It’s difficult to leave Chicago in the summer, there’s just too much going on. I love walking over to the Spirit of Music Garden tucked in Grant Park for the SummerDance events. People of all ages and from all walks of life come to dance, listen to that evening’s band and people watch. Neither handsome-hunk husband nor I are very good dancers. We just move to the music, have fun and laugh a lot (at ourselves!). Last Friday, it was a cool evening, but people still came out to dance to an impressive bluesy swing band. The large wooden dance floor is surrounded by lush gardens where you can buy a glass of wine or beer at a little stand and find a table or put down a blanket. Sometimes there is the exotic smell of cigar smoke wafting in the sultry evening air, chattering in foreign languages, summery dresses and the beat of the samba that make me feel as if I’m in a foreign country on a dreamy summer night.

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Early Saturday morning, we visited the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago that opened recently. Designed by Renzo Piano, it’s a majestic but austere home for some of my favorite modern paintings, including a large Roberto Matta that is now featured in a prime location. Since the new wing is located across the street from the colorful Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, we also wandered over there to see what was in bloom.

View from Lurie Garden of the new Modern Wing:

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View from Modern Wing gallery of Millennium Park’s Lurie Garden and Pritzker Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry:

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Photo courtesy of Philimonjaro

Photo courtesy of Philimonjaro

Creativity oozes out of Chicago’s pores, and wonderfully it isn’t all mainstream but sometimes is more inventive and surprising in an off-off-Broadway fashion. Saturday night, we went with close friends to see ArcheDream for Humankind, a Philadelphia based multi-disciplinary mask theatre that performed at the Burning Man festival in 2008. Catalyst Collective, a group of seriously fun and talented local artists/promoters, sponsored the event in a raw space a few miles from downtown. It was an impressive and inspiring production that is touring the U.S. this summer.

Photo courtesy of Philimonjaro

Photo courtesy of Philimonjaro

Colorful masks worn in the performance:

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And, after a run along the sparkling lake this morning, we lounged in the park and read the NYT. Finally to top off the weekend, we headed out this evening to catch the tail end of Blues Fest in Grant Park with rhythm and blues headliner Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.

Once again, Chicago has kicked off the summer in grand style, bring it on!

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