Date Night at the Art Institute

After work today, I met up with Liz at the Art Institute. Tonight was DePaul Night, where students and employees got to attend free of charge (and I was her plus one), so we decided on an impromptu date night.

Standing at the steps, waiting for Liz, I was reminded of a time when I was waiting here with a larger group of internet weirdos. Hard to believe that was 16 years ago.

Inside, exploring.

I’m in awe of vases. Particularly, vases that are extremely old (this one is from 550/540 BC). To think that so much time has passed by, and so many opportunities have existed for this object to shatter. And somehow, amazingly, it’s remained intact.

All vases to me carry that same sense of luck and potential energy.

A necklace with a “secret compartment for magical texts.”

I guess, when I was looking for random magical items last weekend within old books, I really should have been looking for necklaces.

More wandering.

Wandering more, we peeked into the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room.

Liz, taking command of the podium.

The last time I was here, they were in the process of setting up the space for an event. It’s even better when the whole room is totally open like this.

While this is open to the public, I feel like few people venture to this area (and even fewer still push the door open to enter).

A quite space, with a nice view of the Noguchi Fountain I found out about, a few years ago.

There were few visitos in this area, and just us, a museum guide walking by, and two art institute kids who were holed up in a small seating area. Felt like a secret spot.

On seeing this, we weren’t exactly sure what this was.

The fact that it may have been part of a larger piece makes sense. But to me, I liked imagining some outsider artist just making random stuff that he enjoyed.

Guy 1: “Jeff, you should really do more busts of politicians.”
Jeff: “Screw you, I make what I like.”

The Ando Gallery, another area that felt like a secret space.


It struck me, looking at this, that museums serve a fairly specific purpose: they suspend objects. Against both time and gravity.

While I was looking around, I chanced on seeing the hurried movements of people coming and going, up and down the stairs. At one particularly lucky moment, I happened to see this whole area completely empty of all people and all movement.

I stood here a while, watching the people instead of the art. And was hoping to catch another moment of calm amidst a flurry of motion.

And right around here is where I imagine God heard my thoughts, and got to thinking maybe I was getting a little too pretentious for my own good. And he sent this guy to stand here, right in front of me, to check his phone. For like a solid 10 minutes.

View of the main atrium area, with a very striking placement of a piece by Gregg Bordowitz, as part I Wanna Be Well.

Also, note that the guys is still in that same spot, still checking his phone.

Seeing this lovely chair, I was admiring the craftsmanship. And then began to feel a wave of sadness, thinking that this object would be preserved for years to come… and never again fulfill the function for which it was created.

It’s a chair that no one will ever sit in again.

A little later, I encountered this amazing piano.

On closer inspection, there was a protective guard to prevent any fingers from touching the keys. Yet another object that would never again experience its intended function.

I realize I’m projecting, and trying to anthropomorphize the piano… but the notion that no one would ever play it again felt extremely sad to me.

We broke off around 6PM, and headed to Terzo Piano for some drinks.

I got the “one. five. nine.” (mirto sardinian liqueur, north shore gin, campari, gin barrel-aged orange bitters, thyme).

Liz got the blackberry whiskey ginger (dead man’s hand small batch whiskey, spiced apple shrub, ginger, soda).

My lovely date!

Yes, we’re still on a diet. And yes, we decided that with cocktails, why not keep going and just order up some bread while we were at it. Diet will continue tomorrow.

On our way out, I stepped outside (despite the rain) to check out this awesome piece on the balcony.

The ribbon on the horse’s leg shows the stock exchange/prices.

The piece is called Gift Horse, and is by Hans Haacke.

Heading back down.

On our way out, we stopped off to use the bathroom.

Reader, I tried each one of these doors and found them locked. And found no indicator showing that the bathrooms were “occupied.” After more time passed than I care to admit, I slowly began to understand that these doors were actually closets and not bathrooms.

And that the bathrooms were a bit further down the hall.

This moment reminded me of that time I visited IBM, when I mistook some coat racks for fancy speakers.

I am, if nothing, consistent.

A Vacation Day in Chicago: Visiting the MCA, Art Institute, and Wandering Downtown
The Mystery of the Dry Noguchi Fountain, Located Outside the Art Institute of Chicago
Photographs of the Art Institute, Taken 119 Years Apart (1893 – 2012)

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