South Garden of the Art Institute: A Michigan Avenue Oasis
Ann and I had our own little World Cup Sunday evening for an hour or more in the back yard as dusk settled, clouds drizzled, and mosquitoes took to flight. You might call it the Vanishingly Small Fraction of the World Cup, with Team Middle Age v. Exuberant Grade Schooler. Her goal was a sizable swatch of yard near the back fence that previously had been too soggy to mow, and so was clearly delineated by tall grass and tiny white flowers. My goal was the large honey locust tree near the deck, but not so large if you're an inconsistent kicker, so that pretty much evened things out. She won, but she would have won no matter what playing her dad; also, she was the only one keeping score.
As for the real World Cup, I'll pull for Côte d’Ivoire, for the same reason I cheer for Gonzaga during March Madness.
While looking for the formal name of the green space just south of the Art Institute the other day, I came across this wonderful blog, Public Art in Chicago. The woman who keeps it has a talent for photography and an interest in things that are interesting: "Sculptures, monuments, memorials, murals, graffitti, reliefs, fountains, amenities at public places in Chicago."
I was looking because I happened across this space last week. For some reason, I'd never ventured into it, even though it's easily accessible from Michigan Avenue. But a lot of people probably wander by without noticing it. Few of the Michigan Avenue throng were there when I was on that pleasant summer afternoon. The garden, which simply seems to be the South Garden, is planted with hawthorns in geometric precision that form a near-complete canopy. A long line of fountains gurgle under the trees.
Landscape architect Dan Kiley (1912-2004) designed it about 50 years ago. Among other projects, he also did the Chicago Botanic Garden, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the JFK Library, Lincoln Center, Fountain Plaza in Dallas and the US Air Force Academy. "Grid-based classicism" was his style, according to Gardenvisit.com, and he clearly got around.
I sat for a few peaceful minutes, then wandered around toward the back of the garden, which ends at one of the Art Institute's walls. Since I hadn't expected to be in the garden, I wasn't prepared for what I found there, even though I'd heard of it before: a work by Lorado Taft. More about which tomorrow.