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.
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.
“The Whole World a Bauhouse,” an internationally traveling exhibition making only one stop in the United States, is at the Elmhurst Art Museum just through April 20.
The exhibition marks the 100th anniversary of the famed Bauhaus school in Germany. Even though it operated from 1919 to 1933, it had a revolutionary influence on art, architecture and industry. Instructors included such influencers and artists and Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Josef and Anni Albers, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy and Lily Reich.
The Elmhurst Art Museum is at 150 Cottage Hill Ave., Elmhurst. For more information visit Elmhurst Art Museum.
If the new year that began Jan. 1, 2019 didn’t bring much luck so far or you really enjoy celebrating a new year, join in the fun and good luck of Chinese New Year 4717 that begins on Feb. 4.
Chicago celebrations kick off with a pre-New Year’s celebration Downtown Feb. 2, continue Feb. 5 and beyond until they end Feb. 16. However, Chinese New Year celebrations do go from Feb. 4 through Feb. 17 and end in some places with a Lantern Festival.
There is a lot going on in the city to celebrate the Chinese Zodiac’s lunar year sign – the Year of the Pig.
Also known as the Spring Festival, this Lunar Festival (there are others, particularly in Asia,) begins the eve before the first day and is often a time for families to get together.
Think “new moon” to know when it begins. The Chinese New Year begins on the new moon between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20, 2019. This year, the new moon is Feb. 4, 2019.
Head over to the Art Institute at 111 S. Michigan Ave. on Feb. 2 for music, crafts, stories, games and some talks in English and Mandarin about the museum’s Chinese art collection from 1 to 4:30 p.m.
Then, cross Monroe Street to Millennium Park and the Lurie Gardens for more activities. A Lantern Procession will line up about 5 p.m. and wind with a lion dance over to Maggie Daley Park about 5:30. Crafts and ice skating take place there until 7:30 p.m. The event is a partnership of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Park District and Choose Chicago.
Celebrate the Year of the Pig with the Chinese Fine Arts Society at noon Feb. 5 at the Chicago Cultural Center. Watch lion dancers, Silk Road pipa master Yang Wei, martial arts and the Flying Fairies dance troupe. A special feature will be the China National Peking Opera Company including a sneak peak of comedic and acrobatic “At the Crossroads,” a famous opera based on a story from Water Margin.
The event is co-sponsored with Choose Chicago and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Preston Bradley Hall is up the south stairs of the Chicago Cultural Center at 78 E Washington St Chicago Find more information at (773) 935-6169
Join Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood festivities Feb. 9 for the Chinese New Year parade of dragons, lions and floats. It starts at 1 p.m. at Argyle and Winthrop near the Argyle “L” stop then goes east on Argyle Street to Sheridan Road, south to Ainslie Street, west to Broadway and then back to Argyle.
At the Apple store on north Michigan Avenue there will be Music Lab of Chinese Instruments with Yang Wei, artist-in-residence at Chinese fine arts society on Feb. 9. The event, running from 1 to 3:30 p.m. also includes hands-on GarageBand on the iPad for the digital version and Sound-of- Wishes Ensemble. Plus, calligrapher Yijun Hu will draws to the music on an iPad. Apple is at 401 N. Michigan Ave.
Chinatown’s Lunar New Year Parade attracts thousands of folks from all over the Chicago area. The celebration takes place at Wentworth Avenue and 24th Street in the heart of Chinatown from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb 10. Cosponsors are the Chicago Chinatown Community Foundation and Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.
Celebrate the Chinese New Year at Symphony Center’s fifth annual concert at 3 p.m. Feb. 10. The event features the China National Peking Opera Company and the Hubei Chime Bells National Chinese Orchestra. This is a ticketed program.
A pre-concert performance is in Buntrock Hall at 1:30 p.m. featuring the Dong Fang Performing Arts Association, Yellow River Performing Arts and the Chicago Chinese Qipao Association. These performances are free to ticket holders of the 3 p.m. concert. Orchestra Hall is at, 220 S. Michigan Ave.
Navy Pier celebrates the Chinese New Year with colorful performances and crafts and food booths in its AON Grand Ballroom, Feb. 16 from 1 to 5 p.m.
Performing are the Chicago Chinese Cultural Center Lion Dancers, pipa master Yang Wei, Mongolian throat singer Tamir Hargana, the Flying Fairies dance troupe, Beidou Kung Fu, Zhong Hua Kung Fu plus traditional Chinese music by the Eight Tones Chinese Instrument Ensemble, Cheng Da Drum Team and others from Chicago’s Chinese community.
The Chinese Marketplace opens at 12:30 p.m. Performances are at 1 P.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago.
