January 3

At first, I was unhappy that my company gave the US employees day off for January 1 on January 3, not December 31. Most of the US companies did the opposite. Since it was an entire workday on a client assignment, I had very little time to make a holiday dinner and all other preparations for the celebration. But boy, how happy I was on January 3!

I had an actual day off, not cooking or cleaning, but a day off just for myself! It felt incredibly good!

I went skating to Millennium Park, and despite the cold weather, I skated for almost an hour. It was sunny; very few people were on the skating rink at 9-30 AM on a workday; it was perfect!
Then I walked to the Art Institute, still before the general public, on my Member hours. I stopped at the front desk, where they finally fixed my app (I could not make it right after my recent membership upgrade plus address change). And then, I went to see a new photography exhibit and thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the Modern Wing with almost nobody around.


And then I still had time at home to talk to Boris, make quiche, and assemble a standing mirror delivered from IKEA.

And I sat by my Christmas tree: it is still perfect, but I will put it down this weekend. The holidays are over.

The story behind the mural that got painted in Austin, Chicago last summer

I ended up doing this article because, back in November, a week before Thanksgiving, I was taking the bus past the intersection of Chicago and Laramie avenues and noticed a large, bright mural on the building at the northeast corner intersection that definitely wasn’t there back in June. I noticed the name of the artist – the iconic Chicago muralist Rahmaan “Statik” Barnes – and tried to reach out to him. It took a few weeks to successfully pitch the things and get in touch with Barnes, but I filed the article December 9.

A very truncated version of the article was published in print, in the December 15 issue of Austin Weekly News, but, as of this writing, it never showed up online. Since I thought that the print version lost some pretty interesting parts, and since it doesn’t officially exist online in any form, I decided to post the article as submitted.

A bit of a side note. When I was trying to take a picture below, the group of Black teens who were hanging out nearby weren’t exactly happy to see a white guy with a camera. But when I persuaded them that I wasn’t there to photograph them, they offered me weed.

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Lyric Opera Opens It’s Season: Verdi’s Macbeth

Almost all of my subscriptions start in September, and now I have a hard time fitting everything in :). When I subscribed, I hoped that at least something would work and wouldn’t get canceled, and now nothing is canceled, everything is happening, and it is so great and wonderful, but there are not enough hours in a day, and not enough days in life :). 

When I chose to attend Macbeth in the Lyric Opera on September 17, I did not realize that it would be both the opening night for this opera and the first live performance after 19 months. And let me tell you, it was something!!!

I tried to dress nicely, but most patrons have dressed ten levels of elegancy above me! I really enjoyed looking at all these ball gowns, opened backs, laces, etc., men in tuxedos and bow ties. 

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At The Art Institute

We’ve been to two museums with my granddaughters, and both museum visits went surprisingly well.
On Saturday afternoon, Anna suggested that Boris and I would take Nadia to the Art Institute. The Rayan Educational Center in the Art Institute is still closed, and I thought that that would be the biggest attraction, but Nadia said she wanted to go anyway. I asked whether she also wanted to splash in the Crown fountain, but she said no. Well, having the Maggie Daley Park as our backup plan, we headed to the Loop. It was a long way on the Red Line, but Nadia enjoyed peering out of the window, looking at the people, streets, and cars from the elevation of the L.

We entered the Art Institute from the Modern Wing Entrance, and I decided to take a shot at viewing the contemporary art. We ended up looking at one or two artworks in each room, and I answered Nadia’s questions about them and told her what I feel looking at these pieces, and she told me how they felt for her. I think we both enjoyed that experience, and just at the moment I thought that that was enough for one visit Nadia said that that was enough:)

Some pictures which caught our attention:

We talked about why the bodies are painted with different colors
We talked about two faces on one face
Nadia surprised me by asking why the woman in the picture looks so angry – I didn’t even notice it before she mentioned!
Nadia liked this Mardi Gras picture
And she really liked all the Buddhas!

On the way back, we took the Brown Line and later switched to the Red Line. I think, Boris enjoyed it more than Nadia:), but I agree it was a great idea – seen the Loop from above!

“Obama Portraits” Exhibit With ODS

On Thursday, I went to the Art Institute with the youth from the ODS for the first time since last summer. I was hoping that waiting for this to happen. Now, several things happened simultaneously: the Art Institute returned the evening hours (Thursdays and Fridays till August 15), the Obama portrait exhibit opened, and the Art Institute Council for public relations gave the Night Ministry two dozen tickets for this exhibit, which includes the full Art Institute admission.

The exhibit is very small: the portraits of Barak and Michelle, several related artworks, and how these portraits were painted.

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Loyola Beach Wall Paintings

Last Friday, I was so busy going things with Anna’s family that I completely ignored the event that was happening very close to my home: the Wall painting at Loyola Beach! Fortunately, Igor documented it pretty well, so I am going to use his photos and comments from his Flickr album, so I am copying his description here:

Rogers Park’s Loyola Beach has this structure right where the park ends and the beach starts. I’ve always called this structure “the steps,” because it looks more like a step on a staircase than a wall, but it is officially a sea wall.

Since 1993. Rogers Park residents have been invited to paint that wall. Loyola Park Advisory Council started the whole thing because they didn’t like the graffiti (gang and otherwise) that used to cover it. While I’ve heard it described as sort of pure expression of creativity, but because one has to pay for the right to paint at one of the 160 slots, the whole thing is really more a fundraiser for Loyola PAC that happens to involve making the wall look pretty.

