How we pick the events: These listings are not advertisements. They are a selective guide to arts events recommended by Chicago’s culture critics.
Know before you go: Details of listings can change at the last minute. Please call ahead to confirm.
Alice in Wonderland
Through 8/10 Mother Nature is the set designer for Theatre-Hikes, which stages promenade-style productions in parks throughout the Chicago area. For the troupe’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic book, Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and the other denizens of Wonderland are brought to life by a cast of just six performers. Free–$19. Theatre-Hikes, various venues. theatre-hikes.org
8/25–9/27 In Max Frisch’s political satire—staged in 2012 at Trap Door Theatre—two firebugs wheedle their way into a bourgeois man’s home and manage to get him to help them reduce it to cinders. First produced in 1958, the play is often seen as a commentary on Europe’s early response to Nazism. Matt Hawkins directs. $24–$28. Strawdog Theatre Company, 3829 N. Broadway. strawdog.org
Through 8/24 Tommy Lee Johnston’s new comedy centers on a painfully shy 30-year-old named Jack who gets a job at a retirement home. When the residents take him under their collective wing, it’s heartwarming life lessons all around. $25–$35. Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr. redtwist.org
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Through 8/10 Sir John Falstaff was such a popular character in Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays that the Bard felt obliged to bring him back for one last adventure. Set on the grounds of the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, First Folio Theatre’s outdoor production provides as picturesque an environment for the jolly knight’s shenanigans as you’re likely to find. Nick Sandys directs. $26–$37. Mayslake Peabody Estate Forest Preserve, 1717 W. 31st, Oak Brook. firstfolio.org
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Through 8/17 William Shakespeare’s magical comedy about meddlesome fairies and mixed-up lovers running riot in an enchanted forest travels to 18 different parks throughout the city in an outdoor production adapted and directed by David H. Bell. Admission is free and kids are welcome; see the website for a schedule and map of participating parks. Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, various venues. chicagoshakes.com
Through 8/31 Having taken on race and real estate in the Pulitzer Prize–winning Clybourne Park, playwright Bruce Norris returns to Steppenwolf with a world-premiere comedy on the equally fraught subjects of sex and power. Set at a swingers’ party, the play charts what happens when a new couple attempts to join the group. Needless to say, things do not go as planned. $20–$86. Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted. steppenwolf.org
8/16–9/13 Pride Films and Plays presents the Chicago premiere of a wide-ranging work by Tony-winning dramatist Terrence McNally (Love! Valour! Compassion!). Zipping through more than 80 years of gay history, the play tells the interconnected stories of several generations of New Yorkers, with stops at Stonewall, a hospital during the height of the AIDS crisis, and a modern-day same-sex wedding. $15–$30. Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge. pridefilmsandplays.com
Stupid Fucking Bird
8/16–9/21 Aaron Posner’s “sort of” adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull takes an irreverent, potty-mouthed approach to the themes of love, longing, and artistic creation found in the original. A big hit when it premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., the play makes its first appearance in the Midwest thanks to Sideshow Theatre Company. $20–$25. Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater 2433 N. Lincoln. sideshowtheatre.org
Take the Cake
8/1–9/6 Another loopy offering from the Factory Theater—the troupe that brought us Hey! Dancin’! Hey! Musical! and Siskel and Ebert Save Chicago. This time around, a simple story about girlfriends and baked goods somehow darkens to include murder, mayhem, and lethal cake balls. $5–$20. Prop Theater, 3502 N. Elston. thefactorytheater.com
All Our Tragic
8/12–10/5 Theatrical events don’t get much more ambitious than the Hypocrites’ season opener: a 12-hour marathon (with breaks for meals) of all 32 surviving Greek tragedies by Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles, adapted and directed by Sean Graney. If you’re worried about your backside turning numb, you can also see the plays divvied up into smaller chunks of time. $30–$75. Den Theatre, 1329 N. Milwaukee. the-hypocrites.com
Through 8/24 Celebrity chef Rick Bayless once again takes center stage in Lookingglass Theatre Company’s remount of its lavish take on dinner theatre. Set in the world’s most romantic boarding house, the show treats audience members to top-notch circus acts, gourmet Mexican food, and a paper-thin love story involving the man behind the mole. $250–$350. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn. lookingglasstheatre.org
Through 8/24 Eclipse Theatre Company, which showcases the work of one playwright a season, is focusing this year on Lynn Nottage, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Ruined and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark. Eclipse’s second installment in its Nottage season is her 2003 script, set in turn-of-the-century New York, about a gifted African American seamstress who creates lingerie for an array of women, ranging from society ladies to prostitutes. $20–$28. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. eclipsetheatre.com
Through 9/6 Matt Foss directs his own adaptation of the book that spawned a million temporary vegetarians. Set in Chicago’s stockyards during the early 20th century, Upton Sinclair’s novel exposed the squalid working conditions and stalled dreams of the immigrants working there. Foss aims for the same heart-wrenching, stomach-turning impact. Oracle Theatre, 3809 N. Broadway. publicaccesstheatre.org
The Late Henry Moss
Through 8/3 Kaiser Ahmed directs the Chicago premiere of Sam Shepard’s 2000 eruption between volatile, combative siblings as they sift through the belongings of their late alcoholic father, who lived in a rundown desert home. $28–$32. Artistic Home, 1376 W. Grand. theartistichome.org
My Name Is Asher Lev
8/22–10/18 Chaim Potok’s 1972 bestseller centers on a young Hasidic painter struggling to reconcile his religion and his artistic ambitions. Kimberly Senior directs a stage adaptation by Aaron Posner, whose Stupid Fucking Bird is also opening this month, in a production from Sideshow Theatre Company (see “What to Do in Chicago in April - Theatre: Comedies”). $37–$50. Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. timelinetheatre.com
Reasons to Be Happy
8/28–10/12 Neil LaBute is something of a guiding spirit for Profiles Theatre, which has produced 10 of his plays since 2006. The company’s 26th season kicks off with number 11, an uncharacteristically buoyant work that revisits the characters from LaBute’s earlier Reasons to Be Pretty (produced at Profiles in 2011). $30–$40. Main Stage, 4139 N. Broadway.