See the scary “Bride of Frankenstein” and funny “Young Frankenstein” movies with background music by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. Oct. 26 For tickets and other information call (312) 294-3000 and visit CSO.
Or see Remy Bumppo’s scary production of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” Oct. 28-30 (Oct. 27, 27 and 31 are sold out) at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. For tickets and other information call (773) 975.8150 or visit RemyBumppo.
Historic African American Design exhibit
“2019 African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Race” opens Oct. 27, at the Chicago Cultural Center. The exhibit runs the advertising gamut from illustration, cartoons, and graphic design to architectural signage, product and exhibit design and sign painting.
Located up on the fourth floor and continuing through Mar. 3, 2019, the exhibiti s part of the current Art Design Chicago events that explore the city’s art and design history. Art Design Chicago is partially funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.
The Chicago Cultural Center is at 78 E. Washington St. For more information visit City of Chicago.
Hobnob with mummies
The Oriental Institute, an internationally known center for study of ancient Middle Eastern civilizations, is holding Mummy Tours every half hour Oct 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. Space is limited so registration is needed. Admission is free but adults are asked for a $5 donation. The event also includes Mummy Simulations. Tickets to the Mummy Simulations (also every half hour) are free to adults, $3 per child, and can be purchased at the event. For registration and other information visit Oriental Institute. .For questions call the OI Public Education Office at (773) 702-9507. The Oriental Institute is at 1155 E. 58th St. on the University of Chicago campus..
Dia De Los Muertos
Maxwell Street Market is celebrating the Day of the Dead Oct. 28 from 10:30 a.m. to-2 p.m. with the dedication of a surrealist Mexican mural, pumpkin carving. An ofrenda (altar) workshop, other arts and crafts and live music. The Maxwell Street Market is at 800 S. Des Plaines Ave. For event times and more information visit Maxwell Street Market.
Sandra Holubow and Julia Oehmke, have partnered to present a joint exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Renaissance Gallery in celebration of Illinois’ 2018 two hundredth anniversary.
Located just inside the Randolph Street entrance, the space promotes programs created by or of interest to Chicago area seniors.
Holubow primarily focuses on buildings and likes to explore the contrast of urban elements together with natural elements while Oehmke specializes in portraits and people and leans towards Native American subjects.
In this joint exhibit they display their paintings side by side in a very thoughtful progression that compliments each other’s work.
An exhibition of multiple works from two artists working in tandem is much like a musical duet. Each part is distinctly different but they are both telling the same story. The placement of the work is where you begin to see the harmony.
It is difficult to express a vision of Illinois without including Frank Lloyd Wright. In this exhibit Oehmke’s portrait of the famed architect is displayed alongside Hulubow’s montage of his buildings.
Likewise, a portrait of trumpet legend Louis Armstrong is next to a jazzy vibrant urban cityscape.
Both women have strong, colorful, graphic styles that express a willingness to experiment and innovate. You can see that each painting is a new adventure, yet you can also see their individual point-of-view.
Part of the fun of viewing an exhibition is the chance to glimpse into an artist’s thought process while experiencing multiple pieces.
One gallery observer mentioned she thought every person that Julia paints looks a little like the artist, herself. I am not sure if that is entirely true but it is often said that all writing is biographical. All artists, no matter the medium, interject a bit of themselves into their finished product.
This exhibit has been approximately a two year journey since the idea first sprang to life with the aid of gallery director Crystal Warren, Regional Director for the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.
The Sandra Holubow / Julia Oehmke Illinois Bicentennial Art Exhibit runs through July 5, 2018 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 East Randolph.
Reno Lovison (www.renoweb.net)
(Lovison, a videographer, has produced a documentary series that began with a half hour video portrait of each of Sandra Holubow and Julia Oehmke in their respective studios as they prepared the works for the exhibition. The videos can be seen on Youtube and have been aired on Chicago CANTV channel 19/21 during the past few months. The three part series will culminate in a third episode documenting the May 24th official opening of the exhibit.)
You know Chicago’s heart beats in time to jazz, blues and ragtime and turns dramatic with modern gospel. So a new exhibit, starting this weekend at the Chicago Cultural Center, that brings back the history of the city’s music legacy is an exciting event.
Up north in Glencoe, an important exhibit is going up next weekend at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It paints eye-catching, environmentally-driven botanical stories.
Also next weekend, a world renown painter’s disturbing views of the human condition opens at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Then, another picture of life in Chicago, the good, the bad, the real, opens the following weekend at AIC.
“Bronzeville Echoes: Faces and Places of Chicago’s African American Music”
Located in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Garland and Landmark Chicago Galleries, “Bronzeville Echoes” is filled with such artifacts as 1920s records, old sheet music and even a telephone booth. Up April 28, 2018 through Jan. 6, 2019,the exhibit is an excellent way to become acquainted with the city’s musical history. Presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, entry is free. The Chicago Cultural Center is at 78 E. Washington St. BTW The building itself is worth a visit. For more information visit DCASE Events.
