Thursday, December 1, 2011

Encounter with Art

When you first approach the Midway, you wonder:
What shines so bright between the trees at night?
In Chicago you don't have to go to a museum to experience art. Rather, you'll encounter it on your everyday ramblings. Case in point: The other day I dropped one of my sons off for an appointment in our neighborhood, and as it wasn't quite dark yet, I took the opportunity to walk the nearby Midway Plaisance, one of Chicago's big boulevards. It is so wide that it houses an ice rink and soccer fields between both lanes of traffic.

Looking west, the sabers frame the sunset.
These days it is also home to the "Light Sabers," and it was such a treat to meet them in their illuminated glory. Officially called the Light Bridges, they were designed by New York artist James Carpenter, and stand sentinel along Ellis and Woodlawn Avenues, across the Midway. The crossing at Ellis is special to me because as a grad student I used to live south of the Midway, and thus walked along Ellis to get to campus. I remember the walk as cold and drafty, with the sidewalks cracked and the scraggly traffic lights swaying the wind.

Now it's a brave new world with brand new concrete sidewalks that curve around those light beams that beckon through the trees. And lots of people are walking back and forth since there's a new dorm south of the Midway. But mainly it was a treat to see how those beams of light enlivened a formerly dire area, and how they played against the cobalt sky and the black silhouettes of the trees.


  1. Great photos! I especially love the center one. The way the sabers seem to be floating, framing the sunset--you don't just see the Midway, you feel it.

  2. Gorgeous!!! It's things like this that make me wish I lived in a bigger city - the beautiful and amazing sights! Thanks for sharing....

  3. Beautiful photos, Annette. I live in a small town and we have nothing like this, so I appreciate reading about sights and experiences that can only be found in the big cities.

  4. I'm a big fan of sidewalk art so I followed your link to the Tribune and his link to the animation of the lights. Very cool! I couldn't get the whole feel because the street lights competed with the light sabers but it was really neat. For some reason, it reminds me of Paris.

    Lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Speaking of Paris, I highly recommend Woody Allen's latest movie, Midnight in Paris. Lots of glistening night scenes.

    I too love Chicago. I'm living in Brooklyn this year and get to experience Christmas in the city. Loving it.

    Lovely post.

  6. Kelley - thanks, the center shot was pure spur of the moment!

    Natalie - glad you liked this glimpse of life in the big city. Watch out for my photo on tomorrow's post, it definitely is less glorious.

    Sheila - glad to provide you with a view into big city life.

    Bridgette - yes, definitely a Parisian feel to it! I also have fond memories of those light-filled bridges over the Seine. No water, here, sadly, unless the fields framed by the Midway turn soggy.

    Shirley - thanks for the movie tip! It's still one of my goals in life to spend a decent amount of time in NY before Christmas to enjoy the atmosphere. I've done it before, but the trip was too rushed.