A new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago should have viewers looking at the images, and then, looking again. It’s “Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera,” a multi-decade exploration of the roles people play, their expectations, how they see the world and how the world sees, or doesn’t see, them.
The images in many of the photos are very specifically placed there by Simmons. They are miniature dolls and doll-house objects. They are life-sized dolls. They are puppets. Some are real people. Some have their eyelids closed but had open eyes painted on. Some props are oversized to hide faces so emphasizing the object that was defining them.
A see-through box on a long table in one gallery displays a large collection of the miniature items used in some of the photos.
A post-war baby, Simmons grew up at a time when even though Rosie the Riveter had just represented women’s can-do role in a man’s world, the TV ads were promoting products women should use to have the whitest wash, cleanest floors, and makeup that would attract the guys.
A major retrospective, the exhibit shows how Simmons interpreted society over four decades. The show includes works from “Cowboys (1979), “Family Collision” (1981), “Color Coordinated Interiors” (1982-83), “Tourism” (1983-84), “Walking & Lying Objects” (1987-91), “Clothes Make the Man” (1990-92), “The Love “ (2009-11), “How We See” (2015) and “Some New” (2018).
There is so much to see and think about that the exhibit deserves several visits.
DETAILS: “Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera” is at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E Chicago Ave., through May 5, 2019. For admission, hours and other information call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCAChicago.
See the 75 minute “Short Shakespeare! Macbeth” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Saturday at 11:00 a.m., Feb. 16. It will continue Saturdays through March 16, 2019. Chicago Shakespeare Theater is on Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. For tickets and more information visit ChicagoShakes/Macbeth.
Dr. Seuss’ creative genius is on stage at the Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. The show continues through March 31, 2019. The theatre is at 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. Created by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (the Tony Award-winning team behind the acclaimed musicals Ragtime and Once on this Island), the production combines more than 14 Dr. Seuss stories. For tickets or more information call (847) 634-0200 or visit Marriott Theatre.
Chicago Botanic Garden holds Story Time for ages 2 to 5 on Mondays through March 25, 2019, including Presidents’ Day March18. Story Time goes from 10 to 11 a.m. in Lenhardt Library. Afterwards, get a bingo card to go find objecgts in the garden and greenhouses. No drop offs.A caregiver must be present. The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, just east of the Edens Expressway. For more information visit Chicago Botanic or Story Time.
Go to the Chicago Museum Campus. All three of the museums on the Campus, the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, have free general admission for Illinois residents on Feb. 18, 2019. (Free days’ general admission does not include special exhibits and shows.)
The Adler Planetarium is at the far east end of the Museum Campus at 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr. General admission is free to Illinois residents Feb. 18-21. For more information on what to see and admissions visit Adler Planetarium .
At the Field, all of February is free to Illinois residents. There is a lot to see that does not require a special exhibit ticket. The Field is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. at the west end of the campus. For more information visit Field Free.
Maybe you knew that Dec. 24, 2018 was the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon. Instead of watching the moon rise from earth, Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders saw the earth rising from the lunar orbit, photographed it and did a live broadcast.
“The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth,” Lovell said. It was Christmas Eve. The crew ended the broadcast reading from Genesis.
Almost 50 years from that memorable date, the Adler Planetarium’s own crew, that of astronomers and other staff members, were considering what they could do to not just mark the Apollo 8 crew’s occasion, which they did with a program that included Lovell, but also put it into perspective with a program that wasn’t just one day or week long.
The result is “Imagine the Moon,” a fun and exciting half-hour movie in the Grainger Sky Theater that includes Apollo 8’s earth-rising moments, the Apollo 11 landing with Neil Armstrong’s famed first words and a lot of literary and historic views of this orb that is Earth’s night light.
“We wanted the audience to reconsider the Moon as an object in the sky. It is something we might notice but not really pay attention to, but our hope is that the audience will pay attention to it the next time they see it, be awed by it, and be inspired to consider what else they might have taken for granted in the sky,” said Adler Presentation Leader, Nicholas Lake, the movie’s writer.
Among the interesting thoughts about the moon and even how to reach it that the show considers are mythological and early astronomical associations plus literary references and wishful attempts such as the use of a bullet and cannon.
Indeed, Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon 1865 novel told of a Baltimore gun club’s idea to build a Columbiad space gun to send the club’s president and two others to the moon.
Beautifully illustrated, the show’s imagery was produced by Adler Director Patrick McPike and project animators using material from the Adler collection, the European Southern Observatory and such institutions as Harvard, New York University, and the Smithsonian.
So, go. Sit back in the theater as far as you can, look up and enjoy.
For ticket and other show information visit Adler Imagine the Moon or call (312) 922-7827. To see some of the stories in the show scroll down to exhibition.
The Adler Planetarium is at 1300 Lake Shore Drive at the far east end of the Museum Campus.
No, Lunapalooza is not a typo. The Adler Planetarium is celebrating the total eclipse of the moon late into the night of Jan. 20 with Lunapalooza and Writers Theatre is celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a free Civil Rights production Jan. 21.
Pretty much every time our universe puts on a sky show, the Adler celebrates by sharing its astronomers and equipment. During the solar eclipse last August, the Adler was handing out the proper sunglasses and had a companion craft activity to safely watch the event.
For the lunar eclipse the night of Jan 20, Chicago’s world-class planetarium is celebrating with a free outdoor experience, no telescope or glasses needed but PJs are OK because the event goes from 8 p.m. to midnight.
But there’s a lot going on inside.