A Small Fire
Through 8/16 Fresh from directing Venus in Fur at Goodman Theatre, Joanie Schultz returns to her storefront home base with the Chicago premiere of a play by Canadian dramatist Adam Bock. The plot concerns a woman who loses, one by one, her senses of smell, taste, sight, and hearing—but the play is less about her strange debility than how it affects her complicated yet enduring marriage. $20–22. Steep Theatre Company, 1115 W. Berwyn. steeptheatre.com
The War Zone Is My Bed
8/14–9/7 Halcyon Theatre continues its commitment to telling stories from all corners of the globe with this 2007 drama by Yasmine Beverly Rana. The plot brings together a woman from Saravejo and a journalist from America, both of whom are seeking solace amid an atmosphere of destruction. $20. Christ Lutheran Church, 4541 N. Spaulding. halcyontheatre.org.
Through 8/10 The title of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s 1947 musical romance refers to a mythical Scottish village that appears for one day every 100 years. Despite inspiring a lush MGM movie (starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse) and producing at least one standard (“Almost Like Being in Love”), the show isn’t often revived. All the more reason to catch Rachel Rockwell’s extravagant production. $25–$97. Goodman Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn. goodmantheatre.org
Motown the Musical
Through 8/9 As jukebox musicals go, this one’s a hoot, stuffed with tunes by Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, and myriad other artists who got their start in the Motor City under the savvy hand of former featherweight boxer Berry Gordy, Jr. $30–$138. Broadway in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. broadwayinchicago.com
Through 8/17 Characters from some of Dr. Seuss’s most beloved stories—including Horton, Miss Gertrude McFuzz, and, of course, the Cat in the Hat—return to Navy Pier in Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s 75-minute distillation of the author’s whimsical world. Recommended for families, doggerel enthusiasts, and anyone whose heart is two sizes too small. $18–$28. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand. chicagoshakes.com
The Story of the Marvelettes
Through 9/14 Before the Supremes came along, the preeminent Motown girl group was the Marvelettes, whose “Please Mr. Postman” became the legendary recording studio’s first number one hit in 1961. Black Ensemble Theater gives the group the jukebox treatment in the latest of its impeccably sung, indomitably upbeat musical offerings. $55–$65. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark. blackensembletheater.org
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Through 8/17 Six quirky preteens and four hapless audience members spell their way through this genial musical comedy by Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn. What initially seems like merely a collection of nerd stereotypes deepens into a funny and often poignant portrait of the longings and anxieties of overachievers. $40–$50. Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury, Oakbrook Terrace. drurylane.com
FREE!, CRITIC’S PICK
Chicago Dancing Festival
8/20–23 The biggest dance event of the summer includes a world premiere by New York choreographer Kyle Abraham (commissioned by Hubbard Street Dance) and performances by Martha Graham Dance Company and the Joffrey Ballet, among others. Tickets needed for some performances. Various times and locations. chicagodancingfestival.com/2014-season
8/2 at 7:30 The Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s month-long festival celebrating tap ends with a performance featuring both veterans and novices. $25–$35. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. chicagotap.org
Classical, New Music, Opera
Chicago Folks Operetta
Through 8/3 Keeping the balls in the air for the genre of operetta (it’s not just Gilbert and Sullivan!), Chicago Folks Operetta sets its singing, staging, and—uniquely—translating talents to Paul Abraham’s kooky Weimar German farce Ball at the Savoy. It’s an American premiere. $35–$40. Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. chicagofolksoperetta.org.
