Three experiences to try while waiting for Chicago to reopen

Lyric Opera House on North Wacker Drive (J Jphoto)
Lyric Opera House on North Wacker Drive (J Jphoto)

Some of us miss seeing a stage performance in person. Some miss going to the Lyric for a grand opera. Other folks miss visiting Chicago’s world class museums. The following opportunities hit these three targets while sitting at home.

Theater

Citadel Theatre has a unique experience scheduled for 6 p.m. May 21. Viewers register for what is called “The Defamation Experience.” It begins with a 70 minute film that is a one-act courtroom drama. Then there is the Deliberation. You and your fellow jury members deliberate the case on Zoom to decide the outcome.

After the deliberation and verdict, expert facilitators lead a brief post-show discussion.

Registration is free. A zoom meeting link is provided upon registration.

Opera

Hear and watch an opera segment, lecture or tour the Lyric Opera of Chicago building. The Lyric has a weekly newsletter available on its blog. Here is one aria, many audiences will find familiar.

“La donna è mobile” (“Woman is fickle”) is from the fall of 2017 performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto featuring Matthew Polenzani as The Duke. It comes in the third act where Maddalena (Zanda Švēde) flirts with the Duke.

For more Lyric gems visit LyricOpera/lately.

Museum

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been taking field trips to the city’s exceptional institutions so that the rest of us staying home can visit these places virtually.

Each field trip shows up on line on Wednesdays and then on PBS’ WTTW on Friday and replayed the following Monday.

This week she visits the National Museum of Mexican Art. To join her go to hitplayChicago. Founded in 1987, the museum is a very special cultural destination in the Pilsen neighborhood.

To see the last two field trips scroll down to the Shedd and the Field Museum.

Jodie Jacobs

Related: Dazzling voices seduced lyric audiences

 

 

Visit three famed Art Institute paintings on a guided tour

 

Visit favorite works and maybe one you don't know at the Art Institute of Chicago. (J Jacobs photo)
Visit favorite works and maybe one you don’t know at the Art Institute of Chicago. (J Jacobs photo)

If you visit the Art Institute of Chicago do you go to a favorite artist’s gallery or a favorite painting? For lots of visitors it is Georges Seurat’s 1884″A Sunday On La Grande Jatte.” Stephen Sondheim even wrote a musical about it called “Sunday in the Park With George.”

Since the Art Institute has temporarily shut its doors to physical visits it has started the Essentials Tour Series so you can visit some of its works online in videos with the museum’s curators. Seurat’s famous painting is among them.

When looking at each of the three examples mentioned here consider the use of movement or its lack, colors and what stories are told. Archibold John Motley, Jr. whose “Nightlife” is in the series has said that a painting should tell a story. So what stories do you see?

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

Delve into the painting and Seurat’s pointillism style with Gloria Groom, curator and chair of European Painting and Sculpture. Close up, you see dots of color. Further back the dots form figures. The painting broke new ground in the use of complementary colors. The work has also generated stories about the figures depicted.

Nightlife

Move from the camera-shot style poses of Seurat’s painting to the action-packed, jazzy movements in Archibald John Motley Jr.’s 1943 “Nightlife.” It depicts a Bronzeville jazz club on Chicago’s South Side. So much is going on that it would be easy to miss the liquid spilling from a harried waiter’s tray. As with Seurat’s paintings you would likely recognize Motley’s style if you saw his other works without being told the artist’s name. In this video, former AIC Curator of American Art Judith Barter goes talks about the subject and the colors used.

Nighthawks

When seeing the “Nightlife” video you learn from Barter that Motley may have been inspired to do a night scene after viewing Edward Hopper’s intriguing “Nighthawks.” However, Hopper’s late night scenario appears miles apart from Motley’s Chicago jazz scene unless it is considered as what might be going on in diners somewhere in the country. In this case, it’s possibly in Philadelphia give the Phillie cigar sign above the diner.  Here, the viewer is outside the scene looking in. Barter discusses the color choices and the lack of a noticeable entryway.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Three places to visit while staying at home

 

When you need a break from working at home, catching up with spring cleaning because you’re at home, or dashing to the grocery store for comfort food, go to a portal to one of Chicago’s arts organization.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Marriott Theatre and Second City are among those places reaching out with fascinating info, lively videos and home classes.

