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.
Watching Porchlight Theatre’s “Chicago Sings Rock and Roll Broadway” on Youtube last night, made me realize how much I missed going to Chicago area venues for good musicals and plays.
Well-staged with superb instrumental back-up, the cast takes on the mammoth task of covering musicals through the decades from “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Hair” in the 1960s and “The Wiz” and “Promises Promises” in the 1970s to more recent shows such as “Kinky Boots,” “Waitress,” “Beautiful” and “Head over Heels.”
Past benefit concerts were, among others, covers from Disney, Stephen Sondheim, The Beatles and Motown.
Choosing a song or a couple of stanzas from each show, their theme this year is Rock and Roll but not all music chosen fall in that genre. So, if deciding to tune in to support local artists, Porchlight and, just as important, the theatre’s education arm to area youth, don’t worry if your ear prefers other musical genres.
The benefit is fun to watch and hear because the music ranges from standards to lesser- known songs. You are bound to find a favorite performance. Among mine was Sawyer Smith’s magnificent take on “Wig in a Box” from “Hedwig & the Angry Inch, (1998).
A virtual event that can be viewed through April 18, 2021, Chicago Sings is a fundraiser similar to the broadcasts that have aired since COVID shuttered arts and entertainment venues a year ago, except this event brings the cast and musicians together.
It also includes the presentation of the 2021 Guy Adkins award for “excellence in the advancement of music theatre” to Felicia P. Fields and greetings from several Broadway stars including E. Faye Butler and Sean Allan Krill.
Porchlight Theatre’s “Chicago Sings Rock and Roll Broadway is on YouTube through April 18, 2021. Tickets are $25. Running time is about 90 minutes. For tickets see Porchlight and for information visit Porchlight Music Theatre.
Ravinia, the country’s oldest outdoor music festival, announced today it will be back operating a summer season outside beginning sometime in July.
First opened in 1904, Ravinia Festival had to close its gates last year to protect guests, staff and musicians from the COVID virus. But with the lowering of cases and easing of restrictions it will be doing what it does best, presenting a wide range of good music.in its 36-acre park in Highland Park, IL. Just expect to follow recommended protocols that will be announced along with ticket and program information.
“All of our performances will take place outside in our open air Pavilion with reserved-in-advance, distanced seating offered in the Pavilion, on the Lawn, and al fresco at our dining spaces,” said a Ravinia statement released March 16, 2021.
“We are delighted that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will return in July to its summer home here at Ravinia for its annual six-week summer residency. Our anticipation is doubled with Marin Alsop set to lead seven concerts with the orchestra in her first season as our Chief conductor and curator,” the statement said.
Ravinia’s lineup will b e announced in late April.
Arts and entertainment aficionados who check choreographer, teacher, dancer Terence Marling’s COMMONconservatory site on Instagram will see what is happening now in his unique program and classes.
But if they check back closer to June they will find a date and link for COMMON ‘s production featuring the dancers and choreographers in the full conservatory program. Marling created the conservatory when he returned from a stint in Germany to find that A&E dance jobs disappeared, their venues closed and their funding tumbled.
“Dancers have to do barre or muscles go away. When I came back from Germany I realized everything had shut down but dancers need to do ballet every day. The dancers in the COMMONcoservatory program are close to professional,” said Marling. “They are putting in time in the studio but do not touch one another which in ballet is hard,” he said.
Marling whose own professional dance and choreography career extends back to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater in the 1990s, had moved on to Germany’s National Theater Mannheim. There he added dance instruction. Then he went to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as a dancer, choreographer and teacher before becoming rehearsal director. In 2013, he took on directorship of Hubbard Street 2 and toured the company internationally with new works he created and commissioned.
The road to COMMONconservatory started in 2017 with freelance choreography, teaching and staging productions for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Visceral Dance Chicago, A&A Ballet and the Chicago High School for the arts.
Just as important was his choreographing solos in the past few years to be used in auditions and competitions because what COMMONconservatory does is get good dancers prepared for their next career move.
However, Marling also offers daily ballet classes that includes what he calls the Flying Biscuit Show, a live broadcast of the barre portion that viewers could also try.
If going to Classes/COMMON the note about limited space is not a come-on. Dancers or, as Marling likes to say, “artists,” a term he prefers to students because of their high skill level, who want to be in the full conservatory program, have to audition. It was limited to 10 artists this year and may go to 15 next year.
Some of the conservatory program dancers commute from family homes while others moved here from Brazil, Russia, both US coasts and North Carolina.
They are dancers such as Lauryn Masciana who worked with Marling three years ago at Hubbard Street Summer Intensives.
“I enjoy his teaching style and then I had been taking barre classes in his Biscuit program. The classes meant I could keep up dancing and ballet work during the pandemic. It really helped me through the pandemic.
