New exhibit showcases Midwest artists who went West

 

Aaron Curry, 2014 "Untitled" Photo by J Jacobs)
Aaron Curry, 2014 “Untitled”
Photo by J Jacobs)

Because the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago often has a special exhibition, such as the really wonderful look at artist Enrico David in “Gradations of Slow Release (up through March 10, 2019), tt’s arguably easy to forget that the MCA has its own massive collection of works that would likely have permanent wall space in a larger building.

Therefore it’s no surprise that a new show, “West by Midwest,” primarily made up of works in the museum’s collection, is a way to give some of the fine sculptures, paintings, prints and photographs not recently on public view  pride of place up on the fourth floor’s special exhibition space.

The new exhibit has an interesting theme. The works are by Midwest artists who either moved to the West Coast to study and then stayed or temporarily went there to exhibit.

“I thought it was time to do an exhibit based on our own holdings,” MCA Chief Curator Michael Darlin said at the show’s opening Nov. 16.

While going through the collection, some artists who had migrated to California, though at different times, particularly caught his attention.  “I said, ‘Hey wait a second. These are all from the Midwest,’ ” Darling explained.

Organized by Charlotte Ickes, a postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, with Darling, the artists range  from Larry Bell and Judy Chicago to Gladys Nilsson and Charles White, along with about 60  more artists from the 1960s through the second decade of the 21st century.

The exhibition is divided into five sections according to artists that overlap each other in either approach or within their circles of friends. Some of the artists went to the same California art schools or collaborated.

Thus the exhibit not only showcases some of their work, it also shows artists as beings who interact politically, socially and artistically.

Details: “West by Midwest” is at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave.  through Jan. 27, 2019. For admission hours and other information call (312-280-2660 and visit MCA Chicago.

 

‘Holiday Inn’ dances joyous path through the holidays

 

Holiday Inn cast at Marriott Theatre with Johanna McKenzie Miller and Will Burton in the center. (Liz Lauren photos)
Holiday Inn cast at Marriott Theatre with Johanna McKenzie Miller and Will Burton in the center. (Liz Lauren photos)

3.5 stars

Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” now playing at Marriott Theatre, is among the composer’s delightful story-telling songs in “Holiday Inn.” But don’t confuse Berlin’s “Holiday Inn,”  a musical that has a book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge, with the show, “White Christmas.”

Based on the 1942 Universal film with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, “Holiday Inn” packs “Blue Skies,” “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” “Heat Wave,” “Shaking the Blues Away,” “It’s a Lovely Day Today”, “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” and “Let’s Take an Old-Fashioned Walk” into a delightful, old-fashioned-style hokey, song and dance musical that ends with happily ever after.Read More

Around Town: After Thanksgiving

Once the food and fuss of Thanksgiving has been set aside in the fridge and dishwasher there should be more to holiday fun than trying brave the crowds in stores on Friday and shop on line on Monday.  There is a wonderful ballet and opera that opens, an art show full of gift ideas and a zoo that becomes magical on the weekends.

Shop the art at the One of a Kind Show. (OOAK photo)
Shop the art at the One of a Kind Show. (OOAK photo)

One of a Kind Show

Find gifts  at the One of a Kind Show at the Mart. Artists bring their sculptures, paintings, jewelry, ceramics, furniture and fashions. And vendors bring gourmet foods. The show is fun and it’s hard to leave without finding something for others or oneself.

The show runs Dec.6 through 9 at Merchandise Mart, on the north side of the Chicago River bordered by Kinzie, Wells and Orleans Streets. For tickets, hours and other information visit One of a Kind Show.

Enjoy Brookfield Zoo at Night during Holiday Magic (CZS photo)
Enjoy Brookfield Zoo at Night during Holiday Magic (CZS photo)

Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic

Visit Brookfield Zoo when more than a million colorful lights edgbe buildings, form larger-than-life animal shapes and line the paths – thanks to Comed and Meijer. Holiday Magic is on Saturdays and Sundays of December weekends and also Wednesday through Monday of Dec. 26-31.

