Four Wisconsin artists exhibit in Pilsen

The Pilsen area on the near south side of Chicago has been evolving into a significant arts destination, partly due to the presence of the Chicago Arts District on Halsted Street and the National Museum of Mexican Art which is a kind of anchor for the neighborhood’s art community.

A number of small art galleries there are gathering attention and contributing to Chicago’s vibrant urban art scene including the LALUZ Gallery on 18th Street.

Four Wisconsin artists are featured in newest LALUZ Gallery show.
Four Wisconsin artists are featured in newest LALUZ Gallery show.

On Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, LALUZ  Gallery opened its newest show, “Visions of Wisconson” to feature artists Sara Strozinsky, Anne Horjus, Katie Schofield and Laura Annis.

The four artists who have distinctly different aesthetics are friends and collaborators from the Baraboo/Madison area.

Watercolors depicting calming close-up views of Wisconsin prairie grass, watery rocks and trees by artist Sara Strozinsky offer a sharp contrast to the bustling Ashland Avenue traffic just outside the door.

Dutch born artist and current Wisconsin resident Anne (pronounced ON-eh) Horjus is exhibiting two series, each inspired by the choral works of composer Eric Whitacre. Horjus is a singer and a visual artist, so working the two disciplines together is a natural fit for him.

His first series entitled “Sleep” combines fine-lined sketch work with muted colors that depict the thoughts of a slumbering boy.  Done in black Derwent pencils and airbrush it has a wonderfully light touch. “Sleep” is now available in  book form with a poem by Charles Anthony Silvestri and includes a link to Whitacre’s musical composition.

The artist’s second series, bolder with more highly-saturated colors, is “Leonardo Dreams of his Flying Machine.” Inspired by the works of DaVinci, it complements another Whitacre composition.

When viewed side by side it is difficult to imagine that they are works by the same artist, but Horjus is nothing if not versatile. Friends describe him as a “Renaissance Man.”

The show also features the works of artist Katie Schofield who is primarily known for her natural forms that usually are showcased in outdoor venues, and Laura Annis’ known for her bold colors to depict nature and mythology in an animation/illustration style.

“Visions of Wisconsin” at LALUZ  Gallery 1545 W. 18th Street. through September 2, 2017. For hours and other information visit LALUZ  or call (312) 401-344.

Reno Lovison


At Driehaus: Toulouse Lautrec and Tiffany

A visit to the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, a magnificent late 1900’s mansion on East Erie Street, is a double treat.


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec "Jane Avril" 1893, color lithograph. John Faier Photo
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec “Jane Avril” 1893, color lithograph. John Faier Photo (c) Driehaus Museum

In 2016, the museum hosted an exhibit of Downton Abbey’s fabulous costumes. The mansion’s elaborate rooms which hold several items from Driehaus ‘ vast collection of decorative arts, perfectly fit the exhibit titled “Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times.”

This year, the museum is featuring art of a different kind in “L’Affichomani: The Passion for French Posters.”

Spread across two upstairs floors of the museum, the exhibit comes from Driehaus’ own large collection of turn-of-the-last-century posters.

Dating from the Belle Époque of about 1875 to 1910, they show off the wonderful lines and colors favored by their artists: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, Jules Chéret, Eugene Grasset and Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen.

Alphonse Mucha " Sarah Bernhardt as "La dame aux Camelias," 1896, color lithograph. John Faier photo.
Alphonse Mucha ” Sarah Bernhardt as “La dame aux Camelias,” 1896, color lithograph. John Faier photo

Of course as posters, they do more than serve as advertisements for particular artists. They advertise entertainers, products and events of the time. In doing so they turned the streets of Paris in art galleries while bringing together art and commerce.

So go for the exhibit, but stay to see the mansion. The Driehause collection includes Tiffany glass.

“L’Affichomani: The Passion for French Poster” Is at the Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St., Chicago, through Jan. 7, 2018. For admission and hours call  (312) 482-8933 and visit Driehaus.



An art exhibit worth a gasp or two

Each time you walk into another room up on the fourth floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago you’ll hear a gasp or a wow. The responses are to the wall-filling, psychedelic art of Takashi Murakami.

