Taste of Iceland has taken over Chicago for a four-day festival of Icelandic cuisine, art and culture.
Among the events was an architecture talk and vodka tasting at Marshall’s Landing in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. The Mart overlooks a splendid view of the riverfront with examples of Chicago’s own stunning architecture just outside the window.
There, we visited a presentation by Halla Helgadottir, Managing Director of the Iceland Design Centre Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Centre has the distinction of being the most visited museum “per capita” of any museum in the world, the joke being that with Iceland’s small population it is estimated that more than 10% of the nation has visited the museum.
Helgadottir shared photos of several of Iceland’s architectural points of interest including the Harpa Concert Hall whose exterior looks as though it has been chiseled out of a giant sold piece of crystal clear ice.
Conversely, there was a photo of a farm house that was built largely underground and was reminiscent of the dugouts built by prairie pioneers in Kansas and other parts of the Midwest during the great westward expansion in the U.S.
Like the prairie pioneers, the Icelanders have precious little wood so alternative building options are required.
Go to Rosehill Cemetery, 5800 N. Ravenswood Ave., March 10 or 11 for writer/performer Neil Tobin’s Necromancer: Near Death Experience, an interactive Magical theatre about life and death. The performances begin at 3 p.m. in the May Chapel and lasts an hour. (Also takes place April 14-15 and May 5-6). For tickets and other information visit Near Death X.
Male relationship depicted through opera
Hear “Fellow Travelers,” a new opera by Gregory Spears with a libretto by Greg Pierce at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N Southport Ave., March 17-25. Presented by Lyric Unlimited, an arm of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the opera is based on the Thomas Mallon novel about two men in love during the 1950s McCarthy era in Washington D.C. For tickets and more information visit Lyric Opera/Fellow Travelers.
Native art combines with immigration
See Contemporary Native American Art at the Art Center of Highland Park, 1957 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park. The exhibit, open to the public March 10 and continuing through April 6, 2018, combines with personal stories of Immigration. For more information call (847) 432-1888 and visit TAC.
A timely new exhibit, “Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and their Bronzes,” fills the Art Institute of Chicago’s Regensenstein Hall. Opened Feb. 24, 2018, to coincide with the Chinese New Year, the exhibit’s ancient ornamental containers and related art pieces were used for a variety of ceremonies.
The exhibit, which continues through May 13, 2018, brings together many objects not seen outside of China.
But no matter when visitors go there are few tips that should add to their experience.
Upon walking into the exhibition space, it is easy to start looking at all the vessels. There are nearly 200 works assembled from Beijing’s Palace Museum, Shanghai Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, other museums and from private collections. They mirrored what was important in the Chinese culture during their period.
However, turn right first to see a large, wall-sized photo reproduction of a Chinese delegation that visited Chicago in the early 20th century. Look at the bronze set being held. Then see the actual pieces in a case across the room. The spectacular set is on loan from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Next, while meandering through the exhibit, stop in front of a small, easy-to-miss video screen on a long, wall to the right.. It shows how bronzes were created in molds.
However, this exhibit is not merely about the bronzes. It also is about the emperors who valued and collected them. So when turning the corner of the main room, stop and sit a minute where a short movie on Emperor Quianlong shows some of the treasures he housed in the Forbidden City, the imperial palace of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. The complex is home to the Palace Museum.
The film and exhibition curator Tao Wang, the Art Institute’s Pritzker Chair of Asian Art explain Quianlong’s and other emperors’ views on the importance of collecting bronzes.
“For the emperor-collectors, ancient bronzes were more than a collection piece,” said Wang. “They were perceived as the Mandate of Heaven – an embodiment or symbol of moral and political authority.”
DETAILS: “Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and their Bronzes” is at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, now through May 13, 2018. For admission fees, hours and other information call (312) 433-3600 and visit ARTIC.
“I look at my work sometimes as play… a kind of joyous play.”
So said artist Howardena Pindell at the Museum of Contemporary Art opening of “What Remains To Be Seen.”
Even though Pindell’s works have been in shows every year for the past several years, the current MCA exhibit is the first, all encompassing survey of her 50-year career.
