Snow can be a problem – shoveling it, driving in it, walking through it. But it can also be magical, softening hard edges, muting raucous noise and awakening childlike wonder.
On Wednesday, I experienced the best kind of snowstorm – great giant flakes of snow but no accumulation. Yes, it was cold and wet and windy, but I had dressed appropriately and thoroughly enjoyed the city on this winter day.
Just before reaching the Art Institute I made a detour through Millennium Park, admiring its winter splendor.
This exhibit concentrates on one of Van Gogh’s most iconic paintings and one of his personal favorites, the painting of his bedroom in the Yellow House. He painted this scene three different times and all three of the paintings were on display. There was also a mock up of the bedroom itself, a short documentary about how the paintings were created and a discussion of what color the originals were, before fading over time.
Beautifully curated and displayed, the exhibit was quite remarkable. It had me thinking a lot about how we make a home (Van Gogh moved many times in his life, never quite settling, but this bedroom was his favorite), and about the craft of making art (I love the thick layers of paint Van Gogh used, giving his paintings depth and texture).
I also thought a lot about the man himself, about how much he suffered (he committed himself or was committed by others to insane asylums several times during the last years of his life before finally killing himself) and yet he produced some of the most beautiful and beloved paintings of his career during this time, full of life and color and optimism. How did he do that? Where did all of that beauty come from? It required a depth of courage I’m afraid I cannot fathom.
I spent a little more time at the Art Institute, enjoying some of my favorites and then it was time to head home. There was a short delay on the train ride home of about half an hour, but otherwise the day went smoothly. A very long but very satisfying day. Can’t wait to visit again Chicago.