Normally, the wall would get repainted once a year, but the COVID-19 obviously kiboshed the 2020 session. I honestly kind of assumed that Loyola PAC would leave the 2019 murals up until 2022, so I was surprised when I stopped by the beach three weeks ago and saw the wall completely bleached. I checked the Loyola PAC’s website and discovered that, yep, they will be repainting. While normally, it would all be done in one day, it was split over three days, on June 18-20, to give artists room to socially distance.

This isn’t a perfect before-and-after set, because I lost my photos of 2019 murals to a corrupted SD card, I kind of rushed through the beach on Friday and I didn’t check the past photos on Saturday and Sunday. But, at the very least, this will give you a view of this year’s painted murals and some of the behind-the-scenes stuff. I’ve been visiting Loyola Beach for the past 11 years or so, so I got to see many versions of the wall murals, but I never got to see it painted, so that was kind of neat.

As for me, my absolute favorite is that one:

And some other I liked:

But I will come back to see the rest!

A Fabulous Weekend

It was a wonderful weekend. I feel like I am getting more things done here, and I am not sure why.

No, I didn’t resolve all the issues in my apartment. I still need to fix my ceiling lights/fans, and I am still waiting for the rest of my furniture for the dining room. Also, I need to change my driver’s license and mom’s State ID for new addresses. And I didn’t go to the local library yet and didn’t find a new doctor for my mom or me. 

The list is endless, but still, I had a fabulous time this weekend. Of course, it helped that we now have summer Fridays, so the weekend started at 2 PM on Friday. Here is what I did this weekend (in addition to the regular errands list)

  • I biked to Northwestern twice. The first time, I messed up a couple of times, and the second time was a charm.
  • I went to do my nails. I didn’t like the place that much, so I will continue to explore what else is around, but at least I have my mani-pedi, which were overdue.
  • I went escorting for the first time since February
  • After escorting, I took my mom to the Art Institute to see the Monet exhibit and a couple of other exhibits which will close within the next week
  •  I biked to the Glenwood Sunday Market (and bought tons of awesome stuff). I was not sure from their website whether they allow bikes on the market, and put a new bike lock in my backpack. But fortunately, they allow the bikes in, which helped to plan my purchases realistically :). I liked his market so much better than the Evanston market! I think I will be going there most of Sundays.
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  • I made sorrel soup (perfect for the hot weather)
  • Also, I made a rhubarb tart
  • I had mom and one of my friends over for coffee
  • And I went to the beach and even dipped myself into the cold water of Lake Michigan (I will show the pictures in a separate post).

And with all that, I even caught up on some work, these boring parts with paperwork, which you tend to push away beyond all the deadlines.

It feels so much as the life I want to ive!

The Art Institute Is Open Again!

The Art Institute reopened two weeks ago, but it was only today that i got a chance to visit it.

I can’t even describe how happy I was to stroll through my most favorite rooms!

Also, I knew that there was one more new exhibit open, and I wanted to check it out.

It was a Bisa Butler exhibit. I never heard about her, and I was stunned when i entered the exhibit. The Art Institute website says:

Although Butler’s finished works are exclusively fabric, her methods remain interdisciplinary: photographs inform her compositions and figural choices, she layers fabrics as a painter might layer glazes, and she uses thread to draw, adding detail and texture.

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A Field Trip To The Art Institute

(It is a very long post, but I want to record my memories of that day)

On Thursday. we had the best-ever field trip to the Art Institute. The best in almost four years that I volunteer at the Open Door Shelter!

When I came to cook dinner the first time after “the start of everything,” we discussed what we can do outside the shelter, and I said that we could do the Art Institute and see the new Monet Exhibit. I also suggested a couple of other things, but this one was embraced immediately.

Remembering all out previous Art Institute outings, I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm but held a pinch of skepticism. It happened before that when it is time to go, the youth forget, or just do not want to get out of the house, or whatever. I remember all delays in departure, losing people on the way there and back.

This time around, being late was not an option. I was not even sure how to secure our place in line for a Monet exhibit for the future date. A week after our conversation in the ODS, which was a week before our Art Institute outing, I went there during my lunch break, trying to see more of the exhibit and finding out what my options are for next Thursday.

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Monet In Chicago Exhibit

The Monet Exhibit in the Art Institute opened last week. I didn’t have time to attend during the members-only days, but I was also hoping that the second week won’t be so crazy. 

It turned out that although the line outside was small, the virtual line for the exhibit was massive. I came in only twelve minutes after the museum was open on that day, and the first hour of each day is a member hour. 

I guy with an iPad was standing at the entrance, and he asked whether I was planning to visit the Monet exhibit and if yes, he can put me in the line. There was already 30 minutes wait by that time!

While waiting, I went to a permanent Impressionists exhibit. It is one of my favorites, if not the most favorite collection. The room, which usually exhibits Monet’s works from the permanent collection, was vacant for the time of the new exhibit, and I was thrilled to see that it was repurposed to show tons of Toulouse-Lautrec works! I don’t know whether any of my friends love Toulouse-Lautrec art with the same passion as I do, but let me tell you, it was a real treat! I am posting just a couple of works, which usually are not on display. 

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