New art exhibit turns viewers into participants

'Helio Oiticia' exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago encourages viewers to be participants. Yes, there is a person walking through the blue room. Photos by Jodie Jacobs
‘Helio Oiticia’ exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago encourages viewers to be participants. Yes, there is a person walking through the blue room. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

Try to define “art.” Think beyond typical words that come to mind.

Think creative use of shapes, color, scenery, structures or materials. Then head over to the Art Institute of Chicago to see ‘Helio Oiticia: To Organize Delirium.’

At ‘Helio Oiticia,’ you not only see the famed Brazilian artist’s definition of art, you experience it. Be prepared to take off your shoes.

When you first walk into the Regenstein Hall you see Oiticia’s fondness for shapes and color. Then you find his actions and reactions to his country’s political upheavals and social issues.

'Helio Oiticia' exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago
‘Helio Oiticia’ exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago

But after exploring his large, room-like installations, his sandy beach complete with live, colorful birds and his dark room with a bouncy floor, you see that during Oiticia’s short life (1937-80) he liked to physically share his view of the world.

You will not be a mere viewer of the Art Institute’s show because Oiticia wants you to be a participant.

His “Spatial Reliefs” are hanging structures. “Nuclei” are suspended panels. His famed “Tropicália,” a large installation of sand, birds and foliage done in 1967 contrasts tropical images with what was really going on under Brazil’s dictatorship.

 

'Tropicali'a is recreated at the Art Institute of Chicago.
‘Tropicali’a is recreated at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Organized by the Art Institute of Chicago; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, ‘Helio Oiticia: To Organize Delirium’ is a fascinating retrospective worth seeing and discussing.

Details: ‘Helio Oiticia: To Organize Delirium,’ is at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, now through May 7, 2017. For other information call (312) 443-3600 and visit AIC.

 

Around Town: Now and Coming

There is always so much going on in Chicago it is easy to miss something you will want to see or find that the tickets you wanted are gone. So check out the following events and opportunities.

Tchaikovsky opera 'Eugene Onegin' opens at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Lyric photo
Tchaikovsky opera ‘Eugene Onegin’ opens at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Lyric photo

Lyric Opera

If you love the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, you will love his beautiful, dramatic “Eugene Onegin” opera. The Lyric Opera of Chicago completes its 2016-2017 series with the musically lush opera starting Feb. 26 and going through Mar. 20, 2017.

Based on a Alexander Pushkin’s poetic novel about ill-fated romantic attractions, the Lyric production stars soprano Ana Maria Martinez as Tatiana Larina and baritone Mariusz Kwiecień as Eugene Onegin. The Lyric production is at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. For tickets and other information visit Lyric Opera.

 

Rolling Stones

Tickets are available for the Chicago stop of “Exhibitionism,” the first major touring exhibit of Rolling Stones memorabilia. Opened first in London and currently in NYC, the show will take over Navy Pier’s Festival Hall April 15 –July 30, 2017. Time dated tickets range from StonesExhibitionism.com.  $25- $35 for adults to $20-$22 for juniors. Special tickets are $80 for two visits, any time, fast-track entry.m Group tickets are available from  Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. Chicago.

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Chicago has a new museum

 

Up on the second floor of 180 N. Michigan Avenue beginning mid May, 2017 you will find Samuel Clemens and Saul Bellow, Ernest Hemingway and Nelson Algren, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Gwendolyn Brooks.

A story board in the American Writers Museum shows where a 60 foot long "American Voices" wall will go. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
A story board in the American Writers Museum shows where a 60 foot long “American Voices” wall will go. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The list of great American and Chicago writers could easily fill a few large tomes.

Instead the famed writers will be filling the American Writers Museum with their personalities, words and, hopefully, inspiring new generations of writers. Read More

‘Common Time’ concept of famed dancer and choreographer separates and unites the arts

‘Merce Cunningham: Common Time,’ now at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, is an excellent example of how the arts can fall into neatly separated compartments and yet be integrated into an astonishingly workable whole.

Robert Rauschenberg, "Tentric Geography, decor and costumes for Travelogue 1977 at MCA exhibit of 'Merce Cunnngham: Common Time. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Robert Rauschenberg, “Tentric Geography” decor and costumes for Travelogue 1977 at MCA exhibit of ‘Merce Cunnngham: Common Time.’ Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Videos zoom in on Cunningham’s innovative choreography so that viewers understand that this famed dancer’s concentration on body movements revolutionized modern dance.

But although the title ‘Common Time’ may seem unusual for an exhibit that is a retrospective of a brilliant dancer and choreographer, it quite succinctly sums up how Cunningham pulled in art and music for his company’s performances.

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Around Town

 

Now that Super Bowl 51 is history, and yes, it made history, and Spring Training doesn’t start for a couple of weeks, it’s time to think about what to do away from the flat screen.

Fortunately Chicago has plenty of attractions to lure folks out of the house. Three ideas are offered here because they are either starting this weekend or will be free or discounted.