With the admission pass of $14 adults and $8 children age 3 to 11, guests can go to “Eclipse HQ” in the Space Visualization Lab which has a live feed and chat opportunities with astronomers.
The pass also is good for seeing the Adler’s new show, Imagine the Moon that opens Jan. 18 and charts how the moon was part of people’s lives through the ages.
Indoor activities include a glow-in-the-dark PJ party in the Family Zone and grabbing a cup of hot chocolate before going outside to witness the event.
Produced by Writers Theatre, the annual, one-person- show written by Yolanda Androzzo and featuring Angela Alise, will be performed free at the Chicago History Museum Jan. 21, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. The Chicago History Museum is at 1601 N. Clark St. and Lincoln Park. The hour-long show will be followed by a discussion.
Writers Theatre takes the show, a meshing of interviews of Chicago-based Civil Rights activists with poetry and hip-hop expression that is directed by Tasia A. Jones, to 35 Chicago Public Schools, community centers and juvenile detention centers during a 6-week tour.
The production can also be seen earlier at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe,on Feb. 2 at both 4 and 7 p.m. Those tickets are Adults $20, students $10. They are available by calling (847) 242-6000 and at WritersTheatre MLK Project.
Secondly, everyone is invited to celebrate with the Art Institute of Chicago by participating in a humongous group photo on the building’s front steps, 111 S. Michigan Ave. at 10 a.m. Dec. 8, 2018.
The photo is followed by Gallery Talks at noon and again at 2 p.m.
See the wonderful video to go with the anniversary celebration by visiting this YouTube Anniversary site.
The video’s scenes are delightful but what I remember is taking classes there back in the late 1950’s in rooms off, what seemed like an immense basement-like hall.
It appeared to me to have a ceiling three-stories up. But the space didn’t matter because before and after class I could wander the galleries, visit my favorite works and pick up postcard-sized pictures to take home.
Of course this space later was finished, additions were added as the museum kept growing until it looks like it does today and the school moved to other buildings.
But to me, changes and all, the Art Institute of Chicago still feels like a second home.
A full-sized Dryptosaurus dinosaur greets visitors at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County and they’ll learn that such a creature likely roamed the area 67 Million years ago.
In the next room, they’ll see and can touch a huge fossil rock found in Lindenhurst formed about 420 million years ago and they’ll learn the area was covered with water and sea creatures.
As visitors move through the museum they will come upon and can sit in a large wigwam and see objects from the mid-19th century but hear about Native Americans who lived in the area 120,00 years ago and those who still live in the area.
Walking further into the museum, they’ll find an old-fashioned classroom of a one-room school house where McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Readers sit waiting to be opened on the desks and a small, stovepipe furnace reminds youngsters that central heating came later.
Further along are uniforms, a drum and other artifacts and stories of local citizens during the Civil War.
Lodge posters and a real lotus boat, used to navigate among the lakes’ flowers show vacation trends of a bygone era.
Then, a Waukegan railroad depot sign invites visitors into a room with industrial, agricultural and other interesting items from the past ranging from a 35mm motion picture machine to a brewing company’s advertisements.
Items on loan from local historical societies fills the special exhibit gallery in Lake County’s tribute to the Illinois Bicentennial 1919-2018. They are items featured in the book, “200 Objects That Made History in Lake and McHenry Counties,” is going on through early January.
What everything described in brief here is better seen in person. They can be found in the recently opened Dunn Museum, formerly known as the Lake County Discovery Museum that used to be in the Lakewood Forest Preserves.
Some items were moved but many more were taken out of storage now that the Lake County Forest Preserves have a large, new building with excellent museum space on West Winchester Road, Libertyville.
Of course visitors of all ages are welcome weekdays except Monday and weekends but the museum also has noon tours a couple of times a month for adults on their lunch hour and craft days for families with children age 12 and younger during vacations.
So if looking for a museum on a smaller scale than what is downtown Chicago put the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County on the family’s “let’s check it out” list.
BTW Bess Bower Dunn was Lake County’s first official historian.
The museum is in the Lake County Forest Preserves building in an office-industrial complex so the best way to find it is at museum planning directions.
The Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County is at 1899 West Winchester Rd., Libertyville, IL 60048. For more information call (847) 968-3400 and visit LCFPD Museum.
Certainly Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” and Macy’s State Street holiday windows are on many folks’ traditional “do” list. But there are also other good shows to see and fun places to go as December 2018 turns into January 2019.
“Into the Woods,” Stephen Sondheim’s “not happily ever after” take on traditional fairy tales, is at Music Theater Works at Cahn Auditorium on Sheridan Road in Evanston Dec. 22-31. Music Theater Works was formerly called Light Opera Works.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is about magic, love, and in this production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, is backed by a mash-up of rock, jazz, blues and doo-wop., Dec. 6, 2018 -Jan 27, 2019.
“La Ruta” world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre Dec. 13-Jan. 27. At U.S.-owned factories in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, La Ruta is just a bus. But to the women who live, work and often disappear along the route, it’s much more.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass plays numbers from Holst to Tchaikovsky, 8 p.,. Dec. 19, at Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. and the CSO does Handel’s “Messiah” at 8 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Symphony Center.
Ice skate free in Millennium Park if you bring your skates, skate rental is $13 weekdays and $15 Friday-Sunday and holidays. Skating rink is street level on Michigan Avenue below Cloud Gate (The Bean) between Washington and Madison Streets. Hours and more information at Millennium Park.
Take a “Holiday Lights, City Lights’ bus tour with the Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E. Wacker Dr., Chicago and then check out CAC’s diorama on the main floor and skyscraper exhibit upstairs.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.