Love in the Afternoon

Yesterday I took advantage of the sunshine and explored a well-traveled bike route. Biking along the lakefront from Clark Square Park to Northwestern, I traveled through campus to the lakefront path, past the soccer fields and fraternity houses, north on Sheridan Road to Sheridan Place, then south on Ridge. On the northern grounds of Evanston Hospital I found a plaque marking the location of an ancient Indian village and chipping station (a place where arrowheads and tools were made). From there I continued west on Central Street to Greenbay and McCormick where another bike path begins.

The trail greets passersby with a large silver sculpture followed by a short patch leading up to the Evanston Ecology Center and 23-acre Ladd Arboretum. After Bridge Street the path becomes the North Shore Channel Trail. Along this path and within the arboretum lies the Rotary Club of Evanston International Friendship Garden (designed to mimic the Rotary Club logo), flags of many countries (representing the ethnic diversity of Skokie) and the Jacqueline Gorell Park, named in honor of the first female mayor of Skokie. At Dempster Street, the first of four half-mile segments of the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park begins, which continues down McCormick Boulevard to Touhy Avenue in Chicago. I rode as far as Oakton Street before circling back to head home.

The sculpture park is visually interesting from a car, but absolutely fascinating when exploring by foot or by bicycle. Many of the sculptures include QR codes to connect the viewer to information about the sculptor; there is also a self-guided walking tour and booklet with information about each artist and the thoughts behind each work. Many are permanent installations.

The Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park sponsors a biennial competition, the Lewis C. Weinberg Competition, open to interested artists. Applications for the 2015 contest are due before July 1, 2015.



Visit the Custer Street Fair Today

2014-06-21 13.18.52

Just rolling along at the Custer Street Fair.

Soak up the sunshine, munch on fun snacks (more than 30 food vendors), take in the music and performances. Great people-watching. Street performers, face painters and balloon sculptors galore! Support over one hundred local businesses and peruse the wares of talented artists and craftspeople at the Custer Street Fair starting at the intersection of Main Street and Chicago Avenue.  All businesses open until 7PM tonight and some until 9PM.  An easy ride on the CTA direct to the Main Street stop on the Purple line.

And if you hear a weird flapping noise, keep your eyes peeled for this street performer. Totally different and very edgy.

Calling All Rail Buffs!

If you happen to take the Purple Line going south, stop and notice these enlarged mementos from the CTA of yesteryear.

1946 Chicago Rapid Transit Company Map.  The 4000 Series cars were featured on the cover.

1946 Chicago Rapid Transit Company Map. The 4000 Series cars were featured on the cover.

Main Street CTA Station, 1946, Charles E. Keevil photo, Walter R. Keevil Collection

(L) Enlarged version of child’s half fare ticket. (R) Main Street CTA Station, 1946, Charles E. Keevil photo, Walter R. Keevil Collection.

In 1908, the Northwestern Elevated Railroad extended “L” service into Evanston using tracks leased from the

Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. Within a few years’ time, the surface level tracks were placed on an embankment and the present-day Main Street station and platforms were placed in service.

In 1973, the Chicago Transit Authority’s venerable 4000-series rapid transit cars were retired after a half century of service. A total of 205 of these cars were built for the Chicago system over a several year period in the early 1920’s by the Cincinnati Car Company and saw service throughout the Chicago ‘L’ system.  After the last cars were retired from the Evanston rapid transit line in 1973, cars 4271 and 4272 were selected for preservation by the Chicago Transit Authority. In February 2014, these cars paused at Main for a photo.

Final Ride for 4000 Series Transit Cars, Bruce G. Moffat photo

Final Ride for 4000 Series Transit Cars, Bruce G. Moffat photo

The Women of Duna

Arne and Mary Oldberg Park in downtown Evanston boasts the lovely, weatherbeaten equine statue, Duna, by Deborah Butterfield. This statute was given to Evanston by a donation from the Estate of Catherine Rassinier Stallings and installed May 15, 1998.

