Tuesday, January 9, 2007
In 1997 construction began on a new park to be known as the Millennium Park. Planned for the north end of Grant Park along Michigan Avenu, the blueprints included plans for a pavilion, garden, fountains and a kidney bean shaped sculpture officially named, "Cloud Gate".
While originally skeptical of the giant stainless steel sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor, I have since changed my mind and find the shiny structure to be mesmerizing. Visitors to Chicago throng to Millennium Park to see what has since been nicknamed the "Bean".
Though I have photographed the Bean from dawn to dusk, the evening hours remain my favorite. And from the many sales of my night photographs of Millennium Park and the Bean at night, I can see that others agree with me.
Polishing the seams on the Bean kept the sculpture under wraps for much of 2005 and frustrated many visitors who had hoped to catch a glimpse of themselves in the mirrored surface of the sculpture. In May of2006, the Bean was completed for a total cost of nearly $23 million in private funds.
With the surrounding highrises along Michigan Avenue and Randolph Streets and the open space of the plaza area, the Bean is a fabulous photographic subject.
Thursday, January 4, 2007
For the past several years, I have been studying Spanish in adult night classes. As any student of a foreign language realizes, the only way to improve is to practice speaking and listening and preferably with native speakers.
The Pilsen neighborhood on Chicago's near south side is an enclave rich with Mexican people, food and culture. The highlights of the annual celebrations of Cinco de Mayo and Independence Day are the parades down Cermak and 18th Street respectively.
Without having to purchase an airline ticket, I can quickly be transported to a Mexican street complete with Spanish language signs, vendors selling paletas, friendly people and Mexican flags. Friendly people curious as to why a gringo photographer is visiting their neighborhood are quick to strike up conversations and humor me as I attempt to carry on a conversation in Spanish.