 

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). The Assumption of the Virgin, 1577–79. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Nancy Atwood Sprague in memory of Albert Arnold Sprague. (Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago)
El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). The Assumption of the Virgin, 1577–79. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Nancy Atwood Sprague in memory of Albert Arnold Sprague. (Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago)

 

Art Institute of Chicago

Whether you made it to the famed museum before its temporary c-virus closure or not, you still can see and get inside information on some special art works.

Visit Inside Features to learn the backstory on El Greco’s “The Assumption of the Virgin” which is the current exhibition.

Also while at Inside Features go to the West African headdress  to see it from another angle.

Also, check out an ancient Grecian vase that became known as Chicago Painter’s vase.

Before leaving the site learn about conserving a carousel from the Golden Age of Carousels and the story behind an antislavery medallion.

 

Marriott Theatre

The cast of  “Kiss Me, Kate, Marriott Theatre’s next show in Lincolnshire, has taped interviews and videos. Visit this youtube channel to see and hear from the artists but also go to the videos on the site that have segments from such recent shows as”Grease.”

 

Second City Training Center 

Maybe you know that past students of The Second City Training Center include Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. But even if you don’t aspire to the national comedy limelight, a Second City class would liven up the stay at home experience.

Starting today, March 23, 2020, the Training Center has online classes at different price points and lengths.

“As social distancing separates us physically, we’ve had to improvise the ways we hang out and remain connected. The Second City Training Center immediately rose to the challenge in pioneering new ways, andsays Second City Hollywood Artistic Director Joshua Funk.

Joshua Funk, Second City’s Hollywood Artistic Director, announced that the entire curriculum has been adapted for online compatibility. “Turns out, improv works online! If we all need to hunker down for a while, it’s essential that we are still able to spend time together and laugh,” Funk said.

The faculty in Chicago, Toronto, and Hollywood and over 100 students beta tested the new classes over the last week, according to Abby Wagner, Training Center Vice President. “They’ve proven to be both educational and a true lifeline of communication in these strange and isolating times,” Wagner said.

Classes require Internet and web camera access. Pajamas are optional. Classes ranges from one-time drop-in to 4 weeks and 8 weeks and are for all ages. For more information visit Second City From Your Couch.

Jodie Jacobs

World class Chicago arts and museum venues temporarily close

 

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). The Assumption of the Virgin, 1577–79. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Nancy Atwood Sprague in memory of Albert Arnold Sprague. (Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago)
El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). The Assumption of the Virgin, 1577–79. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Nancy Atwood Sprague in memory of Albert Arnold Sprague. (Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago)

 

Looks like the internet, TV and bookstores such as Barnes & Noble are going to be the go-to places for A & E, at least through March.

The latest closures to come into the Chicago Theater and Arts on-line desk are the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and some museums. Please carefully check possible reopening and rescheduling dates and ticket options.

Art Institute of Chicago

The museum will be shuttered from today, March 14, through March 28 but events such as tours, performances and lectures will be on hiatus through April 10, according to a just released statement.

It added that the closure will allow the museum to develop “rigorous health and safety standards and protocols.” Purchased tickets can be refunded to the card used within 10 business days.

Fortunately, AIC’s current exhibition, “El Greco: Ambition and Defiance” goes through June 21, 2020 so there is still time to see the famed artist’s most notable works and also learn he was skilled at more than religious paintings.

 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Beginning March 12, all Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association concerts at Symphony Center and pre- and post-concert special events were canceled through at least the next 30 days . The CSOA’s statement said ticket holders to canceled concerts could exchange them for other concerts or request a refund. For more information call (312) 294-3000 or visit CSO org/alert.

 

Museum Closure Updates

Citing both IL Governor J.B. Pritzker’s mandate to close gatherings involving 1,000 people or more and their own desire to safeguard their patrons and staff, several museums have closed for the rest of March. However, their re-opening varies by museum so best plan is to check their websites.

 

Shedd Aquarium

Normally jammed with students on Spring Break, the Shedd, arguably Chicago’s top (non-art) museum attraction, is closed through March 29. Their statement reads: “Our dedicated caretakers and veterinarians will continue to provide the highest standards of professional care and welfare for our animals on site. And, until we can welcome you back, we invite you to stay connected to them behind the scenes via Shedd’s Facebook and Instagram, as well as explore, experience and learn more about the aquatic animal world through our other digital resources.

