I take any excuse I can to get back to the great city of Chicago. This time around, it was a wedding of two very dear friends! My husband and I had a blast exploring the city (translation: lots of pizza, gratuitous Millennium Park bean photos, and karaoke with friends). The day after the wedding, my husband and a friend had tickets to see “Book of Mormon,” so I was left with two glorious hours all to my Chicago-loving self.
After spending a bit of time shopping (obviously!), I headed over to the Art Institute of Chicago. I’d heard how amazing the Picasso exhibit was, and I also wanted to get my modern art fix (love all things Lichtenstein, Ruscha, and Warhol). When I got there around 4 pm, I learned a little bonus fact—if you get there within the hour before it closes, admission is only $10 (as opposed to the usual $23). Sweet! I spent some time among the throngs of Picasso aficionados clamoring to check out paintings like this one—which I just happened to think would work very well in my kitchen:
But the piece of art that truly stuck with me was deceptively simple. Sitting in the corner of one of the exhibition rooms was a three-foot high pile of candies, shaped somewhat like a Christmas tree. It almost looked like an afterthought, like something that hadn’t been assembled yet. Turns out it’s a special piece by an artist named Felix Gonzalez-Torres titled “Untitled (Portrait of Ross in LA).” The pieces of candy were meant to represent Gonzalez-Torres’ late partner, Ross Laycock, who’d died of an AIDS-related illness back in 1991. The explanation card read:
Adult visitors are invited to take a piece of candy; the diminishing pile parallels Ross’ weight loss prior to his death. The artist stipulated that the pile should be continuously replenished, metaphorically granting perpetual life.
Chills, right? I couldn’t stop thinking about the piece as I left the museum. It was so special, and it reinforced something I’d learned while taking an Artist’s Way course years ago. You don’t have to be a master painter or sculptor to be considered an artist. So many people are reluctant to call themselves artists—you don’t “earn” the title until you’ve conquered the skill or sold a piece of art, right? Same thing goes for “writers”—are you truly a writer if you don’t do it for pay? (I say yes.)
This piece is yet another piece of proof that art lives in many forms. It affects all of us differently. When my husband and I were living in Athens last year, I saw our dingy, funky-shaped kitchen window, he saw what he called our “Picasso window.”
What unexpected art makes you say wow?