Masciana, a former Fordham University student, had moved back to her parents’ home in New Jersey during the pandemic. She moved to Chicago for the conservatory program.
“His program really helps me toward the next step professionally which hopefully is in Chicago. I really like the contemporary dance that is here. The program is excellent training and also provides networking,” she said.
Her goal? “Step into my professional dance career.”
Dancer Anna Isaacs, a commuter from Elburn, IL where she lives with her family, heard about COMMONconservatory through social media. (Check facebook).
“I was undoubtedly captivated by the program as well as the principles Terry created and believes in,” Isaacs said.
“At the time, I had already enrolled with my former dance studio for the year and didn’t think it was a possibility to audition for COMMON.,” she said.
“I met with Terry later on. He was truly unfeigned and welcoming. He introduced me to the space and offered that I take class with the conservatory for a day. I knew this program was the right fit for me and an entity for furtherance. I joined the COMMON family in January 2020.”
Isaacs is not bothered by her weekly five-day commute. “It is tolerable and it is worth every minute for the exceptional training and guidance I receive. Movement to me is indispensable. I would be adrift in the absence of it. Training with COMMON Conservatory this year has been out of this world.”
She added, “COMMON is unique. Working with many knowledgeable choreographers has sparked an unused artistic creativity and an unrecognized internal curiosity. I have obtained a finer comprehension for why I love this art every day. I am forever thankful to Terry for creating an environment for growth, community, and possibility.”
The program’s itle, COMMONconservatory is more than unique. It’s key to understanding Marling’s philosophy and goals.
“I enjoy juxtaposition as an artist. I really like how differing things shed light on each other. A conservatory brings to mind both serious study of a discipline and also is a rather snobby word, to put it bluntly. COMMON is the opposite of a snobby word and is entirely inclusive,” he said.
“I’m a “new school” teacher. I don’t teach dance with the body shaming, negativity, and verbal abuse that went with dance training in the past. I believe that dance is for everybody, no matter the shape, size or inherent ability. It is something to be shared as a community with joy and curiosity. We all have in common at least some inkling of a compulsion to move our bodies.”
His philosophy is shared by the programs’ choreographers who are also teachers such as Alysia “Allie” Johnson, a full-time member of the Hubbard Street Chicago Dance company who met Marling when he was her teacher. After “testing the waters” elsewhere she returned to Chicago to work for Hubbard. “But now we have a peer relationship,” she said.
As to her choreography style Johnson said, “I rely heavily on rhythms and musicality. Groove is my style.”
Characterizing the group as a wonderful “gumbo” she said “They are all at a high skill level but have different backgrounds, different flavors of experience. ”
She worked with COMMONconservatory in December for about two weeks and will be back in April to refresh the choreography for the June program. Now, Johnson is preparing for a Hubbard Street Chicago program that will stream live March 2, 2021.
“I like performing but also like choreography. I love teaching. I love dancing. No priorities.”
Talking about the dancers she has been working with, Johnson said, “I want to challenge them and they also challenge me. It’s about challenge and comfort. I want them to be able to walk into a room with the confidence that they will be comfortable with the choreography being done.”
For now, Marling is concentrating and pulling all the choreography together so it flows in the June showcase. And while still viewing the dance world clouded by the pandemic he is considering expanding conservatory enrollment to 15 next season.
But his goal? I would like to form my own dance company,” said Marling.
If you watched the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice award ceremonies you likely have an idea of who and what will be on the 93rd Oscars® list of nominees.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ nominees were announced early this morning by actor/producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas and singer/songwriter/actor Nick who streamed live from London. For a repeat go to shows/Oscars.
The list has 23 categories ranging from actors and actresses (yes, the Academy still calls female actors, actresses) in leading and supporting roles to the best feature and short documentaries.
Here are just a few of the nominees.
Performance by an actor in a leading role has Riz Ahmed in “Sound of Metal,” Chadwick Boseman in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Anthony Hopkins in “The Father,” Gary Oldman in “Mank” and Steven Yeun in “Minari”
Supporting role actors nominated are Sacha Baron Cohen in “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Daniel Kaluuya in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Leslie Odom, Jr. in “One Night in Miami.,” Paul Raci in “Sound of Metal” and Lakeith Stanfield in “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
Leading ladies nominated are Viola Davis for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Andra Day for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” Vanessa Kirby for “Pieces of a Woman,” Frances McDormand for “Nomadland” and Carey Mulligan for “Promising Young Woman.”
“Actresses” in a supporting role nominees are Maria Bakalova in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” Glenn Close in “Hillbilly Elegy,” Olivia Colman in “The Father,” Amanda Seyfried in “Mank” and Yuh-Jung Youn in “Minari.”
