Mother’s Day isn’t until May 9 in 2021 but reservations fill fast, so figure out something special, now. The ideas listed here: Stay, Play, Eat, Treat, Spa and Ooh La La are merely a guide.
Book a package deal at the 5 star Peninsula Chicago, among the city’s top luxury hotel. It has an exceptional spa, large lap pool with great views and a great roof-top lounge.
Or get a room with a view at Sable, a new Hilton hotel. You will be staying on Navy Pier, Chicago’s No. 1 attraction that re-opens April 30, 2021. Plus the hotel has Offshore, the world’s largest roof-top bar.
Stroll Lincoln Park with stops at the Zoo to talk to the animals and the Conservatory for its Spring Garden show, opening May 9. Reservations are needed because of COCID protocols.
Or snag tickets for an architectural tour on the Chicago River. Two popular tours are the Wendella and the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s River Cruise’s First Lady.
Do brunch at longtime favorite, the Signature Room at the 95th. The restaurant is atop of what was formerly called the John Hancock Center, a skyscraper now known as 875 N. Michigan Ave.
Or reserve a table (may be on a heated patio) at Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago or Schaumburg.
Or look one North Shore suburb north for Gerhard’s, a European style bakery in Lake Forest.
Get Mom a gift certificate for a spa experience. There is likely a spa in her neighborhood but if going downtown Chicago and the oriental-flavored Peninsula is booked consider the spa at the Langham an upscale Chicago hotel with a British accent.
Ooh la la
Flowers and candy have traditionally said “We love you.” The Chicago area has several good florists. Check out Blossoms or AshlandAddison, two popular and highly rated choices.
For candy, a top stop is Windy City Sweets in the Lakeview neighborhood. The only problem is that everything looks so good you’ll end up with stuff to also take home.
Or go to Long Grove Confectionary in suburban Long Grove. A longtime destination, the store also has factory outlets in Buffalo Grove, Wauconda and Chicago. Go back for a factory tour, good sale items and for holiday goodies.
It has taken COVID’s 2020 stay-close-to home mandate to bring out a different style side of artist Mark McMahon that his many fans likely won’t recognize.
Art lovers can see the ceramic tile mural of Chicago life done by McMahon, an internationally known Lake Forest artist, if they go to Van Buren and Federal Streets downtown. Folks who remember the ceramic pictures of local life that covered the walls of a Lake Forest McDonalds can find the extensive mural over at the town’s Gorton Community Center where they were moved when the McD property was developed into a shopping strip.
Abbotts’ employees know of his stylized interpretation of the international company’s various campuses as pictured first by his dad, the famed “artist- reporter, Franklin McMahon, last century, and twice now in this century by Mark McMahon. The commissioned pictures are in Abbott’s museum.
The Abbott works are part of McMahon’s “World Studio” category that also includes paintings done in Africa , London, France, Canada, Spain and Cuba.
They and other watercolors, many of which he has translated into giclee prints, note cards and mugs, have been commissioned by companies, cities and colleges. They have also ranged from sports venues and historic events such as a NASA space shuttle launch to scenic vistas on the Great Lakes such as Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Those are paintings that tell a story. Inspired by the way his dad worked on-site, McMahon calls them “editorials.”
However, anyone stopping by The Gallery, a Lake Forest restaurant cum art venue, will see not just a sampling of McMahan’s story-telling watercolors , but also his latest works in oils and acrylics.
Set in artistically designed steel frames created by son Drew McMahon, the paintings are so very different from the story-telling works on the opposite gallery wall that a visitor could be forgiven for asking who did those.
There are eye-popping flowers plus an unusual rendering of a lion fish.
When asked about his change in style, McMahon, sitting at home with a cup of tea for the interview, said, “Wait” as he disappeared. He brought back a large canvas done in oils on site at a Lake Forest Open Lands property about 30 years ago.
If divided into close-ups, it could foretell the direction he would take decades later. But the style is different.
Even though it was done on site because that is how McMahon works, the scene didn’t begin as a line drawing followed by color as in his characteristic painting mode. Instead, the canvas appeared as an experiment in textured layers and scenic effects.
I’ve always done these on the side,” said McMahon.
His newest works focus on pattern instead of a scenic tale.
Zooming in on the shape of the flora he captures, his irises tend to to take on a Matisse-type flow.
His thistles, as in the work hanging in his and wife Carolyn’s living room, create an impact with repeated pattern. They become even more important against a forceful background color. This one is a glowing orange.
