Chicago, My Kind of Town, Part 1–Millennium Park

I finally made my first trip to Chicago (to the actual city, not to change planes at O’Hare Airport) weekend before last, and had a wonderful time! The amazing Robert Ward arranged for my air travel so I could meet him there and attend his performance with the National Brass Ensemble at the Chicago Symphony Center on September 20, 2015. More on that in a later post!

map CSC symphony-center-56 the concert performers

We stayed at the very lovely Palmer House Hotel (more on that in a later post, too). The ubiquitous selfie:

selfie Palmer

Since Bob was in rehearsals all day Saturday and Sunday morning, I went solo adventuring to Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Cultural Center. This part focuses on Millennium Park; there are several more Chicago posts to come!

My friend Debra sent the enigmatic message SEE THE BEAN. I had no idea what this meant; code for something sinister? But my other friend Google quickly got me sorted out on that, and I headed off to Millennium Park, just a short walk from the hotel and on my way to the Art Institute of Chicago. The park comprises 24 acres that cover the former rail yard and parking lot of the Illinois Central Railroad, and was established as a joint public/private partnership to celebrate the passage of the second millennium. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, attractions include the music pavilion (Pritzker Pavilion) designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the Crown Fountain designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, and Cloud Gate (aka The Bean), by artist Anish Kapoor. This sculpture, in the AT&T plaze area of the park, is made up of 168 welded stainless plates, highly polished with no visible seams. Given that it measures 33 x 66 x 42 feet and is extremely reflective, it is hard to miss!

Maps of Millennium Park:

Map 1 map Millennium Park Map

Pritzker Pavilion:

pritzker 1

Cloud Gate (The Bean):

bean 2 bean 1

The Crown Fountain, whose walls show an interchanging gallery of 1000 LED portraits of Chicago residents:

plensa 4 plensa 5

Also on display in the park are additional sculputes by Plensa on loan from the artist and Richard Gray Gallery; the exhibition is entitled 1004 Portraits, referring to the 1,000 of the Crown Fountain now complemented by an additional 4: the 39-foot tall resin and marble dust sculpture Look into My Dreams, Awilda that graces the entrance to the park:

plensa 6

And the 3 cast iron sculptures Paula, Laura, and Ines that are each 20 feet tall and to the east of the Crown Fountain:

Plensa 1 Plensa 2 plensa 3

There are also other displays through the park, such as this photographic display of the history of the park:

park history display park history display label

And as one would expect, there are the more traditional park features and views:

fountain view

I could have spent the whole day taking in the beauty of the park; it is remarkably well-kept, with beautiful lawns and flower beds. Coming from the drought-plagued dry, brown hills of California, it was indeed a sight for sore eyes. There seems to be a lot of Chicago civic pride in their jewel of a city park, right in the Loop and easily accessible to everyone. But the Art Institute of Chicago was beckoning!

Next up: Ferris Bueller Had it Right (the Art Institute of Chicago)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s