Sunday, May 12, 2024

Midwest Tour

We went to the graduations of two granddaughters, which were a week apart one in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the other in Columbus, Ohio. Rather than go home in between we visited Chicago which is what I wrote about the Art Institute last week.

Aside from the Art Institute, we saw two excellent plays. The Steppenwolf Theater Company has a tradition of developing dramas on family themes and this latest, “Purpose”, by Brandon Jacobs-Jenskins, deals with two generations of a successful black family. It was extremely well written, acted, and directed but I found it depressing. The next night we saw the comedy “Judgement Day“ at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on the Navy Pier with Jason Alexander. It was hilarious and surely bound for Broadway.

I also went to see the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. You have to go through a metal detector at the entrance. I teased the guard asking whether we could take some of the exhibits with us. His response was “If we could, I wouldn’t be here!”

A different Guard at the Federal Reserve

This small museum presents the history of money in this country, the Federal Budget and what a million dollars physically looks like.

Free souvenir from the from the Federal Reserve

In Grand Rapids, our art experience was at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Lots of works, some with names one knows well but not always the best examples. Mr. Meijer clearly liked to buy a lot but quality was not his first thought. We did, however, enjoy a George Rickey and Louise Nevelson.

After our stop in Chicago, we were on to Columbus where the Art Museum is small and has a limited collection of older art. Each room was installed according to themes of social commentary, with labels that tried to squeeze out some current societal meaning from each work. I thought that seemed gratuitous but there were still some really good works of art. Here are just three paintings that grabbed me. The Fran├žois Boucher's “Earth: Vertumnus and Pomona” (1749), Edward Hopper's “Morning Sun” (1952), and Paul Cadmus's “Herring Massacre”. (1940)

Columbus also boasts of a 32-room bookstore with 500,000 volumes. Amusing but nowhere to sit and hard to stand looking at a book for more than 30 seconds. Some rooms are so tiny that only one person could squeeze into a room at a time, but see the line to get in!

The Residence Inn in Columbus (don’t stay there) is in a converted bank. Unfortunately, the hotel is badly kept up but it was amusing that the breakfast buffet was in the bank’s vault.

The graduation ceremonies that were the reason for our trip were very different. At Grand Valley State was what you would expect with each student getting their name called as they walked across the stage to be given their diploma. At Ohio State it was quite another story; 12,000 graduates in a stadium with a capacity of 102,000. While they did call up by name those with Master’ Doctorates’ and Honorees, the 9,000 undergraduates just filed in line down from the bleachers to the stadium field to be handed diplomas from the black boxes on red and white covered tables. Our granddaughter told us that at their rehearsal they were told that if they were in the wrong place in line they would get someone else’s diploma! The first image is of the procession including the thousands of students and the second photo on the right shows the tables with the boxes of diplomas.

Happily at neither graduation were there any serious demonstrations.


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