Visitors were taking photos of Takashi Murakami's works throughout the exhibit at the MCA. This room held "Tan Tan Bo Puking - aka Gero Tanm 2002, courtesy of Galerie Perrotin and its companion piece. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Visitors were taking photos of Takashi Murakami’s works throughout the exhibit at the MCA. This room held “Tan Tan Bo Puking – aka Gero Tanm 2002, courtesy of Galerie Perrotin, and its companion piece. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

A Japanese artist who has studied the traditional methods of his country but favors anime (Japanese animated film) and manga (Japanese comics), Murakami mixes folklore, politics, Asian culture and contemporary pop art in highly-patterned or deeply contrasting paintings and with fanciful or foreboding sculptures.

Titled “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” the MCA exhibit is a retrospective that begins with early, fine-art works using traditional Japanese Nihonga materials on paintings of turtles. However, look closer at their themes and you understand that Murakami is concerned about industrial pollution and nuclear power..

As you walk through the exhibit and see different themes and materials that Murakami favored during the past three decades, you will understand that the title refers to regeneration. If an octopus eats off a damaged part a new one will grow.

Some motifs are scary or critical commentary. Others are cheerful and playful. But no matter the subject matter, Murakami’s works are eye-catching and show great attention to detail.

To accomplish his more complex and very detailed works, Murakami has a studio of artist assistants. Indeed, one room shows what a work looks like when drawn but not completely painted in. It looks like a page from the currently popular patterned coloring books enjoyed by youngsters and adults.

It’s also okay to see commercial value in what Murakami does. He worked with pop star Kanye West on an album cover and with Louis Vuitton on a fashion product.

But as you walk through the rooms, remember that Murakami has done and continues to do is what other artists do. Their works express inner emotions and also are responses to surrounding cultures and what is happening in the world.

Murakami has merely been responding in hi definition and amplification.

”Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and curated by Michael Darling, is at the museum now through Sept. 24, 2017.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is at 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago. For admission, hours and other information call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCA.


Rashid Johnson exhibit reflects the times


“Rashid Johnson: Hail We Now Sing Joy” is worth the drive across Illinois’ northern border. Up now through early fall at the Milwaukee Art Museum, the most current works of Johnson are monumental.

Milwaukee Curator of Contemporary Art Margaret Andera and artist Rashid Johnson in front of "Antoine's Organ." Photos by Jodie Jacobs
Milwaukee Curator of Contemporary Art Margaret Andera and artist Rashid Johnson in front of “Antoine’s Organ.” Photos by Jodie Jacobs

More often than not, an exhibit features works large and small. And Johnson, a Chicago native and New York-based artist, has worked with a variety of formats from photography to installations. Many of those works were in a 10-year retrospective at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary in 2012.

Now, isitors to the MAM show are likely to get the message of how Johnson, a black artist who grew up in Evanston and studied at Columbia College Chicago and the School of the Art Institute, views the world today. They are  immediately aware upon entering the exhibit that this time Johnson is thinking large scale.

The first gallery is dominated by a 10-foot high black scaffolding that is overflowing with plants in hand-built ceramic pots, small shea butter sculptures, books, a video, an upright piano and lights.

A gallery is covered with the faces of the "Anxious Audience" pieces made with wax on black soap backed by ceramic tiles.
A gallery is covered with the faces of the “Anxious Audience” pieces made with wax on black soap backed by ceramic tiles.

Titled “Antoine’s Organ,” the piece is Johnson’s nod to the African Diaspora but the work is named for Antoine Baldwin, a pianist and music producer. Musicians will be up in the grid of scaffolding periodically to play the piano.

It doesn’t matter which way visitors continue behind the grid into the next galleries. There are just four rooms. Each has one theme: “Antoine’s Organ,” “Anxious Audience,” “Escape Collage” and “Falling Man.”

Faces, all looking as if they were inspired by Edvard Munch 1893 painting, “The Scream,” look from the walls in the “Anxious Audience” gallery. Made with wax on black soap backed by white ceramic tiles, the faces seem to reflect the racial violence and conflicts in the news.

