Thoughts on Art Institute anniverserary

 

The space between the lions will be filled with well wishers for the Art Institute anniversary photo Dec. 8, 2018 (Photo by J. Jacobs)
The space between the lions will be filled with well wishers for the Art Institute anniversary photo Dec. 8, 2018
(Photo by J. Jacobs)

First Happy Birthday AIC.!

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.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Holiday gift ideas Mart show

 

Quilts by Kathleen Johnson at One of a Kind Show Chicago. (J Jacobs photo)
Quilts by Kathleen Johnson at One of a Kind Show Chicago. (J Jacobs photo)

Wear walking shoes because the more than 600 booths at the One of a Kind Show Chicago has taken over the 7th Floor of The Mart and they are worth investigating.

From gourmet foods along one wall to artists selling jewelry, glass, ceramics, paintings, interesting wall art, quilts, wooden objects, hats and bags, the One of a Kind Show is fulfilling holiday shoppers’ gift list.

They’re also finding items for their own jewelry box, given the number of shoppers trying on earrings and necklaces at the Patricia Locke (she was there for the opening) booth during “early access” hour Thursday.

Patricia Locke at her booth in the One of a Kind Show ((J Jacobs photo)
Patricia Locke at her booth in the One of a Kind Show ((J Jacobs photo)

BTW, The Locke booth also featured Rook + Crow jewelry, a less expensive line that didn’t go in for colored stones but was well designed.

This is not a quick walk-through show.

It’s a chance to chat with Midwest artists and gourmet food purveyors such as Wisconsin quilter Kathleen Johnson who brought gorgeous pieces that easily qualify as art work, Chicago multi-media artist and designer Emmy Star Brown who is also in demand as muralist and Chicago suburban artist Danuta Loane about her fine ceramics.

Danuyta Loane's ceramics (J Jacobs photo)
Danuyta Loane’s ceramics (J Jacobs photo)

And there are the Flaherty’s from Moline, IL to talk to about their yummy Irish Toffee and sample their hot Buttered Rum.

Opened Dec. 6, the show continues through Dec. 9, 2018 for holiday shopping and returns April 26-28, 2019 to start the spring-summer art fair season indoors.

The Mart is on the north side of the Chicago River between Orleans and Wells Streets. For ticket, hours and other information visit One of a Kind.

Jodie Jacobs

 

1940’s come alive in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

Custer, Cameron, Robinson, Dahlquist, Joseph, Mohrlein (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
Custer, Cameron, Robinson, Dahlquist, Joseph, Mohrlein (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

4 stars

If you haven’t been invited to a holiday party yet or are just feeling ready to get into the Christmas spirit, you can’t do much better than the American Blues Theater’s staged radio show version of Frank Capra’s classic “It’s a Wonderful Life-Live in Chicago!.”

In this production, the theater is set up to give the illusion that you are part of the studio audience for a live radio broadcast in 1944 at WABT Studio on Belmont Avenue in Chicago.

There is a spinet piano, stage left, and three old-timey microphones on stands across the front where most of the action takes place.

Stage right is an array of apparatus where Foley artist Shawn J. Goudie will add sound effects. Above the piano is a lighted sign which displays the words “On Air” and “Applause.”

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‘The Nutcracker’ magic still exists

Cara Marie Gary (Marie) and The Joffrey Ballet. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)
Cara Marie Gary (Marie) and The Joffrey Ballet. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

4 stars

Imagine what if. What if Marie Stahlbaum’s nutcracker Christmas gift and her dream, a tale by E.T. A. Hoffmann, and adapted by Alexandre Dumas that was first presented with Tchaikovsky’s music in 1892, changed location and style.

What if it moved from a wealthy, European estate to Chicago where dreams were possible for a young girl who lived in a shack. And, what if the story kept the late 19th century date.

What was going on in Chicago that year was preparation for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition also called the Chicago World’s Fair. It celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’1492 landing in the “new world.”  Indeed, the Chicago World’s Fair dedication was in 1892 but the fair didn’t open until 1893.

Imagine all the possibilities the fair with its multi-cultural pavilions and its noted (first) Ferris Wheel as a background might hold for a ballet.

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Lake County museum surprises from Dryptosaurus dinosaur to Civil War drum

Dryptosaurus dinosaur greets visitors at Lake County Forest Preserves Dunn Museum (J Jacobs photo)
Dryptosaurus dinosaur greets visitors at Lake County Forest Preserves Dunn Museum (J Jacobs photo)

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.

Visitors can see Native American objects in a replica ted wigwam in the Native american room at the Dunn Museum. (J Jacobs photo)
Visitors can see Native American objects in a replica ted wigwam in the Native american room at the Dunn Museum. (J Jacobs photo)

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.

