Speed Dating Claude: My 15 Minutes at the Art Institute


I really planned a lot more time than 15 minutes for my annual winter visit to the Chicago Art Institute. Only a few days were left during the weeks when free admission is available to Illinois residents so I first planned a whole day, then reduced it to a half day, then decided most of an afternoon would work, then I couldn’t find a parking place. You know how it goes.

I grabbed the only spot left on the street which gave me two hours. I convinced myself the train ride would be around 30 minutes and that would give me an hour there before turn-around time. I know that place pretty well and could quickly find my favorite galleries. A great plan.

But the train took 50 minutes.


View from the Train

I read a short book on the way down in between trying to let my mind wander to inspire creativity. 50 minutes was enough time for both. When I stepped off the train it was 20 minutes until I needed to step back on it and I had 2 blocks to hustle.

Stepping into the loveliness, I dashed into the gift shop to pick up a postcard to mail to a friend then got my free ticket. 10 minutes left after a quick bathroom stop.


Taken by my new friend

I was rushing up the stairs when I noticed her, a lovely young tourist trying to take a selfie. I think she had already made multiple attempts. “I can take that for you” I offered. She gratefully handed me her phone and I snapped a few shots. Then she offered to take my photo. We were almost-friends now. I found out she was from Morocco and this was her first visit here. We chatted a bit then parted company, both warmed from the exchange.

Three minutes left to dash through the Monet’s, drink deeply to fill up until next time and out the door I nearly ran, snapping photos all along the way.



The Customs House at Varengeville by Claude Monet

It was enough.

Sometimes a bite of chocolate, a sip of wine satisfies sufficiently. My taste of art was like that this day. Not just the sample of Monet but the small book on the train, the fascinating encounter on the steps, the preservation of my annual visit and the letter to an old friend I wrote on the trip back all filled me up like a banquet. Any more and the over-stuffing might have wiped out the delight.


The Departure of the Boats, Etretat by Claude Monet

I got back to my car one minute late but no ticket so all was well.

What can fill you up in 15 minutes?

Hope for the best,



8 Responses to “Speed Dating Claude: My 15 Minutes at the Art Institute”

  1. 1 Linda A Sylvester February 9, 2017 at 7:51 PM

    I’ll have to give this a try! Thanks for the sweet story.

  2. 3 Sheryl M. Baker February 9, 2017 at 8:02 PM

    Love this, Tish! What a wonderful way to look at what could have been an exasperating day. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. 🙂

  3. 5 Lori Lipsky February 10, 2017 at 1:35 PM

    Your postcard just came in the mail! What a treat! Thank you for thinking me. I’m assuming I’m the one mentioned you sacrificed time for to stop at the gift shop. How thoughtful of you to send me the Two Sisters by Renoir postcard!

    I love your spin on your short, short visit to the Art Institute. I think I might have been devastated, but your attitude about the adventure is an encouragement. I hope the next time you’ll have at least a full day to soak it all in.

    • 6 Letitia Suk February 10, 2017 at 2:38 PM

      Why yes, you were the unnamed friend 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the card and the post! As the events were occurring I knew I would write about it as my motto is “what is not written is not remembered” and I wanted to remember this slice of life.

  4. 7 Emily @ everydaymom February 15, 2017 at 4:17 PM

    Hey there! You are going to speak at our women’s retreat this spring so I jumped on your blog. I love this story, and such a great perspective. I love how sometimes the adventure isn’t what we planned, but still such a gift. Thanks for sharing!

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