About the Town in June



By Philip Vidal




As I write this article, the cool, crisp weather of late May reminds me more of fall than a segue to summer.  But summer is almost here, with the usual outdoor events we can all enjoy.  With COVID now largely a memory, I am happy to report there are just as many shows and events to enjoy indoors.


The bronzed shoe that Gene Tunney wore in the long count fight in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Jay & Kelly Tunney.


Don’t miss Douglas Post’s “Shaw vs. Tunney” at Theater Wit now through July 8. Photo courtesy of Jay & Kelly Tunney.


Tops on my list of indoor events is the world premiere of Douglas Post’s “Shaw vs. Tunney,” Grippo Stage Company at Theater Wit through July 8.   The play is based on “The Prizefighter and the Playwright” by Jay R. Tunney – which featured the unlikely friendship between his father, championship boxer Gene Tunney, aka the “Fighting Marine,” and playwright and social reformer George Bernhard Shaw.  Did you know that the largest live boxing match in history, attended by over 120,000 people, took place at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 1927 between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey?  Jay Tunney and his wife Kelly live in Chicago, and Jay has been a resource to the theater in mounting the play.  Father’s Day is June 18th; the play is a wonderful tribute from Jay to his father.


The critically acclaimed new musical “Personality: the Lloyd Price Musical” makes its Chicago premiere this month and runs through September 3 in the newly renovated Studebaker Theater in the Fine Arts Building. Photo courtesy of Cathy Taylor Public Relations, Inc.


Started in 1988, the Rhinoceros Theater Festival, Chicago’s longest running fringe festival, runs through July 1 at four venues around Chicago.  I don’t know much about Lloyd Price (1933-2021), aka “Mr. Personality,” a singer, songwriter, record executive, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, so I’d like to see the Chicago premiere of “Personality: the Lloyd Price Musical,” through September 3 in the newly renovated Studebaker Theater in the Fine Arts Building.   Just across the alley at the Auditorium Theatre, South Chicago Dance Theatre makes their Auditorium debut in the world premiere of “Memoirs of Jazz in the Alley” on June 10.


The lecture “Camille Claudel: Art, Love, and the Battle for Independence” with Emerson Bowyer will be held on June 7. Photo by Alliance Française de Chicago.


Emerson Bowyer, Searle Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe, at the Art Institute of Chicago, presents “Camille Claudel: Art, Love, and the Battle for Independence” on June 7 at the Alliance Française de Chicago.  It’s this year’s third and final presentation in the Alliance’s Symposium of the Arts of France.


Just a bit south of the Art Institute, at the northeast corner of Michigan and VanBuren, is the entrance to a Metra and South Shore station that’s a replica of one of Hector Guimard’s sinuous Art Nouveau entrances to the Paris Métro.  I was in New York in April and saw the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s exhibition “Hector Guimard: How Paris Got Its Curves,” which is co-organized with the Chicago’s Richard H. Driehaus Museum.  The show travels to Chicago and will be installed at the Driehaus Museum with the title “Hector Guimard: Art Nouveau to Modernism,” June 22 to January 7, 2024.  Unfortunately, Chicago’s Guimard is threatened.


A special exhibition at the ISAC Museum, “Artifacts Also Die,”  now through August 27. Photo by The University of Chicago Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures West Asia & North Africa.


I was fortunate to know the late Carlotta Maher, who went on archaeological digs in Iraq with the Oriental Institute.  Just after the Baghdad Museum had been ransacked, I spoke with Carlotta about the looting and she was practically in tears.  Antiquities and archaeological sites in modern-day Iraq continue to be threatened.   The Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures (ISAC), formerly the Oriental Institute (OI), hosts “Artifacts Also Die” through August 27.


Celebrating Alex Ross, one of the most renowned artists in the field of comic books. “Marvelocity: The Art of Alex Ross” runs June 3 to August 20 at the Elmhurst Art Museum. Photo by Alex Ross courtesy of the Elmhurst Art Museum.


