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From the Ground Up


24 x 30"

acrylic on canvas

State Street Gallery, Madison, WI

SOLD (available as print)

In Norway, Illinois we happen upon a plane crash. Not to be alarmed, the plane was intentionally “crashed on the side of the road to honor those who survived the agricultural crash of 1980. 

“We are talking about people who want to give birth and grow old and laugh and die, bonded and sustained by the soil, which is the oldest way of life Americans know. The farm economic crisis has become . . . a cultural crisis unique in our history. It is beyond bank loans and government subsidies. It is in people’s hearts.” [1]

Family dedication to farming remains prevalent to this day, and we visit the Lincoln farm of 1845 for a glimpse into the past. We spend a day at the Ballard Nature Center in Altamont, where hummingbirds flutter around me as I paint. It is a much needed day of relaxation, since Alfonso and I have been battling with a cold for the past couple days. 

In Springfield, there is much more to see than the capital building. One of these sights is the old capital building, where Abraham Lincoln served in office. I rub the nose of the Lincoln bust that stands in front of his tomb and we walk to his original law office. We visit the Dana-Thomas House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the home of poet Sachel Lindsay, before leaving Springfield. On our way to Chicago, the scenery changes from endless rows of corn to America's third largest city. Rising up from the same dirt as those powerful crops is the Sears tower. The contrast illustrates the culmination of America's mélange of living.

The Museum of Contemporary Art has "Target Free Tuesday's," so we take advantage of that. My favorite part of the museum is the back lawn. When looking out the large glass windows of the second floor, the lawn looks like a checkerboard, and I enjoy watching the kids jump to each square. The next day, we tour several Frank Lloyd Wright buildings such as his home and studio and his "little jewel box," also known as Unity Temple. We take pictures at Wrigley Field and visit the Lincoln Park Zoo. The zoo isn't huge, but it is free, and has all your main animals. The polar bear tank is empty, but I am just happy to finally find the giraffes. 

After meeting with Elissa from Aesthetic Eye, we make a trip to Millennium Park and the Art Institute of

Chicago. This city is packed with things to do, and many of them are free. It is the first city that I have visited where I don't feel like the buildings are closing in on me. I credit this wide-open feeling to the lake. It is impossible to feel claustrophobic when you can always escape to the beautiful waterfront. We learn that the Chicago fires have also had an influence. Although devastating, they gave the city an opportunity to rebuild, from the ground up.

1. Hugh Sidey, "Cries of the Heart: Politics and the Farm Crisis," v128 (August 11, 1986), 15.