WBEZ | Museum of Contemporary Art http://www.wbez.org/tags/museum-contemporary-art Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Reclaimed Soul: Music inspired by MCA Freedom Principle exhibit http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-11/reclaimed-soul-music-inspired-mca-freedom-principle-exhibit-113734 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ayana live.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/reclaimedsoul">Ayana Contreras</a> is the host of <a href="http://vocaloreclaimedsoul.tumblr.com/">Reclaimed Soul</a>, a weekly foray into music on our sister station Vocalo. It airs Thursday nights from 8 to 10 p.m. and most Wednesdays, Ayana stops by with a preview.</p><p>This week she brings us a selection of music inspired by <a href="https://mcachicago.org/Exhibitions/2015/The-Freedom-Principle-Experiments-In-Art-And-Music-1965-To-Now">The Freedom Principle exhibit</a> at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The show links the vibrant legacy of the 1960s African American avant-garde to current art and culture.</p></p> Wed, 11 Nov 2015 11:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-11/reclaimed-soul-music-inspired-mca-freedom-principle-exhibit-113734 World renowned chamber group Eighth Blackbird begins residency at MCA http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-01/world-renowned-chamber-group-eighth-blackbird-begins-residency-mca <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/8thbb.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s one thing to go to a museum and see an artist&rsquo;s work. It&rsquo;s a completely different experience to go and watch artists at work. But that&rsquo;s exactly what&rsquo;s in store for visitors to Chicago&rsquo;s Museum of Contemporary Art. Beginning today, Chicago chamber music ensemble 8th Blackbird begins a 10-month residency at the MCA. The sextet will be hanging out in the third-floor galleries where visitors will get to immerse themselves in Eighth Blackbird&rsquo;s creative process as the group practices, performs, and works out fresh material. We&rsquo;re joined by 8th Blackbird for a bit of a preview of their project.</p></p> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-01/world-renowned-chamber-group-eighth-blackbird-begins-residency-mca City Self exhibition attempts a portrait of Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/city-self-exhibition-attempts-portrait-chicago-109394 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/mca photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicagoans do not always welcome critiques of their city by outsiders.</p><p>Take Rachel Shteir. In <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/books/review/the-third-coast-by-thomas-dyja-and-more.html?pagewanted=1&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">a now infamous essay for the <em>New York Times</em></a> last April, the DePaul University professor and New York native confessed she was &ldquo;bugged by Chicago&rsquo;s swagger,&rdquo; given its laundry list of economic and social problems. She even called out some local writers for perpetuating the &ldquo;bloviating.&rdquo;</p><p>The response, at least here, was swift, severe, and resoundingly negative. Shteir had more than touched a nerve. She started a fight.</p><p>So when Dieter Roelstraete decided to curate an exhibition about Chicago&mdash;currently running at the Museum of Contemporary Art&mdash;and include work by artists from outside the city, he was well aware he too might &ldquo;rile&rdquo; people.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a city that likes to talk about itself, and doesn&rsquo;t like other people talking about it, which is true of many cities,&rdquo; said Roelstraete, whose installation is called <a href="http://www.mcachicago.org/exhibitions/now/2013/318" target="_blank">City Self</a>. &ldquo;So this show for me is a little bit of an experiment. Because I myself go out on a limb.&rdquo;</p><p>Consisting largely of photography, Roelstraete says City Self functions as kind of a &ldquo;dialectic&rdquo; about Chicago: between the views of insiders and outsiders, from both bird&rsquo;s eye and &ldquo;from within the bowels&rdquo; points of view.</p><p>Works by local artists such as cartoonist Chris Ware and photographer Jonas Dovydenas present up-close, mainly warm, and people-centric views of Chicago&rsquo;s neighborhoods and ethnic communities. Alongside those are works that cast what Roelstraete calls a &ldquo;forensic&rdquo; eye on the city.