In Search of The Giant Silver Bean

May 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

I was recently in Chicago and just knew that aside from catching up with my good friend and getting a massage, I needed to do two things:

(1) Visit The Art Institute of Chicago and

(2) See Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Walk”, which I like to think of as The Giant Silver Bean.*

In spite of a very early flight, my friend and I did a good bit of walking on Day 1, but alas, no Bean. We did however have a wonderful meal at MK that evening, which included a homemade gnocchi with fava beans and a poached egg that we were both still thinking about during lunch the next day. I also had truly memorable carrot soup — and how often does that happen? Do visit: https://www.mkchicago.com/index.swf

The next day was a little work focused and I didn’t have time to visit The Institute or the Bean. But I did make sure to perk up my room while working, and the hotel did their part as well:

Flowers on my desk, courtesy of me. And chocolate, which I did not eat, courtesy of the fine people at the Peninsula. An excellent massage was also to be had at their spa. All work and no play makes Mrs. H a grumpy lady.

That evening, my friend and I went to Sepia which reminded me of some of my favorite restaurants in Brooklyn: Food and wine focused, with a mellow vibe and a delightful interior. (Another must: http://www.sepiachicago.com) And it should be said: Chicago has that Big City thing going on at night…

Finally, on a rainy Wednesday and in spite the early signs of a migraine, I ventured out in search of both The Institute (as I am told it is referred to) and the Bean. I hit the museum first:

The steps outside…not quite as grand as the Met, but I would still eat yogurt on them if I went to school nearby. (No headband, though.)

And it must be said that the brand guidelines are meticulously followed throughout the museum…not a napkin or sign wasn’t set in this typeface above. As a marketing type, this pleases me. But enough about branding…

Recall that I am really into pottery, and imagine my delight at finding such an interesting and beautiful collection on view toward the entrance. What really caught my eye was a number of pieces that looked positively mid-century Danish, and turned out to be from the 1600’s and made in Korea. Obviously, I still have tons to learn about pottery. But that keeps Life interesting, no?

Since post-war and contemporary work are two of my favorites, after my time with the pots, I made my way straight into the modern wing, which had a wonderful, airy staircase…

It looks out onto the Pritzker garden, over which Ellsworth Kelly’s “White Curve” presides, even in the rain…

The Institute also had one of the most beautiful Clyfford Still paintings that I have even seen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clyfford_Still), a wonderful, smaller Pollack and a very nice Motherwell. I just love when I happen upon things that send me, so this was a real treat. (Less of a treat was the increased migraine pain brought about by a Bruce Nauman flashing neon work…love him, but that was not a good idea for me at that moment.)

In addition to the art, I also enjoyed some lovely views from the inside the museum, looking out onto Millennium Park, also know as Home of The Giant Silver Bean.

With the head beginning to go Full Migraine, I decided I best get myself to that view before it was too late. You can read all about Millennium Park on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Park) and on their own website (http://explorechicago.org/city/en/millennium.html). As far as public spaces go, this is a good one…beginning with “Crown Fountain”:

It is actually an interactive work of public art and video sculpture, and made of glass bricks. There are two of them as you can see in the photo below, and one of their highlights is that they feature video of local residents. (Hopefully not while they are doing anything embarrassing.)

If you keep going, you will come across a delightful trio of sculptures. (The blue is barely visible at the end of the line…but I swear it it there.) Even though they are white, yellow and blue, I could not help but be reminded of “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?”, by Barnett Newman. But that is probably just me.

I kept going, and finally, pay dirt: my first view of the Bean…

I swear I didn’t run, since I am an adult, but I did get to see the Full Bean pretty quickly…

It is pretty thrilling up close…

Especially when you get to see the reflection of the sky and cityscape on it. As for how if felt to walk under it, I cannot tell you. The only time it occurred to me to do that — in spite of that fact that everyone else was doing it — was when Mr. H asked what it was like underneath. Yeah…this was not my A Game. The head was really beginning to become a problem. But at least I did get to admire the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which was just cool to look at from the side…

So the next time I am in Chicago, I will make a point of seeing more if it.

