Five Best Things to Do in December

POCKET GUIDE: A cultural shortlist for the month, in order of buzz

Steppenwolf's 'Penelope'

PENELOPE

Yep. John Mahoney in a Speedo. See how he fares against similarly bethonged suitors when it comes to seducing the title babe in this outré take on Homer’s Odyssey at Steppenwolf.

UPDATE: According to the Steppenwolf website, ensemble member Tracy Letts will join the cast of Penelope. John Mahoney recently left the production due to an unexpected death in his family.

DETAILS:

12/1–2/5 Enda Walsh’s wacktastic take on Homeric legend. Amy Morton directs. Previews 12/1–10; $20–$52. Regular run $20–$78. Steppenwolf, 1650 N Halsted. steppenwolf.org.

PLUS: Check out our Holiday Schlock-o-Meter, a printable guide of this year’s seasonal events, from cheesy to classy, naughty to nice »

  NEXT: NATIONAL HELLENIC MUSEUM »

 

Photograph: Sandro

 

'Gods, Myths, and Mortals'

NATIONAL HELLENIC MUSEUM

A more hands-on Homer arrives in Gods, Myths, and Mortals, featuring a climbable Trojan horse and karaoke in the Sirens’ cave. Opening in tandem with the museum’s new West Loop space, the exhibit is meant for kids, but it’s also suitable for those who hear “Homer” and think “doughnut.”

DETAILS:

Opening 12/10 The museum toasts the opening of its new 40,000-square-foot digs with an interactive exhibit that merges the old (a 12-foot Trojan horse kids can climb inside) with the new (a karaoke “cave” for singing like a Siren). Open Tue 10–8, Wed–Fri 10–5, Sat–Sun 11–5. Closed 12/25, 1/1. Free (kids under 3) to $10. 333 S Halsted. www.nationalhellenicmuseum.org.

PLUS: Check out our Holiday Schlock-o-Meter, a printable guide of this year’s seasonal events, from cheesy to classy, naughty to nice »

  NEXT: EMPIRE »

 

Photograph: Courtesy of Children’s Museum of Manhattan

 

A scene from 'Empire'

EMPIRE

The Art Institute projects Andy Warhol’s 1964 film across Millennium Park and onto the Aon Center. Spoiler alert: The movie is pretty much just the Empire State Building. For eight hours. But it’s a beauty.

DETAILS:

12/9 Warhol’s 1964 Empire, an eight-hour take of the famous New York structure at night, kicks off the exhibit on when it is projected from the AIC’s terrace onto the upper floors of the Aon building. At 6. Open Mon–Wed, Fri–Sun 10:30–5; Thu 10:30–8. Closed 12/25, 1/1. Free (kids under 14) to $18; free 12/7, 14 for Ill residents. 111 S. Michigan. artinstitutechicago.org.

PLUS: Check out our Holiday Schlock-o-Meter, a printable guide of this year’s seasonal events, from cheesy to classy, naughty to nice »

  NEXT: DAVID FRAY »

 

Photograph: © 2011 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Art/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Pianist David Fray

DAVID FRAY

Sorry, ladies, this dreamboat pianist is taken—and his baton-wielding father-in-law, Riccardo Muti, might poke your eye out if you get too close—but you can swoon in your seat when Fray plays at Symphony Center.

DETAILS:

12/11 The expressive 30-year-old French pianist brings his flourishing talent and chiseled cheekbones to a performance of Mozart and Beethoven. At 3. $18–$76. Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. cso.org.

PLUS: Check out our Holiday Schlock-o-Meter, a printable guide of this year’s seasonal events, from cheesy to classy, naughty to nice »

  NEXT: NANCY HOLT: SIGHTLINES »

 

Photograph: Courtesy of Bolero Artists Management

 

Nancy Holt shooting the film 'Sun Tunnels,' 1978

NANCY HOLT: SIGHTLINES

Because Holt’s primary medium is earth, most of her oeuvre doesn’t fit in museums. Get to know the pioneering artist when the Graham Foundation brings the outside in with a gallery-size retrospective of Holt’s films, books, photos, and archival materials.

DETAILS:

Through 12/17 Since the 1960s, Holt, a pioneering earthworks artist and occasional Robert Smithson collaborator, has created large-scale environmental sculptures from and about the American landscape. Although her work usually doesn’t fit in a museum, this retrospective uses Holt’s materials to bring a far-flung practice into sharper focus. Madlener House, 4 W Burton. grahamfoundation.org.

PLUS: Check out our Holiday Schlock-o-Meter, a printable guide of this year’s seasonal events, from cheesy to classy, naughty to nice »

 

Photography: Nancy Holt shooting the film Sun Tunnels, 1978. photo by Lee Deffebach

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