Top 5 Things to Do This Week

The week is short. Play hard: The Goodman sees Red … the Backyard Film & Music Fest returns, with booze … the future of jazz comes to town … an expat artist spills her weekend plans … plus, three don’t-miss freebies from week 1 of Chicago Artists Month

A scene from 'Red'
CANVASSING THE ISSUE A prediction: If you don’t snap up tickets now to the
six-time Tony winner Red at the Goodman, you’ll be seeing—well, you know.

THE FIVE

Don’t-miss picks for Wed 09.28.11 through Tue 10.04.11:

1

theatre Red
It’s difficult to reduce John Logan’s Tony-winning exploration of the artist Mark Rothko to blurb length, but if you want a sense of the piece, you can Google some of the art referenced therein: Caravaggio’s Conversion of Saul, Matisse’s The Red Studio, Rembrandt’s Belshazzar’s Feast. Or don’t. Red has the power to thrill all, Rothko expert and art history dropout alike.
GO: On stage now through 10/30. $25–$84. Goodman Theatre, 170 N Dearborn. goodmantheatre.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Life gets weird when you see yourself sold as everything from Pez dispensers to anatomically correct sex dolls. And so it was for Carrie Fisher, who delivers a hilarious recital on Princess Leia, addiction, depression, and beyond in Wishful Drinking, on stage 10/4–16 at Bank of America Theatre.

2

film Backyard Film & Music Fest
Don’t get caught up in the name: “Backyard” is so three years ago. BF&MF has long outgrown its humble beginnings in the grass behind founder Fred Koschmann’s Old Irving Park home; additions in year 4 include a panel of jurors (The Weather Underground’s Bill Siegel) and an after-party stocked with live music and booze. Movies include I Never Missed a Meal but Was Sometimes a Few Days Behind, cut from footage shot by a couple of guys who fell off the grid while journeying from Alaska to Washington—which might sound like an Into the Wild knockoff if it didn’t predate that film by 65 years.
GO: Screenings 10/1 from 2 to 6: Wicker Park Art Center, 2215 W North. Party at 9: Viaduct Theater, 3111 N Western. $20 day pass or $10 films only, $15 party only. byfmf.com

3

jazz The Miles Davis Experience: 1949–59
Fall’s big booking coup belongs to the College of DuPage for snagging the Chicago debut of the meteoric trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire: the Jazz Journalists Association and DownBeat critics’ pick for rising star jazz artist and a year-end best-of-list shoo-in for 2011’s When the Heart Emerges Glistening. Here Akinmusire and Co put their stamp on a familiar period of the Miles canon in a must-hear gig worth the trek to the burbs.
GO: 10/2 at 7. $28–$38. McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn. atthemac.org

4

dance Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
Better known these days for his sprawling and controversial dance-theatre reflections on race and the AIDS crisis, Jones goes back to the roots of his partnership with the late Zane, revisiting a series of influential duets from the 1970s and ’80s that join athleticism with eccentric choreography—a rare chance to see bold early moves from the man The New York Times called the “political lion of modern dance.”
GO: 9/29–30 at 8, 10/1 at 3 and 8. $35–$40. The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S Michigan. colum.edu/dancecenter

5

rock/pop Lincoln Hall
Call ahead and see if you can bring a sleeping bag: Considering Lincoln Hall’s lineup this week, you’ll want to get comfortable. To wit: 10/2 is the Pitchfork breakout act Twin Shadow (George Lewis Jr. to his mom), who makes slinky electropop with a streak of ADHD. The 10/4 set by Jens Lekman, that impish Swede and purveyor of lavishly orchestrated pop, is sold out, but you could use a night off before Besnard Lakes, the Montreal band known for Beach Boys-indebted falsetto and vast, trippy songs, takes the stage. Don’t forget the marshmallows.
GO: 10/2 at 9; $14. 10/4 at 9; $14. Lincoln Hall, 2424 N Lincoln. lincolnhallchicago.com

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEK

Artist Aspen Mays
Aspen Mays

Up next in our series of plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: the artist, SAIC grad and former lecturer, and Wicker Park resident turned Los Angelean Aspen Mays, who, following solo shows at the MCA and Hyde Park Art Center in 2010, left Chicago for a Fulbright-funded stint in Chile, “the best place in the world to look at stars because the desert is the driest place on earth.” Mays spent a year there working alongside astronomers and scientists, “trying to be a fly on the wall in that world,” and producing photos out of an abandoned darkroom on the campus of the University of Chile.

