Monday, November 23, 2009

Chicago's Hairy Who at the Union League Club

I occasionally try different writers' groups in Chicago. One balmy Saturday in November, I attended the Illinois Woman's Press Association (IWPA) fall meeting held at the Union League Club of Chicago. The other women in attendance were friendly, good conversationalists, bright and helpful. Can't say much about their guest speaker. But can give kudos to the club itself and its extensive art collection, visible floor by floor.

The Union League Club of Chicago is located at 65 W. Jackson Blvd. in Chicago, adjacent to the architecturally significant Monadnock Building, and is a multi-storey, non-partisan private club with "one of the largest and most important private collections of American Art." I was particularly taken with large art pieces by members of Chicago's Hairy Who art movement of the 1960s and 1970s, just steps from where I just ate lunch.

Originals by Roger Brown, Gladys Nilsson, Ray Yoshida, Karl Wirsum, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke and Leon Golub grace the walls, nooks, crannies and staircases of the Union League Club. There are actually so many pieces of art, the club seems a little hard pressed as to where to put them all. The Nilsson painting (upper right) is hanging right outside the women's washroom.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Make a special Thanksgiving journal entry

When we think of Thanksgivings of the past, our memories can often blur into visual "bytes" of rising before sun-up, basting turkeys, cooking down cranberries into a sauce, hanging harvest decorations, watching a wave of people rush into and then out of the house, washing and drying dishes in a bright, steamy kitchen, and laughing with others, like yourself, festively dressed in fashionable high heels, but also in slightly worn-torn aprons.

But what does Thanksgiving really mean to those partaking in the meal with you? There's a special window of time during Thanksgiving when you can find out. You know that time in between the Thanksgiving meal itself and dessert, when you need to digest the first part of your meal before you can even think about cutting into the pumpkin pie? Instead of rushing off to watch the football game or get a jump on loading the dishwasher, grab your journal and instruct everyone at the table to "set a spell" to talk about the things that they are most thankful for this year. Write them down in your journal.

Or, ask everyone if they can recall their most memorable Thanksgiving (outside of this year's!) and why. You may find out some interesting anecdotes about your relatives that can help you appreciate them even more. You might even hear stories from the old-timers about those who have passed on whom you may have never met. The practical joke Great-Uncle Joe pulled 50 years ago could sound remarkably like something you, your son or your niece might pull today. More than looks often run in the family.

Sometimes Thanksgiving is the only time the whole family really gets together, and it's a day that often goes by far too swiftly. If you record some of what people say and do during Thanksgiving, you can savor the day longer and your relationships more deeply.

Forget videocams. They put people on the defensive and no one feels comfortable enough to say anything substantial in front of them. Plus, hardly anyone ever looks at them again once the camera is put away. On the other hand, people open up when you sit down at a relaxed table and chew the fat (and the Turkey bones), as you just happen to jot down a few notes in your journal all the while! ◦