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9 art all around chicago

Musiem of Contemporary Art

Chicago is full of art; everywhere you look the city is bursting with creativity. From the Art Institute of Chicago to the great architecture of the city, it is hard to walk down the street without taking notice. I can remember being a young girl coming in from the suburbs and being amazed by the art all around the city. And that amazement never fades away, after living in the city for about two years now I still walk outside and the beauty of the city takes my breath away.

For those wanting to see more Chicago art but stuck on a budget, check out the Museum of Contemporary Art. This museum is free on Tuesdays but $12 dollars every other day. Currently, the museum is featuring a ‘rewind’ of modern art, displaying pieces that have been on display in the past yet again. A collaboration of art both old and new is certainly something to see.

Also, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, located on Columbia College’s campus, is free to the public. For those like me interested in photography, it’s a great place to check out some interesting work from all over. Current exhibitions include Sarah Pickering’s Incident Control and Beate Geissler/Oliver Sann’s Real Estate. What I love most about this museum is that the original and thought provoking photography.

Keep an eye out as you walk around, this city is rich in art and culture, and something new can be found around every corner.

– Jaclyn Howard

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10 wright here in central IL

While most of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work lies in the northern part of the state, a significant home he designed sits a few blocks south of the state capitol in Springfield.

Built just over one hundred years ago, the 12,000+ square foot house was the largest he designed until that time.  In 1902, heiress Susan Dana commissioned Wright to create a ‘showcase’ for entertaining that would ultimately have 35 rooms, 16 major spaces and more than 100 pieces of Wright-designed furniture in Prairie Style design.

I’ve been to the house ten or so times over the years and have done a few segments on it for television, and still find it an amazing piece of art and architecture.

When I was younger, I thought the bowling alley in the basement was cool; today I’m still fascinated by the detail that went to the project on so many different levels.  Some of it, such as the glasswork, is in 2D, while the trim and exterior frieze were designed in 3D, incorporating depth as well as horizontal and vertical elements.

In addition to the main house, there’s a visitors center and gift shop in the carriage house.  If you’re ever in Springfield around Christmas, it’s definitely a must-see, as the volunteers decorate the house as it might have looked in the early 20th century.

While the house had been closed to the public by the previous governor, it was reopened by Governor Pat Quinn in April of 2009, and is again available for tours.

-Scott Troehler
Twitter: @Scott217

To learn more about Scott, check out his bio.


More info:

Dana-Thomas House Foundation:

Dana-Thomas House on the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency site:

Wickipedia Page:

Yelp review:

Getting there:

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=113849109827449889535.000485dd86f88529ed258&ll=39.797887,-89.651399&spn=0.01154,0.018239&z=15&iwloc=000485dd8eae6c700ddfc&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

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11 A lovely lincoln square
Smiles & pastries at Café Selmarie

Pastries by Café Selmarie, smiles by Erica and Allison

On a breezy spring day we visited Chicago to dig up some Virginia Creeper (a native Illinois plant that’s great for wooden pergolas) . Time was short, but I could not resist a quick trip to Lincoln Square.

We drove straight to Lincoln Avenue, just southeast of Lawrence/Western on Chicago’s north side. This single block feels like a sophisticated small town. The traffic runs only one-way (southeast) so there’s less noise and rush. It’s fun to walk down the sidewalk, window-shop and take a breather here.

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12 Weekend Getaway Mt Vernon IL

Discovery.  I love to discover and rediscover places in Illinois.  And, last week, I did just that on a quick visit to Mt. Vernon and enjoyed several of its fabulous offerings.

The first stop was 9th Street Grill, a lovely restaurant with excellent daily specials.  The day I visited they had  a gazpacho that was to die for.  A great balance of sweet tomatoes and spices that tasted so good, I asked several different ways for the recipe that the owner wasn’t ready to give up.

Main Gallery Exhibit

Our next stop was Cedarhurst Arts Center which houses an  incredible collection of paintings from artists such as John Singer Sargent, Thomas Cowperthwaite Eakins and Mary Stevenson Cassatt.  What I enjoy most about visiting the smaller museums in Illinois is that I don’t feel as rushed as I do at the larger ones and I am able to learn more about the artists.  The Cedarhurst Arts Center has a lovely sculpture garden that is perfect for warm summer days.  Of course there is a lovely gift shop where I spent a few dollars and now have some new treasures of my own.

Not too far is the Jefferson County Historical Village where they have preserved many log cabins from all over the state.  This attraction is only open during the summer weekends, and is definitely worth a trip.  Of course I have to mention Genkota Winery, which I did not have time on this trip to stop by, but that gives me an excuse to go back!

– Jan Kostner

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13 Pilsen 2nd Fridays Art Walk

Pilsen Art Walk

Just a few blocks south of the loop, the neighborhood of Pilsen is home to the Chicago Arts District, a few blocks where you can find everything from the loft studios of up-and-coming local artists to the National Museum of Mexican Art.

While many of these art galleries are open daily, the best time to visit is on the 2nd Friday of every month. That’s when about 30 of these galleries open their doors for special exhibitions where you can meet the artists, enjoy free wine and cheese, groove to local DJs, and even bid on some of the artwork. From 6pm to 10pm, the area comes alive as people of all ages, from students at the local University of Illinois at Chicago to elderly art aficionados, mix and mingle and hop from gallery to gallery.

If you’re walking from the Loop (which takes about 20 minutes), head down Halsted and plan for a stop at Lush Wine and Spirits. This boutique wine shop offers free tastings, wines by the glass, and a small selection of specialty beers. Stop for a drink, or grab some wine or beer to take to a local BYOB restaurant.  From there, continue down Halsted, just past 18th Street, to the area welcome center at 1821 S. Halsted.  Pick up a map of the participating galleries, and you’ll be on your way. You can follow the map, or just wander along Halsted and let the crowds guide you.

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