Normally, and we all are wondering if life will return to the old normal, art collectors would be elbow to elbow down at Navy Pier as they perused choice works shown by upscale galleries at the International exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art.
Known as Expo Chicago, the popular art gathering is now scheduled to return in person April 8-11, 2021. But for 2020, the show and its educational programs are virtual and are called Exhibition Weekend Alternative. Plus ,the event will showcase Chicago.
Set for Sept. 25-27, it will feature Chicago-based exhibits, artist programs and curatorial projects through virtual tours and discussions. There will also be opportunities for custom viewing and sales. The platform is provided by HOOK which connects collectors and galleries.
The platform is provided by HOOK which connects collectors and galleries.
After delaying the highly anticipated Monet exhibit until good protocols could be in place, the Art Institute opened “Monet and Chicago” Sept 5. It will be up through Jan. 19, 2021.
Members have access the first hour of any museum day, everyone must wear a mask and social distancing is in place with arrows and the revised spaces set for each picture.
Museum goers know that Art Institute is internationally recognized for its French Impressionist collection. However, they may not know that Claude Monet was well received in Chicago when he first showed outside France and that influential Chicagoans started collecting his works early in the 1890s.Thus the title of the current show.
Among his patrons were Bertha and Potter Palmer (yes, the Palmer House) who amassed 90 of his works including many of the “Stacks of Wheat” paintings by 1901.
The Art Institute which became the first American museum to purchase a Monet (1903) had also been the first US museum to hold the artist’s first solo show in the Us. “20 Works by Claude Monet (March 1895).
The exhibit is by timed ticket. So plan in advance to see it. The Art Institute is closed Tuesday and Wednesday. For more information visit artic.edu.
Several exhibits opened at the MCA in July including the very appropriate “Just Connect” which closes Nov. 8 and “Alien vs. Citizen” which includes a Kerry James Marshall work and closes Feb. 21, 2021..The museum is closed Monday-Thursday. Tickets are timed so plan in advance. For more information visit MCAChicago.
In this time of theaters going dark due to the pandemic, it’s nice to hear such familiar venue names as Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Court, Chicago Shakespeare, TimeLine and Writers.
Those are the production companies with a play listed in the 2020 Equity Jeff Award Large Play Nomination category.
For Steppenwolf, it is “Bug,” Victory Gardens is “The First Deep Breath” and Court is “King Hedley.” For Chicago Shakespeare it is “The King’s Speech,” TimeLine is “Oslo” and Writers is “Stick Fly.”
Other production categories are Midsize Play, Musical or Revue Large, Musical Midsize, Ensemble Play, Ensemble Musical or Revue and New Work.
Nominations are also listed now for Director Large Play, Midsize Play, Large Musical or Revue and Midsize.
Performers are listed for principal and supporting roles in plays and musicals.
Jeff Award nominations are also out for Scenic Design, Lighting, Sound, Choreography, Costume, Original Music and Production Design.
Several companies received multiple nominations in a variety of categories. Drury Lane Productions topped the list at 22 followed by Paramount Theatre with 13 and Court Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre Company with 11 nominations.
To keep the music going Ravinia Festival has been broadcasting excellent concerts on Friday nights. However, the one coming up is particularly special given that the artist, pianist Leon Fleisher, won’t be heard live again. Fleisher died at age 92 on Aug. 2, 2020.
In a tribute to Fleisher, Ravinia Festival will do a broadcast of a past concert, Sept. 21, 8 p.m. CT on WFMT.
The program will bring back the “Leon Fleisher and Friends” program that celebrated his 90th birthda, performed and recorded July 23, 2018 in Ravinia’s Martin Theatre.
“Leon Fleisher was a great artist. His integrity and commitment to truth, his unerring sense of proportion, his larger-than-life persona, the sheer beauty of his sound, and the power of conviction in his playing were unparalleled and mesmerizing,” said Miriam Fried, director of the Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute (RSMI) Program for Piano & Strings. Fleisher had been a program faculty member for 24 summers.
The birthday concert features Fleisher’s playing “Sheep May Safely Graze” from Bach’s “Birthday” Cantata No. 208 and Kirchner’s “For the Left Hand” written for Fleisher in 1995.
It also includes his wife, pianist Katherine Jacobson Fleisher, joining him in the four-hands piece of Schubert’s Fantasy D. 940 and Ravel’s La Valse.
In addition, the Argus Quartet and bassist Kit Polenperform alongside Fleisher in an arrangement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12, K. 385p. The Argus Quartet was in residence at RSMI in 2017 and had won the M-Prize and Victor Elmaleh competitions later that year.
The Jeff Awards which have been recognizing outstanding theater artists and productions since established in 1968, will announce the 2020 Equity nominations Sept.15, 2020.