</p><p>Ruth Thorne-Thomsen and Tom Van Eynde capture small, enigmatic scenes that convey a sense of desolation and at times disaster. Catherine Opie and Andreas Gursky&rsquo;s epic photographs of Chicago&rsquo;s economic and architectural infrastructure render the city as a dazzling, if impersonal, space. The show&rsquo;s centerpiece unfolds on a floor-to-ceiling screen housed in a long, dark, rectangular gallery. Chicago, a 2011 film by Sarah Morris, is a spectacular, almost glistening panorama of the city.</p><p>Chicago takes a very familiar and even boosterish point of view. There are long, repeating shots of well-worn tourists spots such as the John Hancock Building and Manny&rsquo;s Deli. Regular Chicagoans hang out at the beach, eat lunch, and motor down Lake Shore Drive. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley holds a press conference.</p><p>But all of it has an uncanny air. Morris&rsquo; camera wanders through spaces that are now shuttered, such as the former Ebony Jet Magazine offices. She films industry that has largely vanished (meat packing, much of local newspaper publishing). All ambient sound is stripped away. Instead, everything plays out over a minimalist (and eventually annoying) electronic beat. If the film comes across as an advertisement, it is for something nobody seems interested in buying anymore.</p><p>Roelstraete said Morris&rsquo; film inspired the show&rsquo;s theme.</p><p>&ldquo;Her obsession with surface is duplicated in quite a few of the works by outsiders who really don&rsquo;t care so much about getting to know the city,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re kind of more interested in this slightly alienated spectacle of the modern metropolis.&rdquo;</p><p>Morris is an outsider. She is British and lives in New York. But in a post-screening discussion, she revealed that her ability to make this film relied on her connection to the most insider of insiders: Penny Pritzker, the Chicago billionaire-businesswoman currently serving as U.S. secretary of Commerce.</p><p>That complicates the insider-outsider dynamic that Roelstraete is attempting to explore. And though Roelstraete too is an outsider -- he moved here from Berlin less than a year ago -- he seems less interested in Chicago as a specific locale, seeing it as the &ldquo;quintessential American city.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Just the intensity of gun violence, or the byzantine complexities of bipartisan politics in this country,&rdquo; said Roelstraete. &ldquo;So if there is a dark undertone, I guess it is the dark undertone of American society as a whole.&rdquo;</p><p>City Self is at the Museum of Contemporary Art through April.</p><p><em><a href=" http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author"> Alison Cuddy</a> is an arts and culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href=" https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter </a>, <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison"> Facebook</a>&nbsp;and <a href=" http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 15:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/city-self-exhibition-attempts-portrait-chicago-109394 Culture Catalyst: Martin Kastner of Alinea http://www.wbez.org/amplified/about/culture-catalyst-martin-kastner-alinea-106878 <p><p>Learn about sculptor <strong>Martin Kastner</strong>&rsquo;s serviceware concepts that helped put Alinea and Chef <strong>Grant Achatz</strong> at the pinnacle of contemporary cuisine.</p><div>Martin Kastner is the founder and principal of Crucial Detail. Kastner, born in the Czech Republic, trained as a blacksmith and spent some time restoring historical metalworks at a castle in Western Bohemia before moving onto natural materials design and sculpture. He founded Crucial Detail in 1998 shortly after his arrival in the U.S. He is best known for his Alinea serviceware concepts, which landed him on The Future Laboratory&rsquo;s list of 100 most influential individuals in contemporary design. Alinea book, which he designed in collaboration with Naissance Inc., was one of the winners in</div><div>2009 Communication Arts Design Annual for Best Book Design and is included in Altitude&rsquo;s <em>The Best of Cover Design</em>. His work has been featured in numerous publications running the gamut from Gourmet to Fast Company.</div><div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MCA-webstory_19.gif" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div>Recorded live on March 12, 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.