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Free things to do in Chicago | Mar 11–17
Posted in #Chicago blog by Rebecca Maughan and Catherine Trautwein on Mar 11, 2013 at 5:11pm
Photo: Max Herman
This week in Chicago, free events range from a ton of great art all week to the downtown St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday to a celebration of India at Navy Pier on Sunday.
"Joan Mitchell: At Home in Poetry." Mon 11am–4pm, The Poetry Foundation Mitchell’s (1925–92) first solo show in the city of her birth since 1974 illustrates the Abstract Expressionist’s love of poetry through artist’s books, her stunning quadriptych painting Minnesota, and letters from poet friends such as Frank O’Hara. While the small exhibition could explore the connections between poetry and Mitchell’s visual art in more depth, it reminds viewers that her work is, in O’Hara’s words, filled with “the ecstasy of always bursting forth.” Through May 31.
Push Beats Mon 10pm, Rodan Left-field lovers Abyss, Raj Mahal, Illiac and Cos have been gathering to push buttons and boundaries with bass, hip-hop and off-kilter beats for more than two years now, racking up a steady following at LOKaL lounge before making the move around the corner to this sleek watering hole.
"Climate of Uncertainty." Mon 11am–5pm, DePaul Art Museum The photos and videos that dominate this exhibition elicit a voyeuristic guilt: Though they document the ruinous effects of human activities on the natural environment, works including Terry Evans’s photos of a melting glacier and Sonja Hinrichsen’s video installation about the Three Gorges Dam are achingly beautiful. Through Mar 24.
"Judith Geichman." Tue 10:30am–6pm, Carrie Secrist Gallery The New York School, Chinese scholars' rocks, and travels in Ireland and Iceland are among the influences on Geichman's new black-and-white abstract paintings and works on paper. Closing reception Sat 30, 1–5pm, includes artists' dialogue with Geichman and Dana DeGiulio at 1pm.
"Gabriel Vormstein: Tempus fungit—amor mannet." Tue 11am–6pm, moniquemeloche Vormstein doesn't mind that some of his art won't stand the test of time. The Berlin artist usually paints lone human figures in watercolor on newspaper, which he expects to grow brittle and gradually become a “color” in the work. While his more sculptural “pulp paintings” come off as less sophisticated, an installation that fills the gallery’s storefront window with torn and painted newspaper is a fitting monument to Vormstein's fascination with temporality. Through Mar 30.
"John Neff." Tue 10am–5pm, Renaissance Society We have long admired Neff's conceptual photographs and installations, which in the past have investigated neglected artists. The Chicago artist made this show's intimate black-and-white works by outfitting flatbed scanners with antique camera lenses.
"Bob Snyder: Orniphonia 2." Tue 9am–5pm, Lincoln Park Conservatory Experimental Sound Studio continues its Florasonic series with Snyder's four-channel audio installation, in which electronic circuits generate ever-changing sounds that mimic bird calls.
"3 Artists—3 Solo Shows." Tue 10am–9pm, Evanston Art Center Selected from the 47 artists featured in the EAC's 2012 Biennial, Scott Carter presents a site-specific installation that draws on his experience as an artist and musician; Stephen Cartwright shows maps based on the GPS data that he has recorded about his location, hourly, since 1999; and Emily Hermant exhibits hand-bent wooden sculptures from her series Spatial Drawings.
Terakaft Tue 6:30pm, Chicago Cultural Center Terakaft is mostly a family band—brothers Sanou and Abdallah Ag Ahmed switch off on guitar and bass, their uncle Liya “Diara” Ag Ablil plays rhythm guitar and various hired hands have played percussion—with strong stylistic and filial links to Grammy-winning road warriors Tinariwen. Like Tinariwen, Terakaft’s music, with its bluesy, loping guitar lines and aphoristic lyrics, is an expression of the Tuareg people’s struggle for cultural survival. But there are differences in their approaches: On Kel Tamasheq, Terakaft varies the rhythms to impart a thrilling sense of urgency on top of the usual mid-tempo articulations of stolid perseverance; and because it is a smaller band, every element stands in stark relief, contrasting Tinariwen’s thicker ensemble sound.
