I went to downtown Chicago today for a concert, but first wandered through the Loop a bit. It was a Day of Art since the city has a wonderful tradition of outdoor artwork from renowned artists. It began in 1967 when Pablo Picasso designed a terrific, fascinating, albeit odd sculpture when Richard J. Daley was mayor, and it resides in what is now Daley Plaza.
When I walked by today, it was in a setting unlike any I had every seen. Because it was the early part of lunch hour, the plaza (and, in turn, the sculpture) was ringed by food trucks. I had two reactions: the first was what a shame to have such a magnificent piece of hour off-set by this mass of half-a-dozen big vehicles. The second though was to note how accepted this great work is as a daily part of the city (no pun intended), and there was something almost charming to have it blend in to it all
Continuing my walk, I passed by what is probably my favorite of the outdoor "world-class" artwork. Much as I really like The Picasso (as it's known in town), I love the piece designed by Marc Chagall for the city in 1977. I believe it's called "The Four Seasons," and is a gorgeous, joyful mosaic that presents each season on a side of a large rectangular block. It's pretty in photographs, but they don't come close to doing it justice, because only up close can you see that it's not a painting, focus on the tens of thousands of little colored stones that make up the work, and walk around all four sides.
The work sits on the east side of what was originally the First National Bank of Chicago Plaza, but is now called Exelon Plaza.
There's a good deal of other outdoor art by world-famous artists throughout the downtown, including another one I particular like that's of a 53-foot tall flamingo by Alexander Calder. However, I didn't pass by it on this trip.
But it was one other piece of art that was really the destination of my walk, and why I took the El in early. For as much as I love the Chagall and Picasso (and Calder), this one sculpture stands out tall above them all. It's the second of the three fiberglass horses that my cousin Diana Leviton Gondek designed for the city. I wrote about one yesterday, down the block from Wrigley Field, and this one sits outside the Office of the Mayor in City Hall.
That's two horses down, one to go. After taking a picture of the horse, I set about writing about it for a posting on Facebook. I'm not the fastest typist on a mobile phone, so it took a while. During all this, a few people came out of Mayor Emmanuel's office (I made sure to get the sign in my photo) and noticed me there, taking pictures and doing something on my phone that was taking forever. They politely, but warily asked what I was doing. "I am the cousin of the artiste!" I explained. (Okay, I didn't say "artiste," but that was the subtext.) They took that well, since they all like the horse. As well they should
The end of my Day of Art took me took Symphony Hall for a concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I had lunch first with one of the executives of the CSO on the top floor of Symphony Hall, which was a treat -- it's a very old building with great architecture. And the concert was great. Their music director Riccardo Muti was in town, so he conducted. A couple of pieces by Debussy and two by Tchaikowsky. And it sounded as rich and vibrant and meticulous as I've heard them.
But the horse. That was the treat...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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