Nice Try, Macy's. You're Still No Field's.

Nice Try, Macy's. You're Still No Field's.

IMG_2076This Spring has been preposterous.  As a born-and-raised Chicagoan, I’ve prided myself on withstanding our brutal, seemingly endless winters.  I expect to wear my down jacket well into April and don’t pull out my tank tops until way after Memorial Day. But this last month has been absolutely ridiculous. Between the wind, constant overcast skies, and biting temperatures, I am desperate for some Spring weather. So I didn’t hesitate for even a second when I heard about the Macy’s Flower Show—free, indoors, and a harbinger of Spring? Check, check, check.

Let me give the flower show, entitled The Painted Garden, its due credit. It was lovely. Created in a South Asian style, the show exhibited some of the brightest colors I’ve ever seen in nature. And true to the show’s name, some of the flowers were literally painted to achieve those colors. The use of paint sounds like a whimsical, Alice in Wonderland kind of detail, but in person it just felt a bit cheap and lazy. A (fake) elephant greets you at the beginning of the winding path, and as you weave around, you also see colored lanterns, embroidered silk pillows, and architectural motifs reminiscent of Mughal gardens. (I took an “Asian Gardens and Groves” class in college, and that previous sentence may be the only time I have found it to be useful.) They even piped in the sounds of birds chirping and used playful lighting that enhanced some of the floral colors. And the scent of freshly watered flowers will never get old.

IMG_2077But I have to say, the real highlight of the show was the delightful confections we bought upon exiting: cake pops. I enjoyed a sphere of red velvet cake on a stick, and Katie went with the cheesecake variety. They were dense and moist and tasted like calories, and I couldn’t think of any better way to enjoy a bitterly cold afternoon. But considering the best part of the flower show was the $2 snack I had on the way out, I think that tells you a little something about the experience. Or about my complete inability to appreciate horticulture.

The most unshakable feeling as we left, though, is that Macy’s really hasn’t filled the void since it took the place of Marshall Field’s. As much as Macy’s will try to entice Chicagoans and offer these creative shows, even bringing in local and national celebrities for special demonstrations, there’s something about the place that will always feel bland and impersonal and too-easily-replicated. Maybe it’s just my personal bias from too many childhood Christmases spent under the Christmas tree in the Walnut Room, or the fact that I always enjoyed the green and gold motif better than the tacky red that Macy’s emblazons everywhere, but I’ll just add this flower show experience to the long list of things that have underwhelmed me about Macy’s on State Street. And you, too, can be just as overwhelmed—the flower show will be here until April 7, at which point we can hopefully start going outside without getting frostbitten. Hopefully.

Macy's State Street
111 N. State Street

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