April 2009


Adam Gothic

I really have no explanation but something’s gone wrong with me this trip and I have not made a speedy change to Chicago Time.

Instead I am stuck on some time zone somewhere between home and here—I would guess Newfoundland, given that I have woken up Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before 5—as in 5 am.

Trust me when I say that this is early—unfortunately early. It’s prevented me from going out dancing because I am crashing at obscenely early hours. Perhaps it’s been a bad idea to start each morning with coffee—but it’s too late for me to change the past.

I’ve given up and am rolling with the punches. My meetings here are in the morning, and I’ll be back home Thursday morning—transitioning from Newfoundland Time to Germany will be easier—plus I imagine I will be able to fall asleep on the plane ride home without any troubles.

That said, this morning I started by having breakfast at Ann Sather before heading downtown, where I wandered down Michigan Avenue ending up at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Art Institute is fabulous and I really enjoyed my time there—although as a direct consequence of my earlier walking, my feet hurt very quickly—but not before I saw a number of pictures I’ve always wanted to see.

First I sought out A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. The painting features in two of my strongest childhood memories: a viewing of Sunday in the Park with George that I saw on television—probably only once, and its starting moment in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

I was struck by how much smaller it was than I expected—I expected a grand painting, something that would really fill a huge wall. In my (unrealistic) mental imagine, I expected to come upon it, much like one comes upon Rembrandt’s Nightwatch at the Rijksmuseum—a massively huge painting that’s probably bigger than any billboard on Times Square.

Edvard Munch’s special exhibition was on its last day, and although I’m hardly an art expert or fan, I decided to spend the few extra dollars necessary to get in, and enjoy what was on display. I would put down what I learned from the exhibit, but I suspect that if I did, I would end up being attacked by art-sophisticates telling me that I was over simplifying the lessons learned.

From there, I was right in the middle of the American galleries, and I was thrilled to see Nighthawks (Edward Hopper) and American Gothic (Grant Wood). Again, in a strange way, I felt a little bit mislead—not that I expected American Gothic to be physically large, but my mental image of Nighthawks was much larger than the painting in reality. I could fit the real painting on one of the few vertical wall spaces in my apartment—and considering how little vertical wall space I have in my apartment, that’s pretty impressive.

I could have spent more time in the museum—and considering the price of admission, I should have, but my early morning wanderings around downtown Chicago in brand new shoes were telling me it was time to go.

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