Celebrate Chinese New Year with food and a parade

 

Special dinners, teas and parades mark Chicago’s Chinese New Year celebration of the Year o the Dog 4716.

With a vibrant Chinatown and several excellent Chinese restaurants plus venues such as the Chicago Cultural Center and Navy Pier promoting Chicago’s ethnic groups, there are plenty of places to learn more, see more and enjoy more Chinese dancing and dishes.

Often called the Lunar New Year and sometimes known as the Chinese Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year in 2018, begins Feb. 16 and ends 15 days later. However, tied to the Chinese lunisolar calendar, celebrations start the eve of the first day and culminate in the Lantern Festival.

If you go to any of Chicago’s Chinese festivals or restaurants, expect to see lots of red and the words “happiness” and “good fortune.”

Here are some Chinese New Year events to put on your go-to calendar.

 

The Peninsula Chicago is decked out for Chinese New Year.
The Peninsula Chicago is decked out for Chinese New Year.

Feb. 15-18

Decorated with red lanterns and a décor that celebrates the Year of the Dog, The Peninsula Chicago is a thoroughly Asian hotel (it is celebrating its 90th anniversary in Hong Kong).

This is a good place to stop in for Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea in The Lobby where tangerine trees and red flowers wish everyone good fortune. The tea includes special savories and sweets for $65. The Peninsula is at 108 East Superior Street.

In addition, there will be a Lion Dance that weaves through The Lobby during Afternoon Tea at 3:30 pm., Feb. 17. Children can “feed” lettuce to the lion for good luck in the coming year. The Lion Dance begins at the hotel’s front entrance amid drumbeats and cymbals (scares evil spirits) at 3:15 p.m.

Feb. 15-22

For an authentic, eight-course Chinese dinner, reserve a table at The Peninsula Chicago’s award winning Shanghai Terrace. It includes, among many other dishes, ginger wild chicken, seafood siewmai with black truffle, pan-fried prawns and kung pao beef tenderloin. Cost is $138.

For more information please call (312) 573-6620 or (866) 288-8889 and visit Peninsula Chicago.

Lion dancers will be prancing through some Chicago restaurants and at parades during Chinese New Year. Peninsula photo
Lion dancers will be prancing through some Chicago restaurants and at parades during Chinese New Year. Peninsula photo

Feb. 15-Feb. 28

Stop in at  Koi Fine Asian Cuisine in Evanston for dishes from its “Lucky Menu.” Different dishes represent wealth, long life, happiness, prosperity, good relationships and family. Reservations will be needed for the Lion Dance there Feb. 24.  Koi is at 624 Davis St., Evanston. Call 847-866-6969 and visit Koi.

Feb. 16

Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center hosts Chinese dancers, martial arts and music from noon to 1 p.m. There will also be a peek at the Chongqing Chuanju Theater Troupe which performs at Symphony Center the next day. The Chicago Cultural Center is at 78 E Washington St. For more information visit Chinese Fine Arts Events.

Feb. 17

See acrobatic choreography, gorgeous costumes and enjoy Chinese arts during an afternoon at Symphony Center, home of the CSO. Performances featuring the Dong Fang Performing Arts and the Yellow River Performing Arts are from 1:45 to 2:30 p.m. in Buntrock Hall.

This is followed with opera segments by the Chongqing Chuanju Opera Theatre and folk music by Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra at 3 p.m. in Orchestra Hall.

The first program is free to ticket holders of the second program. Symphony Center is at 220 S. Michigan Ave. For tickets and other information visit CSO tickets.

Feb. 24

Head over to Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom for Chinese activities, shows and food. Navy Pier partners with the Chinese Fine Arts Society to present the Chicago Chinese Cultural Center Lion Dancers, Martial arts, Chinese music and the Flying Fairies dance troupe from 1 to 5 p.m.

The event is part of Navy Pier’s free Global Connections sponsored by ComEd. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. For more information call (800) 595 Pier (7437) and visit Navy Pier Global.

Feb. 24

The Uptown neighborhood’s Argyle Street has a parade with floats, dragon dancers and marchers from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The procession goes from Argyle and Broadway Streets to Winthrop Avenue. For more information visit Explore Uptown.

 

Argyle Lunar New Year 2016 parade. Photo compliments Uptown
Argyle Lunar New Year 2016 parade. Photo compliments Uptown

 

Feb. 25

Go to Chinatown for the community’s annual lunar parade and to celebrate this neighborhood’s 106th anniversary.  It’s a fun, colorful event featuring lion and dragon dancers, marching bands, floats and Ronald McDonald.  The parade starts at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue at 1 p.m. then goes north on Wentworth and west on Cermak. For more information visit  CCC Foundation.

For more Chicago Chinese New Year information visit Choose Chicago.

 

Around Town: February

Instead of organizing the desk (or you name it), and wishing the groundhog prognosticators were wrong about six more weeks of winter, take in a show, find a special event to dispel gray skies and moods and take advantage of museum free days.

