After twenty days in a hotel, we returned home to our highrise this week. The vestiges of the flood lingered in the garage, which smelled of fish and salt. The walkway by the river was filled with sand, swept ashore and piled into drifts. Thankfully, our apartment was far from the flood waters. But still, I spent hours on Wednesday evening, cleaning the refrigerator, washing the floors, vacuuming. It was my way of creating order from the chaos of evacuation. As I put shoes back in closets and dusted bookshelves, I was recreating my little corner of comfort and predictability.
That’s what patterns do for us. The repetition creates a visual rhythm. Even if there is no message intended in the sequence of lines, circles, squares, we look for one and find comfort in the predictability and orderliness. That’s what I was searching for this week.
The photos I selected are full of patterns–all created by human hands. They decorate a bus shelter in Chicago, a window display along Michigan Street, also in Chicago, a foyer in the Brooklyn Museum, and and a herring truck, parked on Zandvordt Beach at the fringe of the North Sea in the Netherlands.
Love is surprising and unexpected…even among the gods.
This photo was taken at the Driehaus Museum in Chicago, a grand example of a Gilded Age mansion. Industrialist Samuel Mayo Nickerson built a palatial home a few blocks away from Michigan Avenue. Over several decades it deteriorated, reaching its nadir as the offices of the American College of Surgeons. Decades later, it was meticulously restored by Chicago philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus. Imagine if you had this statue in your solarium and marble– not only on the floors, but on the walls of your home. This is just a hint of the grandeur.
The search for illumination is the human quest. My quest. Throughout our lives, we are hungering for light, for understanding, which transforms the darkness. It doesn’t matter if the light comes from an electric bulb, or fire, or from a creative spark, or the divine, or simply the touch of a loved one–for me they’re all the same because they all part of the search that can take us beyond our little world, our little selves into something grand and magnificent, something that we only catch glimmers of from time to time.
A flower and lily pad, near Trump Towers, Chicago
A beautiful blue Chagall window in Chicago
Reaching for the stars, Worlds Fair 1968, Flushing, NY
Sunset over Lake Winnepesaukee, Gilford, NH
This is what drives some people to pray and spend time in nature. It is the reason why I and other artists reach for the paintbrush, the camera, or the computer. It is our prayer–Let me find the light and capture it so I can share it with others. Let this light be a flash of joy and understanding and peace for all. Let it help illuminate the darkness–even for a moment.
This weekend Rich and I explored Chicago, taking long walks through different neighborhoods, enjoying the sunshine and the last few days of heat before the cooler winds blew in on Labor Day.
Turning onto a side street off North Dearborn, a man’s face startled me. He was chiseled into a wall made of rough slabs of concrete, roof tiles, and uneven hunks of brick. The wall wasn’t level, but dipped and curved like the walls in Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. I lingered for a while, enjoying man’s strong, chiseled features and the sweet surprise of discovery.
As much as I wish these moments, these gifts of happiness could happen every day, I’ve learned that they come only when I am fully living in the present. Isn’t that true for all of us? Unfortunately, we sometimes live in a limbo of stress and worry, our minds focused on anything but the here and now. But, if we can, by force of will, push our worries aside, life can surprise and delight us with unexpected gifts.