Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thith Fountain'th The Besssth!

Pipkin's hope for a grassy spot to nap was a bust, but continuing his hop south in Millennium Park he came across Crown Fountain, which, in his opinion, is the best fountain ever!

Two 50 foot (15 m) tall glass brick towers oppose one another across a shallow granite pool. Images of Chicago residents are displayed on LED screens while water pours over the structure. After a few moments, the faces begin spitting out a stream of water!

Pipkin loves art that is accessible, that fits in with its surroundings and is interactive and fun, and he enjoyed seeing diversity in the faces of Chicago. This place isn't just great on a hot summer day for splashing around, but it's a lot of fun for people watching! Tourists will walk by and stand in front of the towers to take photos, unaware that they are about to get a soaking.  It's fun to people watch and watch the people watching other people.

Most fountains you can't even splash around in. The fountain is surrounded by benches for tired parents to sit on while their kids run around burning off some energy. Juame Plensa did a fantastic job designing this fountain, and the city park provided a wonderful place for people to enjoy Chicago. Well done!

Crown Fountain is located in Millennium Park between Cloud Gate and the Art Institute of Chicago. The fountain runs, weather permitting, from May to October.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Great Lawn at Millennium Park

immaculate green
pristine blades, a sharp warning -
please keep off the grass

After braving the crowds visiting Cloud Gate, Pipkin wanted a chance to nap (and maybe snack) on the grass at the Great Lawn in front of the Frank Gehry designed Pritzker Pavilion. There were no musical events scheduled at the bandshell, so Pip assumed he'd have no trouble finding a spot on the lawn. He was right, unfortunately. The disappointment inspired the above haiku by Domo.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Agora: The Gathering Place - Grant Park, Chicago

Wandering around the south end of Chicago's Grant Park, Domo came upon a large group of armless, headless sculptures, seemingly caught suspended in a moment of walking meditation. There was something about these sculptures that made Domo feel incredibly warm, welcome, and included.

Agora is the name of this collection of sculptures by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz, and it is Greek for "gathering place" or "assembly". All 106 sculptures are 9 feet (2.7 m) tall and were made from a seamless piece of iron.

Pipkin isn't very fond of crowds (and neither is the artist, whose fear of crowds is thematic in her work) and he has a fear of being trampled underfoot, but he braved walking amongst these stoic figures. He loved their rusted, bark like texture.

Domo, who has often felt a little like an outsider (people don't "get" what he is. Brown, boxy, lock-jawed. He's been teased about being an ice cream sandwich - like that's a bad thing to be?) but walking amongst these sculptures he really felt like he belonged in this gathering place. That's the interesting thing about art. Everyone interprets it in different ways, depending on who they are and what they see.

Domo may have enjoyed being in the thick of the crowd but Pipkin appreciated seeing the mass from a little ways away.

However you may enjoy viewing these sculptures, you'll find them at the south end of Grant Park, at Michigan Ave and East Roosevelt Rd.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Labbits Like Beans: Cloud Gate at Millennium Park

Partly cloudy days are perfect for visiting and photographing Anish Kapoor's stainless steel sculpture Cloud Gate at Millennium Park. Its legume like shape has resulted in the nickname The Bean.

To Domo, the Bean looks a lot like the T-1000 from Terminator 2, or that NTI (non-terrestrial intelligence) probe/water creature from The Abyss. The Bean seems harmless enough now, just sitting there. Watching. Waiting.

Pipkin doesn't see anything ominous about the Bean. Its omphalos (Greek for "navel") on the underside is rather cute, in his opinion. The concave design warps and duplicates reflections around it, but at its center you can find yourself again.

With a self-timer, you can get all sorts of fun pictures. Since Pip and Domo are small in the human world, they picked a quiet spot under the Bean for a photo where they wouldn't get trampled on.

This would be a great spot for photos at dusk, when it's dark enough that the city lights come on, but light enough in the sky still to take great pictures of the city mirrored in Cloud Gate.

Moon and Bean

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Take Me Out to the Baaaaall Gaaaaame!

It's the 100th Anniversary of Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Pip and Domo aren't baseball fans, but Wrigley Field is such an iconic part of Chicago they had to go.

Flanking the historic art deco marquee sign are huge signs with 1914 and 2014 in the style of the Cubs' jersey numbers. If you've ever seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off, you might remember the marquee said, "Save Ferris". (Ferris Bueller's Day off was John Hughes' love letter to the city of Chicago. It's a fun movie to watch.)