The date for the online Equity Awards, a program similar to the Non-Equity Awards presented in June, will also be announced on Sept. 15.
Eligibility is for productions staged from Aug. 1, 2019 through March 13, 2020.
“This season brought a wonderful range of stories and performances to Chicago stages. There is a lot to celebrate despite the pandemic and civil unrest that interrupted some openings and productions runs this spring and summer,” said Jeff Awards Chair John Glover.
“We are so fortunate to have so much creative recognition worthy work on Chicago states, so we knew that a show needed to go on this fall,” Glover said.
He added, “During these times, it is even more important to remember and promote the value that the arts bring to our lives and the vital role theater plays in opening ourselves up to a variety of perspectives.”
Normally we would be talking about what productions are coming this fall and winter to the Lyric Opera, Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Broadway in Chicago, Lookingglass, Northlight, Court, Music Works, Citadel and several other Chicago area theater stages.
And normally, what’s coming would be divided up by regions because in 2019 there were about 250 theater companies in the area.
Maybe when the coronavirus is under control and artists and patrons feel safe attending live rather than virtual shows, we will know which Chicago theater groups survived the pandemic.
But here is a sample of what we are hearing now about our next theater season.
Calling the season “Our Next Act,” Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer announced that the Goodman Theatre would have eight plays in its 2021 subscription (membership) series when safe for everyone. That number doesn’t include “A Christmas Carol” which isn’t a subscription show but details on the popular holiday show are expected to be out soon.
“We’re proud to announce four exciting world premieres, including a Goodman commission – Cheryl L. West’s “Fannie.” Directed by Henry Godinez, it is a passionate rallying cry inspired by the life of famed civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer that features E. Faye Butler in the title role,” said Falls.
Another world premiere is “the ripple, the wave that carried me home” by Christina Anderson, a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre. “It is a stunning meditation on protest, legacy and reconciliation; and we’re delighted to welcome back Christina, whose bold, imaginative How to Catch Creation was a memorable favorite last year,” said Falls.
The third world premiere is “Good Night, Oscar” by Doug Wright, directed by Leigh Silverman and starring Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) as Oscar Levant.
Falls added, “Finally, we’ll produce the highly anticipated new musical we postponed due to COVID-19—”The Outsiders” based on the novel by S.E. Hinton and Francis Ford Coppola’s film. A beloved story of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ that defined a generation it is told anew.” (Book is by Adam Rapp, music and lyrics by Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Justin Levine, choreography by Lorin Latarro and directed by Liesl Tommy.)
Three Chicago premiers include “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play” by Jocelyn Bioh and directed by Lili-Anne Brown that was interrupted by the pandemic, “A Paris Love Story” featuring the Music of Claude DeBussy that is written and performed by Hershey Felder and directed by Trevor Hay and “American Mariachi” by José Cruz González, directed by Henry Godinez and is a coproduction with Dallas Theater Center.
In addition, Goodman will be doing “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci” adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman.
“We can’t wait to welcome back our audiences for our dynamic 2021 Season that exemplifies the very best of our art form,” said Falls. “As we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our artists and audiences, we remain flexible in our planning and will share production dates when the time is right.”
Subscription memberships to the upcoming season are available, including the “Whenever Membership” flexible package. A five-play Membership package starts at $100. Visit GoodmanTheatre.org/2021season. Single tickets will be available at a later date.
The Lyric will open a reimagined fall season with “For the Love of Lyric,” a virtual concert from the Lyric Opera House, that will be available for free streaming beginning at 5 p.m. CDT Sept. 13, 2020.
The event is in place of the opening night opera and ball, according to Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director, president and CEO. “…we are proud to present “For the Love of Lyric- a very special concert presentation available to the largest possible audience via streaming,” said Freud.
Renowned soprano Renee Fleming teams up with special guests including Tony and Grammy award-winner Heather Headley (Aida, Lion King), soprano Ailyn Perez, bass Soloman Howard and mezzo soprano J’Nai Bridges.
Formerly called Light Opera Works, Music Theatre Works is moving from its Evanston home at Northwestern University’s Cahn Auditorium to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, beginning with its 2021 season.
A 40-year-old, not-for-profit company that has produced several highly recommended shows, Music Theatre Works has basically honored the classics with great direction, voices and orchestrations that range from the best “Pirates of Penzance” and “Mame” that I have seen to what other CTA writers say is the best “Anything Goes” and “Into the Woods” that they have seen.
Administration and rehearsals will continue at the Paul S. Mavros Center and Joyce Saxon Rehearsal Hall.
The performance move to North Shore Center’s large and small venues means the organization can do more productions and have longer runs, better parking and more exposure.
