It’s no accident that Chicago’s museums plan fun exhibits to open right when youngsters are out of school and tourists jam downtown streets.
Recent fruitful pop-ins at a few of the city’s museum’s revealed the following summer bucket list of exhibits. They either just opened or will do so soon. Go because they are perfect for kids or go to satisfy your own curiosity..
A fascinating, hands-on exploration of the “The Science Behind Pixar” used in “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo” opened May 24 at the Museum of Science and Industry. The Shedd Aquarium’s stunning “Underwater Beauty” exhibit that opened May 25 shows off the colors, patterns and movements of more than 100 species.
The Field Museum’s eye-opening “Antarctic Dinosaurs” opened June 15 and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s insightful “I Was Raised on the Internet” opens June 23.
“I look at my work sometimes as play… a kind of joyous play.”
So said artist Howardena Pindell at the Museum of Contemporary Art opening of “What Remains To Be Seen.”
Even though Pindell’s works have been in shows every year for the past several years, the current MCA exhibit is the first, all encompassing survey of her 50-year career.
It includes her move from figurative to abstraction and activism to occasional returns to figurative forms. But throughout the periods are personal reactions to what it feels like to be black and female. Yet, the playfulness is evident throughout the exhibit.
Pindell enjoyed finding different tools and materials to create art including hole punchers, file-folder stock and beveled cutouts found in a museum’s trash where she was an assistant curator.
The exhibit features several works where holes were either punched or painted by means of oak-board stencils. Some are best viewed up close to note that works that at first appears monochromatic, isn’t.
The show reveals a fascination with numbers, math, patterns and grids. Indeed, visitors who look closely will find numbers in some of the hole-punch designs.
But in some works, the holes are merely a fascinating pattern.
In another series, numbers and arrows add interest to Pindell’s video drawings as if they were instructions. Created on acetate held by static electricity to a television screen, they are an impressive, unusual form of art.
“I was looking for a fun way to use the videos,” she said. She pointed out that some people thought the numbers and arrows looked like football playbook arrows.
Another technique was cutting up postcards from her extensive travels to form collages.
Part of her “Autobiography” series, they were memory aids because a life-threatening accident in 1979 included a serious concussion that resulted in temporary memory loss.
Work that is play in Pinell’s career is based on a strong art background.
Born in 1943, Pindell graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls and studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art and other art schools before getting a BFA from Boston University and MFA from Yale.
“They all wanted me to use figurative art when I was moving into abstraction,” Pindell said at the exhibit opening.
She felt some satisfaction when an influential woman in the academic art world who had expressed a negative view of Pindell’s favoring abstraction over traditional figurative style, turned up at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC’s MoMA) where Pindell was working (first as an exhibit assistant and then an associate curator). “When she saw me, she said, “Oh.”
The MCA exhibit features her different styles. But what also comes across is her use of pattern and color.
Pindell, a longtime professor of art at Stony Brook University, New York (part of SUNY, a state university), stressed the importance of understanding color depth. She pointed out that she focused on the composition of color with her painting students.”They learn it’s not just, “red,” she explained.
No matter what the subject or materials used, exhibit visitors will see how Pindell’s use of color is very effective, ranging from ethereal to a rich.
Colors, materials and pattern movements seem to draw visitors into her works. Pindell refers to that phenomenon as “space.” “What I’m working on now is space going into the painting and space going out of the painting.”
She also puts herself into her works, literally.
Tips: Don’t walk too fast past “Autobiography: Fire (Suttee),” 1986-87. Done in mixed media on canvas and on loan from the Nancy and Peter Huber Collection, its rich colors and patterns might obscure the fact that there is an outline of Pindell’s body in the picture
It references a former custom of expecting a widow in India to kill herself after her husband dies. It also stands for human suffering and her own experiences with being black and a woman.
Also watch her in the performance video, “Free, White and 21” (1980) when she compares black and white women’s experiences.
DETAILS: “Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen,” is at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave., now through May 20, 2018. For more information call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCA Chicago.
A penguin with a purpose. A Wright that is right. Those are just two of the special gifts that can be found in Chicago museums.
Instead of fighting crowds on Black Friday, use the day off to visit a favorite museum and its gift shop. Museum stores are not only filled with fun and artistic gifts, they also funnel that money you spend back into programs and other costs.
Plus, holiday shopping when you can also watch penguins play or visit a favorite art period adds to the fun of finding a present that matches a person’s interest.
However, if you don’t make it down to Chicago, browse the museum stores’ web sites. They are easy to maneuver because most are broken into different categories so don’t worry if the first link you find merely says store. Watch for scrolling options and look for such links as jewelry, toys and home decor.