The new Dunn Museum in Lake County has space now for visitors to sit in a one room school house. (J Jacobs photo)
The new Dunn Museum in Lake County has space now for visitors to sit in a one room school house. (J Jacobs photo)

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.

Lake County Forest Preserves general office building houses the Dunn Museum. (J Jacobs photo)
Lake County Forest Preserves general office building houses the Dunn Museum. (J Jacobs photo)

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.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Bah humbug turns around!

4 stars

“A Christmas Carol” was written 175 years ago by Charles Dickens—and its popularity has never wavered since, as it appears on stages all over the country. For the past forty years, Goodman Theatre has presented “A Christmas Carol” until going downtown Chicago to see it has become a tradition for many families.

Directed  for several years by Henry Wishcamper, the play tells a basic story of the redemption of the leading character, Ebenezer Scrooge by giving him a glimpse at his past, present and what the future might hold if he doesn’t change..

Played by Larry Yando, Scrooge is the embodiment of what the name has come to represent since written by Dickens. He hates Christmas and only begrudgingly allows his underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit (Thomas J. Cox) to take off Christmas Day. He refuses to donate to good causes with comments about where the poor should go.

Scrooge’s selfish business partner, Jacob Marley who died years earlier returns as a ghost (Kareem Bandealy). Clanging chains wrought by miserly deeds, Marley warns Scrooge he will be visited by three spirits and that Scrooge must listen or be cursed and carry even heavier chains.

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‘The Safe House’ at City Lit is a safe bet

 

 marssie Mencotti, L. and Kat Evans in City Lit's The Safe House. (Photo by Steve Graue)
marssie Mencotti, L. and Kat Evans in City Lit’s The Safe House. (Photo by Steve Graue)

3.5 Stars

This world premiere slice of life drama is sure to strike close to home.

For many, the place they have lived and raised a family is more than an assembly of bricks and wood, it is a repository of memories and the physical manifestation of a life’s work. When it comes time to consider leaving it behind there are more considerations than a change of address.

“The Safe House,” commissioned by City Lit and based on a true story by Chicago playwright Kristine Thatcher, is expertly supervised by Producer/Artistic Director Terry McCabe.

You get a feeling you know where the cookie jar is in designer Ray Toler’s cozy retro kitchen/dining room stage setting It brings us right into the domain of “Grandma” Hannah (marssie Mencotti) who must confront the realities of her changing condition and abilities.Read More

Around town in December

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.

Cendrillon (Cinderella)at Lyric Opera. (Photo courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago)
Cendrillon (Cinderella)at Lyric Opera. (Photo courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Shows

“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.

Opera

“Cendrillon” (Cinderella) at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, select dates from Dec. 1 through Jan. 20.

Concerts

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.

Activities

Ice skating at rink in Millennium Park (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)
Ice skating at rink in Millennium Park (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)

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.

However, you can still find traditional holiday ideas at After Thanksgiving and Holiday shows and shopping plus light sights.

Enjoy!

Jodie Jacobs

 

‘Arcadia’ is close to ideal

Chris Smith, Megan DeLay, Chris Woolsey (Photos by Tim McGrath, TCMcG Photography)
Chris Smith, Megan DeLay, Chris Woolsey (Photos by Tim McGrath, TCMcG Photography)

3.5 Stars

“Arcadia” begins with thirteen year-old Thomasina Coverly (Meghann Tabor)asking her tutor Septimus Hodge (Chris Woolsey) the meaning of the term “carnal embrace.” Hodge replies essentially that the word carnal is derived from the Latin “carne” meaning meat and it is therefore referring to an embrace with a “side of beef” or “leg of mutton.”

From this opening dialog playwright Tom Stoppard is creating an atmosphere of inquiry and humor. He is sending a message that though this may be challenging at times, we are going to have fun with it.

The action takes place around a table in an historic and aristocratic English manor house in which there are two intersecting story lines set roughly two hundred years apart.

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Lookingglass takes ‘Steadfast Tin Soldier’ to another level

The cast of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” at Lookingglass Theatre. (Photos by Liz Lauren)
The cast of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” at Lookingglass Theatre. (Photos by Liz Lauren)

4 stars

At Lookingglass Theatre audiences see a charming screen a few minutes before Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” story is pantomimed on stage.

The actors, dressed as figures that might be found in a young European child’s nursery or at a “Panto,” take turns on stage opening  windows that reveal children’s toys – except one that shows a fire.

And thus, perceptive audiences might pick up the clue that as with many of the famed Danish author’s fairy tales such as “The Little Mermaid,” life will not be very smooth for the lead character but the ending can offset what appears to be devastating consequences. Read More