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Wednesday, September 2

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Art Wed Sep 02 2015

Around the Coyote Arts Fest Is Back This Weekend in Wicker Park

More than 30 visiting artists will show their work this weekend at the Around the Coyote arts festival at the Flat Iron Arts Building in Wicker Park.

Around the Coyote is a three-day festival celebrating the art and artists of Wicker Park. This Friday through Sunday, visitors can stop in at the Flat Iron Arts Building, tour artist studios, listen to live music and see theater performances. The festival kicks off with an opening night reception from 6 to 10pm Friday.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Art Wed Sep 02 2015

Stevie Hanley "Synaesthetica" @ The International Museum of Surgical Science

Synesthesia, by definition, is a "sensation experienced in part of the body other than the part simulated," most commonly associated with music being seen as color. Notable cases for the condition include, David Hockney, Duke Ellington and Vladimir Nabokov.

In the current exhibition at the International Museum of Surgical Science, Stevie Hanley, explores everyday experiences and expands the limitations of singular actions to a broader exploration of more than one view, emotion and association. Hanley has translated the medical condition to the form of an art exhibition. His ability to associate color and imagery with personal fear and curious observation is imagined in the exhibition, "Synaesthetica".

The International Museum of Surgical Science is filled with medical tools, equipment, inventions, and history, which contribute to the bizarre and somewhat mystical condition that is observed in the exhibition. Hanley invites viewers into two gallery spaces; both include video projections and installations, only one includes the hum of Dolly Parton.

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S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Comedy Tue Sep 01 2015

The Jangleheart Circus Returns with 3 Nights of Comedy

A Jangleheart CircusThe Jangleheart Circus by Upstairs Gallery -- one of the city's largest and most diverse comedy festivals, featuring local improv, sketch, and stand-up stars -- returns for its third year this Thursday, Friday and Saturday night (September 3-5) at three different venues on the North Side.

On Thursday night, the CiC Theater (a few blocks north of the Music Box) will host 12 acts including one of iO Chicago's best Harold teams, The Late '90s, and the popular independent improv group, Sand.

On Friday night, the Annoyance Theatre & Bar at Belmont and Clark will feature stand-up from Late Night with Seth Meyers writer Conner O'Malley, the Annoyance's experimental group Holy Fuck Comedy Hour, and 17 additional acts.

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Adam Morgan / Comments (0)

Theater Mon Aug 31 2015

Profiles Theatre's The Jacksonian: An Uneven Production Bathed in Southern Noir

The Jacksonian
Left to right, Bowman, Isely, Curtis, Liscio, Sledd. Photo by Michael Brosilow

The dentist has a lot of tricks in his bag, but they're not enough to save him from his fate, or for that matter, to save this rather uneven production at Profiles Theatre.

Beth Henley's 2012 play, The Jacksonian, is a bit of noir, a bit of Southern Gothic decay, and set in a nondescript motel of that name on the outskirts of Jackson, Miss., in 1964. Joe Jahraus' direction is paced right and moves the action easily among the three settings in this 90-minute production. The five-member cast is capable, with Tim Curtis providing a strong performance as the drug-addled dentist Bill Perch, whose dental practice as well as his marriage are in decline. Juliana Liscio as his daughter, Rosy, gives a touching performance. (Liscio is a new high school graduate, ready to begin college as a Loyola theater major.)

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Performance Mon Aug 31 2015

Blue Man Group @ Briar Street Theatre--A Rave For All Ages

Blue Man GroupThe show begins and ends with intertwining strands of DNA on a screen being watched by three awed Blue Men. Though those men never speak and seem alien at times, with their intense eyes and bald heads almost like inquisitive birds, we soon see that they are a lot like us. They like to bang on things. They are affected by each other. They like to play and interact. They are curious. They depend on one another for entertainment.

They entertain with giant LED balls, strobe lights, PVC plumbing tubes, Dayglo paint, black lights, electronic and live music, zithers, xylophones, drums, video screens in the shape of giant iPods, oversized streamers, interactive art, Jello tossing, audience interaction, and hypnotic fractals. You don't need to go to Burning Man to get your fill of these things. You can head straight to the Briar Street Theatre four nights a week and take part in the joyous ruckus that is known around the world as Blue Man Group.

