Sunday, January 27, 2019

Millennium Park

When I was working in Chicago back in the late 90's, Millennium Park was just a vast open space on one side of Michigan Avenue.  Plans were in process but, they had just barely started work on the park.  Today it is a magical place for residents and tourists alike to experience and enjoy.  One of the most popular features is "Cloud Gate" by Anish Kapoor located on the AT&T Plaza.  Chicagoans have dubbed it "the bean" for obvious reasons.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion is another popular feature.  This Frank Gehry designed bandshell contains 4,000 fixed seats and room for 7,000 more on the lawn.  It is named for Jay Pritzker whose family owns Hyatt Hotels.

Frank Gehry also designed the BP Pedestrian Bridge that runs through the park and crosses over Columbus Drive.  It is the first bridge that Gehry has designed.  It was funded by BP, plc. (British Petroleum).

The Lurie Garden is another feature of the park.  It is a 2.5 acre garden filled with perennials, bulbs, grasses, shrubs and trees.

All those wonderful plants successfully muffle the noise of a busy city and make you feel like you are actually in the country until you look up see all those tall buildings surrounding you.  The garden is named for Ann Lurie a Chicago philanthropist.

The Crown Fountain is a favorite with children and families.  As you can see from the photos, it's a great place so splash around in the water.

The fountain is an interactive, video sculpture.  Faces appear on the glass block towers and they smile and wink and then suddenly "spit out" a fountain of water from each of the tall towers.

The fountain is named for the Lester Crown family who were instrumental in the design selection and building of the fountain.    They supplied the 17 million dollars needed to build it.

Wrigley Square sits on the Northwest corner of the park near Michigan Avenue.  It features the millennium monument, a limestone peristyle monument rising 40 feet high.  The base contains the names of 91 contributors to the park who all contributed at least 1 million dollars for the park's development.  The William Wrigley Jr, Foundation contributed 5 million as did the most of the other benefactors I mentioned above.

Millennium Park is now a "must see" destination in the city of Chicago.  I find a way to visit it again on every trip I make to the city.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Church at the End of the Street

If you have ever been to Santa Fe, you will most likely recognize this church at the end of this street. It is the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi or most commonly called the St. Francis Cathedral.

The church was built between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older church that was once destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed again.  This church was built by Jean Baptiste Lamy.

Above the altar hangs the San Damiano Crucifix, a replica of one found in Assisi Italy.  Behind the crucifix is a panel filled with paintings of various saints with St. Francis of Assisi in the center.  (He's partially hidden in this photo.)

On the grounds of the cathedral are several sculptures and monuments.  This one commemorates the first European settlers of New Mexico, the Spanish Colonists of 1598.

This statue stands at the front entrance to the cathedral and represents Kateri Tekakwitha the first native American of North America to be elevated to a saint.  This statue is the work of sculptor Estella Loretto.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Paintings for the Future

Last week my post was all about the inspiring architecture of the Guggenheim Museum in New York.  In that post I mentioned that while I was engrossed in the genius of the building's design, I also enjoyed the current exhibit.

I always enjoy seeing the works of great masters that I can only see when visiting other cities.  However, it is something very special to be introduced to an artist I had never heard of before and to be so taken with her body of work.

The exhibit is of the paintings and drawings of Hilma af Klint a Swedish born artist who began painting abstract works in 1906, long before Kandinsky and others opened the door to that style.

Klint was convinced that the world was not ready for this style of art and because of that she stipulated in her will that her works not be shown for 20 years following her death.  However, it was closer to 40 years before her work was seen and began to receive serious attention.

This exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum is the first major solo exhibit of her work in the United States.

I found the whole exhibit fascinating.  Almost as fascinating as Klint's story and her belief that her art was way ahead of its time.  Klint became involved in spiritualism and Theosophy.  The Guggenheim describes her work as an "effort to articulate mystical views of reality."  I just found it to be the perfect display of work inside this perfectly designed building.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Art and Architecture

I've been to New York many times but, in all those prior visits I had never made it to the Guggenheim before last October.  For this trip, I made a point of getting there.  I had only seen photographs of this Frank Lloyd Wright designed building.  It was great to finally see it in person.

The building really is pretty spectacular to see.  For someone like me who loves patterns and the geometry of architecture, it was hard to put my camera down so I could view the art.

After spending a dizzying amount of time pointing my camera upward, I finally took a friend's advice and headed to the top floor so that I could slowly wind my way down admiring the art exhibit along the way.

Of course, that didn't stop me from looking over the edge to photograph all those patterns dotted with people from a different point of view.

At one point on the second level, there is a planter full of sansevieria plants.  I decided those plants would make a perfect frame for all those curves and layers in every direction around me.

I'll tell you a little about the art exhibit I saw there in another post.  For now, here is a tiny little peek between all those layers that gives just a glimpse of the artworks on display.