The show is a non-forgettable statement by Santa Barbara-based artist Penelope Gottlieb on what is happening in the plant world. The works, representative of the three groups: Extinct Botanicals, Vanishing Series, and Invasive Series, range from vibrant to reflective. The exhibit is up in the Joutras Gallery in Chicago Botanical Garden’s Regenstein Center, May 4 to Aug. 12, 2018. The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe. Entry to the Garden is free but there is a parking charge. For more information visit CBG Exhibitions.
A retrospective of this Chicago native known for his nightmarish paintings will be at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gallery 273, May 4 through Aug. 5, 2018. Considered controversial, fascinating and macabre, his works made him the perfect artist to have painted “The Picture of Dorian Gray” for the 1945 movie. For more information visit Albright.
“Never a Lovely So Real: Photography and Film in Chicago 1950-1980”
The exhibit, whose title was taken from a Nelson Algren description of the city in Chicago: City on the Make, opens May 12 at the Art Institute of Chicago. Up in Galleries 1-4, the show reveals different sides of city during the second half of the 20th century. “Never a Lovely So Real” is part of Art Design Chicago sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. It runs through Oct. 28, 2018. The museum’s admission is fee based with some free days and times. The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 N. Michigan Ave.. For more information visit ARTIC/exhibition.
Special dinners, teas and parades mark Chicago’s Chinese New Year celebration of the Year o the Dog 4716.
With a vibrant Chinatown and several excellent Chinese restaurants plus venues such as the Chicago Cultural Center and Navy Pier promoting Chicago’s ethnic groups, there are plenty of places to learn more, see more and enjoy more Chinese dancing and dishes.
Often called the Lunar New Year and sometimes known as the Chinese Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year in 2018, begins Feb. 16 and ends 15 days later. However, tied to the Chinese lunisolar calendar, celebrations start the eve of the first day and culminate in the Lantern Festival.
If you go to any of Chicago’s Chinese festivals or restaurants, expect to see lots of red and the words “happiness” and “good fortune.”
Here are some Chinese New Year events to put on your go-to calendar.
Decorated with red lanterns and a décor that celebrates the Year of the Dog, The Peninsula Chicago is a thoroughly Asian hotel (it is celebrating its 90th anniversary in Hong Kong).
This is a good place to stop in for Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea in The Lobby where tangerine trees and red flowers wish everyone good fortune. The tea includes special savories and sweets for $65. The Peninsula is at 108 East Superior Street.
In addition, there will be a Lion Dance that weaves through The Lobby during Afternoon Tea at 3:30 pm., Feb. 17. Children can “feed” lettuce to the lion for good luck in the coming year. The Lion Dance begins at the hotel’s front entrance amid drumbeats and cymbals (scares evil spirits) at 3:15 p.m.
For an authentic, eight-course Chinese dinner, reserve a table at The Peninsula Chicago’s award winning Shanghai Terrace. It includes, among many other dishes, ginger wild chicken, seafood siewmai with black truffle, pan-fried prawns and kung pao beef tenderloin. Cost is $138.
For more information please call (312) 573-6620 or (866) 288-8889 and visit Peninsula Chicago.
Feb. 15-Feb. 28
Stop in at Koi Fine Asian Cuisine in Evanston for dishes from its “Lucky Menu.” Different dishes represent wealth, long life, happiness, prosperity, good relationships and family. Reservations will be needed for the Lion Dance there Feb. 24. Koi is at 624 Davis St., Evanston. Call 847-866-6969 and visit Koi.
Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center hosts Chinese dancers, martial arts and music from noon to 1 p.m. There will also be a peek at the Chongqing Chuanju Theater Troupe which performs at Symphony Center the next day. The Chicago Cultural Center is at 78 E Washington St. For more information visit Chinese Fine Arts Events.
See acrobatic choreography, gorgeous costumes and enjoy Chinese arts during an afternoon at Symphony Center, home of the CSO. Performances featuring the Dong Fang Performing Arts and the Yellow River Performing Arts are from 1:45 to 2:30 p.m. in Buntrock Hall.
This is followed with opera segments by the Chongqing Chuanju Opera Theatre and folk music by Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra at 3 p.m. in Orchestra Hall.
The first program is free to ticket holders of the second program. Symphony Center is at 220 S. Michigan Ave. For tickets and other information visit CSO tickets.
Head over to Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom for Chinese activities, shows and food. Navy Pier partners with the Chinese Fine Arts Society to present the Chicago Chinese Cultural Center Lion Dancers, Martial arts, Chinese music and the Flying Fairies dance troupe from 1 to 5 p.m.
