For the second part of her visit, Katherine and I focused our time primarily on cultural pursuits. On Monday, we headed over to the Art Institute so Katherine could see the new Modern Wing, and the re-housed collection of Indian and Southeast Asian Art. At this point, I've been to the Art Institute so many times that I really don't have much to say about it, other than that I rather enjoyed the transgressive feeling of being there when I should have been at work.
The Rock, Peter Blume. This has always been one of my favorite paintings in the American Art collection. It once hung at Falling Water, the famous home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
After meeting my Mom for lunch, we spent the balance of the day baking a Rainbow Cake, as per Katherine's request. The Rainbow Cake has been taking the Internet by storm, making the rounds on the forums at Something Awful (where Katherine first became aware of it), and on the food blog circuit (where I heard about it.) Since both of us like to bake, and Katherine loves all things colorful, it seemed like a natural fit. However, I feel like the process deserves its own post, so you'll just have to wait on it.
Taste the rainbow!
For her last day in Chicago, Katherine and I headed down to Pilsen to check out the yearly Día de los Muertos exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art, which had the added bonus of being free. First, we had an excellent, cost-effective lunch of tortas or Mexican-style sandwiches at Abuelo's Mexican Grill, a diminutive spot that I had seen mentioned in the Redeye's "2 for $20" column. If you're ever in Pilsen, I highly recommend it, and since it couldn't possibly be any closer to the Damen stop on the Pink Line, I'd even recommend making a special trip if you can.
Sadly, the National Museum of Mexican Art wasn't as interesting as I had hoped. I was expecting more 2-dimensional art, but the focus of the exhibit was the altars that are constructed in honor of the deceased for the holiday. The exhibit featured approximately twelve altars featuring different traditional components and contemporary interpretations of the holiday, and while it was informative, it just wasn't quite what I was hoping for.
We finished off Katherine's time in Chicago with another mini-reunion/dinner party, this time inviting her fellow Japanese major, Brad, over for a fall-appropriate dinner of pumpkin pasta with sausage, and, of course, rainbow cake. The cake was joyously vibrant, but some of the magic was lost on Brad, whom we were hoping to surprise with the secret interior of the cake, as we had forgotten that he is colorblind. You can't win 'em all.
Even if the last day of her visit didn't go quite as flawlessly as I had hoped, it was still great to have her around. It was amazing how quickly we fell into our old roles, as if all the time and distance had never elapsed. I'll probably never let go of my dream that someday we'll live near each other again, where we can hang out with regularly, but I can at least take heart in the fact that we now live on the same continent at least. With all of you as my witnesses, I'm going to make it my mission to not let another year and a half go by without seeing my friend again.