“Escape Collage” in another gallery, goes in the opposite direction. The

Colorful paintings, all titled "Escape Collage" offer a hopeful view of tropical warmth.
Colorful paintings, all titled “Escape Collage” offer a hopeful view of tropical warmth.

works, made from custom wallpaper appear to have black smudges that may be figures entering a colorful, tropical world of multicolored tiles and paint. Johnson has said he equated palm trees with success because they meant being able to leave a cold climate for a tropical one.

A table filled with blocks of Shea butter will capture viewers’ attention in the fourth or second gallery depending on which way visitors walk after “Antoine’s Organ.”

Johnson leaves it up to the visitors to interpret the meaning of the butter although Shea is often thought to be soothing and even a balm.

Table with blocks of shea butter surrounded by "Falling Man" art work.
Table with blocks of Shea butter surrounded by “Falling Man” art work.

However, all the works on the walls of this gallery are called “Falling Man.” They are made with red oak flooring, pieces of mirrors, black soap, wax and white ceramic tiles.

Although the figures resemble video game people, the pieces’ titles of “Falling Man” beg other interpretations such as violence or unsuccessful economic ventures.

Viewers should find Johnson’s work relevant now and reflective of the past given that art through the ages has historically reflected the times when created.

“Rashid Johnson: Hail We Now Sing Joy” is at the Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202, now through Sept 17, 2017. For admission and hours call (414) 224-3200 and visit MAM.


Paul Gauguin revealed

It’s likely no surprise to art aficionados that an extraordinary exhibit has opened at the Art Institute of Chicago this summer.

Paul Gauguin, 1889 "In the Waves (Ondine l). Photos taken at the exhibit by Jodie Jacobs
Paul Gauguin, 1889 “In the Waves (Ondine l). Photos taken at the exhibit by Jodie Jacobs

Chicagoans don’t question an oft used phrase referring to the Art Institute as a world class museum. Arguably, among the things that have made it so in their minds are its large collection of French Impressionists and such famed paintings as Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” Edward Hopper’s “Nighhawks,” Pablo Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist” and Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884.”

But a great institution does more than collect. It investigates well-known works were created and why and also presents new and lesser known works.

There was “Seurat and the Making of ‘La Grande Jatte’ ” back in the summer of 2004 which revealed other figures in the famous painting and included related sketches and paintings.

Then there was “Matisse: Radical Invention 1913-1917” in spring of 2010 which revealed new information about “Bathers by a River -1909-1910” found through technical research. It also offered a more in-depth view of the artist’s works.

More recently, the museum focused on the paintings: “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” which were researched and compared in order to shed more light on the artist and his time in Arles.

Visitors at that exhibit in 2016 may remember that Van Gogh set aside a room for Gauguin whom he greatly admired and hoped would help start an artists’ commune there.

Now the museum is turning its spotlight and technical research onto Gauguin. The resulting exhibit sheds extraordinary light onto an artist who is much more than a painter particularly fond of Tahitian figures.

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Chicago festivals fill out the summer

Taste of Chicago has been here and gone but there are lots more festivals to feed our culinary, cultural and musical cravings this summer. With a city as rich in ethnic neighborhoods and interest in music as Chicago you would expect an almost endless list. But here are a few of the festivals to enjoy before fall’s back-top-school and cooler temps change the social calendar.

Blue Angels return to Chicago in August for the city's Air and Water show. City of chicago photo.
Blue Angels return to Chicago in August for the city’s Air and Water Show. City of Chicago photo.



July 14 Ravenswood neighborhood

Think revolution. The French celebrate their rising up not July 4 but July 14 when the populace took over the hated Bastille prison in 1790. In Chicago, Bastille Day, also called French National Day is celebrated in French restaurants but also on the grounds of the French School translated as Lycée Français. Located at 1929 W. Wilson, the festival includes the game, pétanque to watch and learn, children’s activities,  music, a DJ, a waiters’ race with trays and a child appropriate film. Attendees bring their own food for a picnic. Wine and beer will be sold nearby because the public cannot bring alcoholic beverages on the school property. Hours are 5:30 to 10 p.m. For other information visit Bastille Day.


