Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer Hours


Summer Hours: work an additional hour Monday through Thursday, and take half the day off on Friday. Simple as that. So what's a boy to do with five hours on his hands?

Just before I shut my office computer down for the day I felt a sudden urge to do some exploring. With a destination in mind, I found a bus route online. I shut down the computer, left the office and started on my journey. As it turned out, the weather was so nice that I disregarded the bus route I just found and walked all the way to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Perhaps you've heard of this place. I know my knowledge of it was minimal, but once inside I entered a place that transcends time. There I was, a little kid from Carencro, face-to-face with priceless works of art. The institute itself was beautiful, but the works inside were indescribable. I had a feeling of disbelief as I looked upon original works by Picasso, Monet, Edward Hopper, C├ęzanne and Frank Lloyd Wright.

One of the most striking exhibits was half-art and half-history. Pieces of pottery, statues and armor from various Chinese dynasties lined the walls of one exhibit. At first, it was easy to pass by and think "that's a nice teapot," and then I read the description of the pottery, saying that it was well over 1,000 years old. Some exhibits seemed more about history and geography than art, but every piece was extraordinary in its own right.

The beauty of the institute came from the steady realization of the time, dedication and patience that went into every single piece. From Picasso himself to an unnamed Asian peasant carving beautiful pottery from stone, it was overwhelming to think that, even if for only a few minutes, our lives intersected as I looked upon their masterpieces.

Much to my disappointment many exhibits were under construction, leaving great works like Van Gough's self portrait out of sight. That was alright by me; only further motivation to return. The same goes for the American Art Exhibit. My camera battery died just before I entered the exhibit, but by not posting pictures I'm providing something for my family to look forward to whenever they visit later this summer.

I didn't want to leave, and I certainly wasn't growing tired, but my feet, however, did get tired and they got the best of me. My day at the Art Institute came to a close, but I left determined to return. What an experience!

Knowing that in the late 1800s Chicago hoped to change its image, wanting to be known as a city of culture and art rather than an exaggerated stockyard, Chicagoans can rest assured that their city is home to one of the most extraordinary collections of art on the planet.

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