</div></p> Tue, 12 Mar 2013 11:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/amplified/about/culture-catalyst-martin-kastner-alinea-106878 Culture Catalyst: Richard Cahan and Michael Williams on Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/culture-catalyst-richard-cahan-and-michael-williams-vivian-maier-out <p><p><strong>Michael Williams</strong> and <strong>Richard Cahan</strong>, co-authors of <em>Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows</em>, have collaborated on seven other books, including <em>Real Chicago</em>, <em>Richard Nickel&rsquo;s Chicago: Photographs of a Lost City</em>, <em>Who We Were: A Snapshot History of America</em>, <em>Edgar Miller</em> and the <em>Handmade Home, and The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed Its River and the Land Beyond</em>. They own CityFiles Press, a Chicago publishing company that focuses on art and photography books.</p><p>Chicago is a hotbed of arts and culture. Our city is home not only to amazing artists, important art spaces, and renowned universities but also to cultural leaders at the forefront of innovation in cuisine, music, fashion, literature, and beyond. Culture Catalysts is a monthly series that celebrates and provides a platform for Chicagoans at the epicenters of these scenes. Each month, get to know the work of a different Chicago-based thought leader, meet the artists featured in our Chicago Works exhibition series, and discover those who influence arts and culture in our community.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MCA-webstory_13.gif" title="" /></div><p>Recorded live Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at&nbsp;The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 08 Jan 2013 11:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/culture-catalyst-richard-cahan-and-michael-williams-vivian-maier-out Weekender: House music picnic and artful skyscrapers http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-07/weekender-house-music-picnic-and-artful-skyscrapers-100666 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Wayne%20William%20TCFP%202011.jpg" style="height: 427px; width: 640px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="DJ Wayne Williams (Chosen Few DJs)" /></div></div></div><p>Damn if R. Kelly doesn&rsquo;t love the drama. The Chicago R&amp;B artist&rsquo;s autobiography <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Soulacoaster-The-Diary-R-Kelly/dp/1401928358">S</a><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Soulacoaster-The-Diary-R-Kelly/dp/1401928358"><em>oulacoaster: The Diary of Me</em></a> comes out this weekend (although Kelly won&#39;t be making promotional appearances, citing a <a href="http://iamyardrock.com/r-kelly-cancels-all-new-york-appearances/">recurrence of the throat problems he had last year</a>). In the book, just like any teen girl scribbling away in her hearts-and flowers-covered journal, Kelly makes a true confession: Ryan &ldquo;Hey Girl&rdquo; Gosling&rsquo;s performance in the 2004 film <em>The Notebook</em> proved just the emotional wake-up call Kelly needed to recognize his marriage was over.</p><p>Kelly&rsquo;s description of breaking down in tears as the movie credits rolled comes as no surprise &ndash; not from the man who penned <em>I Believe I Can Fly</em> (not to mention <em>Real Talk</em>). The man who wrung a 22 chapter <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0491587/">&lsquo;hip hopera&rsquo;</a> out of the imagined consequences of a one-night stand (<a href="http://www.ifc.com/fix/2012/03/trapped-in-the-closet-announcement">with more to come</a>). The same guy whose lawyers posited an equally vast conspiracy of video alterations and AWOL moles to defend him against 14 counts of child pornography.</p><p>It was in the midst of the latter that Kelly put out some of his best musical work, including the double album <em>Happy People/U Saved Me</em>. The first record has some of my favorite Kelly songs - especially the title track &quot;Happy People,&quot; <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8Gmaurug0I">an anthem to the Chicago steppin&#39; scene.</a></p><p>At the beginning of the song Kelly says &ldquo;Ladies and gentlemen, this here&rsquo;s another one for all the steppers. DJ Wayne Williams, put the record on.&rdquo; The DJ complies &ndash; and throughout the video you see him dancing on a balcony overlooking the dance floor of the palatial club. It&rsquo;s a fitting image &ndash; a tribute of sorts &ndash; because Williams has played a huge role in Kelly&rsquo;s career and life.</p><p>Williams is a<a href="http://www.wintermusicconference.com/events/schedule/2011/panelist/85006/DJ+Wayne+Williams+-+Jive+Records.html"> legendary Chicago DJ</a> and music producer, the man who actually got R. Kelly signed to Jive Records. He&rsquo;s also credited with bringing the house music sound out of gay clubs and into the straight, South Side scene, from whence dancers everywhere eventually followed the edict to <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2t0C50b9ik">Move Your Body.