I have lived in Chicago for their entire 18-year run here, and have avoided seeing the show, assuming I knew what they were about. Nevertheless, when an opportunity to attend the show emerged, I questioned my assumptions and decided I had been an asshat. "Are blue men not clowns?" I asked myself. So I signed up for a night of revelry with my most joyous and clown-embracing friend, and off we went to get blued.

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Kim Campbell / Comments (0)

Column Fri Aug 28 2015

We Are Your Friends, No Escape, Grandma, Listen to Me Marlon, Learning to Drive, Turbo Kid & She's Funny That Way


We Are Your Friends

Earlier this summer, a French film called Eden was released that explored the DJ culture of the times in a fascinating and heartfelt way that was less about spinning records and more about establishing interesting characters whose lives and fates we actually grew to care about. And while it's usually fairly easy for me to shut out all other films while I'm watching a new one, as I was viewing the rather stale We Are Your Friends, my mind kept taking me back to the far more interesting Eden. I guess context matters sometimes.

Where We Are Your Friends fares better is in painting a portrait of "the Valley," or San Fernando Valley, located on the other side of the Hollywood Hills. There's a culture there that seems ripe for exploration and first-time director Max Joseph (who co-wrote with Meaghan Oppenheimer) does a credible job of walking us through this slight obtuse place, as seen through the eyes of would-be DJ Cole Carter (Zac Efron), who has enough raw talent to make it big; whether he's willing to do what he has to do to succeed — including sell out for big money — is another question. The film also does a solid job explaining how much actual composition (via computer) goes into a DJ's track. It's no longer about mixing with two turntables; it's about creating something new out of something old to the point where you don't recognize the elements and only hear the new music.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Dance Wed Aug 26 2015

Chicago Dancing Festival Returns

Chicago Dancing Festival returns for its ninth annual series this week for four free performances over the span of five days.

The festival, which is the country's largest dance festival, continues its tradition of commissioning new work for the event with the premiere of In the Meantime. In the Meantime is a percussive piece from Chicago Human Rhythm Project, featuring dancers from Trinity Irish Dance and Ensemble Espanol.

Also new this year is the "Modern Women" program--an entire evening dedicated to women choreographers, including Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Crystal Pite, Pam Tanowitz and Kate Weare.

The program additionally features Loie Fuller's one-minute film Butterfly Dance, which was one of the first dance films and features Fuller's improvisational technique.

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Miriam Finder / Comments (0)

Art Wed Aug 26 2015

Peter Skvara's Approaches at Andrew Rafacz Gallery: The Site of Distress at Sea

By Louis Sterrett

I Am Abandoning My Vessel, Peter Skvara, 2015

Peter Skvara's exhibition Approaches, which consists of enamel paintings on mesh, and a collection of debris entitled "Flotsam, Jetsam, Lagan, and Derelict" is now on display at the Andrew Rafacz Gallery in River West. The paintings are based on flag semaphores used for communication between ships, and their meanings are repeated in the titles. Some of the paintings depict significations that might be seen together such as "I Am Drifting / Will You Give Me My Position" (2015, enamel on mesh). Other pieces, however, take on different, stranger meaning as assemblages of statements. One painting reads, "You are Running the Risk of Going Aground / I am Going Ahead"--a callous expression to one in need.

The gallery's press release for the Approaches exhibit mentions beauty and the sublime tied up in the idea of a ship on the infinite expanse of the overwhelming sea. Another way for the sublime to appear, however, is through the striving to generate perfection in the precise lines of the semaphores, which nonetheless reveal the human touch made more palpable in the method of painting as opposed to screen printing.

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A/C / Comments (0)

Theater Mon Aug 24 2015

Assassination Theater Raises Old and New Questions About the Kennedy Assassination(s)

Charles Ray, Unpainted Sculpture
Mark Ulrich and Martin Yurek. Photo by Michael Brosilow

If you're a news junkie who enjoys being immersed in fascinating facts about our political and criminal history, then I have a theater recommendation for you. Assassination Theater: Chicago's Role in the Crime of the Century spells out in rapid-fire data points how we have been misled all these years about the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. And that of his brother Robert five years later.

