This week's Feature Friday "wears many hats" as she puts it. Cynthia Bates loves opera, cooking, and Ann Boleyn and is also an educator, interpreter, storyteller, entertainer, ambassador for the city, or a docent as we like to call her!
1. Why Did You Become a Docent?
Three reasons, as I said in my Docent interview. 1). When I first moved to Chicago, I took a bunch of tours, and was so impressed by the docents’ knowledge, professionalism & ability to tell a compelling story-and they were having so much fun! 2). My grad studies in Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology-I enjoyed analyzing architectural remains-temples, palaces, houses-to interpret social behavior & cultural values. 3). Our historic 1911 house in Evanston. Shepley Rutan & Coolidge (Chicago office) were the architects, and I became a bit of an amateur architectural historian. I later met with the successor firm’s archivist, who made copies of all my research-because the records of the Chicago office had been lost.
2. When you have Visitors to Chicago, where is one of the first places you take them?
I try to take them to the Marquette Building - it is virtually a tutorial in Chicago architecture (especially if we can also look at nearby buildings), and the lobby is such a jewel box.
3. Memorable Experience on CFL Cruise
Last year, my river cruise was filmed by Al Arabiya TV, the “CNN of the Middle East” as part of a travel documentary for the Middle East, especially the Gulf Region, to encourage tourism to Chicago (dubbed in Arabic). I felt honored, and given my studies in the Ancient Near East, I was very pleased to play this role.
4. What has been your most Interesting Guest Interaction?
The charming, accomplished Daisy Grace, who presented me with a card detailing her educational achievements & professional associations, joined my cruise and then fell asleep. Daisy is a highly trained service animal-her jobs include Seizure Alert dog for her owner and Pet Therapy Partner for hospital patients & crime victims. (very smart Border Collie Mix.)
5. What is your Favorite Building & Why?
For personal reasons, I’d have to say Lake Point Tower, where I lived when I first moved here, a beautiful building both impressively large & sensuous (a rare combination). I arrived just after the 4th of July & from our 63rd fl unit looked out & saw the fireworks. I tell this story on the cruise.
6. What is the most adventurous thing you have done?
Visiting Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, in Dec. 2010, I decided on crossing off a bucket list achievement-swimming at Ipanema Beach in a bikini. Not so adventurous, it turns out-I was about the most conservatively dressed person on the beach. Plenty of grandmothers were more daring. And coming from wintery Chicago, I stood out by being an unhealthy fish belly white amidst so many gorgeous people with head to toe tans.
7. What is your Favorite part about being a Docent?
As Docents, we wear so many different hats-educator, interpreter, storyteller, entertainer, Ambassador for the city. Wearing that last hat, I am fascinated by all the visitors from far flung destinations whom I meet-people from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Reykjavik, Iceland, Malta, Madagascar and Tahiti are some of the more exotic ones. It is wonderful and a great honor to share our knowledge and love of Chicago architecture with them.
Here's Cynthia with fellow CAC Docent, Brian Kelly!