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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

A photo walk

When I was in Israel, last month, I went to the Israel Museum twice. Once for a reception and once with a friend and his nephews. I had a much better time running around with the boys in my, ahem, crocs than I did at the reception trying to navigate in my sandals on the gravel. Unfortunately for all of us that was when I was without a camera and my friend’s camera also died. I have no proof of the best moments of the entire day .

There is an installation that easily goes unnoticed. I had walked by it during the reception, assuming it was an electrical outpost or utility room. Now why on earth I thought that such a perfectly planned museum would have a big ol’ concrete utility shed in the middle of a scuplture garden… heaven only knows. But it is one of my friend’s favorite places, so we went.

I think I wrote before about the magic that was waiting for us. A room, a sunken room, with cool marble walls and a bench the entire length of the all four walls. Stretching up, the walls were 20 feet high, leading to a ceiling with a square in the middle. The art was the sky. Whatever the cloud formation, that is what you are treated to. That day we were treated to a solid blue sky. It felt so good in the sunken room and the blue was blinding. The boys, all of them, played and laughed and filled the space with joy. I sunk into the stone bench and cooled off and stared into the blue.

Lucky us, lucky us in Chicago, the same artist has an installation called Skyspace at the corner of Halsted and Roosevelt. The super-busy corner is not where anyone would expect to find a meditative space, but find I did. I don’t know why I needed to go tonight, it just fit into my plans. I needed shampoo, the easiest option is the Target on Roosevelt, as long as I’m there, why not walk down to Halsted and see it.

Walk and walk and walk and walk I did. I almost gave up as the thunder started rolling in, but I’m glad I didn’t. Skyspace is an anonymous red building on the outside, with some pink neon lights. Honestly, it looks like a bus station.

It is an oval with a very high ceiling. The walls are made of water. No, really, water. You are inside of a fountain and it sounds like you are in a thunderstoom. Once again, a hole in the ceiling shows you the sky of the moment, but it is accentuated with pink neon. The water pours and pours down the open sides and I sat dry on a bench in the middle. Looking up at the sky, listening to the thundering walls, and not hearing a single sound of Chicago.

Eventually the water began to stop. I thought there was a sensor and since the rain had started for real on the outside, perhaps the fountain would stop. But really it was just the storm of Skyspace gearing up. The water comes down in patterns and a more traditional fountain 50 feet away surges to the same beat. Shh. Shh. Shhhhhhhhhhhh. Shh. Shh. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. and then the rain comes again.

And you also deserve the much better photos that other people have snapped.

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