No tags :(

Share it

If I believed that the two college students who sat opposite me on yesterday’s Megabus trip from Chicago to Indianapolis were representative of our whole culture, I could easily give up my desire to live on this earth. From start to finish, their mouths spewed a steady stream of base, meaningless drivel that made the three-hour drive seem like the rough equivalent of a waterboarding session.

Nothing was off limits, from details of their sexual lives to the abundant use of the “F” word and other obscenities that many people still find offensive. (Shall I mention that these two were total strangers to each other when they sat down together?) As my husband and I de-boarded the bus in Indianapolis, I felt I had definitive proof that it is possible to receive a formal education and still not be educated.

The Chicago Cultural Center was built 100 years ago as a Civil War memorial and the first Chicago Public Library.

One of the best parts of traveling is to open the mind and know the world’s people and realities, tragic or excellent. A day after our return, my mind is brimming with memories of Chicago’s homeless people, two clueless college students, and their equally sad contemporaries––a 30-something couple who stared into their respective cell phones during the intermission of South Pacific just moments after hearing a soulful baritone belt out one of the most romantic tunes of all time, Some Enchanted Evening. Evidently, they felt no need to bask in that beautiful ballad before thrusting themselves back into the world of technology. How tragic. If this happens often enough, won’t it influence our humanity?

Fortunately, we all have abundant access to a powerful antidote for what’s wrong with the world. Part of what puts it right again for frail human beings is art, literature and culture—but only if we’re willing to wade in and sort it out for ourselves. Don’t say, for example, that you don’t care for a particular form of art. Say instead that you haven’t yet found someone who could make you feel passionate about it. I formed that opinion this weekend after visiting the Roy Boyd Gallery in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.

On the morning after its opening reception, my husband and I met someone who could give us just such an introduction to Eminent Domain, a show of semi-abstract paintings by one of Chicago’s most important artists, William Conger. Conger is known for the three-dimensional feel of his landscapes, which fit together like jigsaw puzzles, including earth, sky, water and rock.

Our guide was gallery co-owner Ann Taylor Boyd, a petite brunette in her early 70s. Ann is originally from Terre Haute, Indiana where my husband and I both attended college. As a child of two musicians, she grew up in a household surrounded by music and musicians and studied music herself at my alma mater, Indiana State University.

I’m standing a little taller this morning, knowing that Ann and I were educated in the same space. As she explained Conger’s work and we compared notes about Terre Haute, her brown eyes were lit with warmth and vitality. I would have followed Ann anywhere, trusting her to lead me to a higher plane. Doesn’t she cut a spectacular figure in this fushia jacket? (I think she said it was purchased on a trip to China.) Her beads are made of ivory.

Ann is a  portrait of what a life well invested can do for one’s face, not to mention the world at large. I’m reconsidering abstract art because of Ann. And I’m grateful for the jolt of inspiration I found in her way of life. While some people her age are roaming from casino to casino, she and her husband lead a busy life steeped in art, theatre, ideas and young people. Their minds are lively and open because they’ve kept them that way.

If you’re visiting Chicago, be sure to give these gallery tours a try. You’ll meet gracious gallery owners like the Boyds who remove the intimidation factor of visiting a gallery. You’ll experience art in a private setting where you can reflect on what you see. The tours meet in other neighborhoods, but our favorite is the River North Tour, meeting every Saturday 11am-12:30pm, at 750 N. Franklin, inside Starbucks.

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.