Journalist Hillel Levin, who has explored the activities of the Chicago Outfit before, has created a gripping two-hour-plus documentary-style production that details the assassination and its aftermath, including an autopsy that was covered up by the White House and FBI leadership. Their goal was to confirm the single-bullet, single-crazed-shooter story and to keep the American people from thinking that a conspiracy was involved.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Art Mon Aug 24 2015

Chicago Architecture Firm Wins Pullman Artspace Project

A rendering of the project by VOA Associates

The Chicago-based architecture firm, VOA Associates, Inc., has been selected as the winner of a six-month architectural design competition, made possible by a grant from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

VOA Associates, Inc., will be designing the Pullman Artspace in the historic Pullman neighborhood, which will include 45 affordable live/work apartments, as well classrooms, an exhibition space, and workshops. Artspace Project Inc., has its headquarters in Minneapolis and offices in Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington DC.

By designing a creative space, VOA Associates hopes to achieve a sense of honor for the historical "character of Pullman's landmark community" and welcome those who are interested in a creative weaving within the public sphere.

Overall, 20 architecture firms submitted and 10 semi-finalists were chosen. The three finalists for the competition were each awarded $10,000 to finalize their concept and VOA Associates was selected as the winner. The Pullman Artspace strives to preserve Pullman as a leading arts neighborhood with an immersive creative hub for its residents.

S. Nicole Lane / Comments (1)

Column Fri Aug 21 2015

Sinister 2, American Ultra, Hitman: Agent 47, Mistress America, Digging for Fire, Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World


Sinister 2

While most horror film sequels are content to pick up the remains of the previous film and give audiences the laziest rehash of what we've seen and jumped at before, I'll give the makers of Sinister 2 points for at least taking us in an entirely new direction with its chronicle of the further demonic adventures of Bhughul, who terrorizes entire families via old home movies. It's a variation on the found footage theme, in which the characters in the film are the ones watching the found footage, and it's literally leading most of them to their death.

Once again working from a script from Sinister director Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, Sinister 2 is directed by relative newcomer CiarĂ¡n Foy, whose 2012 Citadel is easily one of the creepiest, most anxiety-inducing films of that year (the same year of Sinister, I should add).

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Art Fri Aug 21 2015

Charles Ray: Sculptures with Weight, Gravitas & Controversy at the Art Institute of Chicago

Charles Ray, Unpainted Sculpture
Unpainted Sculpture, Charles Ray, 1997

Nineteen sculptures by Chicago-born sculptor Charles Ray fill three large galleries on the second floor of the Art Institute's Modern Wing through October 4. Most of the pieces are figurative and tell their own stories, like "Sleeping Woman," a life-size stainless steel carving of a homeless woman sleeping on a bench. But a few are shockingly not figurative and two of the figurative ones have already shocked museum curators.

"Unpainted Sculpture" (1997, fiberglass and paint) is a faithful reconstruction of a crushed 1991 Pontiac Grand Am. Ray searched for the right wrecked car -- not too wrecked -- and then had it taken apart so that each piece could be constructed of fiberglass and then assembled as a car. Several people spent five days reassembling the sculpture in the Modern Wing gallery.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Theater Thu Aug 20 2015

Theatre Thursdays: A New Way to Get Involved in Chicago Theater

By Jen Kraakevik

As much as I love theater, I haven't ever really immersed myself in it. Theater can bring every art form together with actors, improv, music and dance, costumes, sound and set design. There is so much to notice with every step of the performance, so much to appreciate in every production. So much I feel I am missing out on.

Even if you aren't an experienced theatergoer, this is the best time (for both of us) to get involved. Starting Thursday, September 10, the League of Chicago Theatres will re-launch Theatre Thursdays. One Thursday a month, a world-premiere production will be featured to highlight the incredibly bold, rare work that takes place year-round in the Chicago area.