If you walk around the field, you'll notice many of the residential buildings have built their own bleachers on the roof. In the past, people would have cookouts and parties on the roof where they could enjoy the game for free. Now there are bleachers and people are charged for a seat. As you can imagine, this didn't go over very well with Wrigley Field, so for now, part of the profits are shared with Wrigley Field, although the seat numbers aren't included in the official seat capacity count at the field.

Even though Pip's not a baseball fan, he appreciated this detail on the left field foulpole (he knows enough to know it's left field. How about that?) The flags are the retired numbers of Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Ferguson Jenkins. Pipkin's a little sentimental and tender hearted, and this (and the right field foulpole honoring Billy Williams and Ryne Sandberg) is his favorite feature of the park.

Monday, June 2, 2014

G is for Gorey - C is for Chicago

After Pipkin saw all the Dr. Seuss sculptures at Water Tower Place, he crossed the street to check out the old looking building nestled between all the modern glass and steel skyscrapers. He learned that it's the Historic Water Tower, built in 1869 for Chicago's municipal water system. The tower used to house a water pipe that regulated water pressure.

The water tower survived the 1871 fire that leveled most of Chicago, and today is an art gallery showcasing the work of local artists and photographers, and it's free to the public.

Pipkin made another fun discovery when he crossed the street. While he was looking up at the tower, he noticed this flag:

An Edward Gorey exhibit!? Edward Gorey is mostly associated with Cape Cod, where he spent the latter part of his life in the Elephant House. But what many forget, is that Gorey grew up and went to art school in Chicago. Visiting an Edward Gorey exhibit in his hometown just makes sense.

Pipkin had no idea there was going to be an exhibit while he was in Chicago. Glee! And it just so happens that the Loyola University Museum of Art is free on Tuesdays. Pipkin was happy to be so lucky.

A part of the exhibit was Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey, which Pipkin had already seen a couple years ago when the exhibit was in Portland, ME. He was happy to see the exhibit again, along with Thomas Michalak's collection of Gorey's letters and illustrations for other authors and magazines. Photography wasn't allowed inside the gallery, but the exhibit runs until June 15 2014, so if you're in Chicago, you can still see it!

You can click here and here to see Pipkin and Domo's visit to the Elephant House on Cape Cod. And you can click here to see some of what Pipkin saw at the Elegant Enigmas exhibit when it was in Maine.

Oh, the Places Pip'll Go!

There's a place where you won't often find Pipkin - the Mall. Pipkin made an exception on his recent trip to Chicago, because at the Water Tower Place on the Magnificent Mile (magnificent for the amounts of money people spend there) there was a short exhibit of some of Dr. Seuss' bronze sculptures.

Scattered throughout the mall were six bronze sculptures of characters from Dr. Seuss' books. The first one Pipkin found was The Cat in the Hat.

Who can forget this face? You were scared about missing Christmas as a kid, weren't you?

Pipkin offered this dog a bone but the dog seems to think he's a reindeer.

Unless we care for the trees, it'll just be malls, everywhere!

Horton hears who? Not Pipkin. Pipkin's totally being ignored.

Pip's hanging with Yertle, the Top Turtle (for now). From up here Pipkin's thinking, "Wow, it really is turtles all the way down."

This turtle doesn't know which is worse: Yertle's thirst for power or the smell coming from A&F?

This turtle doesn't know which is worse: the smell from A&F or the smell from all these butts in his face?

All the way down.

Sam offered up some Green Eggs and Ham but they turned Pipkin's stomach. He's not a meat eater anyway. He'd rather be eating at Do-Rite!

The sculptures were only on display until May 5th, 2014 (which is when Pipkin saw them) but if you're in the Chicago area and you're in the Water Tower Place mall, you can visit The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery on the second floor. The Grand (re)Opening Celebration of the gallery happens this Father's Day Weekend, Saturday June 14, 2014 from 11 AM - 3 PM. The small gallery is packed with illustrations, sculptures, sketches and lots of unpublished work from Theodore Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss.  If you're a fan of his work, it's not to be missed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rumor Has It...

Back in the Prohibition Era, Chicago was home to many illegal speakeasies. John Barleycorn in Lincoln Park was a well known speakeasy regularly frequented by notorious bank robber John Dillinger.

Today, John Barleycorn's decorative door is surrounded by security cameras and door buzzers. Back in the 1920s and early 1930s, this door was boarded up, and John Barleycorn was disguised as a Chinese laundry.

The sale, production, transportation and importation of alcohol was strictly prohibited, so booze was snuck in underneath piles of dirty laundry.

Oh Pipkin! Look into those innocent eyes...who would have thought Pipkin capable of such dirty deeds?

The modern day John Barleycorn sells alcohol legally to those of drinking age, and you can find them at 658 W. Belden Ave.