What is the Color Factory? Is it an art museum, a place to learn, or an interactive experience? Actually, it’s all three. It’s experiential.
Located in downtown Chicago’s Willis Tower, the Color Factory is more than 25,000 sq. ft. of interactive rooms and activities designed to stimulate your imagination.
The third permanent installation in the U.S., the company has other locations in New York and Houston. Each Color Factory embraces its city with a unique color palette and provides a multi-sensory interactive art experience with multi-sensory installations, immersive rooms, and carefully curated moments.
This joy of color celebrates artists, art institutions, nonprofits, and brand partners to bring more art and color to the world.
Working in partnership with photographer and South Side native, Akilah Townsend, the palette celebrates some of Chicago’s most iconic elements and neighborhoods.
Colors from Chicago’s exclusive Rainbow Cone (think ice cream), the dyed Chicago River (St. Patrick’s Day celebration), Lake Michigan, and the beloved Chicago flag are the stars.
It’s called the 36 –Chicago Color Palette and you’ll find these colors infused throughout the museum. Mirrors create layers of images in multi-sensory rooms to get lost in.
If you go:
Get your brain wired for a color explosion as you enter the multi-hued walkway. Check out more than a dozen immersive spaces that tap into all five senses – taste, touch, sight, scent, and sound. Enjoy sweet treats along the way, like delicious (and colorful) macaroons revolving out of a conveyer belt or a green Kurimu honeydew ice cream cone.
Taste and identify different flavors of “pop rocks.” Take lots of selfies, free with your QR code in each of the rooms. Touch the lightweight colorful balloons and watch them move through space. There was even a chance to quietly sit and draw the person sitting across from you.
The mint green ball pit was a fan- favorite! The Color Factory is great for kids, teens, and adults. There are enough activities with more sophisticated options to keep everyone happy. Plan to spend around 90 minutes enjoying the Color Factory fully.
DETAILS: The Color Factory is at Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago as an open run.
Yes lighted displays at the Chicago Botanic Garden look spectacular when Lightscape stars and sparkling plants line walkways from Mid-November 2022 to early January 2023.
But the Garden also amazes right now as you wander among art installations, special plant groupings and the Greenhouse Galleries packed with the garden’s past and imagined future.
The art and other special exhibits are part of Flourish, The Garden at 50,” an anniversary celebration up now through Sept. 25, 2022.
Pick up a Flourish brochure at the membership/information desk near the Café, to see a map and information on 10 art installations.
Leaving the building you are walking across a bridge to the garden’s main area. Look right to see a huge nature sign on the opposite bank and then look near it further west in the water to see Casa Isle, an aluminum island house constructed by artist Edra Soto in what the Garden calls its “North Lake.”
A turn south past the lily ponds brings Juan Angel Chavéz’s wood and fabric Adsila sculpture into view.
Check the brochure for other art installations and then go over to the Regenstein Greenhouses for a look back at the garden’s past and thoughts of its future.
Be sure to stop at the plant installations on the path back to the bridge. They are plant groups from different countries.
“What began as an ambitious vision to have Chicago’s own public garden is now 28 gardens and four natural areas in Glencoe, 16 community garden and farm sites in Chicago and Lake County, and dozens of conservation and restoration research sites around the country,” said Jean Franczyk, the Garden’s president and chief executive officer.
“We are thankful to all who have shown up for nature, supported our conservation mission, and inspired us to keep imagining a future where people and planet thrive,” Franczyk said.
Walking through Cezanne, an extensive exhibit now at the Art Institute of Chicago and co-curated with the Tate Modern in London, is like pulling back a curtain to really see and understand the French artist’s various approaches to portraitures, landscapes and figures.
Influenced by Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne (1839–1906) was also admired by Pissarro, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.
Indeed, “The Sea at L’Estaque Behind Trees” done by Cezanne, 1978-79 was owned by Picasso, and is in the Musee National Picasso-Paris collection on loan for this exhibit.
Works are on loan from several museums and private collections. Visitors should expect to spend close to two hours. The exhibit features 80 oil paintings, 40 watercolors and drawings and two sketchbooks. Some will look familiar. Others will be less known and seldom viewed.
Beautifully curated, the exhibit places watercolors of the same or similar subjects close enough to compare. As with many artists, Cezanne’s works reflect different stages of life. Boards near each phase talk about those periods.
Called by some artists and art historians as the “Father of Post Impressionism,” Cezanne’s paintings are a bridge from Impressionism to Post Impressionism.