8/10 at 8:30 Terry Riley’s minimalist fun fest In C, a piece for a “group of about 35 players,” including one the score says is “traditionally a beautiful girl”, gets a reprise in the wake of the influential work’s 50th-anniversary year. Frequency’s planners set the course for making In C an annual thing. $35–$40. Constellation, 3111 N. Western. constellation-chicago.com
Grant Park Music Festival
8/6 at 6:30 Singer Storm Large will perform the rarely mounted Seven Deadly Sins, Kurt Weill’s last collaboration with Bertolt Brecht. Schubert’s Eighth Symphony (the “Unfinished”), recently heard at the CSO, and the “Dance of the Seven Veils,” excerpted from Richard Strauss’s opera Salome, complete the program.
8/8 at 6:30, 8/9 at 7:30 Critic’s Pick The first of two world premieres at this year’s festival, Christopher Theofanidis’s Northern Lights was composed to accompany astronomical photography selected by José Francisco Salgado of the Adler Planetarium. Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony and Drip, a riotous piece by the contemporary composer Andrew Norman, will also be performed.
8/13 at 6:30 Even more than usual, the festival ventures off the beaten path for high-energy, seldom-played works of the past 100 years for its last few concerts. The final week brings the esteemed composer William Bolcom for a residency, as singers from the Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center perform his Cabaret Songs. Also fitting into that category of newish and adventuresome, Walter Piston’s ballet suite The Incredible Flutist caps the program. Not in that category but also great, Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 begins it.
8/15, 8/16 at 6:30 The capstone of Bolcom’s residency, celebrating GPMF’s 80th season, will be the premiere of a concerto for orchestra—a seeming contradiction in terms. Ravel’s ravishing Daphnis et Chloé concludes this year’s festival.
Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Washington. grantparkmusicfestival.com
8/2 at 7:30 Critic’s Pick The sensitive soprano Patricia Racette, famous for her Butterfly, sings the title role in Richard Strauss’s Salome for the first time. Disclaimer: An unstaged version probably means no nudity at the end of the “Dance of the Seven Veils”—not to mention that it might cause picnickers to choke on their Merlot. $10–$90.
8/4 at 8 Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen—that’s a German chamber orchestra from Bremen, for those rusty on their Deutsch—plays an all-Brahms, all-hits concert: the Academic Festival Overture and Symphonies No. 2 and 3. $10–$65.
8/5 at 8 The North Shore composer James Stephenson wrote The Devil’s Tale as a sequel to Stravinsky’s chamber-music classic The Soldier’s Tale, about a violin-playing soldier who makes a deal with the devil. Stephenson’s part two premieres in the first half, and then the Stravinsky appears in the second. Both tales will be staged—the Stravinsky for the first time at Ravinia—by Hershey Felder, known for his one-man piano/acting shows, such as George Gershwin Alone. $10–$60.
8/6 at 8 In a rare stateside appearance, the baritone Stéphane Degout sings a recital of German lieder with a little Fauré sprinkled in. $10–$60.
8/11, 13 at 8:30 Critic’s Pick Fans of the blue-chip Takács Quartet, bummed by its cancellation of the Bartók cycle last summer, will slaver for this year’s nickname-filled concerts—Janáček’s “Intimate Letters,” Barber’s famous adagio, and Beethoven’s late op. 132 one night; Janáček’s “Kreutzer Sonata,” Smetana’s “From My Life,” and Beethoven’s second “Razumovsky” two nights later.
8/12 at 8:30 Although she’s a little over the hill vocally, 70-year-old Kiri Te Kanawa can still sing circles around most anyone. Retired from the opera stage, she gives recitals—every one rumored to be her last—of arias and lieder, here including a premiere commissioned from Jake Heggie for her 70th birthday. $10–$125.
8/14 at 7, 8/16 at 1 Concert operas under Ravinia’s music director, James Conlon—not coincidentally also the head of the L.A. Opera—have merited calendar-highlighter treatment in seasons past. In addition to Salome (see 8/2), Conlon leads two mid-August Mozart operas. One is Don Giovanni, also Lyric’s season opener in a scant six weeks. $10–$90.
8/15 at 7, 8/17 at 1 The other is The Marriage of Figaro, with a stellar cast that includes John Relyea, Lisette Oropesa (who shone in the Chicago Bach Project’s St. Matthew Passion last spring), and Stéphane Degout (see 8/6). $10–$90.
8/20 at 8 The Knights, a Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra that self-governs collectively and thumbs its nose at programming conventions, joins forces with the excellent soprano Dawn Upshaw for a concert of modern (Ives, Stravinsky), new (Maria Schneider’s Grammy-winning song cycle Winter Morning Walks), and made new (arrangements of teary John Dowland songs and Sufjan Stevens). $10–$60.
8/21 at 8 The Knights return, with Yo-Yo Ma taking Upshaw’s guest-star spot to portray the title cello in Don Quixote, Richard Strauss’s tone poem. Works by Ravel and Darius Milhaud also appear on the program, as well as arrangements of big-in-new-music composers Philip Glass and Karlheinz Stockhausen. $20–$95.
8/23 at 2 and 8 Apparently because last year’s exhaustive tour of the Paganini Caprices wasn’t hard enough, this year Rachel Barton Pine plays all the Bach solo violin sonatas and partitas over two concerts on the same day. $10.