July 14-16, West of River North

The popular Windy City Smokeout  is back with more beer, barbeque booths and bands. VIP tickets are sold out but individual tickets of $40 and $45 plus three-day $110 tickets are still available. The event is at 560 W. Grand Ave.nue a block west of the Chicago River. For more information visit Windy City Smokeout.


July 14-16, Near West neighborhood

Chicago’s famed Pitchfork Music Festival returns to Union Park at Randolph Street and Ogden Avenue. The festival’s reasonable prices and predilection for featuring good bands draws about 50,000 music lovers from across the world. For hours and tickets visit Pitchfork.


July 21-23, River North

Taste of River North spreads across Kingsbury and Erie with music stages and food booths the fourth weekend of July. Hours are Friday 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For other information visit Taste of River North.


July 22-23, Sheffield Neighborhood

Now in its 29th year, the Sheffield Music Festival and Garden Walk has become a much anticipated summer event. Entered at Sheffield and Webster,the community festival asks for a $10 donation. Hours are noon to 10 p.m.. For other information visit Sheffield.


July 29-30, Wicker Park Neighborhood

Wicker Park Fest is all about neighborhood fun with music, food, crafts and children’s activities. For other information visit Wicker Park.



Aug 4-6, Jefferson Park neighborhood

Jeff Fest features is a music festival in the northwest Jefferson Park area of Chicago around 4822 N. Long Ave. For the band lineup and more information visit Jeff Fest.


Aug. 12-13, Boystown

The street-filling North Halsted Market Days returns to Lakeview with food, music and crafts centered at 3400 N. Halsted St. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.  For other information visit North Halsted.


Aug. 18-20, Taylor Street

Go to Festa Italiana to enjoy the culture. There will be traditional food, music, folk dances and games and, of course, meatballs. The festival is on Taylor Street from Ashland Avenue to Racine Street. Hours are Friday, 5  to 11 p.m., Saturday, noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 10 p.m. For other information visit Starevents.


Aug. 19-20, North Avenue Beach

The Chicago Air and Water Show, a wonderful, free event that draws folks to North Avenue B each and anywhere along the near north shoreline, features the U.S. Navy Blue angels this year along with the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and other heart-stopping aerobatics. For more information visit City of Chicago.


Aug. 31-Sept 3, Downtown Chicago

The Chicago Jazz Festival ends  the summer in Millenium Park  and at the Chicago Cultural Center. Headliners include Jon Faddis, the Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio, Allison Miller Boom Tic Boom and Rebirth Brass Band. For line-up locations and times visit Chicago Jazz.



Good outdoor art shows to see in July and August

Part of the fun of summer is walking around outdoor art fairs to see what a favorite artist is doing now, visit a suburb or neighborhood on the to do list and get the bod moving without having to exert the same muscles used for sports.

Outdoor art fairs are a chance to enjoy art and visit the host towns and neighborhoods. Jacobs photo
Outdoor art fairs are a chance to enjoy art and visit the host towns and neighborhoods. Jacobs photo


July 7-9 Downtown Chicago

After visiting the “Bean” in Millennium park, walk a couple blocks north on Michigan Avenue where you will spy the telltale white tents of an art show. About 130 artists will be there through 5 p.m. July 9. It’s the 9th annual Millennium Art Festival. For other information visit AmdurProductions.


July 15 & 16 Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood

The 4th Annual Southport Art Festival, held in the Lakeview Nieighborhood, features about 130 artists on Southport Avenue from Waveland to Byron. It is hosted by the Southport Neighbor’s Association to  benefits local causes. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit AmdurPrioductions.


July 22 & 23 Geneva

The Geneva Fine Arts Fair is a good chance to visit the charming town of Geneva, IL west of Chicago. The fair of approximately 175 exhibitors spreads out downtown from at 8 S. Third St. on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit  EMEvents


July 29 & 30 Glencoe

About 130 artists set up booths downtown north suburban Glencoe the last weekend of July for the Annual Glencoe Festival of Art. The fair center is Park and Vernon Avenues. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. BTW the interesting structure on Tudor Court a block north of Park Avenue is Writers Theatre designed by Jeanne Gang’s  Studio Gang Architects.  More information: Amdur Productions.