His early and middle years paintings also became his own bridge. Visitors who think they can identify a work as by Cezanne may be surprised . His “Still Life with Apples,” 1893-94 oil painting, is quite different from “Still Life with Knife and Watermelon” a watercolor done later, about 1900.
Cezanne’s still life paintings of apples and fruit could easily fill an exhibit on their own. But you will see a still life series of another subject, skulls. They were done in his later years.
Part of his appeal to other artists was how his feelings about a subject were expressed by his brush strokes.
“Cezanne pursued an art distinct from his Impressionist colleagues,” explained Gloria Groom, Chair and David and Mary Winton Green Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe.
“Whether looking at the countryside around Paris or at a still life arrangement indoors, his was a laborious process and state of mind that involved finding the exact brushstroke to evoke his feelings, his sensations. The exhibition aims to deepen our understanding of this deliberate, singular process,” said Groom.
By the time a visitor exits the exhibit there should be a feeling that some paintings seen in art galleries and art shows in the current century are not that different in technique from how Cezanne painted.
“While Cezanne himself was as interested in long traditions of painting as much as its modernist future, it’s simply not possible to envision twentieth-century avant-garde art without Cezanne’s influence,” said Caitlin Haskell, Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
“Cezanne approached painting as a technically rigorous yet deeply personal search for truth in art making. And in the process he upended the conventions of artifice in European painting, laying bare the components of color and brushwork used to compose images, and establishing the fundamentals of what would become Cubism, Fauvism, and non-objective art,” said Haskell.
(Note: If you go, get the Art Institute app (know your Apple store password) and go to the number accompanying some of the paintings to hear about Cezanne’s technique and aims. The museum hasn’t been using individual recorded devices since COVID began.)
The exhibition is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, London. It is curated by Gloria Groom, Chair and David and Mary Winton Green Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe and Caitlin Haskell, Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art Institute of Chicago and Natalia Sidlina, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern.
“Cezanne” is at the Art Institute of Chicago May 15 through Sept. 5, 2022. The museum has two entrances: 111 S Michigan Ave and 159 E. Monroe St. For more information including tickets and hours visit AIC.
Chicago and some area schools are on Spring Vacation through April 17. But even if your youngsters’ schools already had their break, terrific exhibits at Chicago’s museums are worth a weekend visit.
Fortunately, there are some free museums, free days and free to certain ages deals that can make a Spring Break outing less of a budget breaker. Most museum no longer require masks or vaccination proof but they do require advance tickets. However check the museum website for its current requirements.
For example of “free,” the National Museum of Mexican Art is always free. Located in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood at 1852 W. 19th St., the museum is currently featuring Freda Kahlo photos. But it is always filled with colorful and interesting galleries. Visit National Museum of Mexican Art for entry information. It is currently asking for masks and social distancing.
Also, the Illinois Holocaust Museum at 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie has a promo code “SPRING 22” that is good for free admission to children and students through April 17, 2022. The museum is also free to all the last Friday of each month.
Check out the following museums for more ideas and cost saving deals:
Chicago Museum Campus
After closing for two years due to covid, the Adler Planetarium at 1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. at the east end of the Museum campus, recently reopened with more interactive exhibits and reconfigured spaces. The museum is free Wednesdays from 4 to 10 p.m. Among the fun, family-friendly spaces is the Clark Family Welcome Gallery with video presentations, interactive motion-sensing displays and pop-up exhibitions. Chicago’s Night Sky is also worth experiencing.
The Field Museum, at 1400 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. at the front end of the campus, has its free admission days May 14-15 and discounts the Discovery and all Access Pass those days so cost to Illinois residents would be $16 adult and $14 ages 3-11. Known for its dinosaur halls, The Field has gone further by going underwater to find giant species in its new temporary exhibit, Jurassic Oceans: Monsters of the Deep. Up through Sept, 5, 2022, this special exhibit needs a Discovery Pass or All Access Pass but there is plenty to see with General Admission.
Shedd Aquarium, at 1200 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr., sits in the center of the Museum campus. The museum had free days earlier in the year but if living in Chicago find reduced fares through the Chicago Public Library: Kids Museum Passport.
Hyde Park Neighborhood
Museum of Science and Industry at 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. has free days coming April 21 and 25 and May 2, 4, 9, 17 and 18. MSI, as the museum is usually known, can fill a day without its special exhibits but it currently has the blockbuster Art of the Brick, an amazing sculpture collection of LEGO Art that is up through Sept. 5, 2022. An extra ticket is needed but the display is worth the cost.