8/24 at 2 With a whole night to recover, Pine returns to play a recital of Bartók, Sarasate, Bach, Kodály, and a bunch of traditional fiddling. What, was it too hard to play three concerts in one day? $10.
8/30 at 4 Before playing a jazz show in the evening, pianist Dan Tepfer demonstrates a centuries-older version of the theme and variations form, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, performed both straight and in Tepfer’s jazzed-up variations on the variations. $10.
Lake Cook and Green Bay, Highland Park. ravinia.org.
Rush Hour Concerts
8/5 at 5:45 Poetry Foundation and Quintet Attacca enjamb their skills for readings of poems by locals with wind quintet music.
8/12 at 5:45 Fifth House Ensemble plays Aram Khachaturian’s Rimsky-like clarinet trio and Bartók’s mysterious Contrasts.
8/19 at 5:45 A longtime Rush Hour rusher, the composer and guitarist Jason Seed brings his Stringtet—orchestral strings plus guitar—for a world premiere commissioned for Rush Hour’s 15th anniversary.
8/26 at 5:45 The four members of Third Coast Percussion import two pianists to bang out the contemporary giant Steve Reich’s Sextet.
St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron. rushhour.org
Woodstock Mozart Festival
8/9 at 8 To remind us of the gloriousness of summer music, the distant suburban festival isolates “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and then juxtaposes Ástor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, where it actually is winter right now. $33–$58. Woodstock Opera House, 121 W. Van Buren, Woodstock. mozartfest.org
Classic Rock, Soul, Blues
Echo & the Bunnymen
8/10 at 8 Though not as celebrated as peers New Order and the Jesus and Mary Chain, British post-punks-turned-pop-idols Echo & the Bunnymen experienced a renaissance of sorts when their iconic ballad “The Killing Moon” received prominent placement in the 2001 film Donnie Darko. And really, who can deny the pop palpability of “Lips Like Sugar”? Today the band tours on a new album, Meteorites. $30. Metro, 3730 N. Clark. metrochicago.com
Buddy Guy and Mavis Staples
8/19 at 7 The blues legend and the gospel goddess team up for what’s sure to be a memorable concert. $33–$90. Ravinia Pavilion, 200 Ravinia Park Road, Highland.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
8/23 at 7:30 Tom Petty is pretty much the only classic-rock act that both pleated-khaki-wearing dads and their hipster kids can agree upon. His 1994 Rick Rubin–assisted triumph Wildflowers remains a favorite of both generations. And if his Super Bowl XLII performance a few years ago is any indication, the 63-year-old singer-songwriter has the stamina, and 10 times the charisma, of any contemporary indie act. English rocker Steve Winwood opens. $51.50–$131.50. United Center, 1901 W. Madison. unitedcenter.com
Folk, Country, World
8/3 at 8 The Irish rockabilly singer and multi-instrumentalist puts a sonic twist on the thoroughly aped sound of Memphis and the American South with traditional instruments such as the bodhrán and jazz-inspired flourishes. $25. Park West, 322 W. Armitage. jamusa.com
Chicago Jazz Festival
8/28–31 Regular favorites grace this annual Labor Day weekend pastime, including trumpeter Terence Blanchard, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, free-jazz auteur David Boykin (see “Hear These Five Free Jazz Masters at the Chicago Jazz Festival”), and singer Cécile McLorin Salvant. Various places and times. cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_jazz_festival.html
Joey Defrancesco Trio
8/1 at 7 and 9:30 The organist’s latest album, One for Rudy, features a number of gently recalibrated classics by Miles, Monk, and Rollins, as a memorial to the famous jazz recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder. Expect to hear some of those pieces performed here. $20–$35. SPACE, 1245 Chicago, Evanston. evanstonspace.com
Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz
Through 8/28 Each Thursday this month, visiting jazz musicians—including guitarist John Moulder, saxophonist Matana Roberts, guitarist Fareed Haque, and an international ensemble with vocalist Dee Alexander—perform at Millennium Park. Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park. cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park3.html
Tuesdays on the Terrace
Through 9/9 The Museum of Contemporary Art’s summer jazz series continues with a number of free jazz local acts, including the Jason Stein Quartet (8/5), the Chicago Reed Quartet (8/12), Tatsu Aoki and the Miyumi Project (8/19) and Mike Reed’s People, Places, and Things (8/26). Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. mcachicago.org
Rock, Pop, Hip-Hop
8/5 at 8 At a time when sludgy grunge rock ruled the airwaves, the ginger-locked siren Tori Amos built an empire on three albums of confessional piano rock—Little Earthquakes (1992), Under the Pink (1994), and Boys for Pele (1996)—that quickly and quietly swept the hearts of alterna-teens and Gen-Xers everywhere. She’s crafted 11 albums since then, but remains for most a nostalgia act. Lucky for her that’s a strong enough profile to sell out theatres. $38.50. The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. thechicagotheatre.com
8/26–27 It wasn’t a good look when the Canadian art-rock sextet attempted to institute a somewhat bougie dress code for attendees of its Reflektor tour. The faux controversy seems to have quickly blown over, however, as city after city sells out. $41.42–$325. United Center, 1901 W. Madison. unitedcenter.com
