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The Top 18 Exhibits to See at Chicago Museums in September

Art, fashion, history, those stingrays, and other great picks.

Artwork by Theaster Gates

Photo: Nathan Keay, ©MCA Chicago

Installation View, Theaster Gates: 13th Ballad, MCA Chicago, 2013.

Art & Design

Through 9/22 Zarina Hashmi: Paper Like Skin. Hashmi sculpts pulp into three-dimensional forms and uses it as a support for her abstract prints and drawings, which contain imagery reminiscent of hand-built structures and hardscrabble existence, all spun into modestly beautiful shapes.
Through 9/22 Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity. This highly anticipated exhibition marries impressionist masterworks with period costumes from the nascent modern fashion-
design industry in 19th-century Paris.
Through 9/29 Undressed: The Fashion of Privacy. What happened behind closed doors was a topic of perennial fascination to Degas, Manet, Bonnard, and other 19th-century French artists. Were they testing the waters of public decency with their depictions of bathing maidens and prostitutes, or were they reveling in common pleasures?
111 S Michigan. artic.edu.

Through 9/23 Stefan Sagmeister: The Happy Show. This internationally touring fun house of interactive art experiences includes a bike-powered neon sculpture, among other viewer-activated, supposedly mood-elevating machines. 78 E Washington. cityofchicago.org.

9/12–11/24 Paul D’Amato: We Shall. The photographer doesn’t sugarcoat his subject matter: the lives of the socially dispossessed trapped in a wasteland—specifically, African Americans on Chicago’s West Side, whom D’Amato has been photographing for a decade. 935 W Fullerton. museums.depaul.edu.

Through 9/15 Abstracting the Seam. Repetitive needlework is akin to making meticulous brushstrokes, according to this exhibition of contemporary textile artwork. Seven artists use abstract imagery and modernist techniques to explore this theme.
9/15–12/1 Light and the Unseen. Seven artists use light as material and metaphor to explore the outer reaches of the eyeball and the mind.
5020 S Cornell. hydeparkart.org.

Through 10/13 Homebodies. The exhibit explores domestic existence with paintings, sculptures, video, and other media. There’s also a living room where the artist Dzine can do your nails.
Through 10/13 Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes. If Chris Ware and Robert Crumb had a love child, it would be Clowes—who was born and raised in Hyde Park and returns to Chicago for a retrospective exhibition of more than 125 of his beautifully crude drawings.
Through 10/6 13th Ballad. The museum’s massive atrium holds remnants from Gates’s recent urban revitalization projects, including objects imported from Hugenot House in Germany and church pews from the South Side.
Open Tue 10–8, Wed–Sun 10–5. Free (kids under 13) to $12; free Tue for Ill residents. 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org.

9/15–12/15 Suicide Narcissus. Which is a more frightening prospect: that humans kill each other or that we engineer our immortality? The bleak theme of this exhibition is intended to be a reality check. Eight international artists put our potential fate in perspective. University of Chicago, 5811 S Ellis. renaissancesociety.org.

History & Culture

Through 4/1/14 Cosmic Wonder. The latest show in the spacious Grainger Theatre permits visitors to gawk at jaw-dropping shots of the Crab Nebula and Orion. Open daily 9–4:30.
General admission $8–$12. Packages $18–$28. 1300 S Lake Shore. adlerplanetarium.org.

Through 1/4/14 Vivian Maier’s breathtaking black-and-white photos of Chicago in the 1960s.
Through 1/5/14 Ebony Fashion Fair. Dazzling designer garments from the archives of the famed traveling fashion show on custom-made mannequins.
Mon–Sat 9:30–4:30, Sun 12–5. $14. $12 students, seniors. 1601 N Clark. chicagohs.org.

Through 11/20 KKK—Kin Killin’ Kin. James Pate’s charcoal drawings and colorful paintings combine symbols of African cultural heritage with urgent scenes of urban gun violence. Tue–Sat 10–5, Sun 12–5. Free–$10. 740 E 56th Pl. dusablemuseum.org.

FIELD MUSEUM Child Friendly
9/27–9/28/14 Bunky Echo-Hawk: Modern Warrior. The Native American artist uses cheeky pop culture references to highlight Pawnee artifacts drawn from the vaults of the Field.
Through 1/5/14 Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence. This show illuminates the many life forms that produce light. Open daily 9–5. General admission free (kids under 3) to $15; all-access passes $21–$30. 1400 S Lake Shore. fieldmuseum.org.

Science, Nature, Kids

Through 10/31 Stingray Touch. Don’t worry; the slippery creatures in this outdoor exhibit—new this year—have had their barbs clipped. A guide is on hand to answer questions. Open daily 9–6. General admission $6–$8; all-access passes $28.95–$68.95. 1200 S Lake Shore. sheddaquarium.org.


More events:
Theatre: Comedies, Dramas, Musicals | Music: Classical, New Music, Opera | Music: Jazz
Best of the Rest | Music: Rock, Pop, Hip Hop | Dance | Music: Classic Rock, Blues, Soul
Music: Folk, Country, World | Art Fairs and Galleries | Museums


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