If your inner weekend warrior is suffering a major case of whiplash, you are not alone. Just last week Chicago was on major lockdown, a dowager protecting her jewels from invading hordes of cat burglars. Plywood over the public art! Police flanking the Art Institute! Walking to brunch I passed an alley back of the Bloomingdale’s on Michigan Avenue. It was transformed into a staging area for local and national security forces, who were idling the summery morning away like a fleet of nervous and high-priced models, waiting for their moment on the runway.
By contrast, this Memorial Day weekend everything's opening up!
This spring has brought a good crop of cinematic pleasures (yay for the creepy and clever Cabin in the Woods!), chief among them new films from Whit Stillman (Damsels in Distress) and Richard Linklater (Bernie). And though they vary wildly in their choice of subjects and style, the two are bound by a notable distinction: Both made mighty contributions to one of my favorite periods/genres of movie-making: the '90s era, Generation X film.
Now, if we limit the genre to films made by actual members of Gen X then neither would qualify – both were born prior to 1961.
With NATO in town this weekend, you can expect a fair amount of political theater, from presidents and supreme commanders to protestors alike. But even without that particular incentive, the performance art scene in Chicago is happening! And I mean that literally.
Monday afternoon, at Northwestern University, students and staff will recreate Fluids, a historic piece by Fluxus artist Allan Kaprow, the man who also coined the term “happening” to describe artistic performances or situations.
Fluids is a giant structure made out of more than 300 blocks of ice, and like all good ephemeral art, it will eventually disappear. But the flurry of performance activity in our area isn’t going anywhere.
Roell Schmidt directs the performing arts space Links Hall.
This week Daniel Clowes will be back in his old stomping grounds, just in time for the big NATO gathering!
Clowes, though, is not coming home to hobnob with world leaders. The artist behind graphic novel indie classics like Ghost World, David Boring, Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron and Wilson is touring behind a new book. The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist surveys his entire career, from some late-60’s Spiderman drawings to graphic work as recent as 2011.
Thursday night Clowes will sign copies at Quimby’s Bookstore on North Avenue. Over the weekend he’ll be at Comics: Philosophy and Practice, a conference organized by the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago.
The conference is kind of the culmination of an artistic and scholarly collaboration between cartoonist Alison Bechdel and U of C Professor Hillary Chute. So fittingly, it features a megawatt lineup of graphic artists: R.
Spring is the air and this year, that means Chicago is busy preparing for next weekend's NATO summit. The police have geared up, lots of cultural organizations and businesses are shutting down, and hopefully most Chicagoans will come through it with nothing more than new gripes about how tough it is to get around this already traffic-clogged city.
Also preparing for some May 20th action are the folks organizing The People’s Summit this weekend.
I recently interviewed Dawoud Bey about Harlem, USA, his '70s era photo essay of the New York community.
After our interview we toured the exhibit - which was still being installed - and he shared how, as a novice photographer, he went about photographing people in the community.
For more contemporary Bey, be sure to attend his show Picturing People, which opens May 13 at The Renaissance Society in Hyde Park.
The Brooklyn Art Library rolled into Chicago this past weekend. For the second year in a row curators parked their mobile collection/exhibit of this year’s sketchbooks at the Hyde Park Art Center. The concept is simple – sign up for borrowing rights and then check out any number of sketchbooks, which are custom catalogued by theme, artist and location.