</a></p><p>When Williams came in this week to talk about <a href="http://chosenfewdjs.com/events/uncategorized/the-chosen-few-picnic-2012/">The Chosen Few</a>, his annual house music blow-out, I asked him for the story behind &quot;Happy People.&quot; At the time Kelly wrote it, Williams was in the hospital, suffering from what he thought was an asthma attack, but turned out to be something more serious. When he got out, Kelly told Williams about the song. Williams was nonplussed. &ldquo;Robert&rsquo;s a jokester, so I&rsquo;m half not believing him. I asked him what it was called. He said Happy People? I&rsquo;m like - Why?!&rdquo;</p><p>Kelly chalked the song up to William&rsquo;s positive spirit, which he claimed &ldquo;fulfilled him.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s a claim well-earned. Williams still works with Kelly and supports his friend through thick and thin, saying, &ldquo;He&rsquo;s a genius and probably one of the nicest people I&rsquo;ve ever met in my life.&rdquo;</p><p>Williams has moved many, many more with his positive, generous spirit. Every July he, his brother Jesse Saunders and the other Chosen Few DJs (it&rsquo;s a select group, not everyone gets to join!), throw a house and disco party in Jackson Park. Over the past 22 years it&#39;s grown from a small gathering of friends to one of the biggest house music events in the world.</p><p>Their main gig is all day Saturday, but Williams and Saunders will host other events and even sneak in a trip to see their &ldquo;favorite team,&rdquo; the Chicago White Sox. Williams also has a new task this year: building in a little extra hang time with his son Jordan &ndash; who was born last picnic weekend.</p><p>The Chosen Few is just one of Weekender&rsquo;s picks &ndash; the rest are below. Get out there, and move your body!</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Friends.png" style="height: 154px; width: 241px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong><a href="http://nightingaletheatre.org/">1. Untrained Explorations: Youth Film Festival</a></strong></span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Friday 7 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />The award-winning, 17-year-old filmmaker Emma Coleman curates a program of other young directors.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://nightingaletheatre.org/">The Nightingale Cinema</a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">1084 N. Milwaukee Ave</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/houlihan%202.jpg" style="height: 161px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div></div><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong><a href="http://event.uchicago.edu/maincampus/detail.php?guid=CAL-402882f8-361191ef-0136-2780dcf7-0000025ceventscalendar@uchicago.edu&amp;recurrenceId=20120707T003000Z">2. Louis Vierne Marathon performed by Christopher Houlihan</a></strong></span></p><p>Friday and Saturday 7:30 p.m.</p><p>The chapel will resound with symphonic work by Vierne.</p><p><a href="http://rockefeller.uchicago.edu/">Rockefeller Memorial Chapel</a></p><p>5850 S. Woodlawn Ave</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/picnic_0.jpg" style="height: 180px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><a href="http://chosenfewdjs.com/the-picnic/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>3. The Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic</strong></span></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Saturday 7 a.m. - 8 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">House music at its finest: outdoors and outrageous!</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/neighborhoods/jackson_park__msi.html">Jackson Park</a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">63rd Street and Hayes Drive</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/skyscraper.jpg" style="height: 164px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div></div><p><a href="http://www.mcachicago.org/exhibitions/next/all/291"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>4. Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity</strong></span></a></p><p>Friday - Sunday</p><p>Contemporary art work exploring our fascination with tall buildings.</p><p><a href="http://www.mcachicago.org/">MCA Chicago</a></p><p>220 E. Chicago Ave</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/young-magic-020-MJE7849.jpg" style="height: 160px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><a href="http://youngmagic.bandcamp.com/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>5. Young Magic</strong></span></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Sunday 8 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Some very dreamy, slightly creepy sounds from the Brooklyn-based &quot;collective.