Last week the Chicago area recorded record rainfall for May. Getting our morning walk in between downpours, was a challenge. We spent three days down in the basement listening to the unlimited theories of Game of Thrones, with intermission breaks battling – with buckets – a leaky laundry room. Catherine is one of a few homeowners in The Woods without a sump pump, so we spent most of last week manually sump pumping what we quickly dubbed “our dungeon”.
Finally, the rain let up and we saw our window to escape “cabin fever” by taking the train into the city. First stop, front and center, one of the top 10 art museums in the country: the Chicago Art Institute, the second largest art museum in the US. Take a stroll through countless art pieces, to see one of America’s largest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.
Must See Masterpieces
Did we see them all? Probably not. But we did see Monet, Manet, Cézanne, Renoir, Rembrandt and more.
When we landed in the American Collection, I was reminded of a paper I wrote for my Art Appreciation course. I wrote about this piece:
Why not? I was in college, and suppose I didn’t pay much attention to the fine arts. My appreciation was directed elsewhere. My head was falling in love with Hali, only the finest of art. I chose American Gothic for its simplicity, its matter-of-factness, and I liked the artist’s name, Grant Wood. I also time-traveled to imagine me and Hali posing for this 1930 selfie in front of a farm house in Iowa.
Yeah, I could have chose a piece by El Greco, Monet or the others, but those guys seemed a little fancy pants for me. I went with Wood.
6 Facts You Might Not Know About American Gothic
- The farmer was actually a dentist. Looking for a male model for American Gothic, Wood asked a favor of his dentist, 62 year-old Byron McKeeby.
- The farmers’ wife was Grant Wood’s sister, Nan. The first choice for a female model was his mother, Hattie. But, mom couldn’t sit still that long, so his sister filled in.
- Neither of the models posed together.
- Wood painted the house, his sister, and his dentist in separate sessions.
- The farm house, built in 1881, became a tourist attraction in 1991 when it was donated to Iowa’s Historic Society. Transformed into a museum, I’m pretty sure this is Iowa’s only tourist attraction. (Hopeful list!)
- Grant Wood’s signature is hidden. If you look at the bottom right corner of the farmner’s overalls, you’ll see the artist’s name painted in a light blue, almost illegible against the denim.
After A Good Dose of Art…
It was time for a beer. Next stop, downtown Chicago’s diviest bar: Rossi’s. Cash only.
Most of the patrons were drinking PBR tallboys, and strategizing some horse race coming up in an hour. We ordered a couple pints of the local IPA, drank ’em fast, and got out of there. Apparently, discussing sports, in particular the Kentucky Derby, and politics – in particular the Governor – in Illinois can be deadly.
That’s when I realized, we should have come here:
Caught the 6:10 train back to Glen Ellyn and reflected on some of the most incredible artwork we had just experienced. Tomorrow will be sunny, and the basement will dry out. Good time to finally get muddy in the yard with our bedding plants. We need to add some color. AND, for Mother’s Day, my gift for Carli’s mother is this week’s newsletter.