It includes her move from figurative to abstraction and activism to occasional returns to figurative forms. But throughout the periods are personal reactions to what it feels like to be black and female. Yet, the playfulness is evident throughout the exhibit.
Pindell enjoyed finding different tools and materials to create art including hole punchers, file-folder stock and beveled cutouts found in a museum’s trash where she was an assistant curator.
The exhibit features several works where holes were either punched or painted by means of oak-board stencils. Some are best viewed up close to note that works that at first appears monochromatic, isn’t.
The show reveals a fascination with numbers, math, patterns and grids. Indeed, visitors who look closely will find numbers in some of the hole-punch designs.
But in some works, the holes are merely a fascinating pattern.
In another series, numbers and arrows add interest to Pindell’s video drawings as if they were instructions. Created on acetate held by static electricity to a television screen, they are an impressive, unusual form of art.
“I was looking for a fun way to use the videos,” she said. She pointed out that some people thought the numbers and arrows looked like football playbook arrows.
Another technique was cutting up postcards from her extensive travels to form collages.
Part of her “Autobiography” series, they were memory aids because a life-threatening accident in 1979 included a serious concussion that resulted in temporary memory loss.
Work that is play in Pinell’s career is based on a strong art background.
Born in 1943, Pindell graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls and studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art and other art schools before getting a BFA from Boston University and MFA from Yale.
“They all wanted me to use figurative art when I was moving into abstraction,” Pindell said at the exhibit opening.
She felt some satisfaction when an influential woman in the academic art world who had expressed a negative view of Pindell’s favoring abstraction over traditional figurative style, turned up at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC’s MoMA) where Pindell was working (first as an exhibit assistant and then an associate curator). “When she saw me, she said, “Oh.”
The MCA exhibit features her different styles. But what also comes across is her use of pattern and color.
Pindell, a longtime professor of art at Stony Brook University, New York (part of SUNY, a state university), stressed the importance of understanding color depth. She pointed out that she focused on the composition of color with her painting students.”They learn it’s not just, “red,” she explained.
No matter what the subject or materials used, exhibit visitors will see how Pindell’s use of color is very effective, ranging from ethereal to a rich.
Colors, materials and pattern movements seem to draw visitors into her works. Pindell refers to that phenomenon as “space.” “What I’m working on now is space going into the painting and space going out of the painting.”
She also puts herself into her works, literally.
Tips: Don’t walk too fast past “Autobiography: Fire (Suttee),” 1986-87. Done in mixed media on canvas and on loan from the Nancy and Peter Huber Collection, its rich colors and patterns might obscure the fact that there is an outline of Pindell’s body in the picture
It references a former custom of expecting a widow in India to kill herself after her husband dies. It also stands for human suffering and her own experiences with being black and a woman.
Also watch her in the performance video, “Free, White and 21” (1980) when she compares black and white women’s experiences.
DETAILS: “Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen,” is at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave., now through May 20, 2018. For more information call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCA Chicago.
Instead of organizing the desk (or you name it), and wishing the groundhog prognosticators were wrong about six more weeks of winter, take in a show, find a special event to dispel gray skies and moods and take advantage of museum free days.
If the family has a Saturday available, get tickets to ‘Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at The Yard, Chicago Shakespeare’s newly added theater on Navy Pier . The show is a fun 75 minutes that merges the Bard’s humorous mismatching of characters in his comedies. The production is offered Saturdays now through March 10, 2018 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.. To get tickets visit Chicago Shakes Plays.
Listen as famed tenor Lawrence Brownlee performs ‘Cycles of My Being,’ a recital that puts forth what it is like to live as a black man in America. Co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Lyric Opera/Lyric Unlimited and Opera Philadelphia, the program will only be in chicago Feb. 22, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the DuSable Museum of African American History. For more information visit Lyric Opera Cycles or call (312) 827-5600.
Go to the Chicago Botanic Garden Feb. 10 through March 25, 2018 to see orchids with an Asian accent. This year, the Garden’s Orchid Show blooms among kimonos, parasols and Asian plants. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. plus open later Thursdays to 8 p.m. For more information visit Chicago Botanic Garden orchid.