Aug. 5 & 6 Glenview

Art at the Glen features 185 arts in The Glen  Tower Center, a section of Glenview, IL that used to hold the Glenview Naval Base that now has a mix of housing and commercial properties plus the Kohl Children’s Museum. Fair hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For other information visit Amdur Productions.


Aug. 19 & 20 Oakbrook

The Oak Brook Fine Art Festival is a chance to mix art and fall apparel shopping.It’s held at the  Oakbrook Center Oakbrook Shopping Center, 100 Oakbrook Center. Hours are Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.. For more information visit Amdur Productions .


Aug. 26 & 27 Oak Park

The suburb of Oak Park, just west of Chicago is holding its Oak Park Avenue-Lake Arts Crafts Show in Scoville Park at Oak Park Ave and Lake Street. Operated by the American Society of Artists, the hours are Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tip: You might want to look up Frank Lloyd wright’s Oak Park designed structures before you go so you know where to look on the way to or from the art fair. For more information visit the American Society of Artists. For other information visit American Society of Artists.


August 26 & 27 Highland Park

Among the top most popular art fairs, The Port Clinton Art Festival draws entries from all over the world and visitors from across the Midwest. About 265 artists’ booths take over the Port Clinton outdoor shopping square, Central Avenue and 1st and 2nd Streets. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For other information visit Amdur Productions.


August 26 & 27 Chicago’s Bucktown Neighborhood

The last weekend in August is also the Annual Bucktown Arts Fest. Approximately 200 artists will be in Senior Citizens Memorial Park, 2300 N. Oakley Ave & 2300 W. Lyndale St.11 am to 7 pm 200 Artists The Bucktown Arts Fest is a non-profit, all volunteer-run, neighbourhood celebration of the arts. The fair benefits arts education programming at Holstein Park and in the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhoods. For other information visit Bucktown Arts Fest.


You only think you know Paul Gauguin


Go to the Art Institute of Chicago to see some fascinating paintings of  Breton and Tahitian  women or of Martinique landscapes by Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin.

Gauguin, 1889 "In the Waves (Ondine I), oil on canvas Photo taken at the exhibit by Jodie Jacobs
Gauguin, 1889 “In the Waves (Ondine I), oil on canvas.
Photo taken at the exhibit by Jodie Jacobs

Or go to the museum to see extraordinary ceramics by Gauguin. He called them his “monstrosities. They really aren’t.

Or go the museum to see Gauguin’s fine prints and woodwork.

But no matter what you expect to see in the Gauguin exhibit now at the Art Institute of Chicago through Sept. 10, 2017, you will be astonished.

As Gloria Groom, curator of “Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist” says in a video on the museum site, “Just when you think you know what he is doing he does something extraordinary and surprises you.”

What you will see are images that may start as drawings or be used on a ceramic piece and end up in paintings. You will also see decorative art.

But also look up on the walls. There are quotes by Gauguin that offer insight into the man, the painter, the philosopher, the traveler and the artist who influenced other artists. So don’t hurry through the exhibit.

“I must work seven or eight months at a stretch absorbing the character of the people of the country, which is essential for good painting… You must remember that I have a dual nature,” says a quote high on one of the exhibit walls.

The introductory panel at the entrance explains the exhibit’s title. “As an alchemist converts one element into another, Gauguin believed in the artist’s ability to take raw materials and transform them into something entirely new.”

Paul Gauguin 1890-91 "Portrait of the artist with the Yellow Christ" Musee d'Orsay. Photo thanks to Art Institute of Chicago
Paul Gauguin 1890-91 “Portrait of the artist with the Yellow Christ” Musee d’Orsay. Photo thanks to Art Institute of Chicago

Look for objects including furniture that Gauguin decorated. Also take time to watch some of the videos that show how the artist worked with different materials.

A short movie near the entrance talks about trying to define Gauguin’s style and changing focus. It offers more insight into the artist and his works.

In the video on the Art Institute site, Groom says, “This man is so amazingly layered. He’s so complex.”

So, it is very likely that what “Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist” does for viewers is introduce them to an artist they only thought they knew.

