PLEASE NOTE: Events may be postponed or simply canceled. Please call ahead to make sure they are still scheduled to take place.
Toward Common Cause
Timed to the 40th anniversary of the MacArthur Foundation’s Fellows Program — popularly known as the “genius” grants — this sweeping, multi-site exhibition organized by the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art will display works by 29 grantee artists at venues across the city. Each component will open across the next year, but the first few are on view this month. Check out a collection of Kara Walker’s silhouettes at the DuSable Museum of African American History starting June 29, or visit the Stony Island Arts Bank’s cache of previously exhibited works by 11 grant recipients including Kerry James Marshall and Dawoud Bey.
Ongoing. Various locations. towardcommoncause.org
South African artist Daniel Popper has become known for towering outdoor installations, often combining concrete and steel with living organic material like fern walls. A new collection of five sculptures adorning the grounds of the Morton Arboretum marks Popper’s largest exhibition to date in more ways than one — the largest piece here measures 28 feet wide and 37 feet long.
Ongoing. Morton Arboretum. Lisle. $11–$16. mortonarb.org
Vivian Maier: In Color
The longtime Chicago nanny who found posthumous fame for her compelling street photography is primarily known for her black-and-white shots, largely because it has taken longer to process and catalog her color work, much of which only existed as slides, transparencies, or negatives. This new exhibit, which features more than 65 prints, is the first to include works from the collections of Jeffrey Goldstein, John Maloof, and Ron Slattery, the three primary archivists of Maier’s work.
Through May 8, 2023. Chicago History Museum. Lincoln Park. Free–$19. chicagohistory.org
Frida Kahlo: Timeless
This summer’s hottest destination for Kahlo lovers is … DuPage County? Indeed, this exhibition, initially set to open a year earlier, features 26 original works by the 20th-century Mexican artist — known for her wry self-portraits, lush colors, and incorporation of indigenous iconography — on loan from Mexico City’s Dolores Olmedo Museum. Supplemental materials include an immersive timeline of Kahlo’s life and career, replicas of personal items, and more than 100 photographs.
June 5–Sept. 6. Cleve Carney Museum of Art. Glen Ellyn. $23–$40. theccma.org
Old Town Art Fair
Art lovers can browse an open-air gallery in a tony neighborhood at this long-running street fest. A neighborhood tradition for more than 70 years, the Old Town Art Fair features more than 200 juried fine artists displaying their work, along with live music on two stages and concessions from nearby restaurants.
June 12–13. North Park and Menomonee. Old Town. $12. oldtownartfair.org
A Designed Life: Contemporary American Textiles, Wallpapers, and Containers & Packaging, 1951–1954
In the early 1950s, the U.S. State Department commissioned three traveling exhibitions of American consumer goods to be shown throughout West Germany, all to illustrate the wonders and comfort of American life — consumer domesticity as Cold War propaganda. Those traveling exhibitions have been reconstituted for this new traveling exhibition, visiting from the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Pop in for a unique glimpse into the way our country marketed itself to Western Europe during the postwar years.
FREE June 12–Sept. 19. Design Museum of Chicago. Loop. designchicago.org
The Obama Portraits
The official portraits of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama caused a stir when they appeared at the National Portrait Gallery in 2018; the paintings, by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, are vibrant and contemporary compared to the staid stagings of most official portraits. There’s a deeper historical significance, too, as Sherald and Wiley are the first Black artists to be commissioned for the task. It’s no surprise that the Art Institute, steps away from the Grant Park field where the Obamas and their supporters celebrated on election night 2008, would be the first spot on the portraits’ five-city tour.
June 18–Aug. 15. Art Institute of Chicago. Loop. Free–$35. artic.edu
Fight for Air Climb
This fundraiser for the American Lung Association turns stair climbing into an endurance sport. Most years, would-be stair masters raise money by climbing 49 flights at the West Loop’s Presidential Towers apartment complex or ascending the 31 stories of Helmut Jahn’s Oakbrook Terrace Tower. This year, the event moves outdoors, with climbers traversing a circuitous, socially distanced route up and down the stands of Soldier Field.
June 19. Soldier Field. Near South Side. $35. fightforairclimbchicago.org
Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now
A deep dive into six decades of doodlers, this exhibition looks at Chicago’s place as a center for innovative cartoonists like Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, and Daniel Clowes, while also seeking to elevate overlooked artists of color and younger practitioners still on the rise. A concurrent and complementary exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago: Where Comics Came to Life (1880-1960), cocurated by Tim Samuelson and Ware, illuminates the city’s role in the earlier history of the genre.
June 19–Oct. 3. Museum of Contemporary Art. Streeterville. $15. mcachicago.org
Pride in the Park
The Chicago Pride Parade, which in most years draws more than a million visitors to Boystown on the last Sunday in June, is holding off for a few more months; save the date for October 3. But don’t put away those rainbow boas just yet — wear them out to this LGBTQ-aimed music fest, returning for a second outing after its 2019 debut. Headliners include DJ and producer Gryffin, Dutch EDM megastar Tiësto, and funk legend (and Hyde Park native) Chaka Khan; local favorites like DJ Derrick Carter and RuPaul’s Drag Race alum The Vixen are also on the bill.
June 26–27. Grant Park. Loop. $80–$225. prideintheparkchicago.com