taylor, Donald Hoffmann and Geoffrey Goldberg. I had signed up for "The Hews of Modern Babylon, June, 1941" with Orit Bashkin, but I really needed to do some grocery shopping, because Sunday was going to be very busy. So I went to the grocery store (and the Hyde Park Cats bake sale!), between the keynote and the Robie House panel. At that last, they announced that there would be a reception at Robie House, which is just one block from where the event was. So I went to that, then went home to dinner, and then back to Robie House.

That night, there was a site specific installation of multi-media artwork there, called Projecting Modern, by Luftwerk, a collaboration between Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero. It was fantastic! They used projected images, light and sound, playing off Wright's use of light and angles. It was mostly on the third floor of the house, where the bedrooms are, an area that is not normally open to the public, even on the guided tours. I wasn't going to miss that chance!
Closet/dressing alcove, master bedroom, Robie House

The weather was gorgeous, warm and soft, so there was much hanging out on the balcony with glasses of wine and noshes. And more light projections:
Projection - eaves

Sunday was the Chicago Humanities Festival Hyde Park Day. A few years ago, they decided to have a day of events in Hyde Park, a couple of weeks before the main event. This year, I volunteered. First, because I thought it would be fun, and, second, because volunteers get two free tickets for every program worked. My stint covered two programs, so that meant tickets to four CHF events! Even though they are cheap anyway, when you go to a bunch it can add up, so volunteering is a good deal. I was at the Oriental Institute, mostly ticket-taking, and helping set up and clean up, but got to sit in on a panel discussing rare medical texts. It was most interesting, with a doctor, an art historian and a special collections librarian talking about the books from their different points of view.

Then I dashed up north, getting stuck in Bears (football) traffic on the way, for a reception that followed a performance of 26 Miles, a play being produced by Teatro Vista in collaboration with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. (One of the great things about the Chicago theatre scene is the way so many of the ensembles do collaborate.) It was held at a nearby wine bar which has a roof deck, and since the weather was again fabulous, we mostly hung out outside. They had food, too, so I didn't need to worry about dinner.

So that was the weekend.
mojosmom: (sisters)
My sisters were in town this weekend. I picked Cathy up at Midway after work on Wednesday, and Stacey drove in on Thursday, arriving just about an hour before I got home. She brought scads of vegetables from her garden - zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant and bell peppers - so Cathy made us gazpacho for dinner.

I took a vacation day on Friday, and we went downtown to the Cultural Center and the Art Institute. I'd already seen the Louis Sullivan and Jazz Loft Project exhibits at the Cultural Center, but they were well worth seeing again, and we also saw the exhibit, Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster. We had lunch, and then to the Art Institute for their Sullivan exhibit, and also the Henri-Cartier Bresson show, which was immense. Then home to rest up before going out to dinner with some old family friends.

On Saturday, we headed to my local farmers' market. I needed some garlic, and we also bought a variety of fruit, a lovely bit of lamb, some flowers and Brown Sugar Bakery's awesome bread pudding, fresh from the oven. We stayed for the chef demo, and, as always, sampled the end products, both of which were vegetarian, so Stacey could enjoy them as well.

We had thought about going to Carifete, a festival of Caribbean nations, with food, vendors, a parade, etc., but skipped it in favor of resting up a bit at home. Then I ran some necessary errands while my sisters went over to the Art Center to see a show I'd already seen and didn't need to see again. Late afternoon, we went out to Oak Park to see our friend Jeanette, a founder of the Chicago Architecture Foundation. She took us to a local art fair and dinner, and then we went back to her apartment, chatted and watched the video of her 90th birthday party. She was telling us about what the new owner is doing to her former residence, Frank Lloyd Wright's Davenport House. He's taking it back to the original 1901 configuration (there's apparently a bit of controversy about this), and the work is taking so long that six years after he bought the place, he still isn't living in it!

Sunday, we drove out to the boonies to see Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House:
Farnsworth House

I wouldn't want to live there all the time, but I can sure see why Edith Farnsworth spent every weekend there! And we could also hear why she finally decided to sell it. There was a bridge over the Fox River, right by the house, which, when she bought the land, was just a quiet, farmers' bridge. Then the powers-that-be decided it needed to be a big, modern road. And, boy, is it noisy! Quiet inside the house, but no more serene evenings on that terrace.