 

Chicago Botanic Garden 2017 Orchid Show opens this weekend. Photo by Maria Rebelo
Chicago Botanic Garden 2017 Orchid Show opens this weekend. Photo by Maria Rebelo

Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show

You can beat the crowd by going to the Members’ Preview Feb. 10, 5-7:30 p.m.  for cocktails and music  ($30). Or go Feb. 11 or 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when  orchids will be sold in the Orchid Marketplace and experts will be around to answer your orchid questions. The show starts this weekend but is extended to March 26, 2017 so there is time to return with more friends and orchid growing questions.

Cost: Adults: members/nonmembers: $10/$12, seniors 62+  $8/$10, children age 3–12: 8/$10. Nonmember parking is extra but can be bought in advance for easier garden entry and there is a Two Pack deal for parking and two tickets.  The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022. Call  (847) 835-5440.

 

Museum of Science and Industry Black Creativity Program

It’s always interesting to see what’s going on at the museum and to check out two special programs there during Black History Month. But if you are an Illinois resident you can do so free of charges this week, Feb. 7-9, and next week, Feb. 14-16.

The Juried Art Exhibition, an annual show since 1970, features professional and aspiring black artists from across the country, now through Feb. 19, 2017.

The other program is the Innovation Studio where visitors learn about African American contributions to the sciences and can add their own ideas and solutions. It is there now through March 4, 2017. The Museum of Science and Industry is at 5700 S. Lake shore Drive, Chicago.

 

Bigfin Reef Squid are now swimming at the Shedd Aquarium. Photo compliments of Shedd Aquarium.
Bigfin Reef Squid are now swimming at the Shedd Aquarium. Photo compliments of Shedd Aquarium.

Weird squid at Shedd Aquarium

What has eight arms, two long tentacles, looks right at you and isn’t venomous?

It’s a Bigfin Reef Squid. It’s fun to watch them glide on the mezzanine level of the Abbott Oceanarium. Having just been raised by the Shedd, they are new to the tank where visitor can see them.

Illinois residents have free entry Feb. 10-14, so this week –weekend is a good time to go. A free general admission day is also a discount day which means the Oceanarium charge is less.

The Shedd Aquarium is at 1200 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. For other information visit Shedd and call (312) 939-2438.

 

Around Town

There’s so much going on in Chicago it’s a challenge to figure out what to try and do and see. Or, to wonder the why and wherefore of the crowd outside Goodman Theatre Jan. 19, 2017. ‘Around Town’ is an occasional feature to help sort through at least some of the city’s events.

Goodman marquee

You might think the scenery hasn’t changed when you look north on Dearborn Street near Randolph Street. Butif there fter Jan. 19, 2017, you should see the lights of Goodman Theatre’s tall marquee during the day.

Goodman Theatre celebrated its new marquee in conjunction with Ghostlight Project. Goodman Theatre photo
Goodman Theatre celebrated its new marquee in conjunction with Ghostlight Project. Goodman Theatre photo

The old marquee, damaged in an electrical fire last spring, has been replaced with a similar version but with an important difference. You will see it lit 24/7. The lights are LED, color-changeable and each letter is programmable.

“Our marquee is the brightest, most visible symbol of Goodman Theatre’s 30+ year commitment to high quality productions, cultural and aesthetic diversity on and off our stages, and proactive engagement in our Chicago community—a commitment that has distinguished us, and redefined what a major cultural institution can be,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls.

The Jan. 19 illumination was a deliberate date choice to call attention to the The Ghostlight Project, a national American theater initiative of inclusiveness.

“As part of the Ghostlight Project, we will stand with our theater colleagues across the country at the same time and pledge to protect the values of equality, inclusion, justice—and empathy for everyone, regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, gender identity or sexual orientation,” Falls said.

Goodman Theatre is  at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL

 

At the MCA

Maybe you noticed that during the past few years the Museum of Contemporary Art has evolved into a multi-media venue that presents dance, music and theater programs, aside from its changing menu of art exhibits.

So, the addition of dance performances up on the fourth floor during the opening weekend of  ‘Merce Cunningham: Common Time,’ a multi-media exhibit, seems almost like a given.

Former Merce Cunningham Dance Company members will incorporate important pieces from the past 60 years into performances  called Events, Feb. 11 and 12., 1:30 to 2 p.m. and 4 to 4:30 p.m.

Staged and arranged by Andrea Weber, the Event showcases dancers Dylan Crossman, Silas Riener, Jamie Scott and Melissa Toogood. The accompanying musicians are Hanna Brock, Nicolas Collins, Kg Price, Katharine young and their arranger, Stephan Moore.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is at 220 E. Chicago Avenue

 

Black History Month

There will be free events across Chicago in February honoring Black History Month. Among them are stage related segments coordinated by the Goodman Theatre under the umbrella “Black Words Mater: Celebrating Black Voices on Stage and Beyond.”

Among the events are a reading of “Gee’s Bend” by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder at the DuSable Museum of African American History (740 E. 56th Place,) Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. and film screening August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson”  at AMC Dine-In Theatres at Block 37 (108 N. State St. (availability limited).

