Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

A Chance Meeting with a Treasure…Chicago’s Former Public Library   Leave a comment

Sometimes you just luck out.  Sometimes the Force is with you and the universe aligns along with the path your footsteps are treading at that moment. Such was the case on the last afternoon of my visit to the Windy City, when I “stepped out” on Mr. FreshAir for a quick date with my camera and the spectacular architecture of the city.  Architectural elements hold such an attraction for me, I don’t know why exactly, but they do.  And I tend to get caught up in the looking and examining, which makes me a rather poor partner for a general stroll around the block….while everyone else is 50 paces around the next corner, there I am stopping to check out the intricacies of a delicate wrought iron gate or a particularly lovely carved acanthus leaf on a pilaster.  I suspect I’m somewhat of a pain to the normal walking partner.  But  my camera never complains….which is why he always gets to accompany me on these sorts of forays.  Besides, Mr. FreshAir had already done his share of saving my life several times over the past two days when he correctly assumed that I was looking up at an archway or perhaps a gargoyle, and  grabbed my arm to help project me through traffic before the lights changed.

So off I went, with Mr. FreshAir’s blessing, and with only about an hour to do my deeds before we had to grab some early dinner and then head over to the train to the airport.  My target this time was the Chicago Tribune Building, which I had scoped out on a walk (not my kind of walk, but everyone else’s kind of walk) the previous night when we trekked the mile and a half from our hotel down to Watertower Center.  As I made my way down Michigan Avenue, I spied a multitude of interesting candidates for future photo opportunities and of course I had a to record at least one or two of the beautiful blossoms I found along the way…

Well, OK…yeah, one more!

As I continued along my way, I stopped at an intersection to get my bearings and also to wait for the little white pedestrian guy on the crosswalk sign to light up, thereby signalling safety in crossing….as long as one is actually looking at said crosswalk sign of course. As for me, my attention was grabbed by the building across the street. Perhaps you can see why…

I crossed the street and immediately began to investigate.

A kind woman who was sitting on the steps saw my obvious delight and urged me to go inside, assuring me I would not be accosted by the law.  So I did. I think at that point it would have been worth a brush with the law in order to satisfy my curiosity about what was inside, but then again, I’m no fool.  Here’s what I saw upon making my entrance

Spectacular marble and mosaic work at every turn.  Through research, I have found that this is Carrera marble and the mosaics were executed by Tiffany studios.

Detail of mosaic work on the stairs.  Mother-of-pearl, colored stones, gold leaf and Favrile glass  (“Favrile glass is distinguished by brilliant or deeply toned colors, usually iridescent like the wings of certain American butterflies, the necks of pigeons and peacocks, the wing covers of various beetles.”) are some of the elements used in the mosaics.

I continued up the elaborate staircase to the second floor.  I was in la-la land with all of the decorative detail on the coffered ceilings and the shimmer of the sunlight as it hit the glass and shell in the mosaic work.

Imagine!  This was once the Chicago Public Library!

And then, at the top of the stairs I saw this…..

A chamber orchestra warming up under the largest Tiffany Glass dome I had ever seen, and later found out it is the largest Tiffany dome in the world. I certainly felt as if I were in a sacred area.

When the music of Mozart’s Symphony No. 26 (Eb major) began to lilt throughout the building I thought I was indeed in heaven.  It turns out that I had just happened in when the Chicago Chamber Orchestra was presenting a free concert, part of their Mostly Mozart in May series.  Oh how I wish Mr. FreshAir had been with me to hear it. He loves classical music.

I stayed to listen for as long as time would permit.

Originally built in 1897, can you believe that this magnificent building was almost demolished in the name of progress?  Yes, in the 1970’s when we lost so many architectural gems to the wrecking ball, this too came very close but was saved at the last moment.  With a new library building built elsewhere and dedicated in 1991, the old public library no longer held books but continued in its service to the public by becoming a showcase for the arts.  This concert was just one of the many free cultural activities that take place in this wonderful treasure of a building….now known as the Chicago Cultural Center.

I quietly took a few more shots as I parted ways with this gem….

The new …shot from within the old.

Sunlight streaming through the arch..

The fine detail on a bronze wall sconce. The sconces and chandeliers were made by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York..

The play of sunlight on the stair landing..

I silently slipped out of the building and hightailed it back to the hotel to tell Mr. FreshAir what I had seen.  The Chicago Tribune building would have to wait until next time.

I hope you will have a chance meeting with something that inspires you this week!

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It Was a Dark and Stormy Night..and some quick musings on Chicago   Leave a comment

Well!  I’m back from Chicago and sorting through 300 odd photos.  The Matisse exhibit was outstanding and chronicled a very prolific period of his career, showcasing everything from drawings, monotypes, oils and sculpture executed between the years  of 1913-1917.

Unfortunately, although the museum allows photographs in all other areas of the facility, it did not allow cameras to be used in the Matisse exhibit, so I will have to try to find some of the images for you from other sources.  But as I said, I took many other photos of various works in the museum and also some of the interesting things I saw around town.  Chicago is a wonderful city with eye candy at every turn….all you have to do is look for it.  With it being May, there was a profusion of tulips in all sorts of plantings throughout the downtown area…

And then of course, there’s the wonderful architecture!

But for tonight I must make this short.  It is a very dark and stormy night with severe weather moving through Northeast Ohio.  Our tornado sirens have sounded twice already and you can be sure we made a quick retreat to the basement.  More high winds are predicted later as well, so I will sign off and continue my Chicago story tomorrow or the next day.

I hope all of you have a safe and pleasant evening.

Winged Creatures Great and Small   Leave a comment

In the fading light of a rather frigid February afternoon in Chicago, these two winged friends huddled on a window sill in an attempt to catch the last warmth of a small shaft of sunlight.  The decorative elements on the building, as well as the two live “winged creatures” made for an interesting shot, and quite apropos at that.

Posted March 11, 2010 by freshairfour in Architecture, Nature

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Steadfast and True   Leave a comment

This is the home of a farmer in our area who is now in his nineties.  Although his farm was much larger when I was a girl, with pastures, chickens and  a large barn, all that remains today is his family home.  Time has taken its toll, but he and the house remain both steadfast and true….relics of an age long past, an important part of our heritage and an integral part of the American dream. No matter how old and weathered, the flag still flies.  I salute this old man and his home.

Posted March 5, 2010 by freshairfour in Architecture, Farm Related, Winter

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