August 13-18, 2014
Marcia Weissman, ED
The Arts and Architecture exchange was a great success, due in part to perfect weather throughout the five days. The twenty ambassadors consisted of Americans from four states, Canadians from four cities, and a Brazilian couple. Several of the Canadians were from clubs we had visited last year, so we were able to renew former acquaintances as we also established new ones.
Many thanks to the home hosts: John and Mary Lou Balazs, Pam Bridges, Dean and Marlene DiBrito, Brian and Joan Harrington, Bill and Ludwina Homer, Dave and Pat Meyer, Jeanne Minorini, Marilyn Parsons, Dora Turula, Jean Wilson, and Kat York. Also thanks to the day hosts: Scott and Christine Oliver, Barb Dillard, Lorrie Gasewind, Karen Li, and Paula Addington, and to Bob Weissman for his photographs.
We began with a Welcome dinner at the beautiful Lake Forest beach. Hosts contributed salads and desserts, and the exchange supplied delicious fried and roasted chicken. Each ambassador had an opportunity to give a brief introduction and tell about his or her own personal interests in the arts.
Our first full day was a very eventful one. We arrived in Chicago by train and assembled at the dock for our Architecture River Cruise. Everyone agreed that the docent was excellent, and the account of the buildings along the river was very interesting. After the cruise, we walked to an El station to travel to the River North art gallery area. We visited two galleries that specialize in contemporary glass and ceramic works; both gallery owners graciously gave explanations about the artwork that was displayed. Another walk took us to a bus stop for our ride to the Ignite Glass Studio, where we ate our lunches and the ambassadors were able to participate in hands-on glassblowing under the direction of skilled artists. We then rode both a bus and another El train to the Logan Square apartment of a lady who collects Outsider art – a very interesting and unusual collection. She generously provided us with wine, appetizers, and dinner – a wonderful end to a very busy day.
The next day was spent in Oak Park and Elmhurst. We had a docent-led tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio, as well as a self-guided walking tour of the surrounding area. We then proceeded to Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace to see an example of a typical home of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, as well as some insights into the life and upbringing of a great American writer. Following lunch at a local deli, we drove to the Lizzadro Lapidary Museum in Elmhurst to see beautiful examples of carved stonework, mostly from the Orient.
The third full day brought us back into downtown Chicago for a two-hour walking tour of the architecture and outdoor art of the Loop area. We then went to the Art Institute for a docent-led tour of the Impressionist collection, with time available to wander in other areas of the museum as well. We reconvened at the Weber Grill Restaurant for a wonderful dinner. Afterwards, some ambassadors and guests attended the concert of classical music at Millennium Park.
Our final day was unscheduled in the morning and afternoon. Many ambassadors visited the Botanic Garden, while others attended an opera performance at Ravinia, or a musical at the Lincolnshire Theater. We met for the final time for the Farewell party at the Weissman’s home in Wildwood, with a catered dinner and a view of the hosts’ art and photography collection. Our Brazilian ambassador provided a delicious tropical punch as well. The glass creations that the ambassadors had made at Ignite Studio were brought to the party so everyone could take their artwork home with them.
The next day consisted of a leisurely morning, after which the ambassadors boarded an Amtrak train to Milwaukee to continue their Arts and Architecture adventure.