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10:48 a.m. - March 20, 2007
Art Art Baby!
The highlight of the Chicago trip was not:

1. Finding a cache of chocolates secreted away from the Marriott in Washington, DC in my travel kit.
2. Having someone look at my Wabash College jacket and go "Hey, Little Giants" as he walked past me.
3. Having some drunk dude try to high five me whilst wearing the same Wabash College jacket (which is red and says WABASH on the front) and when I refuse, go "What's the deal, Wisconsin?" which caused guffaws from all around after he left.
4. Having three kids ask Liz and I directions to the Watertower Place. Or, in their words, "Where's that big-ass mall? You know, the Water Mall."

No, believe it or not, it WAS the Chicago Art Institute.

Now, if you've never been to a big city art museum, it's a lot different than art museums in BFE land. Sure, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Eiteljorg have some nice pieces, but the Chicago Art Institute has some historic works.

Liz loves the Institute because they have a room of Impressionists, and she loves her Monet and the little bitty dots and water lilies and haystacks and that whole thing.

So we ventured into the art museum, home of art and art patrons. Many were decked out in green and had vestiges from the St. Patrick's Day parade, with green accoutrements scattered about their body. But it's hard to look snooty and pretentious wearing shamrock deelie bobbers, so that took some of the air out of people's sails.

We got through the line and ventured in, eschewing the current exhibit (Picasso's nice but a little Picasso goes a long way) (and you see, eschewing - a very snooty arty word - so yeah I'm in the spirit of it all) and just paid for a general admission ticket.

We looked at some nice Western Hemisphere Indigenous Art and some African Art (which didn't really seem like art, it seemed like stuff they used up until as recently as the 1920s, but you know, there's not much call for tribal drums and decorative masks over here, is there?) we went right to it.

The Impressionists!

In all of their pointillistic glory! Woot!

Yes, you can go online to see the works, but there's nothing like getting up close and personal with Seurat, Renoir, Monet, and the boys.

They had a lot of works that I remember seeing the last time we were there, and some that I didn't recall at all. But it was very nice to take it all in.

I'm not an art expert by any means, but I know what I like.

Wandering past the impressionists, we went further into the 20th century, and saw works that were vibrant and bold. It's like in the early 20th century they found COLOR! and used COLOR! in hues and tones that I don't think ever existed before or since. The COLOR! seems to want to burn your eyes out and the COLOR! isn't really what you expect the COLOR! to be.

Did I mention that there was some COLOR!

We also looked at those famous lozenge paintings by Mondrian. You know. This one.

It's like I could do that. But I didn't. So he wins.

Then we found some more modern works, and I was amused by the piece of art which was basically a big piece of wood with a whole bunch of nails hammered into it and it was all whitewashed.

I don't recall the title or the artists, and I'm sure it's significant. But as I was strolling away I saw a pretentious couple on what had to be a first date or something, because he was all talking about the piece and using his hands to 'frame it' and she was all, "I really like this piece. It speaks to me. It symbolizes..." and at that point I checked out.

But it was definitely a first date or at least a first art museum date. It just had that vibe. They weren't in contact, but they were close by each other. Liz and I were off meandering on our own in the same gallery.

I also saw one of Picasso's works, The Red Armchair, and I know I was glad that Liz did not have eyes like that. Did Picasso eat a lot of flatfish during his cubist period?

After we got all modern, we ventured over to the older European art. I do kind of like this, and not because those old masters liked to throw in bare breasts at the drop of a hat (and of course, they were quite buxom breasts, as you know, and not silicon buxom either -OK, I DO like the buxom bare breasts...sigh...) but the art is just so different from the Impressionists and art going forward.

Most definitely, this collection was almost all commissioned by kings or religious leaders, because there's a whole bunch of religious imagery of all kinds in these pieces.

One thing I didn't know the answer to was why there was a lot of Madonna + Child + John the Baptist. Now, I do know that John the Baptist was born before Jesus and was considered the 'forerunner' of course, but I didn't think John the Baptist and Jesus knew each other as kids, much less frolic around on Mary.

They also had a lot of paintings of Judith, especially Judith in the nude after she knocked someone's block off, literally. I find that funny, because Judith's story was stricken from the Bible and cast off into the Apocrypha, probably by the very male-centric church. You can read more about it here and read it here. Go for it - just don't lose your head.

(Oh, I slay myself with obscure jokes about the Apocrypha - har har de har!)

With that, and the realization that we need to get our fat butts out to exercise since our footsies ached, we departed the Art Institute. There was no more line, there was no crowd waiting to get into Miller's, but there were still plenty of people milling about decked in St. Patrick's finery (or less than finery).

But it was a great trip. I always enjoy being 'cultured' and really look forward to more trips to the Chicago Art Institute.

I may even bring a sharpie so I can connect Monet's dots.

(I kid - Liz - I kid!!!)


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