More Chicago museums ready to reopen

 

Art Institute of Chicago (Photo by J. Jacobs)
Art Institute of Chicago
(Photo by J. Jacobs)

The Field and Museum of Contemporary Art are re-opening July 24 (See Around Chicago visits the Museum Scene). Now the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry will be ready to welcome back visitors a week later.

Art Institute of Chicago

To celebrate, the museum is offering free admission to Illinois residents July 30-Aug 3, 2020. The public will need to get tickets in advance, however the first hour will be reserved to members each day.

What’s there

The El Greco: Ambition and Defiance will be up through Sept. 7 and won’t need special tickets.

Bauhaus Chicago: Design in the City stays through Sept. 21.

Malangatana: Mozambique Modern  opens July 30 and continues through Nov. 15, 2020.

Toulouse-Lautrec and the Celebrity Culture of Paris that opened just before the pandemic closed the museum, will stay through Jan. 31, 2021.

Coming: Monet and Chicago will open Sept 5 and go to Jan. 18, 2021.

 

Museum of Science and Industry

Opening Aug. 1, MSI will have free admission thru Aug 14. Most exhibits will be open. Among those that will still be closed because of social distancing protocols are U 505 Submarine and the Coal Mine.

 

Around Chicago visits the museum scene

 

Putting together Maximo the Titanosaurin the Field Museum. (J Jacobs photo)
Putting together Maximo the Titanosaur in the Field Museum. (J Jacobs photo)

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.

 

All sorts of interesting creatures of different colors, patterns and movements are at the Shedd. (Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium.
All sorts of interesting creatures of different colors, patterns and movements are at the Shedd. (Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium.)

What’s open

Chicago Architecture Center

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.

Shedd Aquarium

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.

 

 

Apsáalooke Women and Warriors exhibit (Field Museum photo by John Weinstein)
Apsáalooke Women and Warriors exhibit (Field Museum photo by John Weinstein)

What’s coming

Field Museum

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.

“I really think people will enjoy this,” said Hong. (Apsáalooke Women and Warriors closes April 4, 2021 then travels to other museums)

 

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

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.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Two interesting COVID directed experiences

 

Art Institute's popular painting by Georges Seurat . (J Jacobs photgo)
Art Institute’s popular painting by Georges Seurat . (J Jacobs photgo)

 

Chicago’s theater companies have been inviting audiences to watch productions on line as a way to raise needed funds to stay in business while COVID-19 has shuttered stages and in-person experiences. Citadel Theatre has found a different, fun way (sort of like a movie drive in) to enjoy a program.

Museums and other Chicago destinations have also suffered financial losses from closed doors. Youngsters and their families have also been deprived of popular places to visit. To help with the latter issue, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is journeying out to some of the city’s museums in virtual field trips geared to the whole family. They have been fun and enlightening. So go on, take a virtual field trip with her.

Outdoor Cabaret

Citadel Theatre, a Lake Forest-based equity production company, has found a new way to put on a theater experience in line with Sate and national guidelines. Audiences are invited to watch and hear one-hour matinee performances at the suburb’s Gorton Community Center Parking lot while sitting comfortably and safely in their cars.

Cabaret dates are June 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 1 and 3 p.m. at 400 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest.

Tickets are considered donations and must be bought in advance because of limited parking space. Entrance is on Illinois Road, exit is at McKinley Road. Community Center facilities (washrooms) will not be available.

For tickets and more information visit Citadeltheatre/cabaret.

 

Hit Play Chicago goes to the Art Institute

The world renown museum is the next stop on the city field trip series that visited the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, the National Museum of Mexican Art and the DuSable Museum of African American History.

It’s a chance to visit (or revisit) a famous painting, hear about an upcoming block-buster exhibition and see works that might become favorites.

Visit HitPlayChicago to see the video that went live on Wednesday and will be replayed on WTTW on Friday and Monday. Scroll down to visit past field trip destinations.

Jodie Jacobs

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”