"The Winter Show." Tue 11am–5pm, Printworks Printworks presents paintings and more by gallery artists Norbert Freese, Riva Lehrer, Robert Lostutter, Hollis Sigler, Nicholas Sistler and Frances Whitehead.
"The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India Since 1989." Tue 10am–5pm, Smart Museum of Art Sahmat formed in response to the politically motivated 1989 murder of Indian playwright-activist Safdar Hashmi. Works by more than 60 artists including Zarina Hashmi, Nalini Malani and Vivan Sundaram trace the group's fight for freedom of expression through street-based performances and conceptual exhibitions.
"Structures for Reading." Tue 10am–6pm, Center for Book and Paper Arts Moyra Davey, Gareth Long, and Chicago artists such as Sterling Lawrence and Johana Moscoso riff on books and the act of reading in installation, photography, video and sculpture.
"Claire Ashley: frizzflopsqueezepop." Tue 8am–7pm, Chicago Cultural Center Ashley’s inflatable sculptures sprawl across the floor and strain against the walls and ceiling of the Chicago Cultural Center. Her spray-painted works have an undertone of menace despite their Day-Glo colors and playful medium: Their sagging, bulbous forms recall bodily organs swollen to grotesque sizes. While the show includes a few abstract paintings and small-scale sculptures, only the colossal inflatables create the spectacle that makes this show pop. Through Mar 31.—Lauren Weinberg
"Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape." Tue 10am–5pm, Museum of Contemporary Photography Sambunaris has spent more than a decade photographing the U.S. from coast to coast. Her images of American landscapes and infrastructure, which include a recent project devoted to the U.S.-Mexico border, appear with the books, maps and artifacts that the artist collected during her travels.
"Jeremy Bolen: Cern." Tue 11am–6pm, Andrew Rafacz Gallery Frequent TOC contributor Bolen addresses the paradox of capturing ephemeral phenomena as visual artifacts in photographs created at CERN's Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.
The local DJ shop to beat all DJ shops, Gramaphone Records, hosts this house monthly chock-full of knowledgeable selectors like shop owner Michael Serafini and blog contributor Scotty Brandon, and 4/4 rhythms. This month sees Jay Caston and Guy Levante take the helm.
Dir. Ang Lee. 2012. 125mins. Warm-and-fuzzy has never been Lee's forte, which may explain why his lavish adaptation of the Yann Martel best-seller sputters in its early coming-of-age scenes. The film finds its footing, though, in the second act, as Pi—the lone survivor of a spectacular maritime storm—ends up marooned in a lifeboat with a ferocious Bengal tiger. The director turns this ordeal into a visually stunning man-versus-nature odyssey.
Dir. João Pedro Rodrigues. 2009. 134mins. In Portuguese with subtitles. A transsexual dying from broken implants contemplates her mortality. Unclassifiable and stylistically bold, the movie is worthy of comparisons to Fassbinder's similar In a Year with 13 Moons.
Norton's photographs and signature sculptures incorporating live plants display a sensitivity to time, decay and composition that landed her a solo "Chicago Works" exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2012.
Spektral fell in love with the open rehearsal format while at the Scrag Mountain Music Festival in Vermont last year. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and critique the group's laidback rehearsal of select movements of Verdi's String Quartet in E minor.
Simpson, an associate of the Imagists—as well as Chicago abstract conceptual artists such as Richard Rezac and Julia Fish—shows her signature sculptures shaped by fashion and the human body, as well as new drawings that function as both studies and independent works. "Rodney Quiriconi: Constructions, 1960–70" appears in the West Wing.
Set to a soundtrack inspired by experimental musician Franco Battiato, Billing's new video follows five children as they run around Rome. Their adventures, culminating in an empty school, allude to psychoanalysis, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Bruno Munari among other Italian heroes.
Maria's main music man Joe Bryl (in his DJ King Scratch guise) looks to the motherland for this continental exploration of African music and its renaissance. Bryl traces the musical language of the diaspora—which ranges from modern Afrobeat bands like Antibalas and Nomo and archival labels like Soundway to the diaspora's cultural impact on jazz, house, techno and emerging scenes—all across the globe every third Friday of the month. Tonight, there's a listening party for the new Chicago Afrobeat Project album.