&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://schubas.com/Shows/07-08-2012+Young+Magic+and+Quilt">Schubas</a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">3159 N. Southport Ave</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px none; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-size-adjust: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; -moz-font-feature-settings: inherit; -moz-font-language-override: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial,sans-serif; line-height: 22px;">&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 22px; "><strong style="font-weight: bold; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; ">Click&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/weekender/id469524810" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); " target="_blank">here</a>&nbsp;to subscribe to the&nbsp;<em style="font-style: italic; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; ">Weekender</em>&nbsp;podcast.</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 22px; "><strong style="font-weight: bold; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; ">What&#39;re you up to this weekend? Let us know in the comments below or email weekender@wbez.org</strong></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 06 Jul 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-07/weekender-house-music-picnic-and-artful-skyscrapers-100666 Museum of Contemporary Art receives $10 million http://www.wbez.org/culture/art/museum-contemporary-art-receives-10-million-97951 <p><p>The Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Chicago has received a $10 million gift from two longtime supporters.</p><p>The museum announced the donation from Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson on Wednesday. A 300-seat theater in the museum will be named the Edlis Neeson Theater in their honor. Museum Board of Trustees chairwoman Mary Ittelson says Edlis and Neeson have been among the most generous supporters in the museum's history.</p><p>Edlis and Neeson are well-known collectors of modern and contemporary art and have donated works to the museum's collection by artists like Jeff Koons and Jasper Johns.</p><p>Edlis is an officer on the museum's board and has been a trustee for more than 30 years. Neeson serves on the museum's exhibition committee.</p></p> Thu, 05 Apr 2012 09:30:58 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/culture/art/museum-contemporary-art-receives-10-million-97951 Andrew Bird and Ian Schneller transform the Museum of Contemporary Art into a ‘Sonic Arboretum’ http://www.wbez.org/content/andrew-bird-and-ian-schneller-transform-museum-contemporary-art-%E2%80%98sonic-arboretum%E2%80%99 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-12/resize__575__575__5__exhib_images__full_1319232331thatcherarboretum-6036.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/33539648?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=ff0000" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="601"></iframe></p><p>Walk into the <a href="http://mcachicago.org/" target="_blank">Museum of Contemporary Art</a> Chicago’s atrium, and visitors are immediately saturated by the physical and aural art. <a href="http://mcachicago.org/exhibitions/now/2011/288" target="_blank"><em>Sonic Arboretum</em></a>, a collaboration between sculptor and instrument maker <a href="http://www.specimenproducts.com/" target="_blank">Ian Schneller</a> and musician <a href="http://www.andrewbird.net/" target="_blank">Andrew Bird</a>, features Birds’ hauntingly melodic and eloquent tunes channeled through Schneller’s equally compelling horned speakers.</p><p><em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> caught up with Schneller as he was installing the exhibit. It runs through the end of the month with a couple of special live performances by Bird. Schneller began by talking about where the idea for his creations came from. <em>Sonic Arboretum</em> will run through Dec. 31, with special performances by Andrew Bird on Dec. 21 and 22.</p></p> Mon, 12 Dec 2011 15:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/andrew-bird-and-ian-schneller-transform-museum-contemporary-art-%E2%80%98sonic-arboretum%E2%80%99 'Harold and the Purple Crayon' returns http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-30/harold-and-purple-crayon-returns-94448 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-30/HSD101013_266.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>“It’s great to see a six-year-old have their own moment with what’s onstage. Kids are great audience members—when they’re having a wonderful moment of catharis or immersion, they don’t care what they sound like.”