In addition, “Playwrights from past to present” is a lecture by Goodman Theatre Resident Director Chuck smith at the Harold Washington Library (400 S. State St) Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. and  a panel discussion on “Diversity in theater administration and Intern/apprentice networking” at Goodman Theatre’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement (107 N. Dearborn St.), Feb. 27 at 5:30 p.m.

For more information visit Goodman Black Words

 

Chicago arts venues celebrate Chinese New Year

UPCOMING

Arts venues from the Art Institute and Auditorium Theatre to the Chicago Cultural Center and Navy Pier are celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year from mid January to Mid February, 2017.

Griffin Court in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Griffin Court in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute has a full Chinese menu of activities the last Saturday of January. If you at the Art Institute of Chicago Jan. 28, follow the exotic sounds you hear.

They will pull you into Gallery 101 at 10:30 a.m. and noon for Chinese Guzheng performances and to the Griffin Court in the Modern Wing at 11:30 a.m. for a Lion Dance. Then, it’s back to Griffin Court at 1 and 2 p.m. for the China National Peking Opera.

In addition to the performances there is a Mandarin tour of the museum’s Asian collection at noon and calligraphy demonstrations in the Ryan Learning Center (near the Modern Wing entrance) from 1:30 through 4 p.m.

But even before Jan. 28, the Art Institute is celebrating with drop-in Chinese New Year fun for kids in the Ryan Center, Jan. 17 through Feb. 11.

Best entrance to use for the celebration and Ryan Center is the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing at 159 E. Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60603.  General admission fee and free to children age 13 and younger and free to Chicago teens 14-17. Visit AIC.

Chicago Cultural Center

If all you have is the lunch hour to celebrate, go over to the Chicago Cultural Center Jan. 30 for Chinese dances, martial arts and music in the very impressive Preston Bradley Hall. Jackie Chan’s Long Yun Fung Fu Troupe will be performing from noon to 1 p.m (free).

For more information visit DCAS  The Chicago Cultural Center is across from Millennium Park at 78 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602.

Celebrate Chinese culture at Navy Pier. Photo complements of Chinese Fine Arts Society
Celebrate Chinese culture at Navy Pier. Photo complements of Chinese Fine Arts Society

Auditorium Theatre

To see the full Long Yun Kung Fu Troupe’s program get tickets to show at the Auditorium Theatre Feb. 4. Tickets start at $33. Show time is 7:30 p.m. The discount code is CFAS. The program blends dance and martial arts. The Auditorium Theatre is  at 50 E Congress Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60605. Visit Auditorium  and call (312) 341-2300.

Navy Pier

The following week, Navy Pier’s ‘Neighborhoods of the World’ series spotlights the Chinese culture on Feb 12, from noon to 4 p.m. Go up to the Crystal Gardens for arts performances and a Chinese marketplace. Navy Pier is at 600 E Grand Ave Chicago, IL 60611. Visit CFA 

 

Five art venues worth braving Chicago temps

UPCOMING

Installation view, decor for 'Views on Stage, 2004 in "Dance Works II: Merce Cunningham/Ernesto Neto, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2012, Photo by Gene Pittman
Installation view, decor for ‘Views on Stage, 2004 in “Dance Works II: Merce Cunningham  – Ernesto Neto, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2012. Photo by Gene Pittman

It’s a given that Chicago winters are defined by how much snow has to be shoveled and how many layers are needed to protect against the cold. But, hey, Chicagoans know the city doesn’t shut down. So, Instead of hibernating the question is – what’s happening in and around the city to see and do early in 2017?

First was a look at some theater offerings premiering in Chicago. Now, let’s take a look at what is happening on the art scene.

Two of the exhibit sites, Intuit and Chicago Artists Coalition, may introduce you to art spaces you didn’t know or hadn’t visited.

The next two exhibits are in well-visited art museums but are quite unusual. The last venue hosts art exhibits throughout the year but the place is often under the radar.

 

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Four art shows to see over the winter holidays

Sometimes it takes a holiday week or weekend to fit in some of the places we’ve been meaning to go and the shows we want to see. Here are some suggestions to move from sometime to the do now list for the coming holidays.

Moholy-Nagy Constructs. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Moholy-Nagy Constructs. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Moholy-Nagy: Future Present, an exceptional retrospective of one on the 20th century’s most influential artists and designers, is at the Art Institute of Chicago, but only through Jan. 3, 2017. Moholy, as the artist is popularly known, founded the New Bauhaus school in Chicago that became the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design. Containing more than 300 works, the exhibit features several photomontages, sculptures, constructs, works in Plexiglas, color slides and abstract paintings. Organized by AIC, the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the exhibit next moves to LACMA mid February, 2017. The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago IL 60603. For other information call (312)  443-3600 and visit AIC Moholy

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Holiday fun times five

The signs of the season are there. Macy’s windows have come alive with moving characters, holiday market tents are going up in Daley Plaza, a giant evergreen is hoisted in Millennium Park and people are wondering if we should pray for cold to have good ice in the park or warm weather for good shopping.

The Nutckracker is at Marriott Theatre. Amy Boyle Photography
The Nutckracker is at Marriott Theatre. Amy Boyle Photography

No matter what the weather holds, here are a few of the jolly, holly ways to celebrate the season in the Chicago area.

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