Céad mílefáilte, a hundred thousand welcomes, may greet customers of Chicago area eateries and bars in March. And expect the city’s skyline to be filled with green lights from March 11 through March 17.
Even though the city’s famed downtown and the two neighborhood parades, Southside Irish and Northwest Side Irish, have been canceled for 2021 and the plumbers union that turns the Chicago River green shows no sign of doing so this year, the easing of restrictions by Governor J B Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot means many restaurants and bars will be happily welcoming customers in time for March’s St. Paddyh’s Day celebrations.
Expect them to ask guests to mask when entering and when their server is present. And check on reservations because they will be operating at 50 percent capacity and shortened stay time.
“The City of Chicago is encouraging St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that follow current city and state health guidelines,” noted a Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events statement.
In addition, the statement said, “The Chicago Loop Alliance is asking downtown buildings to light up green for ShamROCk Chicago, and other neighborhoods are hosting socially distance scavenger hunts and other reimagined programs.”
As an example, Southside Irish Parade committee is hosting a Shamrock our Blocks celebration with signs and decorations. The South Side Irish Parade
“Each year, the South Side Irish Parade draws thousands of people to our community and to our neighborhood businesses. The parade committee’s goal is to create a plan that gives back to local businesses as well as offer a family-friendly festive way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year,” said 2021 Committee Chair Tim McSweeney
From now until March 17th, Stan’s Donuts (all locations0 is offering all things green. Guests can get Emerald-dipped donuts, Green River Glazed donuts, Green Mint Hot Chocolate, Irish Cream Cold Brew and Mint Cream Cold Brew topped with Cold Foam, Mint Oreo Shakes, and more.
West Loop hotspot PB&J offers a St. Patrick’s Day experience for up to six guests. Starting at 8 a.m. March 13, guests can book these pre-paid packages:
St. Patrick’s Brunch Kit – 1 bottle of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, Carafes of Green Orange Juice,Green Beer, and guests choice of 2 Brunch Pizzas at $50 per person.
Leprechaun Package – 1 bottle of Jameson, Don Julio Blanco or Ketel One, Green beer, 2 Pizzas, and St. Patrick’s Day party swag at $75 per person.
Dealers Choice – Guests can order any food or beverage item off PB&J’s menu a la carte with a $75 minimum per person.
In addition to these pre-paid packages, PB&J will also have a “Pot O Gold” pop up bar outside. Guests can purchase Green beer, Guinness, Red Bull Cocktail, Slane shots, and more. As a proud sponsor of the 2021 St. Paddy’s Day 5k and 8K Run/Walk, participants will receive a free Dogfish Head beer, while supplies last.
For two Ireland-born sisters, the reopening of The Dearborn this month comes in time for their home country’s celebrated holiday. Besides iconic Irish dishes like Fish & Chips (which Chef Aaron Cuschieri made and won with on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay) and a Corned Beef Reuben, The Dearborn will offer specials such as Seafood Chowder, Beef & Lamb Shepherd’s Pie and a Strawberry & Crème Roulade cake. Also available Guinness on draft, Irish Whiskeys and Irish Coffee.
The Dearborn is also partnering with Vanille Patisserie for those who can’t make it to the Loop but still want to celebrate with Irish fare. Throughout St. Patrick’s week, order a three-course family meal featuring the Seafood Chowder, Shepherd’s Pie and a special Irish Apple Cake with Shamrock Cookies from Vanille for dessert. Available through TOCK from March 10-17 for pick-up at Vanille’s Lincoln Park location or at The Dearborn.
Some of these places, such as the Chicago Botanic Gardens and Morton Arboretum didn’t really close because they are outside but they want to remind visitors to come back and that their hours may have expanded. Others, such as Brookfield Zoo are re-opening and the Cook County Forest Preserve has March events.
Visitors will find some new residents at Brookfield Zoo which re-opened March 1, 2021.
Hope, a 5-year-old female polar bear arrived the end of January, 2021 in time for Chicago’s icy weather. Look for Hope in the zoo’s outdoor habitat in the Great Bear Wilderness.
Also look for Sibi and her nearly 2-year-old daughter, Lorena, in the Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat. The two female Mexican wolves recently arrived from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro, New Mexico..
While at the zoo, go over to the Dinos Everywhere exhibition that is up March 1 through Sept. 6, 2021. Find the three-story-high Argentinosaurus on the zoo’s West Mall.
But don’t forget to see the grey seals, snow leopards and bald eagles that also can go into their outdoor habitats.
Brookfield Zoo is a Chicago Zoological property at 8400 31st St., Brookfield, IL. For hours, timed-ticket entry and other information go to Plan your visit Brookfield Zoo.
As with the Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden visitors Morton Arboretum visitors need timed tickets. See Plan Your Visit for tickets and other information. Wednesday is discount day.