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A/C / Comments (0)

Theater Wed Aug 19 2015

Windy City Playhouse Stages a Modern-Day Bedroom Farce in Three Bedrooms

Patrese McClain and Shane Kenyon. Photo by Michael Brosilow.
Patrese McClain and Shane Kenyon. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Three couples, three bedrooms and a conference call. That's the scenario. It's two hours of pillow talk (and pillow shouting) among people who are trying to get their needs and desires met, but keep running into complications. Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight, the new sexy comedy at the Windy City Playhouse, is a comic farce with a coarse edge. Noel Coward it isn't.

The two-hour play from the script by Peter Ackerman is funny and vulgar but the vulgarity is all verbal; the actors are in some stage of love-making under the covers, but there's no nudity. Director Peter Brown tightly directs the six actors and their timing is perfect throughout. The funny lines pop and snap.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Theater Mon Aug 17 2015

First Floor Theater's Kafkapalooza Succeeds With Eight Short Plays Inspired by the Czech Master

A Perfect Ganesh
Briana Finegan and Nora Bingham in "The Applicant." Photo by Ariela Subar.

I've attended a few short-play productions, where works of 10-15 minutes each purport to capture or represent another work of art or event. Most of them are unsuccessful in staging works of substance, plot or character.

That's not the case in First Floor Theater's Third Annual Litfest, Kafkapalooza. Eight different playwrights dramatize or "are inspired by" one of the stories of Franz Kafka, the late great Czech storyteller, who tried to keep his unpublished works from being published after his death. Fortunately, Max Brod, Kafka's literary executor, ignored his wishes. And so we have a play such as "The Applicant" by Amanda Fink, inspired by the story, "Poseidon," as well as "Justice for All" by Karen Kessler, inspired by "The Penal Colony," and "Red Right Hand" by Ike Holter, inspired by Kafka's best-known story, "The Metamorphosis." (The latter two stories were published during Kafka's lifetime. My knowledge of Kafka's publishing history is enhanced by my serendipitous purchase of a used copy of Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories at the Printer's Row Lit Fest in June.)

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Photography Mon Jul 27 2015

Paul Natkin Relives His Life in Rock Photography, From Abba to ZZ Top

By Nancy Bishop

Paul Natkin sat on a stool and told us about his life for an hour. His life as a rock & roll photographer, shooting concerts and backstage portraits and touring with some of the iconic rockers of the 20th century.
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Steve at the Movies Fri Aug 28 2015

We Are Your Friends, No Escape, Grandma, Listen to Me Marlon, Learning to Drive, Turbo Kid & She's Funny That Way

By Steve Prokopy

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Wed Sep 2 2015
Marnie @ Northeastern

Wed Sep 2 2015
Losing Ground @ Film Row Cinema

Wed Sep 2 2015
The Street Arcade @ Hyde Park Art Center

Thu Sep 3 2015
The Big Lebowski & Pipeworks Release Party @ Logan Theater

Thu Sep 3 2015
Jangleheart Circus Comedy Festival @ CiC Theatre

Thu Sep 3 2015
Chris Ware Lecture @ AIC

Thu Sep 3 2015
Chicago Fringe Festival

Fri Sep 4 2015
Female Trouble @ Music Box

Fri Sep 4 2015
Tangerine @ Film Center

Fri Sep 4 2015
Chicago Fringe Festival

Fri Sep 4 2015
Jangleheart Circus Comedy Festival @ Annoyance Theatre

Fri Sep 4 2015
Around the Coyote Festival

Sat Sep 5 2015
Jangleheart Circus Comedy Festival @ iO Theatre

Sat Sep 5 2015
"A Short and Pleasurable Journey" Opening Reception @ Vertical Gallery

Sat Sep 5 2015
Chicago Fringe Festival

Sat Sep 5 2015
Around the Coyote Festival

Sat Sep 5 2015
Georgy Girl @ Music Box

Sun Sep 6 2015
Empty Bottle Book Club: Go Set A Watchman

Sun Sep 6 2015
Around the Coyote Festival

Sun Sep 6 2015
Chicago Fringe Festival

Mon Sep 7 2015
Chicago Fringe Festival

Tue Sep 8 2015
Sappho's Salon @ Women & Children First

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A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
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