With both missions accomplished, it was time to get back to the hotel to gather my things and head back to New York. And getting back home was made much easier courtesy of this fantastic service:

You give them your flight info and they check you in and print out the boarding pass. Since I always have trouble using Business Center computers (I am a mac girl), this option neared Miraculous in my book. Needless to say, a most civilized way to begin the uncivilized experience of Air Travel.

And that is all I have for now. Thank you, Chicago, for a most lovely visit.

xx

* My research on the internet tells me that I am not alone in referring to it as The Bean. That said, if I were ever in the company of Mr. Kapoor, I would call it Cloud Walk….he looks awfully serious.

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Let’s talk color

June 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

A friend of mine was discussing the decor of her lovely apartment this weekend — a topic of endless fascination to me. I don’t know exactly when it started, but over the years I have amassed (and read) piles of books on interior design, learned to tell my Finn Juhl from my Hans Wegner, fallen in love with countless chairs, tables and other bits & bobs, and spent a great deal of time finding just the right shade of whatever wall or fabric color that I have in mind. And I do it all joyfully. (Well, most of the time.)

One of the most excellent parts of my trip to France this past spring was a visit to Versailles, where I made a point of seeing Marie Antoinette’s “Grand” palace and her slightly-more-famous-in-decorating-circles “Petit Trianon”. Yes, I had to walk six miles to get there and back, but it was completely worth it, as both places have some of the most beautiful color combinations one could dream up…

This is one of the combinations that I just keep thinking about. The pale minty gray on the chair frames with that pumpkin custard velvet is enough to make me weep. Then the black and white floor and the pale, creamy walls sets the chairs off in such a fantastic way that makes it even more interesting. Really, if I ever needed to line up a bunch a chairs in my castle, at least I would know my color scheme.

Ok. There is a LOT going on here. But really, take your time with this one because I think it is really wonderful. The obvious thing to react to is the raspberry upholstery, but I can’t help enjoying that and then moving on to the teeny pockets of deep blue, lavender, and bright green. And then all those cocoas, soft greens and mustard yellows. Lots to take in. And while one might not being doing too much along the line of gilt furnishings, I can’t help but think of ways to use these kinds of colors in more modern rooms and what effect they might create. Worth thinking about, I think.

Back to the how oranges and pale grays work wonders together. I don’t know how a room can feel quiet but actually be somewhat loud, but I think this one does. Perhaps it is the fabulous leopard print carpet. It is the one thing that I love, love, love but have yet to find a place for in my own rooms. (Although I do have one Giambastista Valli sheer silk top that makes up for it a little.) Again, the furniture and its placement might not be something I would choose, but I can completely see these colors working in a cozy room somewhere that combines the old and new, with a few piles of books, beautiful art and a few personal trinkets to keep it from feeling staged. Oh…and maybe some flowers. But I always like flowers in a room.

So this one is all about the colors in the painting. Aren’t they delicious? (Nobleman in the painting less so.) But I also like how the vibrant colors there didn’t stop anyone from putting a pretty ornate pattern filled with more color on the seating and adding more color on the floor. Do you see that purple and yellow in the carpet? Gorgeous.

Here it is again for good measure. And need I point out the little bursts of blue and pink as well? None of it clashes. The French know what they are doing.

I’ve read my share of books on Marie Antoinette and know that her true love at Versailles was the Petit Trianon. At the time that this project was started, she was an ardent student of Rousseau and had become somewhat consumed with the idea of going back to nature. In addition to creating quite the scandal by dressing in white, sheer cotton dresses with no corsets (!!), keeping lambs and generally doing very non-French Court things, the buildings, gardens and decor reflect this interest.

While I can’t be sure, I feel as if the shift begins at this little overpass:

Compared to the gardens in front of the palace, this is pretty informal, no?

But this is nice, too.

OK,  back to Nature, pre-French Revolution Style…

Just a little place to unwind a bit. Neither palace was as large as some of the monstrosities that are being built today for families of four and five to live in. But still, Petit Trianon was not that petite. Yet the plantings here are a tad less grand and the building itself does not read “palace”. I am pretty sure that was the goal.

Inside was an interesting mix a pale, soft colors and fabrics in the private bedroom and cooking areas, with a few more “public” rooms that kind of echoed the palace’s ka-POW color scheme.