For information on refunds and rescheduling of previously purchased tickets, group and experience reservations, programs and events and more, please email contactus@sheddaquarium.org or call us at( 312) 939-2438.

 

Please also visit Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Science and Industry about their closures.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Taking a second look at art

Mannequins in Duro Olowu clothes gaze at art in new MCA Chicago exhibition. (J Jacobs photo)
Mannequins in Duro Olowu clothes gaze at art in new MCA Chicago exhibition. (J Jacobs photo)

If you have ever debated or thought about the question of what is art you will find some interesting answers in a new exhibit at the Museum of contemporary Art. Titled “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago” it is not a photography exhibit of city places.

Organized for the MCA by Naomi Beckwith, Manilow Senior Curator, with Curatorial Assistant Jack Schneider, the exhibit is curated by Nigerian-born British designer known for his women’s fashions. The exhibit presents Olowu’s ideas of how art, the world around artists, museums and the people who attend exhibits interact with each other.

It could be called “Second Look” which happens to be the title of one of the show’s explanation boards. Olowu wants visitors to remember a show, “not necessarily for names of particular artists.” Instead, he hopes guests will consider the broader concept of what” art and museums mean.”

Think about how portraits have changed over time when viewing a new exhibit at MCA Chicago.. (J Jacob s photo)
Think about how portraits have changed over time when viewing a new exhibit at MCA Chicago.. (J Jacob s photo)

Using objects primarily from the MCA, and from other Chicago’s public and private art collections, he groups the works to make statements of patterns and ideas.

One room, called “Look at Me” consists of portraits in paintings and other art forms. Olowu notes that the room is filled with different faces, body types, races and genders of what he calls “real life.” And that once a visitor steps into the room that person becomes part of the crowd.

Part of how he hopes visitors will understand is that portraiture varies over time according to different ideals of beauty, shape and pattern.

Kerry James Marshall, Portrait of a Curator (In memory of Beryl Wright) 2009. (J Jacobs photo)
Kerry James Marshall, Portrait of a Curator (In memory of Beryl Wright) 2009. (J Jacobs photo)

To put all that into perspective, the last room has mannequins dressed in Olowu designs looking at art.

On a more personal level, I was glad to find two of my favorite artists (and yes I do look at the artist’s name) included: Kerry James Marshall, represented in Portrait of a Curator (In memory of Beryl Wright) 2009, and Roger Brown, represented by “Autobiography in the shape of Alabama (Mammy’s Door) 1974.

But I’m also glad Olowu included folk art such as H. C. Westermann’s 1958 “Memorial to the idea of man if he was an idea” made of pine, bottle caps, cast tin toys, glass, metal, brass, ebony and enamel.

“Autobiography in the shape of Alabama (Mammy’s Door) 1974. (J Jacobs photo)
Roger Brown, represented by “Autobiography in the shape of Alabama (Mammy’s Door) 1974. (J Jacobs photo)

DETAILS: “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago” is at the Museum of Contemporary Art,  220 E Chicago Ave Chicago, through May 10, 2020. For ticket, hours and other information call (312) 280-2660 or visit MCA Chicago/Home.

To hear Duro Olowu talk about the why behind the exhibit go to the video

 

Jodie Jacobs

From parades to performances Chicago celebrates Chinese New Year

 

celebrates with its annual Argyle parade. (Photo courtesy of Uptown Assoc.)
Uptown Chicago neighborhood celebrates with its annual Argyle parade. (Photo courtesy of Uptown Assoc.)

Lanterns, dragons, colorful dances, art and instrumental music – there are Chinese New Year events in the next couple of weeks that will enrich our appreciation of Chinese culture.

But do you know your zodiac animal? If you go to any of the Chinese New Year programs in Chicago, you will likely hear that 2020 is the Year of the Rat. Because different elements also take turns, you might hear that it is the metal rat. A good, easy place to find out your animal sign and more about the Chinese Zodiac is the astronomy site of Time and Date.

Now you’re ready to check out the following events to see which fits into your calendar. They are free, open to the public and in Chicago unless otherwise noted.

