Balloons fill up Chicago spaces

Balloons may very well have something injected into them to make kids smile – almost like kiddy catnip. And a whole room filled to the brim with balloons? It makes them absolutely giddy.

If you go

Half the air in a given space is a free exhibit at the following
spots: Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., through Sept 30;
Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Drive, through Oct
15; Edgewater storefront, 1113 Bryn Mawr, through Oct. 14; City
Gallery in the Historic Water Tower, 806 N. Michigan Ave., through
Oct. 25.

At a new exhibit installed in four Chicago neighborhoods, there is a room stuffed with balloons – and any child 3 and older is invited to get lost in the bubbly madness.

The installation created by Martin Creed, a British artist who is the artist resident at the Museum of Contemporary Art, was created to make the air feel visible to us.

And while that cool idea may go over the heads (literally) of the children who are enjoying it, it satisfies on all levels.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, I took a 3-year-old and an 11-month-old (safely strapped to my chest) to experience the balloon room at the Garfield Park Conservatory. To get lost in the balloons as if she was swimming in them was a dream come true for 3-year-old Anya, who tentatively stepped into the room before diving under the balloons and disappearing.

And baby Aria? She nervously chuckled, reaching her hands out to touch the white bubble world around her.

It’s something that few kids get to experience – but something that should be installed in every preschool for those children who need a pick-me-up after a rough day.

The only problem is that balloons – being balloons – deflate and pop. When we arrived, we had to get special permission to enter the room because the exhibit was temporarily closed due to the great reduction in the number of balloons currently on display. Apparently, the usual exhibit is supposed to be filled nearly to the ceiling, but was only about 4 feet high when we visited. Moral of the story: Call before you arrive to make sure the balloons are functioning that day.

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