How about a night at the museum, that is among the fish?
For Presidents Day weekend stay the night Feb. 16, 2018 in a special program at the Shedd Aquarium that allows participants to explore the museum, see an aquatic presentation and do a scavenger hunt. The cost is $75 per person ($60 members). For tickets and more information visit Shedd Aquarium Overnight.
Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday when most schools in Illinois are closed to celebrate Presidents Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, is Feb. 19, 2018. Fortunately, some of Chicago’s museums are free that day.
The Adler Planetarium’s general admission is waved for Illinois residents Feb. 19-22. For more information visit Adler.
Art Institute of Chicago has free admission to Chicago residents under age 18, every day. See ARTIC.
Chicago History Museum is free every day to children under 18 who are Illinois residents. Visit Chicago History.
The Field Museum has free general admission for Illinois residents all of February. Visit Field Museum free days.
The Chicago Cultural Center has a new exhibition on its fourth floor. Titled “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush,” it was organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. The Cultural Center also has other exhibits on its first floor. While in the building go to the third floor to see gorgeous glass domes and rooms. Admission is always free. Visit Chicago Cultural Center.
Fortunately when schools close for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, several Chicago museums answer the what-to-do question with free or discounted admission for Illinois residents. In addition, the Black Ensemble Theater and the Chicago Children’s Theatre also have programs.
Here are some places to spend quality time Jan. 15, 2018.
On Chicago’s Museum Campus, Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., (312) 922-7827, The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., (312) 922-9410 and the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake shore Dr., (312) 939-2438, all have free general admission to Illinois residents. (Not included: all access to special exhibits).
At the Art Institute of Chicago, the Ryan Learning Center (entrance at the Modern Wing, 159 East Monroe St. is doing “Say it Loud” program of story telling, arts and discussions from 10 :30 a.m. to 3 p.m. No registration needed. However, admission to the museum is also free that day for all Illinois residents as part Free Winter Weekdays, January 8–February 15, 2018.
A penguin with a purpose. A Wright that is right. Those are just two of the special gifts that can be found in Chicago museums.
Instead of fighting crowds on Black Friday, use the day off to visit a favorite museum and its gift shop. Museum stores are not only filled with fun and artistic gifts, they also funnel that money you spend back into programs and other costs.
Plus, holiday shopping when you can also watch penguins play or visit a favorite art period adds to the fun of finding a present that matches a person’s interest.
However, if you don’t make it down to Chicago, browse the museum stores’ web sites. They are easy to maneuver because most are broken into different categories so don’t worry if the first link you find merely says store. Watch for scrolling options and look for such links as jewelry, toys and home decor.
The Shedd, in the middle of the Museum campus at 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., is a favorite destination when youngsters and adults have a day off. However, you can also look in the shop on line to find everything from toddler shark hoodies to soft, plus animals that have wallett friendly prices. Visit Shedd Shop and call (312) 939-2438 if you have some questions.
First museum on the campus, the Field at 1400 S. Lake shore Dr., has a huge store worth a visit anytime you are on the museum campus. However, the store’s website is also huge. Note that different shop areas scroll across the Field store site. Click on one that particularly catches your attention or merelyh look for such categories as home décor and toys. Among the sites is one for Ancient Mediterranean objects. For other information call (312) 922-9410.
Both sections of theArt Institute of Chicago, the traditional building at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and the Modern Wing at 159 E. Monroe St. have wonderful gift shops near their entrances so visitors can shop without paying admission. But if there, it is hard to resist visiting a favorite gallery.
If shopping on line look for different categories such as apparel, stationary, books (even coloring books for famous paintins or architectural items, glass objects or a particular artist at AICShop. There is even a site for all Frank Lloyd Wright items. For other information call (312) 443-3600.
Visit the MCA, as it is popularly known, to see its latest exhibition of important contemporary works upstairs on the Fourth Floor but also to dine in its new restaurant on the ground floor. The museum is at 220 E. Chicago Ave.
