"Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949–62." | Museum of Contemporary Art
Curated by Paul Schimmel for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, this illuminating exhibition contends the traumas of World War II transformed painting in Europe, Japan and the U.S. Almost 100 works reveal how postwar artists burned, slashed and shot at their canvases, or—like Lee Bontecou and the Gutai collective—upended our notions of what “painting” means. While the show’s central thesis comes off as an oversimplification, its interweaving of art stars and less familiar talents is invaluable. Through June 2.—Lauren Weinberg
"Matt Rich: Razors and Vapors." | devening projects + editions
For his second solo show at devening projects + exhibitions, Boston-based artist Rich presents paintings that are at once flat and dimensional, representational and abstract. Made from cut paper and smears/sprays/brushes of acrylic paint, the works exhibit both X-acto-like precision and messy exuberance. Opens April 28.
"Image Structure—Sonnezimmer." | Public Works Gallery
Sonnenzimmer (a.k.a. Nadine Nakanishi and Nick Butcher) experiment with the tactile and sculptural qualities of quilts in this new exhibition based on a collaboration with Club Club, who won the Chicago Architectural Club's 2012 "Future Prentice" competition. Nakanishi and Butcher also show recent abstract paintings exploring landscape. Through June 7.
"Picasso and Chicago." | Art Institute of Chicago
Though Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) never visited the U.S., he had a profound impact on Chicago, not least because of his untitled 1967 sculpture on Daley Plaza. More than 250 of his paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and ceramics—most drawn from the Art Institute's collection—reflect the city's support of his work throughout his career. Time is winding down to see this fascinating exhibition. Through May 12.
"Tanya Aguiñiga: Driftless Zone." | Volume Gallery
L.A. artist-designer Aguiñiga's new textile works domesticate the dramatic topography of the Midwest's Driftless Area. Madae out of hand-dyed canvas, raw wool, industrial felt, cotton rope, sisal, linen and yarn, her wall hangings and rugs suffer a little from their stuffy surroundings. But if you can open your mind and envision these small textiles at monumental scales, Aguiñiga's memories of a complicated and beautiful landscape emerge. Through June 7.—Lisa Smith
Now in its fourth year, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo—code name: C2E2—rockets back to McCormick Place this weekend, April 26–28. In addition to a large roster of comics pros, the celebrity guest list includes plenty of television celebs (including actors from The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones), a few literary figures (R.L. Stine, who haunted your middle-school dreams with Goosebumps) and comedian Patton Oswalt. Intermixed all weekend, of course, are plenty of costumed attendants roaming the halls and five sessions of geektastic speed dating (including one round specifically for gay fans). We combed through three days of programming to find highlights.
The House Theatre of Chicago is going retro with its 12th season slate, with new mountings of the previously seen The Nutcracker, Rose and the Rime and Dorian, along with one new show, The Crownless King, the second installment in Chris Mathews and Nathan Allen's fantasy trilogy.
The Crownless King opens the season (August 30–October 20), continuing where last fall's The Iron Stag King, Part One left off, with Allen directing. It's followed by the now perennial Nutcracker (November 8–December 29), Jake Minton and Phillip Klapperich's idiosyncratic take on E.T.A. Hoffmann's tale.
In the new year, the House revisits Rose and the Rime (January 17–March 9), Mathews, Allen and Minton's wintry fairy tale first seen in 2009; Allen directs. The season closes with a remount of Dorian (May 9–June 22), a dance-theater take on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray by House company members Rapley and Ben Lobpries that was first staged in 2006 at the now defunct Bailiwick Repertory Theatre. That production was one of Time Out's top ten plays of that year; Rapley once again helms the piece. All four shows will be performed at the Chopin Theatre. House company member Dennis Watkins's The Magic Parlour also continues its open run at the Palmer House Hilton.
Victory Gardens Theater has revealed its new roommates. Bailiwick Chicago, Rasaka Theatre Company, Sideshow Theatre Company and Teatro Vista will mount their 2013–14 seasons at the Biograph as the inaugural class of VG's previously announced Resident Theater Program.
Each of the four theaters will serve a multi-year residency. "Our ultimate objective is to position Victory Gardens, with its location in the heart of Lincoln Park at the crossroads of a major transportation hub, as a premier cultural performing arts center," Victory Gardens artistic director Chay Yew said in announcing the lineup. "By gathering these diverse theaters under one roof, Chicago residents can more fully engage with all of the city's communities throughout the year." The new resident theaters are expected to announce their seasons individually in the coming weeks.
C2E2: Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo Anime addicts, comic-book fans and video-game junkies, rejoice: The granddaddy of comic expos is back, and a slew of authors, celebs, costume contests and screenings awaits. Adam West (of course), Kevin Smith, Patton Oswalt and Audrey Niffenegger are among those scheduled to make appearances. McCormick Place. Fri 10am–10pm; Sat 10am–10pm; Sun 10am–5pm. $25–$65.
Chicago Anarchist Film Fest You might think it antithetical for a bunch of anarchists to organize anything, let alone a film festival, but this is the 13th go-round of the city's anarcho-cinema event. The three evenings of shorts, documentaries and animations have been broken up by theme: sabotage, wild cat strikes again and nine lives. After the final screening on Sunday, the fest migrates to Township in Logan Square for (what else?) a punk-rock karaoke wrap party. Meztli Cultural Organization. Fri, Sat 7pm; Sun 4pm. $5–$10 donation.