Dir. Jack Arnold. 1957. 81mins. In this brisk and bleak highlight of Hollywood's macro/micro sci-fi craze, a mixture of chemicals causes Grant Williams to get tinier and tinier by the day. The visual effects, achieved through trick photography, rear projection and oversize props, still impress.
An anthology of short fiction inspired by hair-metal songs of the 1980s and '90s, all Hair Lit, Vol. 1 wants to do is rock you like a hurricane. Tonight's readers are Hair Lit contributors Lindsay Hunter, Mike Joyce and Matt Rowan.
Get your little ones hip to the jazz circuit as local composer and saxophonist Jim Gailloreto and his Jazz String Quintet serve up a perfect blend of classical and jazz. Families can stock up on BYO snacks and check out cutting-edge music in a kid-friendly setting.
Joyce Owens and other members of Sapphire and Crystals pay homage to Jolly (1937–2012), who cofounded the African-American women artists' collective more than 25 years ago, by presenting the works made during the 1990's, when she was a leader of the organization. Artists' talk Sat 23, 2–5pm.
Celebrate Chi-rishness and watch the one-of-a-kind tradition of coloring the Chicago River with a veggie dye. The waters are greenified about an hour before the parade, which steps off at noon on Columbus Drive, and runs from Balbo Drive to Monroe Street.
Booth experiments with language and improvisation in a site-specific text installation complemented by paintings, drawings and audio works. Special performance Sat 30 at 8pm, featuring a mix of field recordings, noise, drums, cheerleaders and vocalists.
Drive young science lovers' curiosity at this Earth Science Club of Northern Illinois (ESCONI) expo, which features real dino remains, and geode-splitting and gem-cutting demonstrations. Exhibitors include the Field Museum, Rib River Fossils, Hell Creek Dinosaurs and Rock Stars.
There's no shortage of dusty soul nights around town these days, but when they are manned by DJs like these, you won't hear us complaining. Dave Mata of Rogers Park arts space Impala Sound, Duke Grip of Spectrum and Numbero Group collaborator Sloppy White preside monthly over this raw R&B, fun and soul dance party. They just celebrated three years of good times.
Artist Laura Shaeffer reopens Home Gallery after a two-year hiatus by inviting Alberto Aguilar, John Preus, Hui-min Tsen and a dozen other local artists to intervene in the space and explore the concept of home. Fleur de Lune and other musical guests perform.
Sat 4–7pm, Rhona Hoffman Gallery Pandian presents new sculptures and paintings as well as a multimedia installation based on a performance that he filmed in a 16mm at a Chicago black-box theater. Opens Sat 16, 4–7pm.
Recounted through collage drawings, artist's books, a three-dimensional floor piece and other works, Sokolow's latest paranoid, hilarious narrative follows a disgruntled Art Institute of Chicago security guard who's recruited by a ring of international art thieves—though as usual, her tale detours into unexpected subjects such as Norwegian trolls and Philly cheese steak sandwiches. Opens Fri 15, 5–8pm.
Aguiñiga's observations of the Midwest's Driftless Area during a 2,000–mile voyage from Los Angeles (where she lives and works) to Madison, Wisconsin, inspire the designer's new woven rugs and wall hangings. Opens Fri 15, 6–8pm.
Gondek paints over pin-ups from old pornagraphic magazines, transforming them into color fields that thwart the viewer's gaze. In the SUB-MISSION project space, recent SAIC M.F.A. Juneer Kibria presents the site-specific installation Hidden Noise. Opens Fri 8, 6–9pm.
Navy Pier keeps the focus on the foods, costumes, music and dance of Chicago's Devon Avenue Indian neighborhood. Youth dance groups will be among those performing, with reps on hand to offer info on how kids can get involved.
The buzz of Saturday night's dance party continues on St. Patrick's Day proper with more cool swag, green beer and Jameson specials. But the real pot o' gold is Irish-style karaoke at 9pm, which resurrects the drinking song and has the whole bar wailing in a drunken chorus.
To get your Saturday off on the right track, Eternals bassist Wayne Montana takes over this modern Asian-themed and always-packed-with-beautiful-people haunt on Milwaukee Avenue for early evening dubby jams.
LVL3 celebrates its three-year anniversary with this group show featuring Michael Hunter, Paul Kenneth, Easton Miller, Liz Nielsen and Kate Steciw, all of whom exhibited at the gallery during its first year.