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.
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.
Now that November is here, normally, (and what is normal anymore?) calendars are full of fall and early winter events. In the Chicago area that means many holiday activities and shows are usually available in person. Some of them are still taking place with timed tickets such as the Botanic Garden’s Lightscape and the Museum of Science and Industry’s Holiday Trees. More on those events next time. But other events will be presented differently this year. Here are a few suggestions.
Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park
Take a free tour of the Chicago Cultural Center or the art in Millennium Park.
The tours are offered virtually on demand by volunteers through the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Among stops at the 1897 Cultural Center is the Tiffany dome.
The Millennium Park tour includes work by Anish Kapoor and Kerry James Marshal. For more information and to sign up visit DCASEvolutuntours.
Drive or walk by theMART,
Art on theMart starts again Nov. 12. Among the scenes will be the Joffrey ballet’s images from “the Nutcracker,” and pictures from the Art Institujte of chicago’s M\”Monet and Chicago, “Bisa Butler’s Portraits and “
Arts of Life.
The images will on nightly at 7 and 7:30 through Dec. 30o. For more information visit artonthemart.com.
“It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago”
The American Blues Theater is bringing back its annual production. The classic show runs 80 minutes andcan be viewed virtually. However, it is live so there are specific times, dates and tickets.
“At American Blues, we miss so much of the experience of live theater, including its energy, social nature and ephemeral quality.,” said Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside
“This season, we will bring “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago”entirely live for every scheduled performance. We will also be interactive, bringing our popular audiograms to audience members during every performance.,” said. Whiteside. She added,” This year has been filled with so much uncertainty, but the one thing audiences can count on is the holiday tradition of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Based on Frank Capra’s film, it can be seen online Nov. 12 2020 through Jan. 2, 2021. For tickets and more information visit American Blues Theater.
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.
Put field trips of the in-person kind back on the calendar. Now that the city has moved to Phase 4, Chicago’s great museums and tourist destinations are opening their doors after about four months of living in virtual YouTube segments.
Note their new hours and days. Some will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Most have timed tickets. Some have shortened hours. All will be following protocols of social distancing, wearing masks and staying within 25 % capacity. Many will have hand sanitizing stations and one-way walkway arrows.
Here is just a sampling of what to visit now and the week of July 24.
CAC, 111 E Wacker Drive, has been welcoming visitors to its skyscraper gallery upstairs and its vast panorama model of Chicago buildings in its main-floor gallery since July 3, It had already started with Chicago neighborhood tours where guests met their docents on location on June 20. Now CAC has added several tours that start from its building including the popular Architecture River Cruise, Chicago Architecture: A Walk Through Time, and Must See Chicago.
Because the tours are following strict Chicago and state guidelines, they are limited in size. “They fill fast,” said CAC Communications Director Zachary Whittenburg.
CAC is worth a stop just to see how it handles the Chicago Fire and what new buildings are in its panorama and upstairs.
“The Center’s being closed meant we were able to completely update and improve the exhibits. Walk ins are OK. It’s not a problem. We’re not at capacity. We have 10,000 square feet and there are not as many tourists this summer,” said Whittenburg.
Sitting in the middle of the Chicago Museum Campus at 1200 S. Lake shore Drive, the Shedd Aquarium reopened July 3. Timed tickets needed so plan ahead.. For info and map of routes and exhibits visit Shedd /plan visit.
The first building on the Museum campus at 1400 S. Lake shore Drive, the Field opens to members July 17 and to the public on July 24. Get tickets ahead for the date and time you want. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday, hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Use the East entrance to enter but you can leave through the East, North and south exits. (Illinois healthcare workers, teachers, and first responders have free admission and their families receive Chicago admission prices, July 24–August 9).
Visit dinosaurs upstairs in the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet and do Ancient Egypt by going through a three-story tomb (available with general admission). But save time for the extraordinary new Apsáalooke Women and Warriors exhibit in the main level’s special show space (requires an All-pass ticket).
Curated by Nina Sanders, an Apsáalooke (Ahp-SAH-luh-guh) scholar, and Alaka Wali, Field Curator of North American Anthropology, the exhibit had its opening ceremony March 13, then closed until this week due to the pandemic.