Ghostface Killah + Adrian Younge's Venice Dawn Wu-Tang's Iron Man has not lost an ounce of his lyrical skill-set, continually spewing poetically formless, detail-dense, quasi-fantasy tails of the urban game. His moody, chopsocky latest, Twelve Reasons to Die, is a collaboration with producer Adrian Younge, who opens the night with his '60s-inspired soul project, Venice Dawn, a cross of Italian soundtracks and French chanson—you know, the stuff of Quentin Tarantino's dreams. Abbey Pub. 9pm. $20–$25.
Eighth Blackbird with Shara Worden, Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly
Save that tax refund, because May is going to be lousy with brilliant live music. Bridging the Apr/May divide are local heroes Eighth Blackbird alongside My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden, the National's Bryce Dessner and composition/piano paragon Nico Muhly. Other than Philip Glass's Two Pages (1968), the program is comprised entirely of music written in the past five years, including works by Tristan Perich, Steve Mackey, David Lang, Muhly, Dessner and Worden. We are especially curious to hear a world premiere original by 8bb pianist Lisa Kaplan, scored for piano four hands. Museum of Contemporary Art. May 1 (and Apr 30) at 7:30pm. $28, members $22.
Pearson Sound U.K. game-changer Pearson Sound (a.k.a. Ramadanman) fills the room with his progressively techy house-not-house and stripped-down low-end sounds, as widely heard in his high-profile remix of Radiohead's "Morning Mr Magpie." Smart Bar. 10pm. $15, advance $10, before midnight $12, students or before midnight with R.S.V.P. $5.
ART & DESIGN
Laydeez Do Comics Chicago In the immortal words of the Beastie Boys, "Hey ladies in the place, I'm callin' out to ya!" (So, yeah, not their most inventive lyric.) Anyway, this installment of Laydeez Do Comics Chicago, a monthly comics salon that originated in London, features Chi-based cartoonist Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, Vader's Little Princess). No, he's not a lady comics artist, but he's friends with some. Close enough. Quimbys. 7pm. Free.
We're All in This Room Together The e.t.c.'s 36th revue is a breezy and carefree charmer and features outstanding energy and performances from a mostly new cast. We loved it. The Second City e.t.c. Thu 8pm; Fri 8pm, 11pm; Sat 8pm, 11pm; Sun 7pm. $23–$28.
Johnny Marr What took the legendary guitarist 49 years to release his debut solo album, The Messenger? Well, he's been rather busy, initially with the Smiths, of course, and more recently as a gun-for-hire in the Cribs and Modest Mouse. Alone, he has a surprisingly lovely voice and a penchant for sturdy Britpop. Naturally, his gift for arpeggiated chords and melancholic jangle remain. Any Anglophilic '90s nostalgist should drool. Metro. 8pm. $30.
Dawn, Quixote Director Blake Montgomery and his cast use a familiar Building Stage tactic in their devised adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’s 17th-century epic (which closes April 27): The ensemble members perform as a collective, sharing and trading roles with a fluid flair. In this case, the three male and three female actors’ baseline personas are iterations of Don Quixote, clad in roughly matching black pantaloons, gray wigs and bushy fake beards and projecting a gung-ho sense of purpose while strumming ukuleles. The cheeky, spaghetti-Western–flavored retelling can feel a bit thin and more than a little repetitious. Yet Montgomery and company’s climactic confrontation with Cervantes’s decisive conclusion plays a moving metatheatrical card. Building Stage. 8pm. $25–$30, kids and students $15–$20.
The Goodman Theatre has completed casting for Mary Zimmerman's new adaptation of The Jungle Book, headed by ten-year-old Akash Chopri as Mowgli. Other lead actors include Usman Ally as panther Bagheera; Anjali Bhimani as Raksha, the Mother Wolf; André DeShields as orangutan King Louie; Kevin Carolan as Baloo the bear; Thomas Derrah as the snake, Kaa; and Larry Yando as the crafty tiger Shere Khan. The ensemble cast also includes Glory Curda, Jeremy Duvall, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Monique Haley, Nehal Joshi, Ed Kross, Govind Kumar, Alka Nayyar, Geoff Packard, Timothy Wilson and Victor Wisehart.
Based on Rudyard Kipling's stories and the Walt Disney animated film, and with backing from Disney Theatrical Productions, Zimmerman's adaptation of The Jungle Book plays the Goodman June 21–August 4 before moving on to a fall run at Boston's Huntington Theatre Company. Music director Doug Peck has reorchestrated the Sherman Brothers' film score for a 12-member band that mixes jazz musicians with traditional Indian instrumentalists (hear a bit of "The Bare Necessities" in this video clip from an early music workshop). Tickets are on sale now.
TBS Just for Laughs Chicago has revealed the first wave of headliners for the fifth annual comedy fest in June, to include the likes of Bill Maher, Seth Meyers, Bob Newhart and David Cross, all performing at the Chicago Theatre.
"David Cross and His Super Duper Pals"—pals remaining to be announced—hit State Street Thursday, June 13, just a few weeks after the new season of Arrested Devlopment pops up on Netflix. Meyers, SNL's "Weekend Update" anchor and head writer, shows up June 14 with The Daily Show's Al Madrigal and Chicago native Hannibal Buress. Stand-up legend Newhart, also a Chicago native as well as a Loyola alum, headlines Saturday, June 15, while HBO's Real Time host Maher is on the marquee for June 16.
Talent announced for other venues during the June 11–16 festival includes Anjelah Johnson, Nick Swardson and the cast of truTV's Impractical Jokers at the Vic, and John Hodgman, Dylan Moran and Maria Bamford at the Park West. (Bamford and Johnson are the sole women among the initial slate of 25 comedians, which is about par for the course for Just for Laughs headliners.) Tickets for the currently announced shows go on sale Saturday, April 27 at 10am; additional shows, taking place in a total of 15 venues, will be announced in coming weeks.