Tip: look for the Talking Tree and the special entertainment scheduled each weekend. Park and enter at the North Gate, 8400 31st St. (1st Avenue at 31st Street), Brookfield. For admission, hours and a complete schedule of Holiday Magic activities and entertainment call (708) 688-8000 and visit CZS Holiday Magic.

Alberto Velazauez in The Nutcracker. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)
Alberto Velazauez in The Nutcracker. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

Two December First show openings

Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” and the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Cinderella” open Dec. 1, 2018.  “The Nutcracker” runs through Dec. 30,2018 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on Congress Blvd. at Michigan Avenue. This is the re-imagined staging by choreographer/director Christopher Wheeldon that takes place at the 1893 World’s Fair. The music is Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famed ballet. For tickets and more information visit Joffrey Nutcracker.

“Cinderella,” Jules Massenet” magical “Cendrillon” comes to life with funny, wicked, charming characters and delightful arias at the Lyric Opera House at six performances from Dec. 1, 2018 to Jan. 20, 2019.  For tickets and information visit Lyric Opera Cendrillon.

Jodie Jacobs

Top holiday shows and shopping plus light sights

The Joffrey Ballet's Nutcraker at Aurditorium Theatre. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)
The Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcraker at Aurditorium Theatre. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

If you don’t want to be saying “Oops” this holiday season then 1. Don’t wait to get tickets to the shows you or your family want to see and  2. Do put those holiday events you want to go to on the calendar.

The good news is that there are numerous great holiday shows and happenings in the Chicago area. The problem news is that the many places to go, things to do and see make it hard to narrow down the choices to what is doable.

Tip: Be realistic when weighing what is manageable with kids, tired feet and meal breaks.

The following suggestions offer three Chicago area choices in each category – shows, shopping and spectacular lights and sights:

 

Shows

A Christmas Carol At Goodman Theatre (2017 photo by Liz Lauren)
A Christmas Carol At Goodman Theatre (2017 photo by Liz Lauren)

What: Goodman Theatre’s “The Christmas Carol” Nov. 17-Dec. 30, 2018

Where: In Goodman Theatre’s Albert Theatre at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago

Why: Goodman’s production of Charles Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol” is  a Chicago tradition that never gets old with new staging often added. But the show is also a talking point for families on what is important.

How:: See ticket and other information at Goodman Theatre/Carol

 

What:  Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” Dec. 1-30, 2018

Where: Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr. (50 E. Congress Pkwy) at Michigan Ave.

Why: Going to the Joffrey’s “Nutcracker” is also a Chicago holiday tradition. It was beautifully re-imagined  last year by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon as a visit by Marie and her mother to the 1893 World’s Fair. The mysterious Great Impresario turns the visit into an adventure. And it is all set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous music.

How: Find tickets and information at Joffrey Nutcracker

 

What: Lookingglass Theatre’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” Nov. 7, 2018 through Jan. 13, 2019.

Where: Lookingglass theatre is in the Chicago Water Works at 821 N Michigan Ave, Chicago.

Why: Lookingglass productions are highly innovative, well acted and engrossing. This tale based on a Hans Christian Andersen story is being staged as an exciting spectable by ttalented, creative Mary Zimmerman.

How: Tickets and information are at Lookingglass Theatre.

 

Shopping

Good gift shopping at the Field Museum (J Jacobs photo)
Good gift shopping at the Field Museum (J Jacobs photo)

What: The Field Museum Store, anytime

Where: The Field is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, the furthest west building on the Museum Campus.

Why: The museum has a fantastic gift shop with items that would appeal to all ages.

How: For hours and admission visit Field Museum or shop on line

 

What: Christkindlmarket Chicago, daily Nov. 16-Dec. 24, 2018 and Naperville Thursday through Sunday Nov. 23-Dec. 24 2018.

