Simply ordinary observations from an ordinary person - sometimes having to do with health care issues, sometimes not. Topics will change as my attention wanders. Yours probably will too....

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Art of Travel

Last week at this time I was packing bags for my first trip to Chicago, to attend an Edward Hopper exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute. The solitude, isolation, simplicity, and starkness of his images have always touched me and I decided it was worth a 4 hour flight to see a collection of his works. I was right - it was definitely worth the time and money.

Chicago's beauty and vibrant activity surprised me. I'm not sure what I expected, since changing planes at O'Hare was the closest I'd ever come to the city. But it was wonderful - full of spring tulips, spring tourists, spring showers, and spring energy. The weather changed every hour but that didn't seem to matter to anyone expect me, the West Coast Wimp unaccustomed to thundershowers, hail, humidity, or other variances from dry sunshine.

And, the city is full of art. Not just in the Art Institute but also in parks, in the business district, in public buildings, and in hotel rooms. Although the Hopper exhibit was the main reason for my trip, I encountered many more pieces over the course of 5 days. There are my 3 favorites, listed in order of size:

One: Cloud Gate: the astonishing polished stainless steel "bean" installed in Millennium Park just off Michigan Avenue. I visited the bean several times, at different times of the day, and never grew tired of it. It's brilliant in concept and in construction, and is obviously well loved by tourists and residents alike.

Two: The Edward Hopper painting which was hanging near the end of the exhibit, Sun in an Empty Room. It was a deceptively powerful piece - just a corner of a room with sunlight coming through an open window. He was 80 when he painted it, just 4 years before his death. Maybe old age will be like that - quiet, still, and uncluttered with time enough to just sit and watch sunlight move across a bare floor. Like many of his paintings, it also had a tinge of loneliness and isolation but I preferred to see it as comfortable solitude.

Three: The Chicago Cultural Center had a rather odd exhibit sponsored by the Orthopedic Surgeons Assoc. (or something close to that) with artwork done by patients and doctors. The pieces were interesting but mostly meaningful only to their creator (much like my blog!) and other than Miracle Manny, I really only remember one. It was a small photograph of a resident in scrubs, asleep somewhere within the depths of a generic hospital. It has been 'photo-shopped" to resemble an impressionist watercolor and was nicely composed and framed. But what was striking to me was the body mechanics of this obviously exhausted young man. When I take a nap on my couch, I put my feet up and snuggle up with a wrap and two cats. The resident was sitting - knees bent, feet flat, and upper body completely collapsed to the side. He was deeply asleep but ready for action at the same time. Although I doubt it was a conscious decision, it was a very efficient posture requiring minimal movement to get upright again when the beeper sounded. The photographer and subject would probably be surprised that I'm still thinking of the piece, but that's the purpose of art right?!

No comments: