Monday, June 27, 2011

Destination Chicago Botanic Garden: Splendor in Vivid Color and Monchrome

It is the sign of a civilized society to devote time to horticulture. Each time I visit a botanic garden, I think just this. That someone took the time to build all of this, and were even encouraged to do so, is remarkable.

Yesterday I found myself in the company of several good friends (HK, BK, RE, BP) on a cycling journey up the North Branch Trail to the Chicago Botanic Garden. Since this was our first jaunt, and bowing to a friend's ankle injury, we began at Dempster Street in Morton Grove. For those of you familiar with the trail, it begins at Caldwell Woods on Devon. The garden is accessible by several trails from the city, and from several directions.

Think of the garden not so much as a visual display of well tended flora, which it is. But it is also living display of horticulture's influence across cultures. It seems since the dawn of recorded civilization, admirers have taken refuge in gardens. To admire the visual applications- both in the variety of color but also the beauty of monochrome- partake of the fragrant, seasonal blooms is a hallmark of an adult culture. Let me emphasize on a note above that the varying shades of green can be intense. The camera really fails to capture that texture.

Another, maybe not altogether fully appreciated, aspect of the garden is the effort in execution. Not simply the tending of the garden, but of the museum, and of tracking all the plant varietals. Did you realize that people are employed to document the plants? Yes, all of them- it is a museum. And yes, someone must do this, and do it well, for us to enjoy.

My advice, if you want it, is to visit. Admission is free- but parking will cost you. An added bonus is Summer Concerts (Monday through Thursday). Getting there is part of the fun, and the oxygen is intoxicating added value!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Florence + The Machine: An Ethereal Journey from Bonnaroo to Chicago

I love it when you make arrangements four months prior to the actual event. The event 'sneak' is an added bonus.

So was the case with the Florence + The Machine concert. We had an eclectic crew in tow too, and a nice pre-dinner at Agami. I'll leave it to @phepbu to address that element.

Florence in case you haven't noticed, has been making hay in the music world as of late. She's been at Bonnaroo- the June 10 kick off to her US tour. This lithe and lovely performer, fresh from the rolling fields of TN was truly a pleasure to behold. While she is certainly her own performer- and distinct at that- I'd best describe her as a six corner intersection of Kate Bush, Bjork and Tori Amos. The audience demos reflect that too- suitably alternative yet everyone appeared to have bathed recently. A melange of gays, lesbians who looked like Joan Jet, modish straight girls, contemporary looking more mature women. People watching is one of the added bonuses of live music I think.

I was joined by some of my besties RGO (thanks for organizing!), SG, PH (check out his blog above), CP, and Pauline.  I think they were all as psyched as I, and the show didn't disappoint. It was visual as well as auditory candy. Being held at the Aragon Ballroom- a mish-mash in its own right only enhanced the experience. If you see Florence, you won't soon forget. It is no exaggeration to call her lithe, and the sprite-ish attire (long flowing garment with lots of leg) radiated vertical presence. The cycle of celestial themed scenery bespoke an other-wordly experience. Was this a transformative experience?

Finally, not to turn this into an anti-Ticketmaster screed, but was it necessary for this venue to use them? Ticketmaster is heavy handed with concert goers in the way Stalin was with peasants. Why do they nee to charge to print tickets at home? Really? Because they didn't do that five or so years ago. I mean what does that cost them? Ticketmaster, along with airlines and conspiracy theorists persist in spite of themselves. Ostensibly they shouldn't exist, as common sense would dictate otherwise. But then again, who is worse? Because we all paid to print our tickets at home. Note to Flo- you are talented enough to not need Ticketmaster!

Bottom line, see Flo. If you can feasibly avoid Ticketmaster- bonus for you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Window to the World- via a Cake Shop

I had two events this weekend which ostensibly should've both been a blog post. Alas, I wasn't feeling either of them to be honest.

The first, a Bootsy Collins concert was rather lacking. The people watching was by far the best-in-show. That was a good mixture of hipsters, peeps like BK and me, and some old-skewl black people. The performance itself, very little Bootsy with bad acoustics, and lots of back-up singers. Maybe that's what one gets with a back-up act?

The second, Andersonville's Midsommarfest. Not much into street fairs so enough said.

Which takes me north to Evanston and Bennison's Bakery with their window. I'm transfixed by this unobtrusively social feature. If you are lucky you can catch one of the master bakers practicing their craft. Bennison's also features a live webcam and a blog- which could use some updating. You could also follow them (@BennisonsBakery), but seeing the window is a must.

Why do I write about this? Well, I find the window to be one of those quirky, yet essential asides from the urban(ish) landscape. If you pass by frequently enough, you may miss it. I love being able to take the time to gawk at the rainbow icings, and if I'm lucky get a glimpse of the expert practitioners. I love watching craftsmen (or women at work). I don't even have a sweet tooth, but I could always enjoy one of the Croque Monsieur's.  I'll file this away under the 'experential collections.'

It is the experience that is essential! Visit Bennison's and enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Late Spring Eve's Dream- Party in a Garden!

How do you raise some dough for a contemporary dance company? In this case River North Dance Chicago.

You marshal the collective resources of your urbane, artistic circle and host the Garden Party & Art Auction. This year I was delighted to be directly supporting the event promotions and recruitment of local artists. If you have a moment, I recommend you visit the pages of my peeps:

  • Red Heidi - Jewelry- hand crafted, elegant designs. You can commission her directly or purchase at Avram Eisen Gallery or Women and Children First bookstore.
  • Roberto Cabrera- Leading contemporary visual artist, graduate of and adjunct instructor at SAIC.
  • Jennifer Kohnke- Award winning illustrator- her works appear often in the Chicago Tribune and if you ever check out the weather in the Trib then chances are you are looking at one of her meteorological maps.
Also pleased to have local blogger, (although he is still blogging on his recent Vancouver trip- he's a transplant) PH

So other than linking you to all of my friends who happen to have sites, what you may ask is the purpose of this post? Well to highlight a thoroughly enjoyable event, and to lend a social shout-out to how a arts organization leverages its connections to raise much needed dough. The answer is to make the experience as enjoyable as possible! That may well be the genius or motivator behind such labors of love. My good friend, and former client, MR has certainly poured much of himself into these events over the years. It was so nice to be able to bring together a few of my peeps, generate some exposure for their endeavors, and raise some green. Added bonus is to enhance and enrich the cultural landscape of our fair city. Richard Florida has long had much to say on this subject.

A worthy effort for a Saturday evening. I wonder if they'll ask me to collude on the annual benefit in November?

In the meantime, I urge you to visit the River North site where you can peruse videos of some of their performances.  Also that of Homey Gallery the gracious host of the event.

A dreamy late spring eve.