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For one brief shining day the sun was out, the temps were in the low 40s and everyone came out of their winter caves to inhale the glory yesterday. The laser beam of the sun was so acid bright that it was difficult for my eyes to adjust to the glare. ART + SUN = FUN! Unfortunately it’s raining today, and I’m hunkered down in front of the fireplace (ok so it’s gas).  Retrace our  fun-in-the-sun day with me…

I  manipulated this photo to make the brown remnants of last summer’s plants green!  Truly though, the snow was melting and we did see new green sprouts.

Chicago’s Millennium Park is featuring contemporary sculptures from China. This one by Chen Wenling was entitled “Valiant Struggle No.11.” The pig motif is one of his signature images. He turns this local symbol of wealth (the pig) into an icon of contemporary Chinese society: fantastic, ironic, satiric and comical. Holding on to the dangling pig are a man and woman.

From Millennium Park we took the walkway to the sensational Modern Wing of the Art Institute.

One of the rooms featured wallpaper with repetitive images of a black man hanging from a tree and a white man sleeping.  Cat litter bags are lined up against the wall, and the unfilled wedding gown stood in the middle of the room. The next picture offers the artist’s explanation.

This struck me because I was just speaking with a dear friend about the plight of gay marriage in our country.


It was fun to see people out walking dogs, pushing baby carriages and enjoying, hopefully, one of the last weekends of ice skating.

We grabbed a cup of coffee and walked over to the Gehry band shell. It wasn’t too hard to imagine spreading a blanket on a warm summer night to listen to the music.

Looking UP…the patterns of surrounding buildings.

Looking DOWN, it was fun to see the art in a worn sidewalk.

We stoppd to pick up a falafel to eat in a sunny spot by the river.

The falafel shop had this funny, strange shelf of figurines.

Fun in the sun. A hopeful sign that summer is on its way!

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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!