8/14 at 7 Remember last March when Miley and Icona Pop blew the roof off the Allstate Arena on the Bangerz tour? Here they’re doubling down with a redux in a bigger venue with bigger ticket prices. $49.50–$89.50. United Center, 1901 W. Madison. unitedcenter.com
8/1 at 9:30 The English siblings and producer duo came roaring out of the electronic starting gates with their 2013 full-length debut, Settle, which picked up a Grammy nom this year. If you’re looking for a sweaty post-Lolla dance party, this is the place to be. Sold out. Aragon, 1106 W Lawrence. aragon.com
Drake and Lil Wayne
8/10 at 7 The top men of the Young Money crew team up for a titanic show that will most assuredly sell out. $35–$145. First Midwest Bank Ampitheatre, 19100 Ridgeland. livenation.com
8/1–3 It’s been 10 years since fest founder Perry Farrell and friends hit Grant Park for the first time. Since then, the sonic behemoth has morphed from a humble hub of indie and alterna rock to a multigenre throwdown, with ticket prices that empty the piggy banks of suburban teens before the lineup is even announced. This year, headlining acts steer “adults only” and include angry radio-rap mouthpiece Eminem, reunited Hotlanta duo Outkast, and bro rockers Kings of Leon. It works out, since said teens will likely never leave the EDM stages anyway, where big names such as Skrillex and Zedd lead the youth culture charge. Sold out except for $3,600 platinum package. Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph. lollapalooza.com
North Coast Music Festival
8/29–31 Easily the music fest most resistant to typecasting, this midsummer hodgepodge includes performers as disparate as Snoop Dogg and Baltimore synth-pop group Future Islands. Be sure to look for local rapper Alex Wiley, making his first big festival debut. $149 for three-day passes. Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph. northcoastfestival.com
8/7–8 Though Prism is nothing to sneeze at, it ain’t Teenage Dream. The real reason to hit this concert is for the show, which will no doubt offer all the merch, choreography, pyrotechnics, and costumes—maybe even costumes with pyrotechnics—required for Katy’s tween fanatics worldwide. $28.50–$149.50. United Center, 1901 W. Madison. unitedcenter.com
Robyn and Röyksopp
8/24 at 7 The Swedish pop star and the Norwegian electronic producer have combined forces to craft a delectably danceable morsel, Do It Again, which is no doubt one of the albums of this summer. Don’t miss this chance to throw your hands in the air at the Pritzker’s breezy confines. $25–$59.50. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph. jamusa.com
8/14–9/20 Cargo Space. This mobile group show stops in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, rural Wisconsin, and Chicago. Fifteen artists hop on and off for various legs and improvise art interactions along the way. In Chicago, Cargo Space touches down in the South Loop at Columbia College’s Papermaker’s Garden, with objects in the gallery. 619 S. Wabash. colum.edu/ADGallery
Through 8/22 Tight Pencils. Comics are serious business in Chicago—don’t call them cartoons. The city fosters a robust scene of graphic artists, illustrators, and makers of countercultural comix. This group show features all-stars Ivan Brunetti and Onsmith and some newcomers from Columbia College’s comic art program. 618 S. Michigan. colum.edu/deps
Through 8/16 Carolyne King. To go with the flow is an excellent life philosophy; it’s also how the longtime Chicago painter creates her watercolors. Washes of pigment, adorned with hand-drawn shapes like nests and cocoons, populate King’s invented world of free-flowing energy. Also showing: new work by Tiffany Pascal and Lynn Christine Kelly. 2156 N. Damen. arcgallery.org
Bert Green Fine Art
Through 8/23 Man Bartlett: The Object of an Act of Thought. Bartlett embarks on a digital art venture. Using Namecoins (lesser-known cousins of Bitcoins), collectors can own an original, authenticated piece of data. For those less inclined to invest in experimental electronic art, Bartlett also shows new collages and drawings. 8 S. Michigan, SUITE 620. bgfa.us
The Bike Room
Through 8/16 Caps for Sale. This exhibit, located in an artist’s apartment storage room, showcases how artists make do, and make better, with what they’ve got. It includes Dan Devening, Michelle Grabner, Karsten Lund, Adelheid Mers, Matt Morris, and Edra Soto. 1109 W. North Shore. nancylurosenheim.com/the-bike-room
Chicago Artists Coalition
8/22–9/11 Annette Barbier: Casualties. A professor of interdisciplinary arts at Columbia College, Barbier knows how to engage her audiences with experiential installations. Here, she sets up a nearly transparent window screen and bird carcasses to emulate the accidental death of thousands of migratory birds as they smash into the city’s skyscrapers. 217 N. Carpenter. chicagoartistscoalition.org
8/22–9/20 Lou Beach: Revelation. You’ve likely seen Beach’s witty illustrations accompanying New York Times and Wired magazine articles; he’s also a successful gallery artist. His collages remix images from children’s books into new stories. This show promises everything from the “stupid to the sublime.” (Think Joseph Cornell with a sense of humor.) 2124 N. Damen. firecatprojects.org
Hyde Park Art Center
8/24–11/23 The Chicago Effect: Redefining the Middle. Over its 75-year history, the Hyde Park Art Center has advocated for Chicago-style contemporary art (notably, the Hairy Who and Chicago Imagists). Now they’re at it again, bolstering a crop of Chicago’s new luminaries in this exhibition that bills itself as “a year-long think tank.”