“Now we’re ready to welcome visitors to this really vibrant exhibit,” said Janet Hong, Apsáalooke Field Project Manager. “At this time in the U.S. we need cultural awareness more than ever,” she said.
Although the Field has had several Apsáalooke, (also known as the Crow Nation) cultural materials that have been studied and researched by scholars, it wasn’t until recently that the Nation’s elders and leaders gave permission for them to be displayed, according to Hong.
“Most of the material has rarely been on display,” said Hong.
She noted that Sanders was an instrumental link to the Crow Nation and worked with cultural advisers in addition to bringing in current voices and material.
Located at 220 E. Chicago Ave., MCA visitors are welcomed back July 24 with a free admission policy through August but tickets are needed so make online reservations. Just note that hours and days have been changed to Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the first hour limited to seniors and people at increased risk.
What to expect: Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago has been extended to September 27, 2020, Chicago filmmaker Deborah Stratman’s has an exhibition on her film The Illinois Parables, that includes a re-creation of the WFMT radio studio of Studs Terkel with a selection of his celebrated interviews. There is also Just Connect, an exhibition on how the pandemic has made us more aware of our desire to connect, and how we depend on our communities and families for a sense of belonging.
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
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.”
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
It’s free. It’s open to the public beginning Sept. 19, 2019. And it’s a very different experience and scope from two years ago.
Titled” And Other Such Stories,” this year’s exposition focuses on neighborhoods, their make-up and revitalization in countries and cities across the globe, environmental and industrial impact and it encompasses North America’s indigenous populations.
The main venue is the gorgeous Chicago Cultural Center, a city treasure at 78 E. Washington St. formerly known as the People’s Palace, where there is a southern marble staircase lined with beautiful mosaics, a third floor that has two glass domes including one by Tiffany and exhibits on first, second and fourth flours.
Off-site curatorial venues range from the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 8000 S. Halsted St. and the former Anthony Overton Elementary School at 4935 S. Indiana Ave. to the National Public Housing Museum at the Jane Addams Homes, 1322 W. Taylor St. and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago at Homan Square, 906 S. Homan Ave.
In addition, are more than 100 institutions partnering with the biennial such as The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Architecture Center, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Beverly Arts Center and Dusable Museum of African American History. Go to the Chicago Architecture Biennial for a complete list and more exhibition activities and places.
Be sure to look at what is being projected on the Chicago River side of theMart. See if you can identify which great work of art is now on the building’s 2.5 acre façade.
It could be “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” the popular 1884 painting by Georges Seurat.
Or it might be “The Bedroom,” a famous 1889 work by Vincent van Gogh.
“Art on the MART” has been doing digital projections across the huge building that used to be known as the Merchandise Mart on the north side of the Chicago River since the end September 2018 in partnership with the City of Chicago and privately funded by theMART owners Vornado Realty Trust.
Now, as of Aug. 1, 2019, those projections will be digitalized pictures of works from the Art Institute of Chicago’s permanent collection. They can be seen from Wednesday through Sunday for about two hours each night beginning about half an hour after sunset.
Also geared for projection is Georgia O’Keefe’s “Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy and Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.”
Digitalized projections on the MART rotate each season.
“The Art Institute is thrilled to share some of our most iconic works with the city through our partnership with theMART- a landmark architectural site and a new platform for public art in Chicago,” said Robyn Farrell, Art Institute of Chicago Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art.
Explaining that part of Art on theMART’s mission is to make public art space available to cultural institutions and artists, Executive Director Cynthia Noble said, “We are honored to work with the Art Institute of Chicago to offer unprecedented access to four beloved, yet transformed, works from the permanent collection.”
Some schools still have spring vacation but not all places suggested here need be visited during the week. They all are destinations for adults and youngsters any time of year.
Chicago Architecture Center
Even though CAF is now known as CAC and is in a new location on east Wacker Drive overlooking the Chicago River and it is a place to get tickets for tours and its famed architecture boat excursion, the place has a wonderful diorama on its main floor and interesting exhibits upstairs.