Catherine Rassinier was born in Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby. Although she was bright and eager to attend college, family circumstances intervened and she was unable to do so.  Undeterred, Catherine worked and saved her money.  She was a modern woman in every way: independent, confident, goal-oriented, thrifty and adventurous, traits she retained throughout her life. Shortly after World War II ended, she moved to Chicago, alone, and rented an apartment across from the Lincoln Park Zoo. 

Patriots Park

The city’s first public art project is a monument and flag pole honoring Evanston soldiers who gave their lives in the Spanish-American War, the Civil War and World War I.  In 1929 the Fort Dearborn Chapter (established in 1894) of the Daughters of the American Revolution commissioned the work. Stephen Beames (1896-1969), an Indian-born, Canadian artist who studied, lived and worked in the United States, created it. He also taught at Rockford (IL) College until 1931, when he moved to California; later he made his living as a bookkeeper.

The small park is on a sliver of land at the intersection of Davis Street and Sheridan Road, perpendicular to Lake Michigan and the beachfront. Stop by for a closer look at this memorial to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Ride of Silence

Nearly 20 cyclists, all wearing bike helmets and most similarly clad in yellow neon shirts with the kneeling cyclist logo, gathered at Chandler-Newberger Center on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to take part in this year’s Ride of Silence.  Before we started, some people shared stories about friends who were injured or killed while riding; one person’s story was a personal account of his own accident and how the support of the cycling community meant so much to him and his wife during his recovery. Still recuperating, he was not yet ready to join in this year’s ride.

The silent procession flows at an easy pace to encourage riders of all levels to join.  The leader, Dave, moved steadily and deliberately, observing all traffic rules. An important aspect of the ride is to raise awareness of the need to ‘share the road.’ There is safety in numbers: our group was visually distinctive as we rode 11 miles together through northwest Evanston, Skokie and Niles. The ride concluded uneventfully with a whoop of exhilaration at Evanston’s Wheel & Sprocket, who generously provided not only the neon t-shirts but pizza and drinks.

I found out about the ride through The and the Evanston Bicycle Club. The Ride of Silence is an international event started in 2003 by Chris Phelan in Dallas as a way to honor the memory of a cyclist friend killed on the road.  It’s a great cause and free to participate.

Ride of Silence

Color Love

My Schlumbergera is blooming and it’s gorgeous.

Color Love

Earlier in the week I saw Tommy and Lexi from across the street and shamelessly sprinted after them. They were very sweet and a little shy. The photo does not do them justice.

Color Love

Wednesday morning’s winter wonderland looked like marshmallow frosting.

Color LoveColor Love

Frozen Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is frozen. The mounds in the photo are rock solid; in any other season, they are repetitive waves that could lull you to sleep. I walked way past where the beach normally ends, but was too fearful to go further.Frozen Lake Michigan

Look at the layers in the sky. It was breathtaking as well as breathtakingly cold. Walking home, I saw two coyotes walking along the shoreline, but my hands were too stiff to cooperate and I could not take a picture. Spring can not come soon enough.

Welcome to the Neighborhood, AMLI Evanston

There is a new neighbor in the southeast corner of Evanston: AMLI Evanston, a luxury apartment building at 737 Chicago Avenue. The completely smoke-free building, built to achieve LEED Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, includes 214 rental units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, plus 19 live/work ground floor apartments. The first tenant moved in this past April and already a third of the apartments are leased or occupied.

LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and Silver is one of four possible levels (the others are Certified, Gold and Platinum). There are six categories including water efficiency, indoor environment quality, energy and atmosphere and materials and resources.  Each category is evaluated based on established criteria and points awarded for meeting or exceeding the standards. Silver Certification requires 50-59 points. The goal of achieving Silver Certification drove every decision for AMLI Evanston, such as how best to conserve water, filter air, recycle trash and more.  Even the landscaping selected for the rooftop terrace garden is drought-resistant, all part of an effort to promote healthy living, sustainability and a truly green community.