Theatre

The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre
The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

If the family has a Saturday available, get tickets to ‘Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at The Yard, Chicago Shakespeare’s newly added theater on Navy Pier . The show is a fun 75 minutes that merges the Bard’s humorous mismatching of characters in his comedies. The production is offered Saturdays now through March 10, 2018 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.. To get tickets visit Chicago Shakes Plays.

 

Concert

Listen as famed tenor Lawrence Brownlee performs ‘Cycles of My Being,’ a recital that puts forth what it is like to live as a black man in America. Co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Lyric Opera/Lyric Unlimited and Opera Philadelphia, the program will only be in chicago Feb. 22, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the DuSable Museum of African American History. For more information visit Lyric Opera Cycles or call (312) 827-5600.

 

Walk around gorgeous, delicate orchids at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Walk around gorgeous, delicate orchids at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Botanics

Go to the Chicago Botanic Garden  Feb. 10 through March 25, 2018 to see orchids with an Asian accent. This year, the Garden’s Orchid Show blooms among kimonos, parasols and Asian plants. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. plus open later Thursdays to 8 p.m. For more information visit Chicago Botanic Garden orchid.

 

 

 

Museums

How about a night at the   museum,  that is among the fish?

Explore the Shedd during an overnight stay.
Explore the Shedd during an overnight stay.

 

For Presidents Day weekend stay the night Feb. 16, 2018 in a special program at the Shedd Aquarium that allows participants to explore the museum, see an aquatic presentation and do a scavenger hunt. The cost is $75 per person ($60 members).  For tickets and more information visit Shedd Aquarium Overnight.

 

Free Days

Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday when most schools in Illinois are closed to celebrate Presidents Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, is Feb. 19, 2018. Fortunately, some of Chicago’s museums are free that day.

Some Chicago museums have free admission.
Some Chicago museums have free admission.

The Adler Planetarium’s general admission is waved for Illinois residents Feb. 19-22.  For more information visit Adler.

Art Institute of Chicago has free admission to Chicago residents under age 18, every day. See ARTIC.

Chicago History Museum is free every day to children under 18 who are Illinois residents. Visit Chicago History.

The Field Museum has free general admission for Illinois residents all of February. Visit Field Museum free days.

 

Art

The National Museum of Mexican Art always has free admission. See National Museum of Mexican Art.

Find this amazing dome and room at the Chicago Cultural Center
Find this amazing dome and room at the Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center has a new exhibition on its fourth floor. Titled “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush,” it was organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. The Cultural Center also has other exhibits on its first floor. While in the building go to the third floor to see gorgeous glass domes and rooms. Admission is always free. Visit Chicago Cultural Center.

Get out and enjoy Chicago

Jodie Jacobs

 

For CAB: ‘Vertical City’ moves into Chicago Cultural Center and field trip goes to Wisconsin Wright site

Towers that could have been right for the Chicago Tribune fill Yates Hall upstairs of the Chicago Cultural Center as ;part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. (Jodie Jacobs photos)
Towers that could have been right for the Chicago Tribune fill Yates Hall upstairs of the Chicago Cultural Center as;part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. (Jodie Jacobs photos)

Maybe you think the Tribune tower is a landmark rather than an example of innovative architecture and wonder what it could have been.

Or, maybe you would like to take a free ride out of state for a day to see innovative Frank Lloyd Wright.

Both maybes become actualities curing the Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB).

Chicago, known throughout the world as an architecture destination, becomes even more so every two years when it holds its  architecture exhibition.

As good as the first CAB experience was in 2015, the second foray is even more impressive. Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, host of the 2017 Architecture Biennial, has pulled together some surprising exhibits, excellent programs and interesting tours.

They are free, open to the public and are at the Chicago Cultural Center and some off-site locations.

At the Cultural Center they revolve around the theme of “Make New History.” Thus there is the ‘Vertical City’ of 16 foot-high towers that could have housed Chicago Tribune executives and staffers instead of the Gothic landmark that won a 1922 competition.

A Gang Studio structure is on the second floor at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of CAB
A Gang Studio structure is on the second floor at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of CAB

Also at the Cultural Center is a display by Chicago fave Jeanne Gang and her Gang Studio and works by architectural and design firms from 20 countries that present possible redesigns of structures that already exist around the globe.

In addition, architectural elements have been added to the Cultural Center’s corridors. Visitors will find them in some very unlikely places on the main floor  and second floor.

CAB also features Chicago Architecture Foundation and other organizations’ programs worth putting on the calendar.

Among off-site venues is SC Johnson & Son’s extraordinary Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in Racine, WI, available by free shuttle from the Cultural Center.

BTW, the exhibits at the Cultural Center are so good visitors ought to plan enough time to enjoy and contemplate or return for a second view.

DETAILS: The Chicago Architecture Biennial is at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago, now through Jan. 7, 2018. For more information visit CAB. Also see Programs and Tours.