Where: In Chicago at Daley Plaza on Washington Street between Dearborn and Clark Streets and in Naperville  at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St.

Why: It’s fun to see, buy and taste the type of Bavarian gifts and treats popular at holiday markets in Germany.

How: More information is at Christkindlmarket

 

What: Art Institute of Chicago Gift Shop, anytime

Where:  On line and at the museum, front entrance at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and the Modern Wing entrance at 159 E. Monroe St.

Why: Gift shop entrances do not need admission fees or tickets. The shops carry one-of-a kind gifts that won’t bust the budget. The Modern Wing has good glass items and the main gift shop has excellent jewelry and ties. Both  shops have Frank Lloyd Wright  items and gifts inspired by other artists. Also visitors like to take holiday  photos with the wreathed lions in front.

How: For hours visit the museum at artic.

Spectacular lights and sights

Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo
Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo

What: Lincoln Park Zoo Lights Nov. 23-Jan.6

Where: In Lincoln Park at 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago

Why: See the animals while strolling among 2,5 million lights thanks to Com Ed and Invesco. Also visit Santa, watch ice carving, sip warm spiced wine, snack on holiday treats and watch a 3D light show.

How: Find hours and admission at LPZoo Zoolights.

 

What: Chicago Botanic Garden Lights and Wonderland Express Nov. 23-Dec. 21,2018

Where: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

Why: the Garden’s event is called Wonderland Express but before going into the building that has trains zipping through Chicago landmarks, see trees and walkways lit by thouands of lights and visit the greenhouses’ topiaries and poinsettias. Then don’t worry about the “snow” falling on shoulders inside the exhibit building. It’s all about fun and winter wonders.

How: For hours and admission visit Chicago Botanic/Wonderland

 

What: Morton Arboretum Illumination Nov. 17, 2018-Jan 1, 2019

Where: The grounds of the Morton Aroboretum at 4100 IL Hwy 53, Lisle.

Why: These lights don’t stay still. They change color, they move to music, they’re interactive and Illumination, supported by Com Ed and Invesco, is fun.

How:: See hours and admission at MortonArb/Lights

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

‘Frankenstein’ viewed through Manual Cinema eyes

Cast and production crew of Manual Cinema's Frankenstine at Court Theatre (Michael Brosilow photos)
Cast and production crew of Manual Cinema’s Frankenstine at Court Theatre (Michael Brosilow photos)

4 Stars

It is supposed that our most ancient cave dwelling predecessors told supernatural cautionary tales of adventure that included encounters with fantastic creatures.

Their flickering fires casting out-sized, ominous, and at times, grotesque shadows on the wall amplified the sense of dread and danger. Add the slow beating of a drum mimicking the ever increasing beating of hearts, mixing with the mysterious sounds of nature lurking in the darkness and you begin to see the primeval recipe that Manual Cinema has tapped into in the telling of their version of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”

Manual Cinema is a singular theatrical experience that has elements of street theater and silent film. The company mixes live action, silhouettes, puppets, shadow puppetry, masks, video, slide projection and all manner of theatrical techniques, ancient and modern to create a captivating monochromatic video mash-up, reminiscent of a nickelodeon feature, assembled and projected on stage before your eyes.

Read More

Around town early November

 

Modern by Design at the Chicago History Museum is a stop on Design Chicago's Near North Day. (Photo courtesy of Chicago History
Modern by Design at the Chicago History Museum is a stop on Design Chicago’s Near North Day. (Photo courtesy of Chicago History Museum)

Art Design Chicago event Nov. 10

Try to catch at least one of the places on Art Design Chicago’s free Near North Design Day.