According to Steve Ross, lead developer for AMLI Evanston, for the past five years he participated in or led meetings with Evanston residents, government officials and others to make certain the developers knew about, communicated with and listened to the viewpoints of all the various constituencies.  These discussions affected aspects such as the height of the building (four floors of apartments plus retail on the ground floor), how it ‘fits’ in with the rest of the structures on Chicago Avenue and the addition of the open plaza on the corner of Kedzie and Chicago Avenues. The finished project is one of the largest private investments in this part of Illinois in recent years.

The upscale amenities include many that one expects of a luxury building: a gym appointed with flat screen televisions; a residents’ lounge with more televisions and a kitchen and bar area; free WiFi; a bicycle room; a business center with computers and machines for copying, scanning, faxing; a Pilates/yoga studio; and covered reserved parking with enough spaces for every resident (note, parking is an additional fee).  But there are also some very cool amenities such as a private dog run and paw wash; electric car charging stations; a rooftop terrace with a fire pit, outdoor grills and multiple areas for lounging and conversation; and a one bedroom suite that residents can reserve and rent for $85 a night for out-of-town guests.

At the opening event I attended, AMLI prominently promoted the work of SAGE (Schools Are Gardening in Evanston), a non-profit organization that cultivates ‘health, learning and environmental stewardship through edible school gardens.’  The garden at nearby Lincoln Elementary School is bursting with all kinds of vegetable bounty, and similar gardens exist at 15 other Evanston schools.

SAGE was the perfect organization for AMLI Evanston to support and fully in synch with their environmentally aware, energy-efficient, healthy living philosophy. It was a generous gesture for a new neighbor. Welcome to the ‘hood!

Evanston Lakeshore Fine Arts Festival

The 40th annual Evanston Lakeshore Arts Festival presented 140 talented artists the first weekend in August at Dawes Park (Sheridan Road at Church Street).  It was a gorgeous, sunny weekend and perfect conditions for browsing, buying, eating, listening to live bands, and just lolling around the lagoon.

Evanston 2013 Lakeshore Fine Arts FestivalEvanston 2013 Lakeshore Fine Arts Festival

I explored the festival late on Sunday afternoon and three artists in particular entranced me with their wares.  The first one, Gary Jackson of Fire When Ready Pottery, teaches at nearby Lillstreet Art Studio.  His intricately designed vessels are stunning, unique and functional, but what made me flip over Gary and his work was the wonderful signGary Jackson of Fire When Ready Pottery to parents posted prominently in his booth.

Pottery is so tactile, a wonderful duality of strength (after being fired in a kiln with temperatures of nearly 2000 degrees) and delicacy, it would not be unreasonable for anyone to be skittish when handling these pieces. But Gary’s philosophy and eagerness to introduce kids to art is so generous, he earned my respect immediately. The crescent-shaped items at the forefront of the photo below are rattles…fun and interesting to touch, with the added bonus of sound! Gary’s parents help out on show days; the next festival for them is in Barrington, IL in September and then a studio sale right before Thanksgiving.

Gary Jackson of Fire When Ready PotteryGary Jackson of Fire When Ready Pottery

Another artist I met was Natalya Sots, a ceramicist who lives in Schaumburg, IL. Her brightly colored works are elaborate with pattern, glazes and whimsical flourishes. Many of her pieces are functional, such as cups and butter dishes, and some are works of art only to be admired. All of them are beautiful.

Natalya Sots PotteryNatalya Sots PotteryNatalya Sots Pottery

The third artist whose work grabbed me was Sonia Kuhlmann of Eskay who makes beautiful handcrafted bags, wraps and assorted other items.  The yarn on this periwinkle wrap was luscious, so thick and cozy that I wanted to snuggle up with it right there.  Her bags are charming, a bit funky and very textural, with a sense of fun clearly evident in every design. Sonia is also happy to make customized purses if you don’t see the color or style you have in mind.

Sonia Kuhlmann of EskaySonia Kuhlmann of Eskay

Regretfully there were many artisans I did not have a chance to meet. The festival is always held the first weekend in August at Dawes Park, and is absolutely worth your time next year.  Mark your calendars, get your gift lists organized and save August 2-3, 2014.