February 16, 2024 — Out and About

Jeff Powell
3 min readFeb 16, 2024
Photo by Leon Wu on Unsplash

That’s right, I’m not at home this week. Last week I mentioned I had a surprise, and there it is. I am visiting my mom here in the Windy City.

Why am I doing that? Well, her wifi needed fixing. Really. That was the precipitating event.

Of course I needed to visit her anyway and I’m enjoying my time here, but sometimes tech support requires someone on-site, and that was the case here. As part of a cable modem upgrade she wound up creating two wifi networks with the same name and password. I suspected that much given her description of the issues, but access to the modem to correct things wasn’t possible remotely. I had to be here, and there wasn’t anyone else to do the job. So I flew 2000 miles and fixed it less than an hour after arrival.

We’ve done other things, as well. I assembled a new desk for her and we rearranged the furniture in one room to make it work better, and we’ll rearrange another room soon.

We also visited the Art Institute of Chicago to see what they had on display. There was an exhibit of modern ceramic work by Japanese women, which included this lovely piece by Kishi Eiko:

Sorry about the poor quality photo. The reflections were a pain.

There were many interesting pieces in that exhibit, but that one feels the most inspirational to me.

At the other end of the ceramic spectrum was this:

Again, sorry about the reflections.

That’s an earthenware guardian beast from the Tang Dynasty in China, and was created somewhere between 618 and 907 CE.

In other media, I found this piece pretty funny:

Machinist and Machinist’s Apprentice, Emma Stebbins, about 1859, marble.

The irony of a piece of a piece about machinists being carved from marble made me laugh out loud in the middle of the gallery, but perhaps that’s just me. The work is very well executed, but the choice of medium threw me.

And finally, here’s a detail from a famous painting. Do you recognize it?

Not giving it away just yet.

Given my readers, I am pretty sure most of you have a clue what that is from, but if not, here’s the rest:

That’s right, it’s Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, painted in 1942. This painting has been analyzed to death so I won’t pretend to add anything useful to the discussion, but it’s quite striking in person and there is a lot to ponder there.

If you’re ever in Chicago, the Art Institute is definitely worth a visit, but prepare to be overwhelmed. It’s huge and you can’t do it all in one day, or even two. At least not if you’re trying to do the works justice.

Anyway, I need to wander off and get other things done. All the best in your travels!

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Jeff Powell

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.