“Carolyn said this one isn’t going anywhere. It’s staying here,” said McMahon. (Carolyn, an artist who works in a variety of media, has a two dimensional metal piece attached to another living room wall.)
Another change is that he now favors icon boards over the canvas he had been using. “You feel it pulling the paint off the brush,” he said.
What hasn’t changed is working on site where he does his line work and initial painting and then, finishing the work back in his studio. He still brings his tools: an easel and box of paints to the site. “I like that spontaneity,” said McMahon.
But he attributes his adding a new style, “not technique,” to the pandemic. “I’ve had more time now with COVID,” he said.
Instead of traveling far afield to capture a story playing out at a city or college, McMahon heads to his rock garden or around the corner to the wild plants such as thistle that grow along telephone, electric and cable lines.
I’ve been doing this (painting) for 50 years,” said McMahon, 70. “The art process takes, 30-40-50 years to develop. They have evolved. Once in a while there is a good one,” he said.
(To view Mark McMahon’s work visit The Gallery, check with the Deerpath Art League’s date for its May fundraiser and go on April 29, 2021 to the City of Lake Forest Shop in the downtown train station for an event to help local non-profit organizations.)
The path back to normal begins to look more like the yellow brick road as an insightful Comics exhibition gets set to open at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Institute of Chicago is happily welcoming more and more visitors to its Monet exhibit and the Adler Planetarium reminds folks they can explore the museum and space online by putting space projections on theMart. Plus, over in Pennsylvania the Philadelphia Museum of Art gets ready to show off the major renovation of its 1928 building by architect Frank Gehry.
Art on theMart
April . No fooling. Projections on theMart at the Chicago River and Merchandise Mart Plaza promise to fascinate drivers and walkers as they move from the Adler Planetarium’s Astrographics about how we viewed the Earth, Other Worlds, the Stars and the Beyond April 1 through July 4.
In addition, the Art Institute’s Monet and Bisa Butler’s works simultanesously go from April 1 to May 19 followed by CPS class of 2021 projects May 20 to June 26.
The timing works because the Adler’s projections are about 16 minutes so the remaining time is filled by the other partners. Projections start at 8:30 p.m. CT and continue for about 30 minutes. Then, they begin again at 9 p.m. For more information visit Art on theMart and Spring art on theMart 2021.
Also in April but online is a curated digital exposition of contemporary and modern art put together by EXPO Chicago, the organization that has annually held its highly regarded show at Navy Pier pre-COVID. It runs APRIL 8-12, 2021 and includes gallery works plus knowledgeable art sessions. For information and registration visit EXPO Chicago.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
May, With travel returning as more people get their second vaccine, visiting museums outside the Midwest sounds enticing and doable. Among the places to visit is the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see how architect Frank Gehry (designer of Chicago’s Pritzker Pavilion renovated the museum’s 1928 building. The unveiling is May 7, 2021. For more information visit Philamuseum/renovation.
Museum of Contemporary Art
June brings “Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now” at the MCA. “From radical newspapers to literary graphic novels, encompassing autobiography, satire, absurdism, science fiction, horror, and fiction, the exhibition foregrounds comics and cartooning as a democratic medium that allows artists to grapple with the issues of their time,” says an MCA statement about “Chicago Comics”
Running June 19 through Oct. 3, 2021, the exhibit reveals Chicago as a center for comics and cartooning. For more information visit MCA Chicago Comics.
With Chicago museums allowed to open with Covid protocols in place, there are new exhibits to see at places off the beaten path.
Among them are the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art and the intuit Center for Intuitive Outsider Art..
“Work People Art,” pieces done under the Works Progress Administration’s Great Depression era Federal Art Project, open at the Ukrainian Institute Feb. 20 and continue through May 16, 2021.
“Nearly 90 years later, these works speak to contemporary American struggles with a Covid-19 pandemic, its accompanying political and economic repercussions, and an era of social upheaval,” says an exhibit statement.
The exhibition is a road show organized by Doug Stapleton, associate curator of art at the Illinois State Museum.
The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art is at 2320 W. Chicago Ave. For more information visit UIMA and WorkPeopleArtOpening.
The following weekend, Intuit opens Feb. 26 with a George Widener exhibition that continues through May 9, 2021.
Called “In Focus: George Widener,” it features works from the Victor F. Keen collection.
“George Widener is an exceptional living artist who blurs the boundary between outsider and contemporary art with his works that focus on numbers, dates, cities and codes,” says Intuit President/CEO Debra Kerr.
Intuit is at 756 N. Milwaukee Ave. For more information visit art.org.