Through 8/3 John Preus: The Beast. A former fabricator for Theaster Gates, John Preus skinned the leather from found upholstered furniture and used it to create a structure in the shape of a giant beast. It fills the center’s atrium.
5020 S. Cornell. hydeparkart.org
Linda Warren Projects
Through 8/16 Bourque, Bondgren & Bourbon. Using high-key color and collage, the painters Rob Bondgren and Loretta Bourque create highly charged portraits of gender identities, from the gay male and feminine perspectives. 327 N. Aberdeen. lindawarrenprojects.com
8/23–9/28 Whiteface: Stephen Collier and Ben Sanders. These two artists have perfected the genre of so-called hipster art. The colorful paintings are not aloof, but fun and funny—even artful and confident. Collier (from New Orleans) and Sanders (from Los Angeles) may have self-conscious style, but they wield it with power.
Through 8/17 Two Rocks Do Not Make a Duck. Hikers may recognize the idiom that informs this show’s title. It means that two stacked rocks don’t always signify an intentional trail marker. Same goes with the three artists in this exhibit, who use a choose-your-own-adventure-style theme through their paintings. It’s viewer’s choice when it comes to interpretation.
1542 N. Milwaukee. lvl3gallery.com
Through 8/16 Bernard Williams: The Dark Came Down. One can always expect to see formal innovations in a Williams exhibition. New work includes glossy black car bumpers clumped into impressive arrangements on the walls, like giant plastic gargoyle faces. 835 W. Washington. thomasmccormick.com
Through 8/16 Megan Stroech: We Tried That One Time. The emerging collage painter makes abstract art that elicits human behaviors. Here she assembles a site-specific installation where paintings seem to slide off the walls, crawl on the floor, and interact with sculptural objects. 1431 W. Chicago. themissionprojects.com
Monique Meloche Gallery
Through 8/2 My Hands Are My Bite. Curator Dan Gunn (who is also an artist) defines a new “attitude” in contemporary art: nostalgic handmade objects. Fashion display and soft forms are recurring motifs in these curios—all crafted by women (Lilli Carré, Laura Davis, Carol Jackson, and Diane Simpson). 2154 W. Division. moniquemeloche.com
Packer Schopf Gallery
Through 8/22 Urban Perspectives. Fans of self-taught art will be turned on by the obsessively detailed drawings of Robert Agne, who crams thousands of little lines into his cityscapes. But Agne is no outsider artist; he is highly trained and widely exhibited. The current show marks a comeback for him. Also showing: new works by sculptor Lucy Slivinski and painter Ann Worthing. 942 W. Lake. packergallery.com
8/17–9/11 David Krofta: Finders Keepers. The local puppeteer has produced costumes, sets, and creatures for the popular web series Channel 2020. If the Muppets had an underworld, Krofta would be the costume designer, mixing heavy doses of humor and horror. A stolen magic bear suit drives the plot here. 1000 N. California. peanutgallerychicago.com
Through 8/29 Suspended Motion. The San Francisco painter John Goodman is a mainstay of the Bay Area figurative art movement. Solitary nude bodies on his canvases look as if they have been molded from clay but dissolve into brushstrokes. Contorted poses lend a psychological dimension. Also showing: new paintings by Greg Murr. 210 W. Superior. perimetergallery.com
8/1–30 Bob Palmieri: Lies. It’s no wonder that Palmieri’s photographs depict musicians in spirited performance or candid repose, for the photographer is a musician, too. His empathetic vision extends to architectural details and urban inhabitants. 300 W. Superior. rangefindergallery.com
8/16 Summer Shorts. Sometimes a backyard is the perfect site for a summer outdoor theatre. This intimate new series showcases a curated selection of art films and literary reading performances by Chicagoans. (Rain date is 8/17). 1625 N. Richmond. summershortschicago.tumblr.com
8/9–23 Carlie Trosclair. Using materials sourced from abandoned buildings (salvaged wood, vintage wallpaper, and antique windowpanes), the artist from St. Louis creates an immersive sculptural environment that emulates ruin and disaster, yet promises redemption upon close inspection. 2153 W. 20th. paul-is-slow.info
Through 8/30 Valpuri Kylmanen and Ari Pelkonen: Helsingistä. The two printmakers are highly regarded in Finland for their edgy, experimental approaches to lithography. Never before seen in Chicago (and very rarely in the United States), these prints will open your eyes and mind to artistic innovations happening across the pond. 845 W. Washington. westernexhibitions.com
Woman Made Gallery
Through 8/21 texttexttext. With e-mails and smartphone texting, everyone’s a writer. More people are using the written word than ever before. The proliferation of text has even infiltrated the world of visual art. This group show, juried by the University of Chicago’s Monika Szewczyk, examines the power of text. 685 N. Milwaukee. womanmade.org
Art & Design
Art Institute of Chicago
Through 10/5 Onchi Koshiro: The Abstract Prints. Abstract art was popular in Europe, but it also flourished in Japan, especially in the hands of master printmaker Onchi Koshiro. From 1918 to 1955, Koshiro innovated a form of geometric abstraction using color-printed, carved wood blocks. The AIC owns a trove of Koshiro’s important art, rarely on display in such abundance.
Through 10/5 Nairy Baghramian: French Curve/Slip of the Tongue. The minimalist sculptress debuts a large-scale artwork for the museum’s Modern Wing rooftop series. Born in Iran but based in Berlin, Baghramian makes relaxed abstract objects.
Through 10/13 Critic’s Pick Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938. The Belgian surrealist master René Magritte created some of the most hallucinatory paintings in the history of art. This major exhibition includes over 100 mind-bending works.
111 S. Michigan. artic.edu
Chicago Cultural Center
Through 11/2 CHGO DSGN: Recent Object and Graphic Design. Couture utensils designed for Alinea, the world’s thinnest wristwatch, and bowls cast from polar vortex ice are some of the more than 200 objects included in this exhibit that celebrates Chicago’s immense contribution to the design field. Rick Valicenti, founder of the design firm Thirst, curates. 78 E. Washington. chicagoculturalcenter.org
Chicago Design Museum
Through 9/30 Starts/Speculations: Graphic Design in Chicago Past and Future. For the third exhibition at this new museum dedicated to Chicago’s burgeoning design scene, the curators tasked 50 local designers with a problem to solve: Imagine how future technologies will change the way people communicate. Expect some interactives and a healthy dose of fresh typography. A historical overview of Chicago design innovations complements the new projects. Block Thirty Seven, 108 N. State. chidm.com
DePaul Art Museum
Through 8/31 Jeff Carter: The Common Citizenship of Forms. IKEA provides modernist design to the masses, but it was the early-20th-century Bauhaus academy (briefly located in Chicago) that innovated all those minimalist, clean curves. Sculptor Jeff Carter blends high-brow and middle-brow design with his IKEA-hacked sculptures. Also showing: Fires Will Burn: Politically Engaged Art from the Permanent Collection (through 12/21). 935 W. Fullerton. museums.depaul.edu
Elmhurst Art Museum
Through 8/17 Critic’s Pick LifeLoggers: Chronicling the Everyday. Fanatic record keeping of daily activities is one way to pass the time. LifeLoggers includes 13 contemporary artists who track their routines and behaviors using maps, diagrams, and image collections.
Through 8/24 Heidi Norton: Prismatic Nature. Mies van der Rohe’s landmark McCormick House is the site for artist-in-residence Heidi Norton’s houseplant intervention. The modernist glass home becomes a greenhouse and a giant camera for making sun prints.
150 S. Cottage Hill, Elmhurst. elmhurstartmuseum.org
Illinois State Museum
Through 8/15 Focus 4: Four Solo Exhibitions. The series presents four solo exhibitions in the museum’s Thompson Center galleries. This round includes four painters: Barbara Aubin, Guy Benson, Julia Haw, and Thom Whalen. They are longtime artists with major bodies of work, but the standout may be Haw, whose powerful portraits express everything from womanhood to mortality. 100 W. Randolph. museum.state.il.us
Museum of Contemporary Art
Through 8/3 Isa Genzken: Retrospective. The influential German sculptor gets her due with a career-spanning survey. For more than 30 years, she has deconstructed American consumerism with colorful, kitschy pieces.
Through 10/5 Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Kahlo. The MCA gave Frida Kahlo her first U.S. solo show in 1978. Now it pays homage to the surrealist Mexican painter with this group exhibition, showing her wild creativity and her progressive politics through the work of dozens of contemporary artists.
Through 11/2 Simon Starling: Metamorphology. The British conceptual artist won the prestigious Turner Prize for transforming a wooden shed into a boat, navigating it down the Rhine River, and then rebuilding it back into a shed. Starling’s first full-scale U.S. museum retrospective features simple but elegant material metamorphoses, including his new forays into film.
