‘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

 

 

Green Book gives historic look at Southern racism and bigotry

Highly Recommended

Once upon a time, there was a historic traveler’s guide called the “The Negro Motorist Green Book” that directed blacks traveling through the South to homes, restaurants and gas stations that were a safe haven.

For blacks traveling during the days of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the Green Book was a lifesaver, telling them where they could enjoy true southern hospitality in comfort and safety.

It was the hope of “The Green Book” founder Victor Green that one day his book would no longer be needed.

Now comes the play, “The Green Book” from playwright Calvin A. Ramsey that brings racism front and center to the stage. The multi-talented Ramsey co-authored the award-winning “Ruth and the Green Book,” written numerous other works and does photography and painting.

This play is an homage to the famous guide, published from 1936-1967.

It centers on the Davis family of Jefferson City, Missouri, an African-American family who opened their home to black travelers before the birth of Civil Rights activism.

(Lto R) Terence Sims (Capt. George Smith), Stacie Doubin (Barbara), Henri Watkins (Dan) and Quenna Lene (Jacqueline Smith) in The Green Book from Pegasus Theatre Chicago and ShPleL Performing Identity.
(Lto R) Terence Sims (Capt. George Smith), Stacie Doubin (Barbara), Henri Watkins (Dan) and Quenna Lene (Jacqueline Smith) in The Green Book from Pegasus Theatre Chicago and ShPleL Performing Identity.

The couple, Barbara and Dan, are highly educated; he a lawyer and she a college librarian. Their daughter, Neena, is soon to graduate high school and off to college, far from home.

“The Green Book” is set in the mid 1950’s as the Davises are celebrating the arrival of the prominent Dr. W.E.B. DuBois for a lecture.

The appearance of a  Jewish Holocaust survivor sets off a chain of events that showcases the prevalence of racism and anti-Semitism in the U.S.

Unfortunately, Jews who survived the Holocaust in Europe came to the U.S. and continued to face intolerance, fear and hatred.  Because of the similarities, alliances were formed between the Jewish people and African-Americans. Both were subjected to prejudice, the “red scare” of McCarthyism and restrictions from signs that said, “No Blacks, No Jews, No Dogs.”

Stacie Doublin as Barbara Davis and Henri Watkins as Dan Davis are outstanding. They convey their characters as believable and sincere. They struggle with their daughter, Demetra Drayton as Neena, who serves as their brightest hope for the next generation. She is excellent as the young girl who varies her position as the real truths begin to emerge.

But Malcom Banks who gives a powerful performance as Keith Chenault, the Yankee from Harlem with big, misplaced ideas, is a powerful force that must be reckoned with.

Michael Stock as Jake Levinsky does an outstanding job as he recalls the horrors of the camps and losing his family. His pain is real and raw. The ensemble comes together to tell a story that resonates with today’s headlines of bigotry and hate.

The play is wonderfully directed by Producing Artistic Director Ilesa Duncan. Mention must also be made of the glorious costumes by Uriel Gomez, who dresses all of the characters in handsome 1950s attire that is both authentic and mesmerizing.

DETAILS:  “The Green Book” is at the Pegasus’s resident home, Chicago Dramatists, 765 N. Aberdeen, Chicago, in conjunction with ShPIeL  Performing Identity, now through April 1,  Running time: just over two hours with intermission. For tickets and other information visit PegasusTheatreChicago.org.

Mira Temkin

For more shows, visit TheatreInChicago

A new twist on Dickens – ‘Scrooge and the Ghostly Spirits’

 

Recommended

Who says you can’t change tradition?  Certainly not Doug Post, who wrote this world premiere musical based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

Cast of 'Scrooge and the Ghostly Spirits' Citadel Theatre. North Shore Camera Club photo
Cast of ‘Scrooge and the Ghostly Spirits’ at
Citadel Theatre.
North Shore Camera Club photo

‘Scrooge and the Ghostly Spirits,’ now playing at the Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest, is delightful family entertainment that is perfect for the holiday season.

Once again, Scrooge is the main character, but the ghostly spirits go deeper into why he’s grown into such a flawed soul.

When Scrooge sees what people really think of him and his actions, he takes steps to redemption, transforming from darkness and gloom to joy and love for humanity.

In between, the beautiful, haunting music played by three on-stage musicians, serves to uplift the characters and the story.

Veteran Chicago actor, Frank Farrell, leads the cast as Ebenezer Scrooge, mean and miserly as ever.  He previously played the role of Scrooge in Citadel’s 2011 non-musical production of “A Christmas Carol” and understands the role and its transformation.

The show is masterfully directed by Citadel Artistic Director Scott Phelps with music direction by Benjamin Nichols and choreography by Ann Delaney.

Post’s all-new musical score pays homage to 19th Century English songs in a highly theatrical way.  Post says, “The first song that came to me, and it practically wrote itself, is called ‘Mankind Was My Business.’ It’s Jacob Marley’s lament to Scrooge that in life, Marley neglected his “business” of concern for others.”

Stand outs include Coco Kasperowicz in multiple roles with a magnificent voice that beautifully interprets the score, and baritone Will Rogers, an affable delight every time he appears on stage.

DETAILS: ‘Scrooge and the Ghostly Spirits’ is at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, through Dec. 23, 2017. Running time: 90 minutes without intermission.For tickets and more information call(847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.

Mira Temkin

For more shows, visit TheatreinChicago