From 10 a.m. to noon, activities range from celebrating the Zepher and “Chicago Streamlines America” exhibit at the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St.) to the Newberry Library’s (60 W. Wsalton St.) lecture and Ghawazee belly dancing related to its “Pictures from an Exposition:  Visualizing the 1893 World’s Fair” exhibition

Then, from noon to 4 p.m. they range from a clay printmaking workshop with Sharon Bladholm related to “Clay printmaking inspired by Edgar Miller at Art on Sedgwick to a photo workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. at the DePaul Art Museum (935 W. Fullerton Ave)  related to “Yasuhiro Ishimoto: Someday, Chicago” exhibition.

Art on Sedgwick is at 1408 N. Sedgwick and the Sedgwick Stjudio is at 1544 N. Sedgwick.

There is also a viewing of the Roger Brown Study Collection at 1926 N. Halsted Ave. For the complete schedule of places and times visit Art Design Chicago.

A free trolley going between sites makes it easier to fit in at least a couple of places. Art Design Chicago is a Terra Foundation for American Art project to heighten awareness of Chicago’s role as a design center

 

Speaking of design

If you haven’t visited the Richard Norton Gallery at 612 Merchandise Mart Plaza, stop by to see “Kenn Kwint Linear Expressions” which opened Nov. 8 and some of the other artists represented by this major Chicago gallery. For more information visit Richard Norton Gallery.

 

And speaking of Near North

“Replay Lincoln Park,” a popular pop up bar at 2833 N. Sheffield is back beginning Nov. 9, The theme this year is “Friends” and includes Monica’s apartment and Chandler and Joey’s place. For more information, please call (773) 665-5660 or visit Replay Lincoln Park.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

In ‘Siegfried’ playful staging mixes with outstanding voices

 

Matthias Klink (Mime) in playpen and Burkhard Fritz (Siegfried) in the third segment of Wagner's Ring cycle at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Todd Rosenberg photos)
Matthias Klink (Mime) in playpen and Burkhard Fritz (Siegfried) in the third segment of Wagner’s Ring cycle at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Todd Rosenberg photos)

3.5 stars

Opera goers who saw “Das Rheingold” in 2016 and “Die Walküre” in 2017, Lyric’s first two operas segments of Wagner’s four-part “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” will find the next segment, “Siegfried,” still has tall scenery towers bookending the stage. They deliberately remind audiences that Wagner’s The Ring cycle is theater.

It is theatrical and musical drama. But where the productions of the first two segments were highly creative but serious, “Siegfried” is playful, fanciful, serious fun.

The tone is set when a somewhat menacingly large, three-nail-claw and an eye of Fafner, the giant-turned dragon who guards the ring, appear under the curtain and draw audience laughter. The curtain then rises to reveal Siegfried’s playroom of oversized art work and children’s furniture including a tall playpen.

Read More

Love’s Labour’s Lost – A timeless tale

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

L-R: Amber Cartwright, Katherine Duffy, Rachael Soglin, Raina Lynn (Photos by Brian McConkey Photography
L-R: Amber Cartwright, Katherine Duffy, Rachael Soglin, Raina Lynn
(Photos by Brian McConkey Photography

This delightful Invictus Theatre experience proves once again that little has changed since Shakespeare penned this early comedy about the powerful drive of the passions of youth.

The young Ferdinand King of Navarre (Chad Bay) challenges his three besties  Berowne (Charles Askenaizer), Longaville (Taylor Glowac) and Dumain (Sam Cheeseman) to forsake romance and other distractions of the flesh such as eating for the purpose of devoting themselves fully to their studies for three years.

The pact does not last long due to the hunger of youth and the arrival of a young French Princess (Raina Lynn) and her posse of eligible young maids in waiting Rosaline (Rachael Soglin), Katherine (Amber Cartwright) and Maria (Katherine Duffy). Conveniently there is the requisite number of each sex for the two respective royal crews to square off.

The young men have soon forsaken their fasting and studies and have instead turned their hand to verses of love, while the ladies delight in disguising themselves and otherwise confounding their suitors for sport.