When we got back to Hyde Park, we went to the Medici for a late lunch. New t-shirts: "Support Elena Kagan - a judge of good pizza"! (She apparently frequented the Medici when she was at the Law School.)

Yesterday, I had to go to work, but the sisters walked down to the lakefront, through Jackson Park and then hit the bookstores on 57th St. Cathy made penne pasta with mushrooms, zucchini and pine nuts for dinner, along with thick slices of tomato with fresh basil. After dinner, she suggested that we go for a walk around the block, as it was a perfect evening to go walking. I put forth an amendment to the motion, that we walk over to the Istria Café and have a gelato. The motion, as amended, carried unanimously and was put into immediate effect. We came back through Harold Washington Park, where some young men were playing soccer and some older men were playing chess.

I dropped Cathy off at the airport this morning, and Stacey drove herself home later in the day. So now here I am with no one but the cats, which is okay, too! Marissa, who is normally quite shy with other people, took a mild shine to Cathy, briefly snuggling with her when she was trying to print out her boarding pass!
mojosmom: (Italian)
The day started not so great. I couldn't find my cellphone! It wasn't in my room, it wasn't in the sitting room where I'd been using the computer the evening before. Fortunately, it did turn up at the restaurant where I'd had dinner, but I was panicking there for a bit.

I began the day at the Palazzo Pitti:
Pitti Palace

Talk about art overload! Rooms full of Raphaels, Ghirlandaios, et al., and ceilings all over bas-reliefs and paintings. Suddenly, in the midst of all the religious and allegorical art, and portraits of the rich and famous, was an exhibit of still lives and landscapes - a nice change!

Only here would the Galleria d'arte moderne begin with 18th-century art! But as one goes through these galleries, it becomes clear that there are distinct differences from what went before. Portraits become less formal, religion and allegory are less important than scenes of civic and private lives. It's possible to paint ordinary people, so instead of the Virgin giving her breast to the infant Jesus, it's an ordinary woman feeding her child. There's permission, too, to try new techniques of painting, leading to pointilism, impressionism, etc.

Taking a break from art, I went down the street to the Museo di Storia Naturale, part of the Università di Firenze, with its "secular temple", the Tribuna di Galileo, so-called from the statue of him there. There was a knock-out exhibit of crystals - nature is really rather beautiful! Once again, I was sorry that photography was not permitted, but you can see some of the pieces on the museum's website. I particularly liked the crystals that were combinations of minerals. There was spinella su marmo, white stone dotted with crimson, like blood; azurite, looking for all the world like navy blue velvet with sparkles; calcite su ametista, with a group of crystals shaped almost like asparagus growing out like rays. Colors, shapes, angles, all come together to form objects of great beauty. It's easy to see why people collect "rocks"!

Upstairs, we travel from the smallest protozoa, through corals, worms, bugs, to mammals, primates, and humans. (Query: why does every museum and zoo feel the need to put a mirror in the primate room?) There were room after room of anatomical waxes from the late 18th-century. Incredibly life-like and detailed.

Outside, there is a lovely garden, which abuts the Pitti's Boboli Gardens, and which is a hangout for the students:
Garden of the Museo

I went to lunch at the Caffe delle Gallerie Pananti, a little place across from the Pitti that is also an art gallery. I had carpaccio on a bed of arugula, which was served with a bag (literally!) of really good warm bread. Then stopped at Giulio Giannini and succumbed to the lure of printed and marbled paper.

Then back to the Palazzo Pitti for an afternoon in the Boboli Gardens. Not very floral, more formal gardens, multi-level, rambling, with vistas:
Yet another view of Tuscany

and prospects and allées:
Allée

and little (or not so little) houses of repose:
Kaffeehaus

I can't imagine how le belle donne Medici got around it in those skirts! The buildings are now, among other things, a porcelain museum and a costume gallery.

There was a great exhibit at the costume gallery, Fashion: A World of Similarities and Differences, which showed similar styles from different eras. Some stunning garments, including a couple of Fortuny gowns. But there was one Gianfranco Ferré that would have made Tim Gunn cry "edit!" It was beige lace from under the bust to the knee, with a 2-level train, a coral and pink baeded bodice, a big foofy flower at the hip with pleated tulle below it, and a pink and beige striped underskirt! Weird, because there was another gown by Ferré that was a minimalist column of white with just a small sparkly flounce at the back neckline and hem, so simple and elegant.