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/HSD101013_266.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 333px;" title=""></p><p>Matt Miller, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s lighting director, is reveling in the vociferous responses to Hubbard Street 2’s <em>Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure</em>, based on Crockett Johnson’s 1955 picture book and set to music by Andrew Bird. After sold-out performances a year ago, when the show debuted in Chicago (it opened first at the Kennedy Center), <a href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/events/2011-2012-season/harold-and-the-purpl"><em>Harold</em> is being remounted this weekend</a>—with some tweaks Miller made to his own lighting. “The audience probably didn’t care,” he says. “But it didn’t meet my standards.”</p><p>“Ryan [Wineinger] did the projections and scenery,” says Miller. “And he drew a lot of wonderful inspiration from the idea of folded paper, with the stage like a big white open book. The projections are the focus of the show, what the kids pay attention to the most. It’s like TV, but they also interact. They stay involved, seeing lines getting drawn, creatures taking shape.”</p><p>However, he says, “a white set is sort of a death trap for lighting. When you’re lighting a dance, you usually use black masking—the thing that keeps people from seeing backstage. But with <em>Harold</em>, the masking was brighter than the dancers. It gave me an interesting palette, and there were great moments where it worked, but… the design choices on the dancers were minimal.”</p><p>This year, Miller is putting the same scenic elements in a purple frame instead—“still like the book, but also like the crayon. In this business, you don’t often get a second chance! Now the colors are on the dancers, not the background.”</p><p>Wineinger says that, in some ways, his “set and projections were easy because they were a re-creation of the children’s book. But they also provided an opportunity to travel through the book, doing it through video. Harold travels through the landscapes, and sometimes draws them. He’s creating all these places, and the dancers are the spark.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/Matt-Miller.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 300px; height: 229px;" title="Miller working tech">“We wanted the scenic elements to be huge,” Wineinger adds—not only the projections but the oversize bed and window he designed. The result: the six HS2 dancers playing Harold, some of them pretty tall, look child-size.</p><p>Miller started out at Hubbard Street as the production manager for Hubbard Street 2. “I was a one-man song-and-dance,” he says. “I did the lighting, the stage management, driving the van, washing the costumes…. ” In his current job, as lighting director for both companies, he estimates that 60 to 70 percent of his work is adapting the lighting designs of pieces that HSDC has acquired. But he will be designing<a href="http://mcachicago.org/performances/now/all/2012/744"> Hubbard Street’s January show at the MCA, “danc(e)volve,” </a>a showcase of new works by HSDC and HS2 dancers.</p><p>A self-described art geek, Miller says, “Whether it’s great design or choreography or cinematography, art that can move you is just so fantastic. Everyone can understand it, but we can almost never put our finger on it. Someone once told me, ‘Bad lighting is easy to see, but good lighting is not.’ At the end of the day, the goal is to make art.”</p></p> Wed, 30 Nov 2011 15:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-30/harold-and-purple-crayon-returns-94448 A new school commune: Beau O'Reilly on the tribal family that makes up 'Still in Play' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-14/new-school-commune-beau-oreilly-tribal-family-makes-still-play-9196 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-14/beau o&#039;reilly.jpg" alt="" /><p><p> <style type="text/css"> <!--{cke_protected}{C}%3C!%2D%2D%0A%20%2F*%20Font%20Definitions%20*%2F%0A%40font-face%0A%09%7Bfont-family%3A%22Times%20New%20Roman%22%3B%0A%09panose-1%3A0%202%202%206%203%205%204%205%202%203%3B%0A%09mso-font-alt%3A%C2%B5%C2%B8%C2%BF%C3%B2%3B%0A%09mso-font-charset%3A0%3B%0A%09mso-generic-font-family%3Aauto%3B%0A%09mso-font-pitch%3Avariable%3B%0A%09mso-font-signature%3A50331648%200%200%200%201%200%3B%7D%0A%20%2F*%20Style%20Definitions%20*%2F%0Ap.MsoNormal%2C%20li.MsoNormal%2C%20div.MsoNormal%0A%09%7Bmso-style-parent%3A%22%22%3B%0A%09margin%3A0in%3B%0A%09margin-bottom%3A.0001pt%3B%0A%09mso-pagination%3Awidow-orphan%3B%0A%09font-size%3A18.0pt%3B%0A%09font-family%3A%22Times%20New%20Roman%22%3B%7D%0Atable.MsoNormalTable%0A%09%7Bmso-style-parent%3A%22%22%3B%0A%09font-size%3A10.0pt%3B%0A%09font-family%3A%22Times%20New%20Roman%22%3B%7D%0A%40page%20Section1%0A%09%7Bsize%3A8.5in%2011.0in%3B%0A%09margin%3A1.0in%201.25in%201.0in%201.25in%3B%0A%09mso-header-margin%3A.5in%3B%0A%09mso-footer-margin%3A.5in%3B%0A%09mso-paper-source%3A0%3B%7D%0Adiv.Section1%0A%09%7Bpage%3ASection1%3B%7D%0A%2D%2D%3E--></style> </p><p>You can’t tell the players without a scorecard at <a href="http://www.mcachicago.org/"><em>Still in Play</em> (opening tomorrow and running just through Saturday)</a>. Curious Theatre Branch cofounder Beau O’Reilly, one of 17 performers in <em>Still</em>, helped me sort things out. Jenny Magnus, another cofounder who developed the script during a yearlong residency at the MCA, was his partner for a decade. But for donkey’s years she’s been married to Stefan Brun, who directs <em>Still in Play</em>.</p><p>Understanding the ties that bind Curious, in the abstract if not in detail, is crucial to this work about theater and community. For O’Reilly, theater has always meant family. The son of actor-director James O’Reilly, who led the Body Politic to stardom in the 80s, he has 13 siblings, including several sisters in the music or theater biz. His sons Colm O’Reilly and Rory Jobst are performers, and in fact Colm and two of O’Reilly’s nieces are also part of the multigenerational <em>Still in Play</em> cast.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-14/beau%20o%27reilly.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 377px; " title="Beau O'Reilly of Curious Theatre Branch"></p><p>“It’s pretty tribal!” O’Reilly says of <a href="http://curioustheatrebranch.com/">Curious</a>, now nearly 25 years old. “But it’s very unofficially that way—we don’t all live together, everybody does other things, a lot of people are married or in relationships outside the group. It’s not communal in that old hippie sense, but there is a community that’s developed over several years.”</p><p>The meta-theatrical <em>Still in Play</em> takes place at a theater in the hour before a performance is to start, as the actors and techies arrive, schmooze, and warm up. The lines are blurred between rehearsal and performance, improvised and scripted, real life and art.</p><p>“There’s a lot of wink in it,” says O’Reilly. “At one point Jenny and I have an actual fight, where we’re yelling at each other and swearing at each other in a way we might actually have done 15 years ago. And [director] Stefan walks out of the auditorium and stops us and says, ‘Could you go back to that one part and do that again, but walk this way?’ There’s a lot of comedy in it.”</p><p>Music also plays a big role in <em>Still in Play</em>. In fact Curious Theatre “Branch” was conceived as a side project of the band Maestro Subgum and the Whole.</p><p>“That’s gone full circle,” says O’Reilly, “because the Crooked Mouth is now the band within the theater company.” A folk and pop-rock ensemble, they’ll perform Magnus’s songs during <em>Still</em>. “Songs break out—they’re rehearsed and then kind of realized and made complete. I play the cane and sing,” O’Reilly says. “I mostly strum it. I’m the best cane player in town—you can ask my grandchildren.”</p><p>“This is the first time Jenny has worked with such a large ensemble,” he adds. “Her pieces are usually two characters. For her, part of the experiment was, ‘What would happen if I have 15 people having the same discussion I would usually have with myself or with my performance partner?’ Lots of things are fresh and new for us, rather than it feeling like a victory lap or something. It’s more like, ‘Oh, here’s a whole new beginning to the way we work together.’”</p><p>What’s O’Reilly’s perspective on the Chicago theater scene these days? “I went through a bad period about five years ago,” he says, “where I really felt it was doing very poorly. People weren’t coming to see work, there weren’t spaces to do work. Press for original work was harder and harder to get. Funding was getting dryer and dryer. And I still think the great dilemma in Chicago theater is that it has this huge reputation, but it doesn’t really have a huge audience. And when you get to original work, that audience is even smaller.”</p><p>“But I’m back to thinking that it’s pretty lively!” he says. “I’m having fun, a lot of people are having fun. I’m going to see things quite a bit again, and even when something isn’t perfect, I’m enjoying watching the effort, people taking some risks. So I think it’s healthy. We have to work really hard to make it happen, and that hasn’t gotten any easier. But I’m more relaxed about it.”</p></p> Wed, 14 Sep 2011 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-14/new-school-commune-beau-oreilly-tribal-family-makes-still-play-9196