The Gauguin exhibit at the Art Institute requires tickets. Tip: get the ear phones available near the exhibit entrance. They are quire helpful. The exhibit will go to Grand Palais in Paris in October 2017.

The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois. For ticket and other information call (312) 443-3600 and visit AIC.

It is art fair and festival time


It’s that time of year again when shirt-sleeve weather encourages folks who want something interesting or fun for the abode to check out area art fairs and festivals.

Art Fair season is here. Enjoy!
Art Fair season is here. Enjoy!


June 17-18, 2017

For Father’s Day weekend, two really big fairs may tempt Dad or at least get people strolling around Grant Park and downtown Evanston.

The mega Gold Coast Art Fair takes over Grant Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Operated by Amdur Productions, it is among the top fairs in the country attracting about 300 juried-in artists. For other information visit Amdur.

Also this weekend the Annual Custer’s Last Stand sprawls across Evanston’s Main Street-Chicago Avenue area  with about 375 artists. Sponsored by the Evanston Festival Theatre and the Illinois Arts Council,  it goes from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.  For other information call visit CusterFair or call (847) 328-2204.


June 24-25, 2017

If this weekend doesn’t work or more exercise is desired, the Randolph Street market is at 1340 W. Washington St but spills over surrounding streets with about 300 vendors. It goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The next market is the last weekend of July. For other info visit Randolph Street Market.

Back in the northern burbs, the  Art Center of Highland Park holds its annual Festival of Fine Arts at the northeastern end of the suburb’s downtown on Sheridan Road south of Central Avenue. the fair goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. See Festival of the Fine Arts.


Medieval aura permeates five Art Institute of Chicago galleries

There’s another place to put on the must see list when visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.

Two armored horses and riders dominate a great hall in "Saints and Heroes: Art of Medieval and Renaissance Europe" at the Art Institute of Chicago. Jodie Jacobs photo
Two armored horses and riders dominate a great hall in “Saints and Heroes: Art of Medieval and Renaissance Europe” at the Art Institute of Chicago. Jodie Jacobs photo

Tourists and regular Art Institute goers often have a must see stop when visiting the famed museum.

Some visitors head to the French Impressionist galleries while others go to the Modern Wing. The Thorne Miniature Rooms are also a draw as are such works as Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” in the Modern American galleries that lead to Regenstein Hall’s special exhibitions.

But now, the museum has redone a space for its armored horseback figures, swords and such altarpiece panels as Bernat Martorell’s “Saint George and the Dragon.”

Opened this spring, it’s the Deering Family Galleries of Medieval and Renaissance Art, Arms and Armor, a gorgeous, Gothic-style space for nearly 700 items from the years 1200 to 1600. The museum has titled these displays “Saints and Heroes: Art of Medieval and Renaissance Europe.”

Up on Level 2, a darkly mysterious archway sets a “Game of Thrones” tone as visitors step back in time in Galleries 235-239. Vaulted ceilings are reminiscent of chapels and great halls that once held the objects.

“Ayala Altarpiece,” a 24-foot funerary chapel altarpiece from 1396 dominates the first room. “Saint George and the Dragon” is further along in another vaulted gallery.

Bernat Martorell, "Saint George and the Dragon" in the Art Institute of Chicago's "Saints and Heroes: Art of Medieval and Renaissance Europe" galleries. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Bernat Martorell, “Saint George and the Dragon” in the Art Institute of Chicago’s “Saints and Heroes: Art of Medieval and Renaissance Europe” galleries. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The great hall at the end of the space beckons with its impressive armored horseback riders but the galleries leading up to it are worth perusing. They offer clues on how some people lived from jewelry to art and dining.

After first walking through an arms-filled rotunda, patience is rewarded as visitors ooh and ah when stepping into the great arms and armor hall.

An armored horseback figure is ready to battle but look behind him. Another rider is dressed for sport. Snap the photos then gaze around and up. Two figures are battling on foot. More arms are displayed high above the figures.

There is one more gallery. It features fine firearms and hunt equipment.

Visitors who don’t go through too quickly will see digital labels that are there for an interesting, interactive experience.

The  Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. For hours, admission and other information call (312) 443-3600 and visit AIC.