“For 40 years, Music Theater Works has been a cornerstone of high-quality professional music theater in the Chicago area. Our history demonstrates our dedication to bringing great music and great theater to our audiences. The community along with the many artists, board members and staff have built the company to what it is today,” said Music Theater Works Producing Artistic Director Kyle A. Dougan.
“Music Theater Works’ move to its new performance home at the North Shore Center is a testament to our community’s support for our art. In addition, this outlet strengthens Music Theater Works’ pledge to explore the full spectrum of music theater with the availability of multiple performance spaces within the North Shore Center,” Dougan said.
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts General Manager Michael Pauken said, “It is very exciting to welcome this well-respected organization and its productions to the North Shore Center as I have long admired them as an audience member.”
Pauken added, “I know Music Theater Works’ customers will find the North Shore Center’s location near numerous restaurants, convenient access to public transportation and free parking to be an enhancement to their theatergoing experience and Music Theatre Works performers will enjoy ample backstage space and the technical capabilities of our facility.”
In advance of its formal move to the Center next year, Music Theater Works presented two sold out performances of “Richard Rodgers’ Greatest Hits,” August 28 and 29, as part of the North Shore Center’s outdoor concert series, “Out Back Summer Sessions.”
Except for the falling leaves, it’s hard to believe that Labor Day Weekend is almost here.
With the pandemic changing our lifestyle, vacation plans and the events we usually use to mark off warm weather months such as the Chicago Air and Water Show, the usual Labor Day holiday might feel like just another weekend unless we plan something special.
Chicago’s most popular destination will close Tues., Sept. 8, 2020 until sometime in spring of 2021 so plan an outing to the Pier Labor Day Weekend.
Stretching out into Lake Michigan at 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago’s arguably most popular destination will close Tues., Sept. 8, 2020 until sometime in spring of 2021 so plan an outing to the Pier Labor Day Weekend.
Browsing tents and tables of jewelry, pottery, art glass, paintings and photos is still going on in some towns with a slightly different format. It’s also happening virtually.
The Port Clinton Art Festival, the mega fair that usually takes over at least four blocks of downtown Highland Park, will be back the last weekend of August. But in the 2020 year of the pandemic, look for it at about a quarter of its size with about 50 artists lining one block of St. Johns Avenue on the east side of the train station.
Taking a protocol page from Chicago’s popular destinations, the Port Clinton fair will have timed tickets. They can be obtained through Evanbrite/PortClintonArtWalk.
Port Clinton is among several fairs operated by Amy Amdur as the more than 30-year-old company of Amdur Productions.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary Manual Cinema, a multi-award winning studio that creates unusual stage and video shows with puppets, actors and vintage projectors, has been rebroadcasting some of its hits during July and August but will also conclude with a spectacular show.
You can still catch “No Blue Memories: the Life of Gwendolyn Brooks Aug. 10-17 that will include talk back with creators, cast and crew on Aug. 15 at 8 p.m. and “Frankenstein Aug. 17-23 with talk back Aug. 21 at 8 p.m.( CT)
Then save Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. for the company’s live, retro variety show. It’s a “Tele-Fun-Draiser, Covid-Relief benefit. It will end with a new work that has shadow puppetry, cinematic aspects,, toy theater and creative sound. It can also be viewed by going back to Manual Cinema Watch or Manual Cinema.
Founded by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller and Kyle Vegter, Manual Cinema is unlike anything you may have seen in the theaters.
If looking for an outdoor destination, consider Chicago’s Riverwalk, a 1.25 mile-long path along the Chicago River from Lake Street on the west down to Lake Michigan’s lake front on the east.
There you will find plenty of artwork to photo and put on Facebook, the Community Marketplace area open on weekends with the Shop Small Chicago place carrying local products and some café’s and other vendors to visit by appointment.
Be sure to see and photo “Radiance of Being” and “The People In Your Neighborhood” organized by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) in collaboration with the Department of Assets, Information and Services (AIS).
“Radiance of Being”
Located at the Community Marketplace area between Michigan Avenue and Wabash Street, look for artist Kate Lynn Lewis’ The Radiance of Being” mural series that celebrates the city’s Art Deco architectural style.
Among the structures saluted are the Palmer House, Palmolive Building, Chicago Motor Club, Adler Planetarium and the St. Jane.
“The People In Your Neighborhood”
Further west at the Confluence area near Lake and Franklin Streets, look for street artist Dont Fret’s “The People in Your Neighborhood.” It consists of 55 paintings that include such folks as Gino Gambarota who is the chef at Manny’s Deli.
Riverwalk information: serous recreational use by runners, walkers and cyclists tends to be 6 to 10 a.m. followed by what is called the passive recreation of sightseers and business visitors. Face coverings are required.