Around Town in early April

So what if you have to walk between the raindrops. It’s April!

There are enough events in the Metropolitan Chicago area to brush aside gloomy weather and news outlooks for the entire month. Indeed, there is so much going on that here is just a first look at what’s happening so you can get tickets and fill in a couple of calendar spots.

Steam engines are again going around the Illinois Railway Museum tracks. Photo by Webster's Unabridged Inc and Illinois Railway Museum
Steam engines are again going around the Illinois Railway Museum tracks. Photo by Webster’s Unabridged Inc and Illinois Railway Museum

 

RR Fun

Visit a mid1800s train depot and hop on board some diesel and steam locomotives and assorted Pullmans, dining cars and cabooses at the Illinois Railway Museum. The museum is about an hour northwest of Chicago in Union City.  Closed for the winter, it just opened April 2 for the 2017 season and will remain open weekends through October. Weekday hours go from May through September.

The Illinois Railway Museum is at 7000 Olson Rd., Union, IL 60180. For cost, hours, directions and other information visit Illinois Railway Museum or call (800) Big Rail (244-7245).

 

See  robots

Head over to the Museum of Science and Industry for National Robotics Week activities April 8-9 and 14-15, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Drone racing is April 8 and 9. .For more information visit MSI and MSI Robotics.

The Museum of science and Industry is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago (773) 684-1414.

 

Listen to glorious music

Hear tenor Lawrence Brownlee (think bel canto) and bass-baritone Eric Owens (Lyric’s “Ring”) with pianist Craig Terry at a Lyric Opera recital at the Civic Opera House, 3 p.m. April 9.

The Civic Opera House is at 20 N. Wacker Dr, Chicago. For tickets and other information visit Lyric and call (312) 827-5600.

 

A museum where pinball machines mix with Chicago artists

Ed Paschke, "Blackout," 1980, Private Collection. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Ed Paschke, “Blackout,” 1980, Private Collection. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

 

If you are the director of an art museum and are planning on showcasing art of the 1960s, 70s and early 80s in Chicago, particularly that of the Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists and you want an era-appropriate, eye-catching exhibit to put with it, what would you choose?

 

 

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Exhibit prepares for total solar eclipse

Tornado chasing may sound familiar but how about eclipse chasing?

Adler astronomer Larry Ciupik steps on the floor map of eclipses to show how much of the sun will peek out in Las Vegas Nevada which is not right on the path of the 2017 solar eclipse. The green line going across from left to right is the 2017 eclipse path. The map also shows Carbondale, IL as the best place to be. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Adler astronomer Larry Ciupik steps on the floor map of eclipses to show how much of the sun will peek out in Las Vegas, Nevada which is not right on the path of the 2017 solar eclipse. The green line going across from left to right is the 2017 eclipse path. The map also shows Carbondale, IL as the best place to be. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

‘Chasing Eclipses,’ a new exhibit  at the Adler Planetarium, has a terrific “Eclipses Over America” floor map that includes the primary watching path for the total solar eclipse US residents will experience on Aug. 21, 2017.

Visitors can see that the eclipse will be moving diagonally across the country from Salem, Oregon through Carbondale, IL to Charleston South Carolina. The map also shows the paths of other eclipses. Read More

High school students perform on “Hamilton” stage and see the show

The atmosphere inside the PrivateBank Theatre was electric March 15 as hundreds of Chicago high school students filed in to watch their peers perform on the “Hamilton” stage.

Alexander Hamilton and cast. Joan Marcus photo
Alexander Hamilton and cast. Joan Marcus photo

It was the third of what would be 10 student performances during 2017.

By the end of a  special education program tying “Hamilton’” to their American History studies, 20,000 Chicago high school students will have seen their peers perform in the morning followed by a regular Hamilton matinee.

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What would Clarence Darrow think?

Maybe Clarence Darrow’s ghost will appear. But even if you don’t see him, you will hear how his view of populism differs from what is being expressed by today’s politicians when the Annual Clarence Darrow Symposium takes place March 13, 2017.

The Clarence Darrow Bridge is behind the Museum of Science and Industry. City of Chicago MSI photo.
The Clarence Darrow Bridge is behind the Museum of Science and Industry. City of Chicago MSI photo.

Titled “Robber Barons & Populists: Would Clarence Darrow recognize today’s Populism,” the event begins with a commemorative ceremony at 10 a.m. near the Clarence Darrow Bridge behind the Museum of Science and Industry (where you might see the ghost). Darrow died March 13, 1938.

Ceremony  guests include  Ald. Leslie Hairston, activist Bernardine Dohrn, ACLU of Illinois Associate Legislative Director Khadine Bennett and Gene Winkler, adjunct faculty at the Divinity School, University of Chicago.

John A. Farrell, author of “Clarence Darrow: Attorney For The Damned,” will speak in the Museum of of Science and Industry’s Rosenwald Room beginning at 10:45. Refreshments will be served.

For more information visit Darrow Bridge.

It is Show and Tell Time at the Field Museum

“Specimens: Unlocking the Secrets of Life,” takes Field Museum visitors behind the scenes in a new exhibit.

See what Field Museum scientists found at Mason Creek near Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
See what Field Museum scientists found at Mason Creek near Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

What any scientist knows that few Field visitors grasp as they try to see everything in the museum, is that what’s out there is less than one percent of millions of collection items.

But few Field guests get to see some of those items where they are stored or where the curators work.

Therefore, some of those objects, such as a giant clamshell, a very long sawfish snout (rostrum), a few dinosaur bones and some extinct species have been temporarily moved into a main floor exhibit hall accompanied by videos and interactive tables so visitors get to see some of what the Field collects and why.

“Lots of people don’t realize that we have collections behind the scenes, let alone collections numbering over 30 million objects,” says Director of Exhibitions Jaap Hoogstraten.

The exhibit’s videos and a reconstructed curator’s office with maps showing locations of water beetles, remind visitors that the Field is way more than a place to see interesting items.

“…the Museum is an active research institution where scientists work and make discoveries based upon these collections,” Hoogstraten said.

Some of the specimens reveal chemical and other changes in their environment such as the mercury levels in oceans over time.

Another display shows creatures and plants that lived millions of years ago. It includes fossils from Mason Creek such as the Tully Monster. The area is an exceptional site south of Chicago that was an inland sea about 300 million years ago.

“Museum collections are a way to preserve the past so that we can learn from it in the future,” Hoogstraten said.

Details: “Specimens: Unlocking the Secrets of Life”  is at The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, March 10, 2017 through Jan. 8, 2018. For admission and other information visit Field or call (312) 922-9410.

 

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.

Look beyond what appears to be paradise.

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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