Nancy the Creator

No matter what talents are born within ourselves, we need to discover and nurture them to help them expand, morph, breathe, grow. That could not be more physically true than for these amazing sculptures created by my high school friend, Nancy Pirri. Once a nameless block, they became these varied women (and one man) with the guidance, hard work and amazing hands of hers.

They are on display overlooking The Art Institute and Lake Michigan. I walked into The Cliff Dwellers Club at the perfect time to view them. The dining room was empty, so I could enjoy them in silence. Lovely details, varied expressions, I think they are beautiful.

My favorite is the ethereal Genevive, resolutely posed facing onto Michigan Ave and the lake, rather than into the dining room. She looked so proud, and the feminine details like the flower on her skirt grabbed me.

I am honored that I have one of Nancy’s sculptures in my home. I bought it several years ago, and I can really how her style has changed. She has a true appreciation for the woman’s body and form.

Her sculptures are on display at 200 S. Michigan Ave 22nd floor, Chicago until July 23.



3 Bedrooms

I recently saw the Art Institute’s of Chicago’s excellent “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” exhibit.   The piece de resistance is all 3 of his very similar “Bedroom” paintings side by side, with a unique video display comparing them in detail. img_4800The exhibit also shows works of other painters who inspired him and how those mentors influenced his painting style changes.

This exhibit truly showed how much Van Gogh tried to improve his technique by learning new styles, testing  different materials, and how observant he was of the world surrounding him. Like Claude Monet’s haystacks or lily pads paintings, one might find the final results repetitive. However, the hours and details to create such similar works in different lighting and seasons amazes me.

Remember that these are not photographs that can be taken 30 shots per second—these are oil paintings that take days and months to complete. The thought process, the changes a stroke style or layering makes can change the whole feeling of the work.


I was impressed with how his painting styles were also transformed over the years by his surroundings, his interests, as he learned from his contemporaries, and by his uneven mental health. From his works and personal letters on display, it seemed the essence of the subjects he explored remained similar.

Not only did I admire his paintings, I was able to compare the 3 bedrooms paintings; owned by 3 different museums, this was a rare feat.

We can all learn from this exhibit to keep expanding our knowledge and abilities. Test, change, absorb, improve, modify, test again in our daily work and home routines  will open our minds to unexpected opportunities and results.


P.S. If you have never been to the Art Institute of Chicago, I highly recommend it! Voted #1 museum in the world by Trip Advisor last year, I am lucky to be able to visit a couple times annually.

Native Tourist

Last week I spent some time with an old friend in my old Chicago neighborhood, Wicker Park.  We walked the streets on a gorgeous summer day catching up, and snapping pictures at will. While there have been many changes in the neighborhood since I lived there, so much felt the same.  We ate lunch at the divine Big Star (Taco Bar)–cheap, hip, delicious, loud.  Try it!

We saw the cool, the run down, the rehabbed, the restaurants, the shops, the park, the community art, the graffiti, the clubs, my old condo building.

Take an afternoon and really explore your neighborhood, see views you haven’t seen before. Look at your world from a different perspective.  Make the same new again. C

Mod Spa window
beautiful use for old wood.
Combination of community art and graffiti


Peaceful Wicker Park–so much prettier than when we lived there!





Incredible art studio entrance under the El tracks

An Afternoon Excursion

On a welcoming blue sky day, I argue there is no prettier city than Chicago.  It was incredible today, walking down Michigan Ave today after meetings, headed to the Art Institute.  Vats overflowing with fresh flowers, autumn ready gardens, throngs of tourists and locals, segway tours, cameras pointed up-down-around.

The destination was the photography exhibit of Henri Cartier-Bresson.  Incredible, iconic, historian, traveller, this Frenchman showed the world everyday life in countries around the world: Ghandi’s funeral, behind the Iron Curtain, New York, Paris, Italy, Indonesia, Shaghai, any traveller’s dream and his sometimes nightmare.  His hand-held camera captured the sexy body parts, the horrors and reality of war, the poignant portraits,  the beautiful-the plain-the bosses-the servants-the workers-the drinkers-the watchers-the forgotten.

It was an incredible show.  If it comes your way, plan to spend at least an hour learning, laughing, loathing. his appreciation for the frame, the math, the juxtaposition of lives, the darkness, the light, you will remember it.

My sister and I also took our first walk into the newer modern wing of the Art Institute.  Jaw-dropping architecture showing off our wonderful skyline, a plethora of natural light so reminiscent of the Musee O’rsay in Paris (a former train station), the incredible colors popped from the canvases.  Other than guards, we were the only visitors in several galleries–so quiet, so vibrant, so inspiring.  Wow, we kept saying.

light and space in the modern wing

I don’t understand all the modern art–some seem so simple, so juvenile–but I reveled in much of it.  I recognized many of the works from their old locations in the Museum, but seeing them all together was breathtaking.  Picasso, Matisse, Klee (one of my favorites), Magritte, Pollock, so many others.  One room had fascinating architectural drawings, even a sampling of modern-designed fabrics–perfect for my home.

mini Picasso sculpture with the real Skyline in the modern wing

Too many times an art exhibit comes to this breathtaking city, a musical I want to see, a new restaurant and my schedule is too busy to fit it in, or it escapes my mind until too late.  Today reminded me to take a break, to explore what is offered.  It is worth the afternoon.  The inspiration is worth it.  And the escape.  C

Album Art- Which were your favorites?

Do you know the one of the first album covers that was truly designed by the band, and not their manager?  It was the Beatles very influential Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  This was one of the trivia nuggets I gleaned from a fun exhibit of LP Art–60 years in Album Art at our local museum, The Lake County Discovery Museum.


The exhibit showcased the evolution of album art, and its impact on musicians and popular culture. My husband and I were brought back, looking at some of the most popular album covers of our growing up. How many did we own?

There were many genres of music represented–rock, punk, pop, funk, jazz, fusion, with rock being the largest grouping.  There were also some interactive factoids you could read, a headset with music samples, and a fun A-Z game where you could try to choose which letter went with which music group (I did very poorly on this).

Coincidentally, I am reading the autobiography Clapton, by Eric Clapton.  I have always appreciated his guitar genius, and I wanted to learn more about his life.  While touring this exhibit, I was reading about the hippie, drug-using years of the late 1960’s, where he met, befriended and was inspired by artists such as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and  Jimi Hendrix  Clapton mentioned many of the albums that lined the museum walls, which included his former group Cream. 

An extra bonus at the Museum was an art exhibit by Jim Flora, an amazing graphic deisgner from the 1940’s and 50’s who designed classical and jazz album covers, wrote and illustrated children’s books, designed advertising pieces, and funky, creative pieces of art.  Any of them would fit in beautifully in my home!

Entertaining, reminiscent, and educating (and not too overwhelming). What more can you ask from a museum experience? C