The Shedd, in the middle of the Museum campus at 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., is a favorite destination when youngsters and adults have a day off. However, you can also look in the shop on line to find everything from toddler shark hoodies to soft, plus animals that have wallett friendly prices. Visit Shedd Shop and call (312) 939-2438 if you have some questions.
First museum on the campus, the Field at 1400 S. Lake shore Dr., has a huge store worth a visit anytime you are on the museum campus. However, the store’s website is also huge. Note that different shop areas scroll across the Field store site. Click on one that particularly catches your attention or merelyh look for such categories as home décor and toys. Among the sites is one for Ancient Mediterranean objects. For other information call (312) 922-9410.
Both sections of theArt Institute of Chicago, the traditional building at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and the Modern Wing at 159 E. Monroe St. have wonderful gift shops near their entrances so visitors can shop without paying admission. But if there, it is hard to resist visiting a favorite gallery.
If shopping on line look for different categories such as apparel, stationary, books (even coloring books for famous paintins or architectural items, glass objects or a particular artist at AICShop. There is even a site for all Frank Lloyd Wright items. For other information call (312) 443-3600.
Visit the MCA, as it is popularly known, to see its latest exhibition of important contemporary works upstairs on the Fourth Floor but also to dine in its new restaurant on the ground floor. The museum is at 220 E. Chicago Ave.
But if saving that visit for a day after the holidays, go on line to the MCA Store to vfnd such fun objects as desktop and hanging mobiles or fun, objects by artist Murakami.
If trying to match a present to a history buff or someone interested in Chicago, a great place to find a book or related gift is at the Chicago History Museum Shop. The building, situated in Lincoln Park at 1601 N. Clark St., is also an easy bus ride from downtown Chicago.
Visit MSI to see its Robots, Lego or Mirror Maze exhibit or for its fairy castle or coal mine. You will find related items and gifts for you young scientiist in the museum gift shop. The museum is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive near the Hyde Park/ University of Chicago neighborhoods.
But you can also shop on line for toys, books and other gift items. The store has a gift guide.
It’s hard not to follow what has been happening to the people, politics and conflicts in Iraq and throughout the Mideast, but to get an artist’s take on the events see “Backstroke of the West” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
The works are Chicago-based, Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz’s take on the personal and historic objects destroyed during the conflicts and how they can be memorialized and interpreted through art.
Born of an American father and an Iraqi-Jewish mother, Rakowitz uses such ironic materials as newspapers to recreate looted items and Arabic food packaging to replicate the ancient Ishtar Gate. A section even illustrates how he served Iraqi dishes on Saddam Hussein’s china.
To further explain how Rakowitz seeks to bring people of different cultural and social backgrounds together he gives his projects such titles as “The invisible enemy should not exist” and “May the Arrogant Not Prevail.”
To accompany the exhibition, there is a pop-up food truck outside the MCA that will serve Iraqi dishes from family recipes.
Organized by MCA Manilow Senior Curator Omar Kholeif, Manilow, Director of Global Initiatives, the exhibit is the first major museum survey of Rakowitz’s work.
Opened Sept. 16, 2017, the show runs through March 4, 2018. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is at 220 E Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.
For hours, admission and other information call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCA.
Celebrate Chicago EXPO Week Sept 11 through Sept 17, 2017.
What is it?
The week features EXPO Chicago, a top quality, annual exhibition in Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. Visitors can see what is being shown by top galleries across the world and in the U.S., Sept. 14 to Sept. 17.
It’s also a time when Chicago art galleries and institutions usually start new exhibitions. The Program site on EXPO Chicago lists several area art shows.
It’s a chance for art lovers to visit galleries that will stay open past their usual hours. Many of the galleries are opening new exhibits on Sept 12 with evening receptions. Others will stay open from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 15. See Art After Hours on EXPO Chicago.
This year, EXPO Chicago also partially coincides with the city’s Architecture Biennial which primarily fills the Chicago Cultural Center with past, present and future architectural projects and initiatives beginning Sept. 16, 2017 and continuing to Jan 7, 2018. There are also special exhibits and installations off site.
So, put on the walking shoes, save these links to the smart phone calendar and figure out where to go and when to take advantage of Art Week.
At Navy Pier
EXPO Chicago (International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art) at Navy Pier opens Sept. 13 with Vernissage, an evening benefit reception for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The EXPO features 135 internationally known galleries. See tickets for EXPO hours and admission costs. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave.
Special Exhibitions by regional, national, and international non-profit institutions, museums, and organizations will be on the main exhibition floor of the exposition.