Chinese Fine Arts Society Chinese New Year Kickoff

On Jan 24 at noon go to the Chicago Cultural Center during the lunch hour to see  lion dances, martial arts, traditional Chinese  dance and hear  China’s Zhejiang Shaoju Opera Theatre. The location is the Preston Bradley Hall on the third floor of the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. For more information visit ChicagoCulturalCenter/events.

Continue reading “From parades to performances Chicago celebrates Chinese New Year”

Where to find unusual gifts

One of a Kind gift show at theMart includes a good gourmet food and candy section. (J Jacobs photo)
One of a Kind gift show at theMart includes a good gourmet food and candy section. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Shopping the old fashioned way, leisurely browsing in person without worrying that the items will be gone by 8 a.m. or that the internet will be overloaded, can be a treat at museums and annual gift shows.

Listed here are two examples of excellent gift shows and really good, large  museum shops. They are likely to take a while to explore and are fun excursions while filling the gift list. Continue reading “Where to find unusual gifts”

Three sip and savor and shop events

 

Sip and Shop (Photo courtesy of Morton Arboretum)
Sip and Shop (Photo courtesy of Morton Arboretum)

When the weather turns frightful (even though Halloween is over)   it’s time to look forward to something delightful. First up are some wine, culinary and shopping events coming in the next two weeks.

Holiday Sip and Shop

In Chicago’s western suburbs, seasonal bites, spirits and shopping the Morton Arboretum way with botanical designer showcased “tablescapes” and browsing the store, welcome the coming holiday season.  The event is Nov. 8 from 5 to 9 p.m. and includes a Patricia Locke Trunk Show and mixology demonstrations. Tickets are members $45.00, nonmembers $50.00.

The Morton Arboretum is at 4100 IL Highway 53, Lisle, IL 630-446-0537.

 

Antiques + Modernism Show

In the northern suburbs, an annual show benefiting the Winnetka Community Housegoes the whole weekend of Nov. 8-10, 2019. But a fun preview party known for its buffet stations and open bar is Nov. 7 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.. This is when collectors and people in the know go for the first peek at exceptional jewelry, furniture and art. Tickets are $150 but $30 of the ticket price will be donated back to the North Shore Art League.

The Winnetka Community House is at 620 Lincoln Ave. Winnetka, IL , 847-446-2870 or 847-446-0537.

 

Chill LuxeHome

Downtown Chicago, Chill, an international wine and culinary event co sponsored by Luxehome and Wine Spectator Magazine, features terrific food from Chicago chefs and excellent wines from around the world. It’s held Downtown Chicago at theMART, Nov. 14 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.. Tickets are $145. Funds raised go to different charities.

the MART is at 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Around town goes to wine tasting and kids architecture events plus the Jewish Theater Festival

A Chicago Architecture Biennial event for youngsters is at Navy Pier Nov. 2, 2019. (Jodie Jacobs photo)
A Chicago Architecture Biennial event for youngsters is at Navy Pier Nov. 2, 2019. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

 

There are interesting experiences available this weekend so pull out the calendar.

Chicago Architecture Biennial for youngsters

Bring the kids to Navy Pier this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019  for a free, hands-on, design-it and build-it activities from noon to 4 p.m. Co-sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation with the City of Chicago and Navy Pier, the Architectural Biennial event is geared to ages 5 through 12. Look for it in the Cultural Corner across from Ben & Jerry’s at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

 

Wine seminars like the one pictured here help educate the palate. (J Jacobs photo)
Wine seminars like the one pictured here help educate the palate. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Professional/Amateur Wine Tasting Contest

Learn about your wine palate knowledge, Nov. 3, beginning at 1 p.m. at Geja’s Cafe, 340 W. Armitage, Chicago. The tasting begins with eight unmarked carafes of wine. Professionals and amateurs are challenged to identify the grape, place of origin and vintage of each wine. To enter the competition, contestants pay a $30 fee and must be 21 years of age or older. To RSVP, call Geja’s Café at (773) 281-9101.

“The world of wine is incredibly diverse,” says Geja’s owner Jeff Lawler. “That is why this contest is such a challenge. It takes a wise nose and an equally sensitive palate to identify the characteristics of each individual wine.”