 

 

Around Town on the cusp of May into June

At Goodman Theatre 

At Goodman Theatre, "Pamplona" is in the Owen. Goodman Theatre photo
At Goodman Theatre, “Pamplona” is in the Owen.
Goodman Theatre photo

If you heard that Goodman Theatre’s opening night for the world premiere of “Pamplona,” a play by Jim McGrath that features Stacy Keach as Ernest Hemingway, stopped early, then don’t worry. The Goodman put out the following notice:

“Goodman Theatre had to unexpectedly halt this evening’s performance of Pamplona by Jim McGrath. The show’s star, Stacy Keach, had not been feeling well earlier in the day, but made the decision to go on with the performance. When it became clear midway through that Mr. Keach was struggling, Director Robert Falls took the stage and announced that the performance would conclude. Performances are expected to resume as scheduled.”

 

Gospel Fest

It may not seem as long as 32 years ago for Chicago to hold its Gospel Music Festival but considering that Chicago takes credit for gospel music it probably feels as if the genre has been around forever, at least in city area churches.

Gospel comes to Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park June.2-3. Jodie Jacobs
Gospel comes to Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park June 2-3. Jodie Jacobs photo

So, this weekend, June 2 and 3, 2017, the city is holding its 32 Chicago Gospel Music Festival. The concerts are on Friday. They are free and are taking place outdoors in Millennium Park and indoors (it may rain on and off those days) in the Chicago Cultural Center. Gospel music combined with workouts and wellness activities are on Saturday.

Here is the schedule but acts and times may change

June 2, 2017
Randolph Square area on the first floor of the Cultural Center
–       Noon is Iliani Morales, 12:40 p.m. is Selah St. Sabina Youth Choir

–       1:10 p.m. is R&R featuring Russ and Roe and 1:40 p.m. is Neicy Robertson and Friends

–       2:10 p.m. is “Chicago’s Next” with 2ndNature Band, Isaiah Freeman, Jazmin Jones and Denton Arnell Harris and 3:20 p.m. is Arthur Sutton & The Gift of Praise

Millennium Park in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion

–       5:30 p.m. is Glenn Johnson & The Voices of Innerpeace and 6 p.m. is University of Illinois Black Chorus conducted by Ollie Watts Davis

–       6:40 p.m. is Malcolm Williams & Great Faith and 7:20 p.m. is Celebration of Gospel Music Quartets with Evelyn Turrentine-Agee and The Warriors, God’s Posse, The Gospel Crusaders and The Stars of Heaven

–       8:30 p.m. is Jonathan McReynolds with special guests Anthony Brown and Travis Greene

June 3, 2017

Millennium Park’s Great Lawn

– 7 a.m. is Gospel Music Yoga with instructor Marta Bailey and 8 a.m. is Gospel Music Cardio Workout with instructor LaTonya Ellis

– 9 a.m. is Pilates with an East Bank Club instructor and 10 a.m. is Zumba® also with an  East Bank Club instructor

In the North Promenade Tent at Millennium Park

–       11 a.m. to 5 p.m. is Health & Wellness Oasis with screenings offered by Oak Street Health and Be The Match

–       Also from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. are children’s activities in the Kids Activity Zone that include face painting, a balloon artist, Plaster of Paradise and the Imagination Playground

For more information visit Chicago Gospel Fest 

 

Chicago Cultural Center art exhibits worth a stop

 

The Chicago Cultural Center is an art destination in its own right if only for the gorgeous tile work at its Washington Street entrance and staircase or for its two spectacular glass domes.

Gorgeous tiles line the staircase and walls of the Chicago Cultural Center at the Washington Street entrance.
Gorgeous tiles line the staircase and walls of the Chicago Cultural Center at the Washington Street entrance.

But there are always interesting art exhibits in its galleries on the first and fourth floor and sometimes on the second floor so when downtown Chicago make the Cultural Center a must-see stop.

Go up to the fourth floor’s Sidney R Yates Gallery now through June 25, 2017 to be amazed at how doors can look when painted by an artist.

Done by Eugene Eda for Malcom X College in 1971, 32 spectacular doors stand tall representing the Black Art Movement of that period. Imagine doors as artistic as these gracing the stairwells of a college.

Malcom X College now on exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center
Eda Doors that were at Malcom X College now on exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center

If interested to learn more about the doors and the artist stop in on June 14 at 12:15 for curator Daniel Schulman’s Gallery Talk.

While there, go next gallery over to the Exhibit Hall to see “Candida Alvarez: Here.”

Curated by Terry Myers, the exhibit is the first institutional showing of this Chicago artist. The broad patches of color in some of her works reflect the Puerto Rican influence of her parents’ roots. Her work is also narrative. Alvarez’s work is up through Aug. 6, 2017.

Down on the first floor, walk along the western corridor to view “The Pride and Perils of Chicago’s Public Art.”  Up through July 30, 2017, large photos and accompanying descriptions depict old statues and contemporary mural in different neighborhoods. Chicago has designated 2017 the Year of Public Art.

Details: The Chicago Cultural Center

Candida Alvarez "Buena Vista" at Chicago Cultural Center.
Candida Alvarez “Buena Vista” at Chicago Cultural Center.

The building stretches from Randolph Street to Washington Street along the west side of Michigan Avenue.

Elevators on the Randolph side go up to the Fourth Floor galleries. The staircase on the Washington side  goes up to the Tiffany Glass Dome. For more information visit City of Chicago exhibits.

Photos by Jodie Jacobs

 

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 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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