From council rings to native species, Jens Jensen unearthed a respect for the American landscape with a reverence for her soil, trees, and plants. Jensen revolutionized urban areas by bringing nature into cities otherwise planted in cement and towering skyscrapers that were otherwise fertilized in dismal squalor. No place is their more evident that in Chicago, Illinois, the magnificent lakefront, the many parks in the city, and the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
The screening of the Jens Jensen documentary, which aired for the first time in Millennium Park and was simulcast on WTTW television, was an inspiring event – and the rains held off until just as the film’s credits rolled.
I hitched a ride on the train with my friend Amy. We clucked like hens all the way from Elmhurst to the Ogilvie Center, headed toward the lake (Lake Michigan) and even had time to stop for a spell and share some wine before she headed into the Chicago Cultural Center for a lecture by Piet Oudolf, who designed the Lurie Gardens in Millennium Park. I wobbled across Michigan Avenue and into Millennium Park where Amy would join the rest of later for the Jens Jensen film.
One of the more controversial attractions to the equally controversial Millennium Park is Cloud Gate, more commonly known as the Bean! Change always brings about nay-sayers and critics, especially in Chicago. When the then Mayor Daly bulldozed Meigs Field, under the cloak of darkness one night, there was an uproar among Chicagoans and the bitterness lingers. Meigs Field was a small airstrip, used by mostly small aircraft pilots, businessmen, and politicians. The tactic of razing the airport infuriated many and the plans for a lakefront park of epic proportions was ballyhooed by most, especially when it wasn’t completed on schedule and went over-budget. When, the cloud was unveiled, the commotion about how unattractive it was and a waste of money was equal to the much “ado” decades earlier over the Picasso. Years later, the cloud is an attraction that draws young and old, Chicagoans, suburbanites, and visitors from around the world. It is a particularly fun venue for children, with a spouting water feature, and the backdrop for thousands of wedding photos.
The first photo is on the bridgeway to the Pritzker Pavillion, where I was headed for the screening of the Jens Jensen documentary and will tell you about in the next post. I wanted to show you the “bean” first. If you click onto the top photo, you can see the edge of the cloud and reflections of all the people looking at it. The second photo is at one of the entrances into Millennium Park and is looking from the park into what is commonly known as Downtown, the business heart of Chicago, from Randolph Street to the west. Below is a closer look at the cloud. A band was playing as dozens of energetic people were using stationary bikes, pumping away while sitting in place along the Magnificent Mile.