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.


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:



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.



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




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




Around town: Ethnic and scary events end the month of October


See Young Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein at the CSO (Photo courtesy of CSO)
See Young Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein at the CSO (Photo courtesy of CSO)

Frankenstein is back in town

See the scary “Bride of Frankenstein” and funny “Young Frankenstein” movies with background music by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.  Oct. 26 For tickets and other information call (312) 294-3000 and visit CSO.

Or see Remy Bumppo’s scary production of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” Oct. 28-30 (Oct. 27, 27 and 31 are sold out) at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. For tickets and other information call (773) 975.8150 or visit RemyBumppo.


Historic African American Design exhibit

“2019 African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Race” opens Oct. 27, at the Chicago Cultural Center. The exhibit runs the advertising gamut from illustration, cartoons, and graphic design to architectural signage, product and exhibit design and sign painting.

Located up on the fourth floor and continuing   through Mar. 3, 2019, the exhibiti s part of the current Art Design Chicago events that explore the city’s art and design history. Art Design Chicago is partially funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

The Chicago Cultural Center is at 78 E. Washington St. For more information visit City of Chicago.


Historic designs by African Americans on exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)
Historic designs by African Americans on exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)


Hobnob with mummies

The Oriental Institute, an internationally known center for study of ancient Middle Eastern civilizations, is holding Mummy Tours every half hour Oct 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. Space is limited so registration is  needed. Admission is free but adults are asked for a $5 donation.  The event also includes Mummy Simulations. Tickets to the Mummy Simulations (also every half hour) are free to adults, $3 per child, and can be purchased at the event.  For registration and other information visit Oriental Institute. .For questions call the OI Public Education Office at (773) 702-9507. The Oriental Institute is at 1155 E. 58th St. on the University of Chicago campus..


Dia De Los Muertos

Maxwell Street Market is celebrating the Day of the Dead Oct. 28 from 10:30 a.m. to-2 p.m. with the dedication of a surrealist Mexican mural, pumpkin carving. An ofrenda (altar) workshop, other arts and crafts and live music. The Maxwell Street Market is at 800 S. Des Plaines Ave. For event times and more information visit Maxwell Street Market.

Jodie Jacobs




Hairy Who exhibit captures sixties mood

Jim Nutt. “Miss E. Knows,” 1967. The Art Institute of Chicago, Twentieth-Century Purchase Fund. © Jim Nutt.
Jim Nutt. “Miss E. Knows,” 1967. The Art Institute of Chicago, Twentieth-Century Purchase Fund. © Jim Nutt.

There’s an exhibit, actually a divided exhibit, up at the Art Institute of Chicago that humorously and poignantly portrays six artists’ views of the world, of the battles between the sexes and of the troubled sixties.

At first glance you might think that the works of the six artists who comprise the Hairy Who, Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca, and Karl Wirsum, all graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, are alike.

Well, yes their style is similar enough to group them together. They gravitate to comic book and advertising colors for their picturesque commentaries. And they enjoyed puns and colorful wordplays.

But when going through the glass doors separating the main entry lobby from the museum,  take a left into print and drawings gallery. You get to know the works of each artist in rooms basically dedicated to his and her prints and drawings.

By the time you head west through the museum to see their finished works in the Rice building you should be able to know whose work you are seeing without looking at the painting ID.

Gladys Nisson "The Great War of the Wonder Women," Watercolor on Graphite on paper. (J Jacobs photo)
Gladys Nisson “The Great War of the Wonder Women,” Watercolor on Graphite on paper. (J Jacobs photo)

The exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of a Chicago show, but in Rice building  the works are primarily grouped by the Hairy Who’s six exhibitions from 1966 to 1969 in Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C.

Among the best commentaries made on the wall descriptions of each show is one that notes that in San Francisco, the art teachers where the show was held disliked the exhibit but the students understood and loved it.

A phrase in the Art Institute’s online site about the show perfectly sums up the Hairy Who’s messages as “progressive ideas that challenged prevailing notions of gender and sexuality, social mores and standards of beauty, and nostalgia and obsolescence.”

DETAILS: “Hairy Who? 1966-1969” is at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., through Jan. 6, 2019  For hours and admission information visit artic.