The event is part of Navy Pier’s free Global Connections sponsored by ComEd. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. For more information call (800) 595 Pier (7437) and visit Navy Pier Global.
The Uptown neighborhood’s Argyle Street has a parade with floats, dragon dancers and marchers from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The procession goes from Argyle and Broadway Streets to Winthrop Avenue. For more information visit Explore Uptown.
Go to Chinatown for the community’s annual lunar parade and to celebrate this neighborhood’s 106th anniversary. It’s a fun, colorful event featuring lion and dragon dancers, marching bands, floats and Ronald McDonald. The parade starts at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue at 1 p.m. then goes north on Wentworth and west on Cermak. For more information visit CCC Foundation.
Instead of organizing the desk (or you name it), and wishing the groundhog prognosticators were wrong about six more weeks of winter, take in a show, find a special event to dispel gray skies and moods and take advantage of museum free days.
If the family has a Saturday available, get tickets to ‘Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at The Yard, Chicago Shakespeare’s newly added theater on Navy Pier . The show is a fun 75 minutes that merges the Bard’s humorous mismatching of characters in his comedies. The production is offered Saturdays now through March 10, 2018 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.. To get tickets visit Chicago Shakes Plays.
Listen as famed tenor Lawrence Brownlee performs ‘Cycles of My Being,’ a recital that puts forth what it is like to live as a black man in America. Co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Lyric Opera/Lyric Unlimited and Opera Philadelphia, the program will only be in chicago Feb. 22, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the DuSable Museum of African American History. For more information visit Lyric Opera Cycles or call (312) 827-5600.
Go to the Chicago Botanic Garden Feb. 10 through March 25, 2018 to see orchids with an Asian accent. This year, the Garden’s Orchid Show blooms among kimonos, parasols and Asian plants. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. plus open later Thursdays to 8 p.m. For more information visit Chicago Botanic Garden orchid.
How about a night at the museum, that is among the fish?
For Presidents Day weekend stay the night Feb. 16, 2018 in a special program at the Shedd Aquarium that allows participants to explore the museum, see an aquatic presentation and do a scavenger hunt. The cost is $75 per person ($60 members). For tickets and more information visit Shedd Aquarium Overnight.
Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday when most schools in Illinois are closed to celebrate Presidents Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, is Feb. 19, 2018. Fortunately, some of Chicago’s museums are free that day.
The Adler Planetarium’s general admission is waved for Illinois residents Feb. 19-22. For more information visit Adler.
Art Institute of Chicago has free admission to Chicago residents under age 18, every day. See ARTIC.
Chicago History Museum is free every day to children under 18 who are Illinois residents. Visit Chicago History.
The Field Museum has free general admission for Illinois residents all of February. Visit Field Museum free days.
The Chicago Cultural Center has a new exhibition on its fourth floor. Titled “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush,” it was organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. The Cultural Center also has other exhibits on its first floor. While in the building go to the third floor to see gorgeous glass domes and rooms. Admission is always free. Visit Chicago Cultural Center.
Maybe you think the Tribune tower is a landmark rather than an example of innovative architecture and wonder what it could have been.
Or, maybe you would like to take a free ride out of state for a day to see innovative Frank Lloyd Wright.
Both maybes become actualities curing the Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB).
Chicago, known throughout the world as an architecture destination, becomes even more so every two years when it holds its architecture exhibition.
As good as the first CAB experience was in 2015, the second foray is even more impressive. Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, host of the 2017 Architecture Biennial, has pulled together some surprising exhibits, excellent programs and interesting tours.
They are free, open to the public and are at the Chicago Cultural Center and some off-site locations.
At the Cultural Center they revolve around the theme of “Make New History.” Thus there is the ‘Vertical City’ of 16 foot-high towers that could have housed Chicago Tribune executives and staffers instead of the Gothic landmark that won a 1922 competition.
Also at the Cultural Center is a display by Chicago fave Jeanne Gang and her Gang Studio and works by architectural and design firms from 20 countries that present possible redesigns of structures that already exist around the globe.
In addition, architectural elements have been added to the Cultural Center’s corridors. Visitors will find them in some very unlikely places on the main floor and second floor.
CAB also features Chicago Architecture Foundation and other organizations’ programs worth putting on the calendar.
Among off-site venues is SC Johnson & Son’s extraordinary Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in Racine, WI, available by free shuttle from the Cultural Center.
BTW, the exhibits at the Cultural Center are so good visitors ought to plan enough time to enjoy and contemplate or return for a second view.
DETAILS: The Chicago Architecture Biennial is at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago, now through Jan. 7, 2018. For more information visit CAB. Also see Programs and Tours.