The Gardens are noted for their cats, but I only saw two - or maybe three - or possibly four - I'm not sure if the black cat was the same cat in different places or several different cats!
Lurking
I was sitting at the bar having a glass of wine and resting when a black cat appeared in the courtyard and just preened under all the attention.

I was then saved from myself. I'd seen a pair of shoes that really tempted me, despite the €98 price, but when I went back later in the afternoon, they were gone. I was tempted by another pair on sale, but they didn't have them in my size. A dress I had been admiring turned out to be nearly €300 - no way!

I had dinner at a neighborhood place, had insalata caprese, ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach in a walnut/sage sauce, and 1/2 bottle of chianti. I then went back to the hotel, did as much packing as possible, left a wake-up call and set the alarm.

Up early, and decided to take a cab to the bus station, where I caught the 7:30 bus to Amerigo Vespucci airport. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, so had tea and pastry in the departure area. I'd seen a very interesting looking building on the way in from the airport on Saturday, and was able to get a couple of photos of it. It turned out to be the Palazzo di Giustizia, designed by architect Leonardo Ricci:
Palazzo di Giustizia

I almost bought Cathy some truffled lard at the airport shops. I was ready to risk getting it through security in Zurich, but then I realized it needed to be refrigerated, and, of course, I wouldn't be able to do that!

My flight to Zurich was uneventful, but while transferring to the Amsterdam flight, I noticed signs that KLM had cancelled flights "due to the volcano", a portent of things to come!
mojosmom: (Default)
Went to a lecture this afternoon on the work of Irving K. Pond, whom none of you have ever heard of. Neither had I, until I saw the announcement of this program! He was a Chicago architect, trained by William LeBaron Jenney, was a friend of Jane Addams, built the town of Pullman, and did some houses in my neighborhood. Architect David Swan recently edited Pond's autobiography, and he gave the lecture and showed slides of Pond's work. Afterwards, there was a walking tour of his local houses, but it was a bit chilly and the drizzle had increased to actual rain, so I passed on that portion of the event.

Took my car in for service yesterday, and I barely recognized it when I picked it up. It was clean! It had gotten really grungy from the snow and slush, so I was glad it was warm enough for the dealer to give it a wash. The car had to be there for several hours, so I went home and cleaned my kitchen floor, which was in an absolutely disgusting condition.

One of the ways that the economic situation seems to have affected cultural institutions is that they are having free, or low-cost, events in order to promote themselves. I've been to two such lately. Chicago Opera Theatre recently hosted an event to introduce the upcoming spring season. It was held at the Mars Gallery, sort of off the beaten path in the gentrifying West Loop area. Various members of the artistic staff gave brief speeches, costume and set designs were on display, and there were nibblies and drinks, including a delicious "operatini", consisting of gin, sour mix and honey. That particular event actually cost me more than the ticket price, because I noticed this cross, by Shelley Barberot, a New Orleans artist, and had to have it:

Cross - by Shelley Barberot

A few days later, Steppenwolf Theatre Company hosted a free event to promote their production of "The Brother/Sister Plays", which I'm definitely going to try to get to, probably toward the end of the run, between my trips to Europe and New York! It was held at their rehearsal space, in the landmarked Yondorf Hall, and featured excellent food from a restaurant near me, as well as a performance by the Muntu Dance Theatre, followed by audience participation:

Teaching the girls to dance

There were a couple of other events that night I was thinking of going to, but this one went on a bit longer than I expected, and I was a bit tired, so I didn't.

The people who run the Community Supported Agriculture program I was involved in last summer have started doing a Sunday brunch at a local café. Last week was their first, so I stopped by and the food was great. They do a buffet, but you can also get an entrée, together or separately. The buffet is all vegetarian, but one of the entrées is not. Last week it was salmon, and was very good.

Berlioz' Damnation of Faust at Lyric on Friday was just okay. The singers were great, but the opera isn't a favorite and the production was just so-so. They did some "updating", which generally was okay, but the descent into hell just isn't as scary when the demons are guys in suits and women with baby carriages. And, frankly, neighbors descending on Marguerite with pitchforks and frying pans because she's fornicating with Faust seems a bit unlikely in modern times! But I had an enjoyable dinner with the Harrises and Jim & Kevin. J & K were just back from a trip to Australia and New Zealand, where they had covered much the same ground as our friend Jamie (who missed this time because he's in Arizona with family) did a short while ago (visting the same friends, etc.), so the conversation had a bit of a déja vu feel to it!

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