Jodie Jacobs


Enrico David works get recognition



Enrico David, "Tools and Toys III"2014 on view at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA Photo)
Enrico David, “Tools and Toys III”2014 on view at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA Photo)

When seeing a picture of “Tools and Toys III, 2014, an eye-sculpture sculpture by Italian-born, London-based artist Enrico David, I imagined it was life-sized.  But upon going through the David exhibit, now up at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, I found it to be 23 ¼ in. by 20 1/3 in. by 3 in., thus small compared to several other works in the gallery. But it was definitely significant.

“Tools and Toys III” is a human figure of jesmonite and graphite that is slightly a tilt, but with copper prongs radiating out in all directions as a field of energy.

As seen by the figures that filled the exhibition, David found a variety of choices for artistic and emotional expression in the human body, sometimes elongated, sometimes partnering with other humans and sometimes as unusual variations of the head. But in “Tools” the figure appears mystical.

Enrico David “Untitled” Ombre Rosse), 2017, wool on canvas. (J Jacobs photo)
Enrico David “Untitled” Ombre Rosse), 2017, wool on canvas. (J Jacobs photo)

The large wool on canvas work, “Untitled” Ombre Rosse), 2017, appears to also have either mystical or primeval figures.

Indeed, many of David’s works seem to be either tortured figures or antiquities found in caves or dug in ruins such as “Fortress Shadow” 2014 of jesmonite and patinated steel.

In some cases they may be one figure that has been replicated as if rising such as “The Assuumption of Weee” 2014 or “Ploud Mary”2014 whose figure of celotex, jesomonite, glass fiber and copper has been divided into multiple parts and turned on its side.

Enrico David, "Fortress Shadow" 2014 at MCA Chicago. (Photo by J Jacobs)
Enrico David, “Fortress Shadow” 2014 at MCA Chicago. (Photo by J Jacobs)

“I’ve been following his career for years,” said MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling. “I felt it was the time to do a survey of his work. This is the first large survey of Enrico David in the United States,” Darling said.

I agree. His works are in the collections of the Tate Modern, Hirshorn Museujm and sculpture Garden, Hammer Museum and the MCA but deserve to be more widely known.

DETAILS:  “Enrico David, Gradations of Slow Realease” is at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave. through March 10, 2019. For museum hours and admission  call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCAChicago.

Jodie Jacobs


Chicago becomes art central last September weekend


Visitors at the opening night Vernissage event see Expo Chicago exhibits. (Expo Chicago photo)
Visitors at the opening night Vernissage event see Expo Chicago exhibits. (Expo Chicago photo)

When Art Expo rolls around each year, lots of galleries and art institutions not only participate in the Expo’s Navy Pier events and exhibits, they also hold their own new exhibitions

With so many places taking part as partners ranging from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, The Block Museum of Art and the Elmhurst  Art Museum to the American Writers Museum, Chicago Artists Coalition, Chicago Cultural Center, the Richard H. Driehouse Museum, the Dusable Museum of  African American History and Peninsuala Chicago,(to name just a few) about the only way to fit in all the terrific art and events is to plan ahead. So take a look at what is being offered when.

Art Expo

Held Sept. 27-30, 2018 at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, Art Expo visitors get to can see works that are making statements in 135 galleries from 63 cities around the globe. For hours and tickets visit tickets.

For a special viewing opening night, Sept. 27, that includes cocktails and benefits a fine Chicago institution see Vernissage.

While at Expo,  look for the large sculptures and hanging works of the In Situ artists including Judy Chicago’s “Cartoon for The Fall from the Holocaust Projgect 1987″ from the Jessica Silverman Gallery of San Francisco and NY.

Try also to take in one of Expo’s informative treats, Dialogues – Symposium on Sept. 28. It is a day-long progam that has a variety of  informative discussions with artists, curators, and other art professionals. Dialogues partners  include theArt Institute of Chicago, Art Design Chicago and Terra Foundation for American Art..

To learn about other fine exhibits and programs by partnering organization and museums visit art week.

One place you don’t go inside but will see if you are near the Merchandise Mart after dark is “Art on the Mart” Sept. 29. Look for an artistic light show on the front of the Mart starting at 6:30 p.m. Wacker Drive will be closed to traffic between Wells and Franklin Streets because of the projections,  a Lantern Procession by Light Up My Arts, food trucks and a DJ.

Jim Nutt "Miss K Knows" at the Art Institute of Chicago in the" Hairy Who" exhibit opening Sept. 26, 2018. (AIC photo)
Jim Nutt “Miss K Knows” at the Art Institute of Chicago in the” Hairy Who” exhibit opening Sept. 26, 2018. (AIC photo)

Art Institute of Chicago

Art Expo weekend is the last chance to see “John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age” which closes Sept. 30. It surprises viewers with the depth of art styles used by Sargent who is best known for his portraits.