It’s sure to feel like spring is reawakening with glorious sunflowers when you visit the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, now showing through September 6.
This visually spectacular digital art exhibition invites audiences to “step inside” the iconic works of post-Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh. It evokes his highly emotional and chaotic inner consciousness through art, light, music and movement.
With more than 50 projectors illuminating over 14,000 square-feet, visitors are surrounded by Van Gogh’s brushstrokes and colors, including animated details from Self Portrait with Felt Hat (1888), The Bedroom in Arles (1889), Irises (1889) and The Starry Night 1889).
Immersive Van Gogh is a glorious experience that will envelop the visual and audio senses. Classical music, Edith Piaf’s “No Regrets” and other French songs stimulate the mind.
Stand in one of the circles on the main floor, then step up to the balcony to get a higher perspective.
The 1-hour Van Gogh exhibit has been designed in accordance with the latest health and safety protocols. Capacity is limited and masks are required at all times. Digitally projected social distancing circles on the gallery floors ensure appropriate spacing.
Ticket prices start at $39.99 for adults ($24.99 for children 16 or younger) with untimed and flexible ticket options available.
Immersive Van Gogh is at the Lighthouse Art Space, 108 Germania Place, Chicago. For more information, visit vangoghchicago.com or call 844-307-4644.
See an in-person exhibit on Nelson Mandela, Women in the Military, Monet or Marvel Comics.
As the number of COVID cases go down Chicago’s museums have begun inviting visitors back, enticing them with special exhibits.
Safety protocols will be followed including timed tickets and, of course, wearing masks. As an old, once popular ad said, “Don’t leave home without it.”
The Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum opened in January. The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Lake County Dunn Museum are opening in February and the Museum of Science and Industry opens in March.
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center
The museum welcomed the public back with free admission on Feb. 3, 2021 and will continue to offer free admission on Wednesday through March. Hours are 9 a.m. -5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday but tickets must be purchased online ahead of time. See safety procedures.
Current main special exhibition is “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” up until about Feb. 20, 2021.
Upcoming special exhibit is “Mandela’s Struggle for Freedom” opening Feb. 20.
The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and 159 E. Monroe (Modern Wing).
Bess Bower Dunn Museum
The museum, a Lake County Forest Preserves property, reopens Feb. 13 with online, timed tickets.
“Modifications have been made throughout the galleries and gift shop to minimize touch points and support social distancing,” said Director of Education Nan Buckardt.
Along with displays of Lake County history and artifacts, the museum is currently celebrating Black History Month. Its special exhibit, “Breaking Barriers: Women in the Military,” will be up through June 13, 2021.
Modified hours are 10 am to 3:30 pm, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with visitation time slots available from 10–11:30 am, 12–1:30 pm, and 2–3:30 pm. The galleries and gift shop will be closed between these time slots for cleaning and disinfecting.
The museum will be open on Presidents Day, Monday, Feb.15 and then will resume its regular schedule.
“We look forward to welcoming visitors back again to the Dunn Museum,” said Angelo Kyle, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves. “Our priority remains to create a safe environment and provide peace of mind for all our visitors and staff while connecting them with Lake County history and culture.”
For tickets, safety protocols and other information visit Bess Bower Dunn Museum. The museum is at 1899 W. Winchester Rd., Libertyville, (847) 367 6640.
Museum Of Science and Industry
MSI as Chicagoans call the museum, will reopen with the premiere of “Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes,” when it welcomes members on March 4 and the public on March 7.
A major exhibit, the ” Marvel Universe” will contain more than 300 items ranging from sculptures, interactive displays and costumes to props from Marvel films and original comic book pages.
After opening weekend, MSI will be open Wed -Sun from 9:30 a.m. to 4.p.m. For tickets, protocols, hours and other information visit MSI status.
The Museum of Science and Industry is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive.
Some Chicago museums are opening to members beginning Jan. 23 and then to the public in the coming days. The museums’ reopening comes on the heels of IL Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s announcement this week that the city has moved to tier 2 mitigation.
(Pritzker is expected to announce today, Jan. 23, that the city has also reached tier 1 thus restaurants and bars will be be allowed to re-start indoor seating at 25 percent capacity.)
The Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum on the city’s Lake Shore Drive Museum Campus are among the current open museums. The Art Institute of Chicago plans to reopen in February.
A world-renown art museum, the Art Institute of Chicago at 111 N. Michigan Ave., will reopen Feb. 11. It will start with a limited schedule Thursday through Monday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and open to members only the first hour.