As with most of The Bard’s theatricals there are a few side trips not the least of which is a Spanish Lord Don Armado (Martin Diaz-Valdes) and doltish slave Costard (Johnny Kalita) pursuing the same country wench Jaquenetta (Daniela Martinez); and the play-within- a-play featuring the self-important teacher Holofernes (Alisha Fabbi) and his sycophant the curate Nathaniel (Jack Morsovillo).Read More

Harry Truman anti-Semite or doula at birth of Israel

SOMEWHAT RECOMMEND

(left to right) Tim Kough and Catherine Dvorak in Greenhouse Theater Center and Forum Productions’ world premiere of Truman and the Birth of Israel. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
(left to right) Tim Kough and Catherine Dvorak in Greenhouse Theater Center and Forum Productions’ world premiere of Truman and the Birth of Israel. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

“Truman and the Birth of Israel” is a politically wonkish tale about a fictional encounter between the retired 33rd President and a young, future congresswoman, Bella Abzug (Catherine Dvorak).

At this point she is a rising New York attorney already showing a penchant for championing Zionist, feminist and civil rights ideals that will be her trademark in later years.

The action takes place in the home study and garden of Harry S. Truman (Tim Kough).  Abzug has been assigned to represent “Give’m Hell Harry” in a libel action the former President intends to initiate against an East Coast newspaper reporter who has allegedly defamed him by insulting his daughter’s singing talent.

Truman’s law firm assigns Bella Abzug to the case presumably because both she and the reporter are Jewish. Abzug feels certain that the defense will attack Truman for his past anti-Semitism and sets out to understand the complexities of a man who was once a card carrying member of the KKK but is also credited with helping to make the State of Israel a possibility.

Read More

Loss expressed with a Danish accent

RECOMMENDED

Linda Gehringer in Lady in Denmark at Goodman Theatre (Liz Loren photo)
Linda Gehringer in Lady in Denmark at Goodman Theatre (Liz Loren photo)

Maybe despair and loss can be emotionally handled when countered or balances with glimmers of hope.

In “Lady in Denmark,” a one-person show currently playing at Goodman Theatre, Helene recounts her life in Denmark including rape when she was 14 and her current situation of desperate loneliness upon the recent death of husband Lars.

She replays their favorite Billy Holiday songs for the memories but try as she does, it doesn’t seem to work for her and is not enough to leave audiences feeling good about loss.

Indeed, theater goers who are experiencing or have gone through the kind of cancer battle that Helene just went through with her beloved Lars, might want to skip the show or see it at a much later time.

Part of the problem is that Linda Gehringer who received a Jeff nominee for “The Crowd You’re In With,” portrays Helene so well and with such intensity and depth of understanding it is easy to believe the person on stage is recounting her own experiences.

Written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith, the playwright and actress of the highly acclaimed “Until the Flood,” her current play appears on the surface to be a tribute to Holiday, the “Lady” who visited Denmark and was happier in Europe than in America where she was subject to racial hatred and discriminatory laws.

It does partially retell Holiday’s interaction with a family in Denmark, the inspiration for “Lady in Denmark.” But with Gehringer’s heartfelt portrayal under Chay Yew’s direction, what the play does in its brief 90 minutes is to remind people that “rape lasts a lifetime” and that trying to get through loss “doesn’t get better.”

The action takes place in a home in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood, an elaborate, excellent set designed by Andrew Boyce, furnished in Danish Modern. Gehringer competently interjects Danish phrases and mentions favorite foods that add to the show’s ethnic angle.

Even told with a Danish flavor that has Billy Holiday songs in the background and referred to in the title, “Lady in Denmark” is about loss., an emotion that is universal.

DETAILS: “Lady in Denmark” is in the Owen theatre and Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago through Nov. 18, 2018. Running time: 90 min. no intermission. For tickets and other information call (312) 443-3800 and visit Goodman Theatre .

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago