Monday, October 13, 2014

Cruising through Chicago

One of the best ways to gain an appreciation of Chicago's past, and its more recent history, is seeing the city from the deck of a Shoreline Sightseeing tour boat on the Chicago River.

And on a bright July afternoon, it's a great way to get some sun while getting an education in architecture -- as the men responsible for designing some of Chicago's most notable buildings have reputations that resonate worldwide. Miles van deer Roge, Helmut Jahn, Adrian Smith, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and others are all represented, and knowledgeable and entertaining guides tell their stories along with those of the city.

You'll pass by some breathtaking structures that have made major contributions to Chicago's status as a financial, retail and cultural hub as well as a desirable place to reside. Aon Center, Trump International Hotel & Tower, Wrigley Building, Marina City, Merchandise Mart, Boeing International Headquarters, River City, Union Station Power Plant, Civic Opera Building, Jewelers Building, Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, Lake Point Tower and Navy Pier are just some of the inspiring buildings you'll see and learn about.

The Chicago River used to be toxic and, while it's still mildly polluted and not suitable for swimming, it's a scenic gateway to the city that provides perspectives that are unattainable from terra firma.

Here are some of the things you can expect to see on a 75-minute tour that's well worth the $35 adult admission charge:

Wrigley Building

Trump International Hotel & Tower
Tribune Tower
Marina City
Merchandise Mart

Lake Point Tower

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Nuit Blanche Thoughts and Photos

Over the past few years, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche seems to have fallen into a malaise of being less inspiring and entertaining with each succeeding event. The novelty of looking at shiny, illuminated objects in different locations doesn't last long.

I left my house at 9:45 p.m., walked all over downtown Toronto and got home just past 6 a.m. after taking in almost all of the art installations that were part of the four major exhibitions as well as several independent and special projects, and can honestly say that nothing truly thrilled me or produced deep thoughts (not that I have many of those anyway). Holoscenes, where a man was immersed in a tank of water and continued to drink his coffee and read his newspaper while rarely coming up for air, held my attention the longest. 

I didn't take part in many of the interactive installations since I'm not the type who likes waiting in line for something I'm pretty sure isn't going to be worth the time spent trying to get into see it. But I did drop into one of the three "Screaming Booths" set up on Spadina Avenue and Queen Street and yelled "Biscuits!" just for the hell of it. A young woman who went in after me put a fancy rope with a frilly sash over my head like a necklace. It either looked regal or ridiculous, but I wore it -- thought I should have donated it to the folks who were putting on a bondage display at The Great Hall. They would have made much better use of it than I could.

The highlight of my night was going to the TIFF Bell Lightbox and watching The Unauthorized Hagiography of Vincent Price, a "faux-ography" that strung together clips from the actor's films and television appearances, threw in some fake facts and added the occasional song to act as a soundtrack. I laughed, I smiled, I sung along to Mungo Jerry's "In The Summertime," I sat down in a comfortable seat and ate popcorn for 45 minutes.

Here are some photos from my Nuit Blanche wandering:

Balloons at Fort York.

A Charles Pachter painting at Fort York's new visitor centre.

Please Come In Please at Victoria Memorial Park. An artist works and lives in this small trailer.

Big Top Grand Stand at Clarence Square Park.

Holoscenes at Roundhouse Park.

Icebreaker at 18 York St.

Gap Ecology (Still Lives with Cherry Pickers and Palms) at John Street and Queen Street West.

Monument to North American Energy Security at Nathan Phillips Square Reflecting Pool.

The Garden of Renova at Osgoode Rotunda.

A bust at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

This one is self-explanatory.

Walk Among Worlds at Ogden Junior Public School.

It All Falls Down at 37 Bulwer St.

It All Falls Down, from the other side, at 37 Bulwer St.

Incandescent Community Mural at Artscape Youngplace.

Bondage demonstrations at The Great Hall.

A painting on the lawn at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.