But this week is also the opening of “Hairy Who,” another surprising exhibit. The name is attached to a group of six influential Chicago artists known for their unconventional, graphic works.

Museum of Contemporary Art

“Enrico David: Gradations of Slow Release” opens at the MCA Chicago Sept. 29 of Expo weekend. Within an easy bus ride from Navy Pier, the show introduces viewers to this Italian-born artist who currently resides in London and has works in such renown institutions as the Tate Modern and Hirshhorn Museum.

The MCA show is the first United States exhibition of Enrico David’s work.


Jodie Jacobs




New Chicago Architecture Center definitely worth a visit


Chicago city model at Chicago Architecture Center on East Wacker Drive. (Photo by Anthony Tahlier)
Chicago city model at Chicago Architecture Center on East Wacker Drive. (Photo by Anthony Tahlier)

The Chicago Architecture Foundation has moved to a perfectly placed space on Wacker Drive across form the Chicago River and near the starting point of its famed Architecture Boat Tour.

Called the Chicago Architecture Center, the space is more than a good place to pick up tickets for the boat or other tours previously stamped CAF, now CAC.

See the Chicago City Model

On the main floor is the start of a two-level exhibit that contains a room-long model of downtown Chicago basically from the South Loop up to Lincoln Park.

Filled with more than 4.200 buildings that do more than just sit there looking pretty, the city model tells stories.Read More

‘Flesh’ exhibit at Art Institute of Chicago explores Ivan Albright

Ivan Albright. Picture of Dorian Gray, 1943/44. Gift of Ivan Albright. © The Art Institute of Chicago.
Ivan Albright. Picture of Dorian Gray, 1943/44. Gift of Ivan Albright. © The Art Institute of Chicago.

No one looked at the aging process of the human body quite like Chicago artist Ivan Albright (1897–1983). His obsession with the body’s physical decay earned him the well-deserved title, “master of the macabre.”

The Art Institute of Chicago has curated more than 30 Albright in a retrospective called “Flesh,” now showing through August 5, 2018.

Based on Albright’s 1928 “Flesh,” the exhibit covers many of his paintings. They demonstrated every wrinkle, boil and fold of human skin, equally depicting unflattering portraits of men and women.

Albright’s process was painstaking and labored, often taking him many years to complete a work. Some paintings he just gave up on to pursue other projects.

“That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door),” considered his most important work, is a prime example of a painting that took him ten years. But it leaves us with an acknowledgement of life’s brevity and the road often not taken.

Former Indiana University faculty member, Jerry Findley, PhD, said, “This work focuses on moments that humanity finds hard to address –  about regrets and the human experience.”

Albright’s portrayal of the body’s decay led him to his most important commission – painting The Picture of Dorian Gray for the 1945 film of Oscar Wilde’s haunting novel. This hideous, well-detailed portrait captures the essence of Wilde’s “Gray” as he descends into madness.

“The works they selected were excellent choices of Albright’s depiction of flesh of the human body… the vulnerability of time that overtakes all of humanity,” said Findley.

In exploring “the way of all flesh” throughout his career, Albright purposefully pushes the envelope of decency to shock his viewers.

“Flesh” is at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, through Aug. 5, 2018.  For more admission and other information, call (312) 443-3600 and visit AIC/IvanAlbright.

Mira Temkin



Fun Museum exhibits for summer vacation


Find out about how the characters, objects and scenery are created in Pixar movies. (Jodie Jacobs photos)
Find out about how the characters, objects and scenery are created in Pixar movies. (Jodie Jacobs photos except from the MCA)

It’s no accident that Chicago’s museums plan fun exhibits to open right when youngsters are out of school and tourists jam downtown streets.

Recent fruitful pop-ins at a few of the city’s museum’s revealed the following summer bucket list of exhibits. They either just opened or will do so soon. Go because they are perfect for kids or go to satisfy your own curiosity..

A fascinating, hands-on exploration of the “The Science Behind Pixar” used in “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo” opened May 24 at the Museum of Science and Industry. The Shedd Aquarium’s stunning “Underwater Beauty” exhibit that opened May 25 shows off the colors, patterns and movements of more than 100 species.

The Field Museum’s eye-opening “Antarctic Dinosaurs” opened June 15 and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s insightful “I Was Raised on the Internet” opens June 23.

Read More