However, it also has the ArcelorMittal Design Studio which on Sundays welcomes families interested in building something themselves. The studio is also a place to learn some architecture basics at themed stations. That doesn’t mean it’s just for older children. The age base is 3 and anyone younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
The $12 admission fee includes CAC. The studio construction program is at 10 a.m. Visit Family Build for more information and registration. For CAC information visit Architecture/Visit. CAC is at 111 E. Wacker Dr., Chicago
Illinois resident free-day at Adler Planetarium and The Field Museum in early April
Stop by the planetarium April 2-4 or April 9-11 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to learn about galaxies, black holes and more space phenomenon. During Illinois Resident Free General Admission Days.
General Admission provides access to exhibitions and experiences except for the “Atwood Sphere Experience” and sky shows. However discounted exhibit tickets are available on free days.
For more information call (312) 922-7827 or visit Adler offers. The Adler Planetarium is at the far eastern end of the Museum Campus at 1300 S.Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.
The Field Museum
The Field has free general admission and discounted passes April 5-7 . All access discount tickets are $23, adults, $17 children 3-11, $20 seniors and students with ID. Discovery passes that include one ticketed exhibit are $16, $12 and $14. Some of the ticketed exhibits are Evolving Planet, Trex, Mummies, Photographers of the Year, China and Egypt.
The Field Museum is the first and furthest west building on the Museum
Campus at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. For more information call (312) 922- 9410 and visit Field Musuem and Field events/free.
American Writers Museum
For an experience of a different kind, (what word would you like to insert here?) visit a museum where families can write together, play word games together, visit a Children’s Literature Gallery, Learn about written words and quotes going back centuries and something about Chicago writers.
Admission is $12 adults, free to children 12 and younger,$ 8 seniors and students. For hours and other information call 312.374.8790 and visit American Writers Museum and AWM/exhibits.
Visitors and Chicago area residents are arguably familiar with the city’s Theatre District of show venues in the Loop and the Museum Campus next to Soldier Field.
Now add the Water Tower Arts District to Chicago’s cultural district scene.
Now, the city has officially designated an area both sides of North Michigan Avenue that stretches approximately from Streeterville to the Gold Coast as the WTAD.East of LaSalle Street from Illinois Street to North Avenue .
Launched at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago by Commissioner Mark Kelly of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events on March 12, 2019, the new district includes these 15 cultural organizations: (1) The Arts Club of Chicago, (2) Broadway in Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, (3) City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower, (4) Graham Foundation, (5) International Museum of Surgical Science, (6) Lookingglass Theatre Company, (7) Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), (8) Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), (9) the Newberry Library, (10) Poetry Foundation, (11) Porchlight Music Theatre, (12) Richard Gray Gallery, (13) the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, (14) the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, and (15) the Society of Architectural Historians.
Anyone old enough to recall “Bug House Square,” the once popular tag for Washington Square Park south of Newbery Library where people would debate social issues, will understand Kelly’s reference during the launch to the area as Bohemian.
Plus, he and Chicago historian Pamela Bannos noted that the area around the Water Tower, was once known as “Towertown,” a Bohemian arts stronghold, so the new designation was really a return to its roots.
“This tightly knit group of arts organizations raises the same spirit of camaraderie and collaboration as they reclaim the District and invite visitors to experience a diverse array of cultural activities…,” Kelly said.
Lookingglass Executive Director Rachel Fink likes that the arts organizations are joining together to attract attention. “It felt a little isolated over here…,” said Fink. “The Mag Mile has a different focus.”
The process of gathering together, which she recalled started about five months ago, has also introduced her to other arts organizations in the neighborhood.
“I like meeting our neighbors. It’s been an incredible opportunity for me” she said. “Now I know more the Driehaus Museum and I learned about the interesting (International) Museum of Surgical Science.”
She added, “It helps to do things as a community. Now we’re celebrating and brainstorming together.
For more information and descriptions of the 15 organizations and activities, visit the website Watertowerarts. The site and the graphic designation were created by Chicago designers Michael Savona, and Tobey Albright plus Mollie Edgar from Hour. Photographs of the institutions were done by Chicago artist Assaf Evron.