Chicago. The windy city! Not nicknamed for the bloody freezing winds that whip through the city off Lake Michigan, but for the hot air that spews out of the mouths of politicians.
Still, it works both ways.
My second day on the U.S. saw me trek to Chicago, the windy city. I arrived to a dark city getting pelted with rain in a balmy 4 degrees, so naturally upon getting to my AirBnB I went for a run to see what was around. Not much. Turns out, I ran in the wrong direction to all the things! That’s OK, I am trying to not come back with an additional 40kgs on me, so the run was well worth it… then I ate tacos.
Well. Well.. Well….
I have been told many times that Mexican food is better in America, and after staying in a Latin neighbourhood, I can confirm… It definitely is. The tacos were the bomb.
A sleep in, because I was buggered and then to the Art Institute of Chicago.
It is amazing. I didn't take a whole bunch of photos in the Institute because shitty photos of magnificent works of art and things that are thousands of years old, just seems rude.
I have always been drawn to activities that force me to do things I am not good at. For instance, I box because I find it hard to clear my mind unless someone is trying to knock my block off.
I think this is partly what made Impressionism my first art love, and Monet my first favourite painter. With impressionism, there is nothing to be gained from over scrutinising. Getting too close to the painting you lose all concept of what it actually is. You are forced to step back, take it all in, and enjoy the way the dots and swirls of colour come together to paint the most beautiful scenes. The Monet 'The Petite Creuse River' was placed in a corner and drew my attention for quite a while.
There are dozens of spectacular artworks in this exhibition alone, Pissaro, Van Gough, Monet, Sisley, Renoit, Gauguin, Manet, Caillebotte, Cezanne and many others. It truly was a fantastic exhibition and it took me by very pleasant surprise.
Downstairs, a photo exhibition,
"Provoke: Photography in Japan between Protest and Performance, 1960–1975"
Some really interesting pieces and stories going on in this exhibition. I could explain more about the exhibition, but the thing that took me most by surprise was overhearing a man speaking about a video in which protesters were engaged in protesting the building of Narita Airport.
The video shows the protesters being violently removed as they fight against US intervention in Japanese politics and for the rights of the farmers to keep the land that was being taken for the Airport.
"You can't stand in the way of progress, I bet they built it anyway"
"Lets just give them back Okinawa, sure, and lets give them the Atomic bomb while we're at it"
Speaking as though the Japanese were people that needed to be kept down and should know their place. That these people shouldn't protest because its a waste of time. I was shocked to over hear such callous remarks, as was this mans companion, who said "They're taking their land, what would you do?" He continued on talking about how they need to get over it etc etc. I understand when people don't quite get another persons situation, but I am bothered when I hear people avoid attempting to understand another persons circumstance in order to empathise. Dismissal is a cause of so many problems, and would be better suited to somewhere other than a discussion about cultural and personal identity through art... In my opinion anyway.
Nonetheless there was some fantastic photographic work, from the Japanese magazine Provoke which I found very interesting. It was raw, rough and at times pretty confronting.
Among other crazy but cool exhibitions in the Art Institute, there was some 3000 year old peruvian pottery, 1200 year old weaponry from the Europe, amazing Medieval artworks from Europe and a whole exhibition of amazing miniature room recreations!
The 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms enable one to glimpse elements of European interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s and American furnishings from the 17th century to the 1930s. Painstakingly constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot, these fascinating models were conceived by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and constructed between 1932 and 1940 by master craftsmen according to her specifications.
Next it was off to Cindy's, a rooftop bar in Chicago in a former Athletic club. It is immaculately presented and comes with all the trappings of a fancy hipster place to drink, including drinks with weird names, bearded bartenders and pretentious staff!
The view, however, is awesome and I got to view the shiny bean (Cloud Gate) for the first time, from above!
Downstairs from Cindy's is a Shake Shak, where I had my first Shake Shak Burger and.... Shake. It was good, but basically just a fast food burger and shake. The setting for this meal however, was pretty special!
I ended up bumping into a little bar called 'Blue Chicago', a live blues bar for a couple of Goose Island beers and some good ol' fashioned Blues.
It was awesome. The beer was great and the blues were soulful, playful and loud.
Chicago, in the first day, you have done a fine, fine job I must say.
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports