Spring Break –> Chicago VII
14 March 2018
The final part of the museum I saw was the show “Mounira Al Solh: I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous.” This ongoing series of illustrations and embroidery pieces capture stories and history from the humanitarian and political crises in the Middle East. Lining the walls of a massive room, placed on an angled rack about waist-high, were hundreds of legal pad papers featuring beautiful illustrations and Arabic script. The images spoke as much as the writing, and an air of contemplation filled the room. It all felt very human.
We had some time to kill before the big finale of our trip, so Fr. N wanted to take us to the Chicago Cultural Center – he wouldn’t tell us why, but once we got inside, we understood. The interior of the building was covered in shimmering mosaic. All neutral earthy tones and white marble, filled with the names of philosophers, quotes from famous novels and plays, chandeliers, and the grand centerpiece: a Tiffany glass dome. We happened to walk in just as a concert was about to start, which we later found out was a part of the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts. Open to the public, situated just below that stunning dome, cellist Patrycja Likos, and her accompanist, Yana Reznik, performed a few beautiful pieces of music. There was a moment of apprehension and then humorous relief when, in the middle of an sonata, Reznik’s music began to fall onto her hands. Her page-turner froze, failing to grab the falling music fast enough, but she continued playing. She didn’t miss a note as she kept flicking the sheet music away, and an audience member ended up running to the platform to put the music back in its place.
We didn’t stay for the whole performance, as we had a subway to catch that would take us to Lakeview East and our afternoon destination. The neighborhood was an interesting one, full of pride flags, nightclubs, and… alternative shops, which Fr. N eyed curiously. We walked around in search of a bite to eat, settling for a Starbucks we had seen near our destination, and then got in line to enter the Briar Street Theater. Our wonderful Honors Program office coordinator, Stacey – who is probably the only one who keeps the program running – had arranged for us to see Blue Man Group. I was unsure what to expect for the performance, knowing very little about them apart from the paint, drums, and of course, their blue faces. I was pleasantly surprised with the actual performance though! It was humorous, full of awesome special effects, and the live band that accompanied them were great. At one point, they stopped the performance entirely to make fun of a latecomer, which made what could be an annoyance into a gag. The entire thing was full of unexpected twists, and I would definitely recommend it to families with younger kids.
The show ended and it was the late afternoon, so we made the long trip back to Hyde Park for our final dinner with the Norbertines. Fr. James, ever the congenial host, made us a huge, delicious dinner. It was a great send-off for us, and after packing that night, we woke up ready to head back to Wisconsin – although I wish I could have stayed another week.
We arrived at Union Station the next morning, welcomed by a grand atrium that felt like the large old central stations of Europe or New York, and boarded our train back to Milwaukee. Overall, this was a fantastic trip I hope I never forget. From the fantastic group that I went with, to the beautiful house and its kind hosts, to all of the art, I wasn’t quite ready to leave Chicago. But alas, spring break was nearly over and we had to return to campus and the rest of the school year.