Monday, February 24, 2014

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Last week, winter finally got to me.  I was officially over the snow and the drab and the traffic and the hibernating, so I decided to take a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago for some inspiration.  I was losing brain cells from the consistent winter schedule of running home to sweatpants and Netflix binges, so I needed an intellectual change.  En route to turning this new leaf, I of course encountered more snow, traffic, and cold temperatures, again tempting me to be deterred from making it to AIC, or any place other than straight to my bed.  I suffered through the 1:45 minutes’ worth of traffic to finally arrive downtown, but unfortunately this epic poem of getting to the museum did not end there.

Having reserved a parking spot online in a nearby garage, I made my way over to the Adams and Wabash area.  Not having fully read the instructions or directions that came with the parking reservation, however, I ended up in the wrong garage.  This mistake took all of 2 minutes for me to realize, and still cost me $12.00 to correct.  Aggravated and not feeling so well, I eventually--finally--walked the few blocks from the proper garage to AIC—and believe me, the cold temperature that day became more refreshing than annoying by this point in my trip.

Busts of Silenus (Busts Fashioned in the Shape of Silenoi)
The Art Institute looked a little light on exhibits that day.  “The Production Line of Happiness” seemed to be the only exhibit among the empty galleries in the Modern Wing, which I didn’t stick around for (there was a lot of reading involved and I wasn’t in the mood).  So back to the main building, I headed over to the Chagall America Windows, and just stood there basking for a bit in the blue glow. Then I walked through the hall of Greek and Roman art, admiring how these Silenus busts of ugly drunken spirits (pictured) do so closely resemble the drunks littering Clark street day in and day out.  And so on I went to one of the newer exhibitions, “When the Greeks Ruled Egypt.”  The history of Ancient Egypt has a special place in my heart, so I made sure to spend time here reading and learning.   Before going home, I decided to make a trip to my favorite spot in the entire museum, the Sculpture Court.  I enjoy the quiet and the lighting there, so it was good I got a calming fix in before my somewhat traumatic experience in the American Modern galleries upstairs.

I will reiterate that I was not feeling well this day, and was also a little out of it.  Eventually the AIC was able to turn my aggravation of the day into a sort of absorbent daze as I looked at the different works of art.  So, still in this daze, I happen upon my favorite Ivan Albright paintings (That Which I Should Have Done and Did Not Do and Picture of Dorian Gray), admiring the incredible detail and skill, and floating over to other interesting paintings.  At this point, mid-float, I noticed that my giant purse was touching the metal low rail protecting the painting, so I tried to avoid that happening and moved in a way that my knee instead made contact with the metal low rail, so much so that it knocked it to the ground (out of the floor it had been securely screwed into).  There was a clatter of metal banging, and I sort of stood there for a moment in disbelief before slyly looking around the gallery to see if anyone had noticed (one man did, and told me it would be better to leave the items where they fell).  Fortunately a security guard was not there to witness in person, although one did quickly come into the room surveying the situation.  Upon hoofing it the hell out of that gallery and heard the discrepancy being reported over a walkie-talkie, I noticed that a section of American Modern was empty and roped off for construction. 

The Hippodrome, London by Everett Shinn (aka the painting that lured me into defacing the low rail)

As I walked through the familiar-yet-favorite Indian and Himilayan art in Alsdorff Galleries, I realized that the emptiness and construction I saw in the Modern American and Modern Wings did not bother me so much after all.  Despite the bruise from my mishap upstairs and the headache I had been combating that day, I was still able get a fulfilling trip out of seeing my favorite spots and pieces in the museum.  Although I may have seen the Chagall Windows and Dorian Gray a hundred times already, they never cease to amaze me.  Their color and detail were more than I had seen in all the three months of being buried under the snow.  And I even found a new favorite painting--even though it may have led me to deface the museum.  Leaning in to watch that circus performer swing from the ceiling of The Hippodrome, knocking into the low rail, might have been just the kick I needed to get back on track.  I left AIC feeling satisfied, on to finish the epic poem of getting home and into those sweatpants.  


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