More museums have indicated they will open in March. For more museum information and future openings visit Choose Chicago/museum reopening, the city’s tourism site.
Following Gov. Pritzker’s Covid-19 case mitigation orders on Nov. 17, 2020, Chicago’s museums will close this week. Several of them will shutter late afternoon Wednesday, Nov. 18.
The Shedd plans to close at 5 p.m. Wednesday and hopes to reopen Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. Its website has some fee-based videos, animal encounters and education programs to offset the loss of revenue it needs for animal care and conservation. For more information visit sheddaquarium.
MSI will close Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. The museum has digital programs and resources. Visit MSIChicago for more information. See some of the tree decorations that are part of the museum’s annual Christmas Around the world exhibit at Trees and Traditions. To see how the exhibit was build and what it looks like now visit Christmasaroundtheworld.
The museum closed back in March 2020 and has remained closed but it has an online presence for star gazers and folks who want to stay current on sky events. Visit astronomy live but also check the events that occur every week and every other week such as Skywatch Weekly. Click on the arrow to see what is available free such as NASA LIVE for the latest operations at the International Space Station.
Imagine being surrounded by the art of Vincent van Gogh translated into movement, color and sound.
If you deliberately drive or walk past theMart to see what pictures are currently shown on the huge Wacker Drive side of the building as Art on theMart or it you tried getting tickets for last year’s sold-out last year and this year’s almost sold out Lightscape, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s stroll through immersive light and sound, you are likely to want to get to tickets when they go on sale this month to “Immersive Van Gogh.”
Tickets go on sale 11 a.m. CST Nov. 23, 2020 at VanGoghChicago and (844) 307-4644. Prices start at $39.99, adults and $24.99 for youth age 16 and younger. Tickets and space conform to pandemic protocols of social distancing and hand sanitizing.
The exhibition deconstructs Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh and several of his works including “The Starry Night” and some of the “Sunflowers” series during an hour-long, 360 degree experience among changing projections and music in a 500,000 cubic foot space.
The creative team responsible for the Parisian Atelier des Lumières Exhibition in Paris is getting the Chicago edition of “Immersive Van Gogh” ready to open Feb. 11, 2021, according to Chicago Commissioner of Culture Mark Kelly during an introductory conference Nov. 16.
However, as remarkable as the Immersive van Gogh exhibition will be, Kelly also considered the space as equally important. The exhibition which leaves early May is going up in the formerly dormant, now remodeled, historic Germania Club in Old Town. The building will be known as Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago, a new venue for immersive art.
After noting that the Paris exhibition drew more than 2 million visitors, Kelly pointed out that Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago would, from a global view, become a new “art destination.” He added that Chicago, already known for its art institutions, would be an “art powerhouse.”
If tired of friends asking what are you doing with more time at home, put yourself into one of those cartoon frames with a lightbulb in the overhead cloud.
What would the next frame show? Learn how to make a holiday dessert or favorite ethnic dish? Learn to draw? Paint a portrait of your pet? Work with clay? And what if the frame has another figure such as a young son or daughter/ So what about a fun science or comic-book or kids cooking class.?
Chicago Theater and Arts CTAA) checked out several resources in the Chicago area to come up with three suggestions for now. (More later in January to combat winter and Covid doldrums).
The Art Center
TAC, as highland Park’s art exhibition and class space is called, has in person and online classes. A good website to know, TAC has online mini classes for adults and youngsters such as one for ages 15-100 to learn how to do a pet’s portrait, work with colored pencils or portray a winter scene.
Classes are online between Nov. 30 and Dec. 20, 2020 with most starting Dec. 1 and going on for two weeks using zoom. Youth classes, for drawing, cartooning, painting and clay, are typically are for age 9-13 but some begin at age 8.
Get dinner ideas. Cook and learn from famed chefs. Have the kids take a class. Those are just some of the perks of going to Chefs Gale Gand and Jessica Dawson’s online Kitchen Sisters Cooking School.
Gand, an award winning pastry chef, cookbook author, Michelin star and James Beard restaurateur and cooking teacher works out of the Chicago area. Dawson is a traveling chef, teacher who was the youngest traveling America’s Test Kitchen host and has taught people around the world the science of cooking (when she stops long enough to teach in one place).
Museum of Science and Industry Resources Lab
MSI has a new, online spot for tomorrow’s scientists. Some of the topics are Mission to Mars: what to pack, Forensics Chromatography, and Engineers: building bridges. For more information visit MSIChicagoResources.