But if saving that visit for a day after the holidays, go on line to the MCA Store to vfnd such fun objects as desktop and hanging mobiles or fun, objects by artist Murakami.
If trying to match a present to a history buff or someone interested in Chicago, a great place to find a book or related gift is at the Chicago History Museum Shop. The building, situated in Lincoln Park at 1601 N. Clark St., is also an easy bus ride from downtown Chicago.
Visit MSI to see its Robots, Lego or Mirror Maze exhibit or for its fairy castle or coal mine. You will find related items and gifts for you young scientiist in the museum gift shop. The museum is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive near the Hyde Park/ University of Chicago neighborhoods.
But you can also shop on line for toys, books and other gift items. The store has a gift guide.
So that in the coming weeks you don’t have to say “oops, I forgot” or “oh, I wish I had known,” here are some fun and interesting choices of what to do now through Nov. 5, 2017.
Short Story Theatre
Short story theatres are trending now in the Chicago area. (See StorySlam). Highwood, a tiny city between Highland Park and Lake Forest known for its restaurants, also hosts short story telling.
Its next time is Oct. 26 when the theme is Survival. Stories are likely to be about lost wives, geese, road trips or angels.
So come to Miramar Bistro at 301 Waukegan Ave. east of the North Line train tracks at 7:30 p.m. Or come earlier and eat there first. Just tell them when making a reservation that you are staying for the Short Story Theatre. Show tickets are $10 at the door, cash or check. Phone 847-433-1078.
Boo at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Hand-carved pumpkins line the paths Oct. 26-29 for Night of 10000 Jack-O-Lanterns. Tickets are date and time specific so get yours before you go to avoid disappointment. Times are from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, east of Edens Expressway. For tickets and other information call (847) 835-5440 or visit CBGHalloween.
Broadway in Chicago
At the Cadillac Palace Theatre, ‘Les Miserables, Cameron Mackintosh’s new production that is garnering rave reviews, closes Oct. 29. For tickets visit BroadwayinChicago.
Then, School of Rock’ an exuberant show with new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber opens Nov. 1. For tickets and other information visit Broadway Rock.
Verdi and Wagner
If you enjoy opera at its best know that Lyric Opera of Chicago has openings, closings and reviews similar to many downtown shows. Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’ that also received rave reviews, has only three performances left: Oct. 26, Oct. 30 and Nov. 3. Wagner’s next Ring cycle opera, ‘Die Walküre,’ opens Nov. 1. For tickets and other information visit Lyric Opera.
Sip and Stroll Festival
Visit more than restaurants and other businesses in Lincoln Square for the semi-annual Ravenswood Wine Stroll. Nov. 2 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are for one of five different routes: three in Lincoln Square and two in Ravenswood. For tickets and route information see Lincoln Square Wine Stroll.
Really old and last century modern
Winnetka Community House’s famed Antiques + Modernism show runs Nov. 3-5 with an evening, first peek party Nov. 2. Because it’s a 60-year-old nationally known event, dealers bring their fine antiques and excellent mid-last-century modernism jewelry and furniture. For ticket and other information visit Winnetka Show.
Where high-end art and superior design mix
Known as SOFA for bringing together Sculpture Objects Fine Art plus Design, the annual Chicago event is back at Navy Pier Nov. 2-5. Go upstairs to the Festival Hall to see what the international galleries say are trending now in the art world. For tickets and other information visit SOFA.
From a French poster by a famed artist and fantasy sculptures amidst nature’s forms to a commemorative sing-along for rocker Tom Petty, here are some things to do and places to go the weekend of Oct. 20-22, 2017.
Great art deals at TAC
Art lovers have a chance to pick up excellent fine or decorative art works including a Yaacov Agam at a price below what they typically bring in a gallery at the Upscale Art Resale. Held by The Art Center in north suburban Highland Park, the annual event is a win-win for collectors and TAC.
Paintings, antiques, jewelry, sculptures and other items are donated by designers, the community and TAC’s patrons.