If this were fondant, I would have eaten it. (Yes, I eat fondant even though some people do not. Whatever.) Let’s just enjoy the variety of whites that calm down all that carving. OK, I now totally want a slice of cake.

I love this surround and the walls here. Gray on gray on gray. And then some black and gold to keep if from feeling too cloudy. And speaking of eliminating interior doldrums, color wasn’t exactly shunned while getting back to the land:

Yes, those curtains are far from retiring, but do check out the mossy green chairs with white piping, which in this setting seem almost subtle. And that light purple urn. Grand and fanciful. Love it, even if I could not live in it.

Bad photo of a chair that I am sure that Charlotte Moss has lusted after.  (If you don’t know of her, here is some info: http://charlottemoss.com/designs-and-books/. While I am more of a Stephen Gambrel and Thomas O’Brian fan, Ms. Moss knows how to pile on the fabrics. ANYWAY…the fabric on this chair certainly seems like a shift to the more “natural” feeling that Marie Antoinette was after in this place. And if only the crowds would have allowed me to shoot a little more, I would have loved to include more of the gardens and the follies. But sadly, fatigue and claustrophobia resulted in this being one of my last photos from this most magical place:

But hopefully I’ll be back to shoot what was beyond the doors sometime soon. And until then enjoy the colors!

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy night)

The Keukenhof

April 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

No, this isn’t a made up place. It is in Holland and according to Wikipedia it is the world’s largest flower garden, with over 700,000 bulbs planted each year.

That’s a lot of bulbs. An irresistible amount by my standards. So on a rainy April morning, Mr. H and I left our cozy hotel room in Amsterdam to see what we could see. And even though it was early in the season, which lasts about five weeks, we saw quite a bit.

First, we wandered into what I can only describe as a “Fairy Princess Garden”. While it wasn’t yet in full bloom, I could not help but imagine myself wandering around this place in one of those purple velvet princess dresses and the pointy hat with coordinating chiffon flowing from the top…

After the wandering and looking up wistfully at the sky, I would jump over this lovely rose-covered wall to meet, oh, I don’t know, some kind of Prince disguised as a Beast or something. But let’s face it, I don’t jump over walls and I have Mr. H, who I wouldn’t trade for anything. But if you get your Princess Head on, I am sure you get where I am going here.


See? These roses are right out of a story book. Total Princess Flowers.

Onward we walked, and found ourselves in a little petting zoo. There were adorable rabbits, fabulous guinea pigs, a pony (!), that cool pig from the post below and several lovely lambs. I haven’t a clue as to where these animals spend the other 47 weeks of the year, but they seemed to be having a fine time while we were visiting.

I have to say, these two have some seriously chic coloration going on. The photo does not really capture it, but trust me, they are beautiful.

At this point, Mr. H and I were beginning to wonder if maybe we were going to miss the insanity that is 700,000 bulbs in bloom. While I don’t think we got the Total Bulb Experience, the fine keepers of The Keukenhof managed to deliver on some serious floral viewing in their rather extraordinary greenhouse.

One bloom in a sea of tulips.

This is a real tulip, not CGI trickery.

These were almost iridescent.

And these reminded me of some Van Gogh paintings I saw earlier in the week. They are also oh-so-lusty-and-gorgeous, no?

Seriously, how do they get that red outline on these yellow tulips? They were stunning.

And The Keukenhof didn’t just have tulips…

Get me a flowing summer dress in this print, pronto!

Once we left the greenhouse, we were able to wander around the rest of the garden where the cherry blossoms were showing off their stuff and the winding trails promised days and days of blooms ahead…

(With my Princess Head on, I was seeing swans here.)

Aside from the amazing plantings, what I loved most about The Keukenhof (which I can now type without checking the spelling!) is the notion of the enormous effort taken to create something ephemeral simply because it is beautiful and makes people happy. There were many moments on our trip where I found myself marveling at experiences just like this one, where the care and pride taken in each and every endeavor made me sit up, put down my iPhone and appreciate real, live Life.

http://www.keukenhof.nl/

Enjoy.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night, with my most excellent new camera. Thanks, Mr. H!)

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