 

The Ben Hecht Show starring playwright/actor James Sherman will be part of the Jewish theatre Festival. (Photo courtesy of TGeatron)
The Ben Hecht Show starring playwright/actor James Sherman will be part of the Jewish Theatre Festival. (Photo courtesy of Teatron)

TEATRON: Chicago’s Jewish Theatre Festival at Victory Gardens

Held Nov 3 through Nov.10, 2019, primarily at Victory Gardens, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, the event is the first-ever festival in Chicago that is dedicated to Jewish Theatre.  It overlaps the annual Alliance for Jewish Theatre Conference, hosted by ShPIeL at Victory Gardens Theater and The Theatre School at DePaul University, Nov. 3-5, 2019.

The Jewish Theatre Festival at Victory Gardens includes staged readings, solo performances, storytelling, cabaret, and comedy at Victory Gardens and features “The Ben Hecht Show” with playwright/actor James Sherman, Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. For conference information visit All Jewish Theatre

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Discover an Andy Warhol you only thought you knew

 

Celebrity and wallpaper works envite visitors into Andy Warhol exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago (J Jacobs photo)
Celebrity and wallpaper works envite visitors into Andy Warhol exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago (J Jacobs photo)

Visitors to the Art Institute of Chicago’s new blockbuster, “Andy Warhol from A to B and Back Again,” will see that the famed artist moved way beyond commercial illustration.

Before entering the exhibit, read the copy on the wall either to the left or right outside the hall where it says to start here. Then go into the foyer to admire the celebrities he pictured and walk through the wallpaper edged doorway into the world of Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol, Green Coca Cola Bottles. (J Jacobs photo)
Andy Warhol, Green Coca Cola Bottles. (J Jacobs photo)

Primarily known as a leader in the Pop Art movement, Warhol’s work reflected his cynical attitude towards advertising and how it influenced the public.

If one picture of a soup can, a Coke bottle, a celebrity is good, would multiple images of that person or object be better?

He wondered if people believe they will be happier, for example, if they have a nose job because they saw an ad. (He eventually did.) See his “Before and After” series.

 

Andy Warhol, Before and After. 4, 1962 (J Jacobs photo)
Andy Warhol, Before and After. 4, 1962 (J Jacobs photo)

 

Then there is his sober side which includes disaster and death motifs, both of which are in the exhibit.

In an Art Institute show of Warh’s workol about 30 years ago that gave an excellent  interpretation of his views on life and trends, there were more examples of how seriously he took guns, car accidents and other tragedies.

However, the current exhibit illustrates with newspaper clippings covering a wall and his work of Jackie before and after.how he was affected by the Kennedy assassination.

 

Andy Warhol, 1964, Nine Jackies. (J Jacobs photo
Andy Warhol, 1964, Nine Jackies. (J Jacobs photo

 

Plan on spending enough time at the exhibition to get to know the different sides of Warhol. Filled with more than 400 of his works, it includes drawings, paintings, prints, films, art installations and videos.

Organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the exhibit goes beyond the too easily dismissive pop art label.

Andy Warhol, 1981-82, Gun (J Jacobs photo
Andy Warhol, 1981-82, Gun
(J Jacobs photo

Born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh in 1928, he died of surgery complications in 1987. But in his short life he was an author, rock-band producer, magazine founder and a collector of a broad spectrum of people from celebrities and intellectuals to street people and those he was comfortable with as an openly gay guy before being gay was understood and acceptable.

Many of them were invited to The Factory, his New York studio where he often experimented with different processes including oxidation, his thumb the nose view of some artists’ works. No alert here, because you should go to the exhibit and hear more.

Andy Warhol, 1978 Oxidation Painting (J Jacobs photo)
Andy Warhol, 1978 Oxidation Painting (J Jacobs photo)

By the way, Warhol  is also credited with the “15 minutes of fame” expression.

DETAILS:  Andy Warhol from A to B and Back Again” is at the Art Institute of Chicago, from the Michigan Avenue entrance at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and the Modern wing entrance at 159 E. Monroe, St., Chicago, Oct. 20, 2019 through Jan. 26, 2020. For tickets and other information visit ARTIC/AndyWarhol.

Jodie Jacobs