The best chance to snag a treasure is Oct. 20 at the 6 p.m. early party preview which is $150. But the 7 p.m. regular party at $75 in advance and $90 at the door, is also excellent and have an additional incentives including a 20 % discount on prices from 7 to 7:30 p.m.
“It’s a wonderful party with fun bites, cocktails and desserts, “ said Jacqueline Chilow, event chairperson.
The art resale opens to the public free of charge from Oct. 21 through Oct. 31. Hours are Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun. Oct. 22 noon to 4 p.m. and Thurs., Oct. 26, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Art Center is at| 1957 Sheridan Road | Highland Park. For benefit tickets and more information call (847) 432-1888 and visit TAC.
Sing “Free Fallin”
Gather in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Grand Foyer Saturday to pay homage to late rocker Tom Petty. A musician who inspired more than a generation, Petty died Oct. 2, 2017.
Participants will receive the lyrics and be divided by voice category so they can join with Toronto Canada’s Choir! Choir! Choir! to sing “Free Fallin.” No singing experience needed. Reservations needed. Tickets are $25.
The Lyric Opera House is at 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago. For reservations and tickets visit Lyric concert.
Rock Paper Scissors and more
Oct. 22 is the last day to see Origami in the Garden, the Morton Arboretum’s fantasy-like metal sculptures. See what looks like birds, elephants and a delightful Rock Paper scissors sculpture.
Morton Arboretum is at 4100 IL Hwy 53, Lisle. For garden admission and other information call 630) 968-0074 and visit MortonARB.
Instead of looking for them in farmers’ fields, look for scarecrows and pumpkins at three fun-for-all-ages festivals where you can make or carve an inspired personality. The festivals are happening Oct. 6-8, 2017.
Highwood, a North Shore town, is holding its now nationally famous Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival. St. Charles, west of Chicago, has its 32nd Annual Scarecrow Fest. The Chalet Nursery, a fun place to find holiday items and indoor/outdoor décor pieces near Edens Expressway, is doing its annual scarecrow-making festival.
You’ll never see as many pumpkins and different pumpkin faces as in Highwood, IL this weekend. The tiny (little over a square mile) city tucked between Highland Park and Lake Forest, has been trying to break the Guiness World record of 30,851 carved pumpkins for the past few years. The streets on the east side of METRA’s Union Pacific North Line tracks are edged with tall, metal pumpkin stands where lit pumpkins cunningly grin at visitors at night. Festival doings day and night range from pie eating and costume contests to hay, pony and camel rides. There is also a Super Hero walk-run to honor a Make-A Wish child plus pumpkin carving, entertainment, food, tricks and treats.
A $3 per day or $5 for the weekend admission charge benefits the Make A Wish Foundation. Last year the festival raised $60,000. But also go just because the event is fun.
Some events need registering. For the Fun Walk/Run click here. For the entertainment and full event times and other registrations visit schedule. Hours are Friday 4 to 10, Sat. 9 a.m Fun Walk/Run and general opening 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m, 847-668-1213
Best plan is take the train because parking will be scarce. Or go north to Old Elm Road then east to Sheridan road and back south to Hotel Moraine at 700 Sheridan Road where a shuttle will take visitors to the festival.
More than 100 scarecrows will populate St. Charles Oct. 6 through Oct. 8.
The event also includes, Arts & Crafts show, vintage autos, entertainment, pumpkin displays, make-you-own scarecrow stations, pumpkin carving and food. Most events are free. The festival is divided into sponsored activity zones along Main Street (Hwy 64) between Fifth and Third Streets east of the Fox River and just south of Main Street across the river.
Hours: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more activity information download the detailed map pdf by visiting brochure.
Chalet Nursery Scarecrow Festival
The Chalet Nursery and Garden Center has lots of Halloween decor plus visitrs can make their own scarecrow. All that is needed is to bring the scarecrow’s clothes because the Chalet will provide a head and straw. Hours: Oct. 7-8, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Chalet is at 3132 Lake Ave, Wilmette across from Edens Plaza. For more information call (847) 256-0561 and for general Chalet information visit Nursery.