I left the exhibition my mind reeling with surrealism. I stopped in to pay a visit to Edward Hopper's "The Nighthawks", one of my favorite works in the Art Institutes's collection. I paused, allowing myself to be drawn into it's ambiguity. It does not tell a story so much as lets the viewer's imagination create it's own. Who are these people, captured in the harsh glare of the diner's lights? They seem almost to inhabit a world within a world, a place apart from the dark, deserted street outside. The only life depicted revolves around that counter.. Each of the characters has a back story, a life outside of this snapshot of time, yet we can only guess at what those are.
I gazed out a window at the sculpture court a floor below. My mind went back to my annual summer lunches there with my dear, late friend Kathryn. My theatre buddy, my occasional financial savior, as close a kindred spirit as one could ever be lucky enough to find. I remember our adventures together, our wide ranging conversations, sometimes serious, sometimes silly. I recall, after a wine spiced lunch, how she loudly proclaimed in a gallery filled with medieval crucifixes, "There's a penis in this picture", which, indeed the subliminally was. We began to survey the other works, seeing penises in several of the religious paintings displayed. I remember her undeserved end, violent and untimely. I hope her soul has found the rest and peace it deserves.
Leaving the museum I phone my friend in Phoenix, knowing he would most likely answer. I explained that I needed to reconnect with reality after the surreal exhibition. We talk for a bit. He is an excellent and dependable touchstone, solid, witty and intelligent. I could not hope for more in a partner for my friend of two decades. They have both become to me like brothers.
Even on this cool, cloudy day tourist throng Chicago's Millennium Park. They marvel at the flowing lines of the Frank Gehry designed bandshell and cluster around the reflective sculpture "Cloudgate", affectionately known as "The Bean". I head back to my neighborhood enjoying the opportunities my life in Chicago affords me. They are a privilege earned by living in the city I call home.