Located 4100 Il Hwy 53 in Lisle, there are plenty of trails and paths for biking and hiking from 7 a.m. to sunset. In addition, the Visitor Center is open with restrooms from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the Children’s Garden and Maze Garden are open. The Ginko Restaurant will re-open March 12, 2021.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The Garden View Café is open for Grab and Go and the Garden Shop open with a limited number of visitors at one time. The paths are open and busy now that the weather is more spring-like so wear the mask.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe just east of Edens Expressway.
In the Chicago area, it’s time to tap into the sap that is moving in maple trees.
The Lake County Forest Preserves usually takes folks on guided maple syrup walks, talks and tasting trips. But with the pandemic changing 2020-21 in-person trips, the forest preserves’ staff has come up with a virtual and a self-guided program. They are free but require registration.
” Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s programming will be different. “COVID-19 has made us rethink how we can safely offer our maple syrup programs,” said Director of Education Nan Buckardt.
“Though there will be no in-person programming this spring, people will be able to go on self-guided Maple Syrup Hikes through Ryerson, as well as take part in a variety of related virtual programs,” said Buckardt.
Environmental Educator Jen Berlinghof noted, “There are plenty of opportunities to learn about the sweet science of tree physiology and maple sugaring through virtual experiences.”
Berlinghof suggested checking the free monthly “Virtual Nature Club” for the 3:30 p. m. March 3, program that offers first through fourth graders a chance to learn about trees and how the sap collected is used to make sweet syrup.
“Ask an Educator Live” will be on Zoom and Facebook March 10 at 7 p.m. where people can bring questions about backyard syruping.
“This should be a popular program. We’ll be showing participants how they can do this historic tradition themselves,” said Berlinghof, who has been running the maple syrup programming for 17 years.
“If your family is ready to hit the trails, we are providing self-guided Maple Syrup Hikes for the entire month of March. Through informational signs, you’ll learn the science behind how trees make sap and how we turn that sap into real maple syrup as you walk along the designated trail at your own pace,” Berlinghof said.
“The temperature dictates what you will see along the trail. The timing for tapping maple trees comes down to temperature–above freezing during the day but still below freezing at night–plus precipitation and the hours of sunlight in a day,” Berlinghof said.
“Changing temperature is what causes the sap to surge upward from the roots toward the branches, where it helps the leaves grow and the buds bloom. Then in the summer, the leaves will produce more sap, which will settle back down in the roots come winter.”
Chicago Theater and Arts used to list all the shows downtown and neighborhood venues for the coming season. Now, for the 2020-21 season we’re typing in virtual events and shows that are streaming.
Here’s a couple that may be missed if not immediately clicked.
“Boléro” presented by The Joffrey Studio Series, streams Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. CT. However, it just extended the streaming through March 2, 2021.
A world premiere with choreography by Yoshihisa Arai, costumes by Temur Suluashvili, Maurice Ravel’s iconic score will be interpreted in the Gerald Arpino Black Box Theater at Joffrey tower. Running time is 16 minutes. To watch visit Boléro | Joffrey Ballet.
“The Secretaries,” a virtual Goodman Theatre reading, premieres Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. CT.
Written by Omer Abbas Salem and directed by Audrey Francis, the story revolves around four women in Aryan drag who want to be the Fuhrer’s personal secretary in 1944.
Running time is 1 hour, 50 minutes with one 10 minute intermission. Registration is needed for this free event. For more information, visit GoodmanTheatre.org/TheSecretaries.
Black History Month of February and Women’s History Month of March overlap in creative music and videos when diversity and inclusion are combined.
M.A.D.D. Rhythms, a Chicago tap group whose initials stand for Making A Difference Dancing, premiers “Rhythm Symphony” by Starinah”Star” Dixon on Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. CT and “I Get So Lonely” by KJ Sheldon on March 8 at 1 p.m. CT. Find them on M.A.D.D. Rhythms YouTube.
The videos are part of M.A.D.D. Rhythms’ 20th Anniversary Season’s events that also include a documentary premiere, M.A.D.D Rhythms’ publishing debut, social media happenings, classes and the Chicago Tap Summit. For more. Information on the 20th Anniversary events visit MADDRhythms.
Then, on March 13 at 7 p.m. CT, look for “Resilience: Hope, Healing and Harmony” a combination of music and videos that deal with pandemic and political challenges.
Presented by “6Degrees composers” founded by Regina Harris Baiocchi in 2010 to promote and inspire music by women with different traditions, the the program features “War Chant” based on Illinois Poet Laureate’s “War Chant of the Architect.”
Also on the program are the art songs “Journey” and “Things Change” for children’s choir and piano, a 3-D animation by Kyong Mee Choi that is the first part of an animated song cycle and “Doxology” for pipe organ.