Amazing Art & Architecture #AtoZChallenge

As in years past, this month I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. 2016 marks my fifth anniversary, so to celebrate, I’m hosting Friday Blog-Ins here in San Diego; you can find out more info about where we’re meeting each week on my A to Z Challenge page. My monthly theme is Chicago From A to Z, so stay tuned from Monday to Saturday for new posts on the Windy City. Or sign up for my mailing list (delivered weekly, on Fridays) so you don’t miss a thing!

A is for Art & Architecture

Chicago is well known around the world for its art and architecture.

Just look at that skyline:

"Chicago" image via Flickr user James Willamore
“Chicago” image by Flickr user James Willamore

Some of my favorite buildings are in Chicago, like the Sears Tower (sorry, but I will never refer to this one as the “Willis Tower”!) at 233 S. Wacker Drive:

"Sears Tower - BP Balcony" image by Flickr user - EMR -
“Sears Tower – BP Balcony” image by Flickr user – EMR –

And the Marina City “corncobs” (300-350 N. State St., 315-339 N. Dearborn St.):

"Marina City" image by Flickr user vonderauvisuals
“Marina City” image by Flickr user vonderauvisuals

As well as the unusually shaped Crain Communications Building (150 N. Michigan Ave.), formerly known as the Smurfit-Stone Building, which you can see here on the far right. You may remember this one from the movie Adventures in Babysitting (or, more recently, Transformers: Dark of the Moon):

"Goodnight Bean" image via Flickr user Shutter Fotos
“Goodnight Bean” image via Flickr user Shutter Fotos

And I haven’t even mentioned some of Chicago’s most beloved architects yet, like Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Jeanne Gang and Frank Gehry!

With buildings so unusual and easily recognized by their outlines, it’s clear that Chicago is a city that cares about its architecture. So it’s probably no surprise that there have been many articles written about the Top 10 (or 50!) buildings you should visit in the city, as well as plenty of architectural tours conducted for curious visitors.

Indeed, Chicago just seems to have artistic expression built into its soul. There are murals and public art pieces by famous painters, sculptors and mixed media artists spread across the city, adding to that uniquely Chicago experience.

Here are just a few of the famous artworks you can see – for free – in the city of Chicago.

Marc Chagall’s “The Four Seasons” mosaic (10 S. Dearborn St., Chase Tower):

"Chicago - Chagall's Four Seasons" image by Flickr user Wally Gobetz
“Chicago – Chagall’s Four Seasons” image by Flickr user Wally Gobetz

Alexander Calder’s “Flamingo” (50 W. Adams St.):

"Flamingo Sculpture ~ Alexander Calder ~ 1974" via Flickr user Onasill ~ Bill Badzo
“Flamingo Sculpture ~ Alexander Calder ~ 1974” via Flickr user Onasill ~ Bill Badzo

Picasso‘s untitled sculpture – initially despised, presently beloved (Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St.):

"The Chicago Picasso" image via Flickr user Sharon Mollerus
“The Chicago Picasso” image via Flickr user Sharon Mollerus

Jean Dubuffet’s “Monument With Standing Beast” (James R. Thompson Center Plaza, 100 W. Randolph St.):

"Monument With Standing Beast" image via Flickr user Fuzzy Gerdes
“Monument With Standing Beast” image via Flickr user Fuzzy Gerdes

Jaume Plensa’s “The Crown Fountain” (Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St.):

"Spit take" image via Flickr user Darwin Bell
“Spit take” image via Flickr user Darwin Bell

Your turn!

What’s your favorite art installation or architectural style in the city of Chicago?

Additional Resources

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Giveaway: San Diego from A to Z

Want to read the book I wrote last April, based on my A to Z posts about San Diego? I’m giving away two paperback copies of San Diego From A to Z over at Goodreads, so click here and enter to win!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

San Diego from A to Z by Laura Roberts

San Diego from A to Z

by Laura Roberts

Giveaway ends April 30, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


  • Laura Roberts

    The spitting woman fountain is fun, because it uses different faces throughout the day, so you get to see the diversity in the city’s populace, too. Thanks for visiting, Amy!

  • Stepheny Houghtlin

    Glad I found you again after the theme reveal day. I grew up in Evanston, IL. and Chicago/Gold Coast Area is partial setting of a second novel published last April. You will understand the title, Facing East. Looking forward to FOLLOWING you through Chicago this month. A great theme choice meant for me. If you have time, come and see me. I write about the Edgewater Beach Hotel under the letter H. (You have to read it to understand) Your blog is great, easy to read, not too cluttered. I’m on board.

  • Laura Roberts

    Welcome back, Stepheny! I will have to check out your novel once the A to Z Challenge is over. I got a huge stack of Chicago books (some fiction, most nonfictional) from my local library, so I will probably be poring over those throughout April. :D

  • Monique

    Chicago is very high on my list of American cities I need to visit but I had no idea there were so many incredibly artistic building and sculptures to enjoy. Thank you so much for sharing! I wrote about artwork today and now I want to go back and include a whole new chapter on the beauty and art in architecture!

    I’m glad I found your site through the challenge and I look forward to the rest of your daily posts!

  • Brendan

    When I think of art in Chicago, I always think of Nighthawks, which is at the Art Institute of Chicago. But of the ones you posted here, the spitting mouth is my favorite.

  • wildchild47

    This is a great article. Never been to Chicago and can’t see it happening in my future, but armchair traveling, despite its limitations, at least can fuel the dreams, and open the doors to seeing new aspects of the world.

    Clearly, there is quite a bit to consider – such an interesting skyline – and truly, world famous architects – coupled with such incredible art installations – and wow – how cool is that mural fountain?! Awesome.

    Great start to the A-Z 2016 – but clearly, you are well versed in the challenge – congrats on your anniversary and good luck this year :)

  • BellyBytes

    Sigh! Your post brought back memories of a brief but memorable visit to your lovely city particularly the Sears Tower- We went there specially to meet P, a sister-in-law to be and can’t remember anything about the tower save the wonderful time we had with P!

  • Chase

    Chicago is great! The bean was my favourite when I visited, but I did love the corn-cob buildings too. Those photos were lovely!