WBEZ brings you fact-based news and information. Sign up for our newsletters to stay up to date on the stories that matter.Each week, Chicago Public Radio’s Matt Cunningham brings us “Three to See.” Since most of you will be taking some time off over the next week or so, he thought it would good to check out some exhibits that are about to close.
This week, we’re preparing for the New Year and so are cultural institutions. The First stop on our “Three to See”: Darwin at the Field Museum. The exhibition looks at the life of this iconic and sometimes controversial scientist. It explores both the personal and professional sides of Charles Darwin.
Through correspondence and notes, you see how he began to understand replacement of species, geographical separation and eventually his theory of evolution. But the artifacts are as much a draw as the ideas.
You see an invitation he received, at the age of 22, to participate in a 5 year voyage to the Galapagos Islands. You also see a detailed pro versus con list about whether to marry his first cousin, Emma. Project manager, Tom Skwersky is most excited about a notebook from Darwin’s studies in London.
SKWERSKY: In notebook B, he draws this Tree of Life. Where he has this idea that all life came from a single ancestor. So what we think as a traditional way of representing species today, as this tree with branches and limbs and different species, this was the first time anyone ever drew this tree. It’s a pretty good artifact to see.
Darwin closes January 1. If you miss it here, its heading to Toronto and will eventually makes its way to London for the 200 anniversary of the scientist’s birth and 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species.
Now from one iconic figure to another: A retrospective of work by the revolutionary artist Jasper Johns.
The show, Jasper Johns: Gray, is currently at the Art Institute. It explores painting as an object stripped of the powerful influence of color.
Sounds heady? It is. Douglas Druick co-curates the exhibition. He says the ideas Johns examines are truly original.
DRUICK: I think from that perspective, I hope that people walk away thinking that not only is this a great maker of art, not only are these beautiful things, but that they are deeply thought provoking and the ways in which they are thought provoking, have provoked generations that have come after him.
Jasper Johns: Gray closes January 6. And now we head from the large institutions, to a one woman show at a west loop gallery.
Renee McGinnis uses her background in sociology and anthropology to explore ideas of both natural and man-made power.
In the show Empirical Eternity, McGinnis paints vibrant scenes of a pre and post-apocalyptic world that mix man-made structures with overgrown gardens. A detailed image of the U.S. Capital Dome in one of her works is being over taken by lush tropical plants and a violet and orange sky.
Another has ominous clouds approaching a power station. Which one is more powerful? The work makes us question our perceived security.
MCGINNIS: Mainly all of my work has been an attempt to activate the emotional overdrive that we all poses…make us all think long term about our place on the planet and our impact on it.
In McGinnis’ series The Palace Floor, we go into a post-apocalyptic world where the patterns of cracked mud remain, but lush green plants have taken over.
Empirical Eternity continues at the Packer Schopf Gallery in the West Loop through January 5.
I’ll be back in 2008, Have a Happy New Year. For Three to See, I’m Matt Cunningham, Chicago Public Radio.