It is our last day, and we are determined to get the most out of it!
Art Institute of Chicago
The LEAP Students headed to the Art Institute of Chicago, which was established in 1878.
It is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the U.S, and it has a permanent collection of more than 300,000 pieces. This was by far the largest art museum the LEAP Students have visited. It would be nearly impossible to see all of the exhibits. However, we managed to get a sense of everything the museum had to offer.
First, we started with The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai.
This piece is one of the most famous Japanese woodblock prints, and it is the most recognized. The print shows an enormous wave risking the safety of three boats. In the distance, at the base of the wave, is Mount Fuji.
Next, we viewed Marc Chagall’s America Windows, which shows a beautiful set of stained glass windows. Chagall’s stained windows were inspired by the United States adherence to cultural and religious freedom, and we saw a similar window at the United Nations earlier this year!
We saw many pieces that exemplified impressionism, an art style that is a reaction to the creation of photography. Instead of taking days catching every detail in a painting, artists would paint based on how they felt in that moment and paint an “impression” of that scene. Painting incorporated emotion rather than emphasizing technical accuracy. One of our favorite pieces was Icebound by John Henry Twachtman. Twatchman did not want to depict winter as a solitary and desolate scene because he found beauty and life in this season.
The most notable impressionist artist is Claude Monet. Monet is a French artist, and he is credited as the founder of the impressionist technique. One of his most recognized piece is Sacks of Wheat. Claude Monet captured this image outside of his farmhouse. The wheat sacks are said to be a symbol of sustenance and survival. He is also very known for his Bridge paintings, which we also enjoyed.
Another influential impressionist or post-impressionist artist is Georges Seurat, well known for pointillism. Pointillism is an art style created by making small clusters of colored dots to form an image. His most prominent work that displays this technique is A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.
We also saw a self portrait of Vincent Van Gogh.
Next, we moved to the modern American art exhibit. Here we saw remarkable pieces such as Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.
We also recognized an artist that the LEAP students are familiar with: Georgia O’Keeffe. She is acknowledged as the Mother of American Modernism. Her work often depicts magnified images of flowers…
…and also often incorporates images of animal remnants.
Another interesting piece was by Ivan Albright. All of his pieces, at least that we saw, were gory, morbid, and disturbing. For instance, his piece Picture of Dorian Gray was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s novel. In this story the main character has a portrait of himself painted as a young man. Later in the novel, he trades his soul for everlasting youth. However, he continues to live an immoral lifestyle. As the story unfolds, his self portrait that once captured youth had turned disgusting, reflecting his sins and decadence.
The most recognized piece in the Modern exhibit is Grant Wood’s American Gothic. While visiting Iowa, Grant spotted a Carpenter Gothic style farmhouse and wanted to paint individuals that he believed would inhabit the home. Grant believed that his subjects needed elongated faces to match the house. As a result, Grant used his sister and his dentist to portray a farmer and his daughter. His subjects stood as a symbol of rural American survival.
Before leaving the Modern American Art wing, we took a picture of a work by a LEAP favorite: Ellsworth Kelly.
Before heading to the Contemporary portion of the museum, we stopped to view the ‘Sky above the Clouds IV’ by Georgia O’keeffe.
In the Contemporary art exhibit we viewed many well known artists such as Andy Warhol…
….and Pablo Picasso.
The LEAP students had a great time exploring the Art Institute of Chicago. It was incredible to see such a wide variety of art.
Chicago Style Pizza at Uno Pizzeria & Cloud Gate (aka, The Bean)
Our next stop after the art museum was to eat lunch at Pizzeria Uno, a deep dish pizza restaurant that was founded in 1943.
I had never had an original deep dish pizza before, and my expectations were high because we were in Chicago.
But first, we had to stop back by Cloud Gate to see the work in the daylight. There were tourists and families everywhere around Millennium Park; it was so crowded it was hard to get a good picture in front of the Bean. As beautiful as the sculpture is on a sunny day like Saturday, I am glad we were able to go the night before and appreciate the art without the crowds.
We did our best to get a few good “LEAPing” pictures that we couldn’t get in the dark, and then continued on our way to lunch.
We also detoured to see Frank Gehry’s Pavillion…
…replete with his rolling titanium curves.
We took a taxi the rest of the way to Pizzeria Uno—my first time in a taxi as well. The taxi ride was an interesting experience. Even though it was about 2:30pm by the time we arrived at lunch, the restaurant was still packed! The hostess told us there would be about a 30 minute wait and took our pizza order at the front so that the pizza would be ready for us when we were finally seated, which I thought was quite efficient.
Professor Yawn and I ordered a medium Numero Uno to share, a deep dish pizza topped with a bit of everything, including Uno’s signature chunky vine ripened tomato sauce. Ilexus ordered a small Farmer’s Market, a vegetarian deep dish topped with onions, spinach, and sun dried tomatoes along with other pizza toppings.
We were seated about 20 minutes after arriving and the inside of the restaurant was small and cramped but had a fun and original vibe to it. The booths and tables were close together, really emphasizing the authentic atmosphere of the location. Not long after we were seated our pizza was brought to our booth table. We definitely over ordered, not knowing how large the pizza’s would be. The deep dishes were fresh out of the oven and since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, I was eager to dig in. Honestly, the Farmers Market was my favorite between the two because I felt that it was a bit different than any other pizza that I have had, not that the original Numero Uno let me down at all. The deep dish pizzas at Numero Uno really rounded out our Chicago experience, and I hope to be able to go back there again someday!
That afternoon, we headed towards the 360 Chicago Observation Deck at the John Hancock Center located in the Magnificent Mile district. The skyscraper is 100 stories tall, coming in at 1,128 feet high. When the building was topped off on May 6, 1968, it was the second tallest building in the world, second only to one in New York City. It is now the fourth tallest in Chicago and the ninth tallest in the world. Another neat fact is that it has the second highest resident population in the United States, behind Trump Tower in Chicago. Although it isn’t the tallest building in Chicago, it is home to the “TILT” thrill ride where an enclosed platform tilts you over the edge of the building, looking down toward a seemingly impending doom. The TILT is at a 30-degree angle from the building. Ilexus and I did the TILT first, and then Professor Yawn after us. I was less distraught and more disoriented after looking down over the city. The ride probably lasted less than a minute, but my upper body strength was slacking as I braced myself above the glass enclosure from 1,030 feet in the air.
The 360 observatory is located on the 95th floor and offers a view of up to four states, 80 miles in the distance.
After tilting off of the John Hancock Center while more than 1,000 feet in the air, the LEAP students decided to spend their final night in Chicago with their feet planted firmly on the ground at the Navy Pier.
The Navy pier is a 3,300 foot long pier off of Lake Michigan’s shore. While exploring the pier, we noticed that there were musical performances, so we followed the music and it led us to the Chi- Soul Fest. This festival was established as a way to celebrate Black Music Appreciation Month, which is during the month of June. We heard covers of famous artists such as Prince, Erykah Badu, India Arie, Kanye West, John Legend, Kool & The Gang, and Curtis Mayfield. The performances were truly captivating.
So much so that almost everyone listening could not sit still. You either wanted to get up and dance or just nod your head to the beat.This truly was a soulful experience.
Next, we walked the pier and enjoyed the beautiful view it gave of Lake Michigan and Chicago’s Skyline.
We had hopes of riding the ferris wheel, but the line was extremely long. However, we did manage to get great pictures.
Our time was slowly winding down in the Windy city of Chicago, and it truly hurt that we had to part from this beautiful city. This trip has been nothing short of miraculous, and I am genuinely thankful to have the opportunity to explore so many parts of the world. See you later Chicago!