Palais de Tokyo is holding “Singing Stones,” an exhibit of emerging Chicago and French artists, in The Roundhouse at Du Sable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place, Sept. 13-Oct. 29. Also at the DuSable Museum is “Chicago: A Southern Exposure,” Sept. 12, 2017–Mar. 18, 2018.
Go over to the Peninsula Chicago Hotel, 108 E. Superior St. to see “What it is to be Human,” an exhibit of artist/ architect Gaetano Pesce curated by Salon 94 Design that ties in with EXPO Chicago and the Chicago Architecture Biennial (Sept. 16, 2017-Jan. 7 2018). The exhibit is on the ground level lobby and 5th floor lobby, Sept. 11-Oct. 9, 2017.
The John David Mooney Foundation, 114 W. Kinzie St., is participating in the Art After Hours with a reception Sept. 15, 2017 for an exhibition of works by modern Vietnamese Artists and particularly the paintings of Bùi Xuân Phái.
The University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, 5701 S. Woodlawn Ave., is doing “Terence Gower — Havana Case Study,” Sept. 12 – Dec. 15, 2017 in conjunction with the Architecture Biennial.
The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago has several new exhibits. “Emmanuel Pratt: Radical [Re]Constructions” is Sept. 12, 2017 to the summer of 2018. “Revolution Every Day” is Sept. 14, 2017 – Jan. 14, 2018. “The Hysterical Material” is Sept. 14 – Dec. 17, 2017. The Smart Museum of Art is at 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.
“Materials Decoded” is Sept. 10, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018 at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.
“Let Me Be an Object That Screams” is Sept. 8 – Oct.21, 2017 in Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago University of Illinois in the Chicago Art and Design Hall, First Floor 400 S. Peoria St. (at Van Buren Street).
Graham Foundation Sep 14, 2017 – Jan 06, 2018
The Graham Foundation in the Madlener House, 4 W. Burton Place, is showing David Hartt’s “In the Forest,” a new, multi-part installation in conjunction with the Architecture Biennial.
Each time you walk into another room up on the fourth floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago you’ll hear a gasp or a wow. The responses are to the wall-filling, psychedelic art of Takashi Murakami.
A Japanese artist who has studied the traditional methods of his country but favors anime (Japanese animated film) and manga (Japanese comics), Murakami mixes folklore, politics, Asian culture and contemporary pop art in highly-patterned or deeply contrasting paintings and with fanciful or foreboding sculptures.
Titled “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” the MCA exhibit is a retrospective that begins with early, fine-art works using traditional Japanese Nihonga materials on paintings of turtles. However, look closer at their themes and you understand that Murakami is concerned about industrial pollution and nuclear power..
As you walk through the exhibit and see different themes and materials that Murakami favored during the past three decades, you will understand that the title refers to regeneration. If an octopus eats off a damaged part a new one will grow.
Some motifs are scary or critical commentary. Others are cheerful and playful. But no matter the subject matter, Murakami’s works are eye-catching and show great attention to detail.
To accomplish his more complex and very detailed works, Murakami has a studio of artist assistants. Indeed, one room shows what a work looks like when drawn but not completely painted in. It looks like a page from the currently popular patterned coloring books enjoyed by youngsters and adults.
It’s also okay to see commercial value in what Murakami does. He worked with pop star Kanye West on an album cover and with Louis Vuitton on a fashion product.
But as you walk through the rooms, remember that Murakami has done and continues to do is what other artists do. Their works express inner emotions and also are responses to surrounding cultures and what is happening in the world.
Murakami has merely been responding in hi definition and amplification.
”Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and curated by Michael Darling, is at the museum now through Sept. 24, 2017.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is at 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago. For admission, hours and other information call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCA.
Appearances are deceiving would be a good warning when walking into “Smoke, Nearby,” the gallery at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago currently exhibiting works of Mexico City-based sculptor Tania Peréz Cordova.
Her works are not meant to be looked at in passing. They require more than a glance at something mounted piece before going on to a work displayed on the floor.
As explained on a board near a sculpture with an earring the artist explains: “A woman s missing her left earring. It is suspended on a brass ribbon in the gallery. Until it is reunited with its mate the sculpture exists in both places simultaneously.”
Thus her pieces are experiential. Or as Cordova said when interviewed before the exhibit opened, “They are stories and possibilities.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Be immersed in color, movement and animal life with “The Sympathetic Imagination,” a short retrospective of the work of video/film artist Diana Thater. Organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Thater’s installations take up the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s fourth floor exhibition area now through Jan 8, 2017.