The DuSable Museum of African American History at 740 E. 56th PL, is celebrating 61 years as the country’s oldest independent African American Museum currently has free admission for all every Wednesday. Masks are required for ages 5 and older. Among the exhibits are “Freedom: Origin and Journey” which looks at several key periods in African American history and South Side Stories such as “The Art and Influence of Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs, 1960–1980.” It looks at Burroughs’s “legacy as an artist, creator, activist and institution builder.”
Art Institute of Chicago, has a main entrances at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and around the corner at 159 W. Monroe St. to its Modern Wing (connected to the main building). It is free to Chicago teens under 18 and all youngsters under 14. Frequent AIC visitors have favorite galleries such as French Renaissance and the Thorne Rooms (miniature periods). The current exhibit is “Life and Afterlife in Egypt,” an impressive, recently re-done permanent display of items already held by the museum.
Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. is free to visitors under age 18 and Illinois residents receive free admission every Tuesday. Visitors who enjoy debating what is art and what does it illustrate should see “Based on a True Story.” Using items mostly owned by the museum, it puts together the works of 20 artists who “play with fact, fiction, and the grey areas between” that “wrestle with truth and belief by exploring fiction.”
Lincoln Park Neighborhood
Chicago History Museum at 1601 N. Clark St. is on the edge of the park. Check out its “Crossroads of America” which includes stepping aboard a fancy, old train car. Also up is an exhibit of women’s voting struggles and items from the museum’s Costume Collection. The museum is free is Illinois teens under age 18 and all children under age 12.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum at 2430 N. Cannon Dr., is a Chicago Academy of Sciences museum that is also on the edge of the park. Come here to see, walk among and learn about butterflies. Exhibits also include climate change, weather and rivers.
After missing 2021 due to COVID, Hint of Rhino: Rhinoceros Theater Festival 2022 , will be April 1 through May 7, 2022. Presented by The Curious Theatre Branch in association with the Pride Arts Center and Jimmy Beans Cabaret, Prop Thtr and Labyrinth Arts, shows will run Thursday through Sunday at Jimmy Beans Coffee (2553 W. Fullerton Ave, second floor) in Logan Square and at the Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center (4139 N Broadway Ave) in Uptown.
Tickets to all events are $20 or pay-what-you-can. Proof of vaccination will be required at the door, and audience members and crew will remain masked inside venues. For ticket, show and other information visit rhinofest.com.
Maxwell Street Market
Known for its crafts, clothes, music, street food and family fun, the historic Maxwell Street Market reopens April 3. Hours are Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For directions and more information visit City of Chicago :: Maxwell Street Market.
Among the world’s leading art exhibition and programing, Expo Chicago will be at Navy Pier April 7 through April 10, 2022.
Expect the unexpected at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Orchid show during this unpredictable year of 2022.
Stretching from the Regenstein Center into the greenhouses, orchids are rooting in an old upright piano, finding nooks in a secret garden, latching onto trees and winding around old strands of damp wood.
The show’s theme, “Untamed” is quite different from recent past years. Instead of remarking on how orchids are cultivated for celebrations or different uses, the show suggests they are resilient so can grow almost anywhere if left alone including where other plants might have trouble rooting.
Opened Feb. 12 and extending through March 27, 2022, the Orchid Show arrived in the Chicago area with more than 10,000 colorful orchids just as the weather seesaws from icy and snowy to warmer and rainy.
A special treat is Orchids After Hours on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. when cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are also available.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 10000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, just east of Edens Expressway.
Many admirers of the art of photography are familiar with Ansel Adams’ remarkable shots of the US western landscape taken in the 1970s. Arguably less known or viewed in an exhibition are Adams’ prints from the 1920 through the 1950s.
Now, “Ansel Adams: Early Works” a traveling exhibit organized by art2artCirculating Exhibitions, LLC, and sponsored at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum by the Lake County Forest Preserves’ Preservation Foundation and Dan and Shirley Mayworm, opens a portal to the famed photographer’s interests, artistic development and his thoughts on his objectives. The works are from the collection of Michael Matts and Judith Hockberg.
Wander through the Dunn Museum, worth a trip on its own for its early Illinois history and objects, to see “Moonrise” which proved, as a video in the exhibit explains, that some, great photography moments are unplanned.
Read the plaques that accompany the exhibit for insight into some of Adams’ observations of photography’s power. Going through the exhibit then retracing ones steps brings out changes in his artistic and unique view of nature.