A few of her images from that period hang in the Museum of Contemporary Photography’s current show, Our Origins, and Mays returns to town to give a related talk, Beyond Visibility: Photography and Our Connection to the Cosmos, 10/4 at MoCP.

“I’ll be in town Tuesday morning through Friday evening. I wish I could be in Chicago for the weekend, but I just started volunteering in L.A. with this group called the Pablove Shutterbugs. It was cofounded by the guy who owns the Dangerbird record label, and it pairs up working artists and photographers with kids battling cancer. Basically, we teach them how to use cameras. I really love my students, and I don’t want to miss any weekends here.

“There’s so much good art up in Chicago right now—always, really—and one of my favorite things to do is to see art, so stop 1 is going to be Golden, a gallery I’ve been working with that just opened a new location in New York. I’m in that New York show, but a really good friend’s show just opened at the Golden in Chicago [Anthea Behm’s Objective Confess]. I can’t wait to see it. The director and founder of Golden, Jacob Meehan, is also a DJ, and he spins every Saturday night at Wang’s in Boystown [3317 N. Broadway; 773-296-6800]. If I was here, I’d love to go to that, but even so, since Golden is right next to Wang’s, maybe I’ll go to Golden, have dinner at Pingpong, which just reopened after a fire and looks wonderful, and then go to Wang’s—the ultimate evening.

“My partner books bands with the Windish Agency, which is based in Chicago, and they always have a million great shows a week. I just saw Ladytron in L.A., and they were fantastic. They’re playing the Vic on Tuesday. Also, Foster the People, Battles: Maybe I’ll see all of these.

“Oh, and Big Star. That’s a good place to meet up with friends for a drink or tacos. Or a drink and tacos. I can see that happening.”

FREEBIES OF THE WEEK

Below, three don’t-miss picks from week 1 of Chicago Artists Month; for a full lineup of openings and events, see chicagoartistsmonth.org.

galleries Color: Fully Engaged at A+D
The best defense against fall-onset blues? A serious infusion of color, in the form of eye-popping works by some of the city’s top artists. Anna Kunz creates video installations that bathe you in light as you move past the screens, while Susan Giles builds elegant 3-D mash-ups of famous architectural structures from colored paper. Look for these and equally vibrant works from our pick for the artist to collect now, Jessica Labatte, as well as Jeanne Dunning, Matthew Metzger, and others.
GO: Opening reception 9/29 from 5 to 8. Exhibit continues through 11/5. A+D Gallery, Columbia College Chicago, 619 S Wabash. colum.edu/adgallery

galleries Southside Hub of Production
From the minds behind The Op Shop, that nomadic gallery popping up now and again in unused storefronts and empty rooms across Hyde Park, comes the more permanent work in progress SHoP, or Southside Hub of Production, an all-purpose community center of creativity that eventually will house a small-press library and book exchange; two wood shops (one for kids, one for adults); a Kunstverein, or Berlin-style boutique museum hanging local collections; a radio station and recording studio; a seed bank; and all kinds of other big ideas. The public is invited to tour the space when SHoP hosts an open house featuring a collection of some 50 wooden radios hand built by the Hyde Park resident George Kagan. Tune in and witness the birth of something ambitious (if winningly kooky).
GO: Open house 10/1 from 4 to midnight. Free; childcare provided for a suggested donation of $10–$30. SHoP, 5638 S Woodlawn. southsidehub.org

galleries Belle Plaine Open Studios
Four local artists—including David Jones, the founder of Columbia College’s storied fine-art press, Anchor Graphics—open the doors to their workshops in one Ravenswood building. A don’t miss for design geeks, printing fiends, and those who recognize the chance to pick the brain of a master when they see it.
GO: Artist talk 10/1 at 3; studios open 10/1–2 from 11 to 7. Belle Plaine Studios, 4541 N Ravenswood, #402. chicagoartistsmonth.org

 

Photography: (Red) Liz Lauren; (Mays) Courtesy of Aspen Mays

 

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