Open Tue 10–8, Wed–Sun 10–5. Free (kids under 13) to $12; free Tue for Ill residents. 220 E. Chicago. mcachicago.org
Museum of Contemporary Photography
Through 10/5 Phantoms in the Dirt. Photographs are like ghosts; they capture ephemeral experiences and feelings that are forever in the past, congealed in printed ink on paper. Here, 16 photographers hunt for life’s big picture by tracking the crumbs and dust left over from those who came before us. Spare, haunting images predominate. 600 S. Michigan. mocp.org
Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
8/1–9/28 glitChicago. Glitch is a digital art movement unique to Chicago. Technology and software are supposed to solve life’s ills, but leave it to artists to disrupt so-called “good” software design. GlitChicago is a major retrospective of the homegrown glitch art movement. Expect lots of artfully manipulated GIFs, bent circuits, and static noise. 2320 W. Chicago. uima-chicago.org
History & Culture
Chicago History Museum
Through 8/10/15 Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography. In 1942, the U.S. Office of WarInformation commissioned Ukrainian photographer Jack Delano to capture the work of railroad men and women. See more than 60 now-iconic photos. Mon–Sat 9:30–4:30, Sun 12–5. $12–$14. 1601 N. Clark. chicagohistory.org
Through 10/20 Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Animation Art from Classic Cartoons of the ’70s. The animated TV shows Josie and the Pussycats, Peanuts, and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids were among the first to portray positive images of black characters. Forty years after they aired, these classics are celebrated with original drawings, animation stills, and production pieces. 740 E. 56th. dusablemuseum.org
Through 9/7 Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair. Rare artifacts from the famous fair.
Through 2/1/15 Before the Dinosaurs: Tracking the Reptiles of Pangaea. Learn how to read fossils for clues about the animals that roamed the earth long before humans came along.
Through 1/4/15 The Machine Inside: Biomechanics. Get the inside scoop on the bodily functions of both humans and animals at this kid-friendly exhibit.
Open daily 9–5. General admission free (kids under 3) $13–$20; all-access passes $21–$31. 1400 S. Lake Shore. fieldmuseum.org
Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture
Through 8/23 Santiago Flores-Charneco: Carnal Masquerade/Mascarada Carnal. An accomplished painter from Puerto Rico, Flores-Charneco has an international career. His current painting series takes inspiration from the carnival, which he calls a carnal masquerade, a place where taboos are aired, if just for one day. The colorful paintings include diverse techniques, from mosaic to textile design. 3015 W. Division. iprac.org
Science, Nature, Kids
Through 9/30 Destination Solar System. Take a tour of the solar system in the spacious Grainger Sky Theater. Mon–Fri 9:30–5, Sat–Sun 9:30–4:30. General admission $8–$12. Packages $19.95–$34.95. 1300 S. Lake Shore. adlerplanetarium.org
Museum of Science and Industry
Through 8/3 Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives. Look through more than 300 drawings, scripts, and costumes from the iconic company’s film vaults. Timed-entry tickets required, $7–$9, not including general admission.
Through 9/1 Earth Explorers. Kids will enjoy learning about different ecosystems in this hands-on exhibit, where they can experience living in the tundra, the rainforest, and the ocean. Timed-entry tickets required, $7–$9, not including general admission.
Through 10/31 THINK. This exhibit celebrates various scientific breakthroughs of the last 100 years.
Open daily 9:30–4. $11–$18 (free for kids under 3). 5700 S. Lake Shore. msichicago.org
Best of the Rest
Festivals, Parades, Parties
Bud Billiken Parade
8/9 at 10 Expect to see a host of local celebs, the Mayor, and a dance competition in Washington Park at the nation’s largest African American parade. Martin Luther King from Oakwood to Washington Park. budbillikenparade.com
Chicago Air and Water Show
8/16–17 Bring a blanket and a cooler to North Avenue Beach and see aerial acrobatics at the largest free show of its kind. 1600 N. Lake Shore. cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_air_and_watershow.html
Chicago Comic Con
8/21–24 Nerd out with fellow fans, comic creators, and celebrities, including cast members of The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, the WWE, and more. One-day pass $40–$60 (plus fees); four-day pass $94.95 (plus fees). Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River, Rosemont. wizardworld.com/home-ch.html
Chicago Food Social
8/23–24 Sometimes things just taste better from a truck. This foodie meet-up promises chef demos and cooking activities, a live music program from the Empty Bottle, and a bevy of top Chicago food trucks. $5. Kendall College parking lot, 900 N. Branch. chicagofoodsocial.com
Fiesta del Sol
Through 8/3 Organized by the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council, this four-day fundraiser offers live entertainment, art, food, carnival rides, soccer games, and more. The annual event attracts more than a million people each year, making it one of the largest festivals in the Midwest. 1400 W. Cermak. fiestadelsol.org
Millennium Park Summer Film Series
Through 8/26 at 6:30 Check out a different film each Tuesday night at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. This month’s lineup of free screenings includes The Birdcage (8/5), American Graffiti (8/12), Dreamgirls (8/19), and a special bonus screening of the popular James Cameron vehicle Avatar (8/27). Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph. cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park7.html
Sports & Rec
Through 9/14 Learn and execute new dance steps to a live band or people-watch like crazy at this popular city-sponsored dance party. Free. Grant Park, Spirit of Music Garden, 601 S. Michigan. cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_summerdance.html
Summer Workouts at Millennium Park
Through 9/6 Sometimes you need other people to motivate you to get moving. You’ll get all the people you need at these weekly workouts featuring tutorials from various local fitness gurus. Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph. cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park4.html