One plaque reads: “When I first made snapshots in and around Yosemite, I was casually making a visual diary – recording where I had been and what I had seen – and becoming intimate with the spirit of wild places. Gradually my photographs began to mean something in themselves; they became records of experiences as well as of places. People responded to them, and my interest in the creative potential of photography grew apace.”
The show’s prints are part of Adams’ photo output. But to better understand the photographer don’t miss the plaques next to some of the photos. This one is next to Mount Brewer, Circa 1925, a vintage gelatin silver print.
“When I first made snapshots in and around Yosemite, I was casually making a visual diary – recording where I had been and what I had seen – and becoming intimate with the spirit of wild places. Gradually my photographs began to mean something in themselves; they became records of experiences as well as of places. People responded to them, and my interest in the creative potential of photography grew apace.”
Another plaque says that trees are not just trees. Look for a photo where the forest looks lacy then look for “Aspens” that is a study in design and contrast.
Dan Mayworm who worked with Adams for a few weeks includes some pointers in the exhibit that he gleaned from Adams including “Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.”
A fun and startling exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, opened June 2021, is likely to expand your definition of art and important artists.
As with art over the ages and across countries, much of it reflects the times and artists’ views and backgrounds.
But if you hadn’t thought of comics as art, consider the work of Ivan Brunetti in the 1960’s. His piece shown here was in the New Yorker magazine. It stands on its own as art but really is part of a cartoon.
So, if you read the New Yorker or a newspaper containing comics do you look just at the panels or do you look to see who drew them?
The MCA exhibit, titled “Chicago Comics: 1960’s to Now,” makes comics more personal by focusing on artists with ties to Chicago.
The works of more than 40 cartoonists from about the 1960’s to the present cover the walls and tables of MCA’s Fourth Level exhibition space including that of Lynda Barry, Lilli Carré, Daniel Clowes, Nick Drnaso, Edie Fake, Emil Ferris, Nicole Hollander, Charles Johnson, Chris Ware and Kerry James Marshall. Yes, Marshall, a world-renown Chicago artist.
His works are in major museums from the Art Institute of Chicago to the Met and MoMA.
The MCA exhibit includes more than a dozen of his comics from the Rythm Mastr Daily Strips. They were part of a 57th Carnegie International installation (2018) courtesy to the MCA by the artist.
The Chicago Auto Show, North America’s largest and longest running auto show, begun in 1901, returns to McCormick Place this summer as a Special Edition, July 15-19, 2021.
Announced earlier today by Governor JB Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and other officials, the auto show’s announcement comes on the heels of Navy Pier’s recent re-opening the end of April and Ravinia Festival’s announcement that concerts return in early July.
Show goers can expect to see production vehicles such as the Alfa Romeo 4 C, concept vehicles such as Toyota’s GR Hyperspeed Edition and debut vehicles such as the 2020 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.
However, as a special edition that is observing COVID protocols, don’t look for them in the usual places. The show will be held in Mccormick Place’s West Building and it’s outdoor surroundings.
The move not only takes in pandemic concerns but also allows for outdoor test drives and more test tracks and technology demonstrations.
“With strong public health protocols in place, the Chicago Auto Show will be the first large convention to take place in Illinois since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, setting the stage for the safe return of big events in the months to come,” said Gov. Pritzker.
After reminding everyone that the venue was an alternate care facility for COVID-19 cases about this time last year, Mayor Lightfoot said that the change in the pandemic numbers in Illinois made the auto show announcement even “more special.”
She added, “In the same spirit of collaboration between government, healthcare, community, and corporate partners, we are now able to bring conventions back to our beloved convention center in a way that is safe and reflective of our progress in slowing and stopping the spread of this virus. I look forward to seeing the McCormick Place reopen its doors for the Chicago Auto Show this July and further enhance our city’s ongoing Open Chicago initiative.”
The Auto Show website details the following mitigation and safety measures:
a move to Hall F in West Building with 470,000 sq ft of indoor space and 100,000 sq ft of outdoor space;
• timed entrance windows and staggered entry to prevent congestion on the show floor and at arrival;
requirement to wear face masks at all times sanitization stations throughout the event;
contactless delivery for tickets;
temperatures will be scanned,
a medical questionnaire must be filled out before entry is allowed into the event.
The Chicago Auto Show general information line is (630) 495-2282. More show information visit Chicago Auto Show. exposition on the continent. This year marks the 113th edition of the Chicago Auto Show.
If you go
Date and hours: July 15-18, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. and July 19, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Location: McCormick Place, West Building, 2301 S. King Drive, Chicago.
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.)