The western suburbs are presenting two terrific exhibitions this summer: “Warhol” featuring “Andy Warhol Portfolios: A Life in Pop” runs June 3-September 10 at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art at the College of DuPage.  “Marvelocity: The Art of Alex Ross” runs June 3 to August 20 at the Elmhurst Art Museum.  Comic book writer and artist Ross lives in suburban Chicago.


Free concert in Chicago! The CSO led by Maestro Carlo Muti host a free Concert for Chicago at Millennium Park on June 27. Photo by Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


Summer is the season to enjoy music outdoors.  The Ravinia Festival, North America’s oldest music festival, runs from June 6 to September 10 in Highland Park.  It’s been the summer home for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) since 1936.  The CSO led by Maestro Carlo Muti also performs outdoors in Millennium Park on June 27 at the free Concert for Chicago.


The Grant Park Music Festival of classical music concerts in Millennium Park runs June 14 to August 19.  The festival’s tagline is “We’re Classic Chicago.” So is this magazine!  The Millennium Park Summer Music Series runs June 22 to August 21 on Mondays and Thursdays at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.  Opening night, June 22, is a tribute concert to the late great Chicago jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis.


The Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago’s Tuesdays on the Terrace, a series of free live outdoor performances by Chicago musicians and artists featuring music genres with Chicago roots, runs June 13 to August 19 in the Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden.  In inclement weather, the performances take place in the museum’s Edlis Neeson Theater.


The start of Chicago street festivals! 73rd annual Old Town Arts Fair will have art, a garden walk, live music and a children’s corner. Photo by Old Town Art Fair.


Chicago’s many street and art festivals also include live music.  One of the first of the summer, and one of Chicago’s largest street festivals, the 57th annual Andersonville Midsommarfest, June 9 to 11, has six stages.  The 73rd annual Old Town Arts Fair and the 48th annual Wells Street Art Festival, both June 10 to 11, also include live music.


The 17th annual Bitter Jester Music Festival in Highland Park is June 2 to 25.  This free, family-friendly competition features the best of the Midwest’s emerging musical talent. It’s not your typical music festival… anyone can participate in Make Music Chicago.  The annual one-day, free, city-wide, DIY music festival is June 21.


The Blues on the Fox Festival runs June 16 to 17, Father’s Day weekend, at the Thomas J. Weisner RiverEdge Park in Aurora.  Presented by WXRT, the Winnetka Music Festival also runs June 16 to 17.   Other events over Father’s Day weekend that Dad might enjoy are SailGP, the Rolex U.S. Sail Grand Prix, at Navy Pier, June 16 to 17, and the open-air 53rd annual Father’s Day Classic Car Show at Oakbrook Center on June 18.


Pivot Arts presents the world premiere of “The Memory Place,” a multi-arts experience about cultural memory and hidden histories, June 1 – 11. Photo courtesy of Pivot Arts.


Presented by See Chicago Dance, June is Chicago Dance Month, but the city-wide event actually runs through September.  The fifth annual Mandala Makers Festival in the parking lot of Republic Bank, 2720 West Devon on June 4 and 11, is a free event featuring contemporary and classical South Asian music and dance.  Red Clay Dance Company performs the world premiere of “Rest.Rise.Move. Nourish.Heal” in Art on the Farm in Grant Park June 8 to 10.  Joffrey Ballet Chicago presents a free performance, “Joffrey for All Celebration,” at the Pritzker Pavilion on June 25. Pivot Arts, celebrating its tenth anniversary, presents indoor and outdoor events including “The Memory Place,” a multi-arts performance at Edgewater’s The Edge Theater June 1 to 11,  and a bus tour of Edgewater and Uptown on June 6 with Sherman “Dilla” Thomas.


Another indoor/outdoor hybrid is the 32nd annual James Beard Awards, June 3 to 5, which is back in Chicago.  The Friends of James Beard Benefit Stadium Chef Series dinner benefitting the James Beard Foundation is June 4 on Wrigley Field’s playing field.  The James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony is June 5 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, with an after-party at Union Station.  The nominees from Chicago are too numerous to list!  Good luck to all of them!


WTTW airs “Live from the Harris Theater: Adrian Dunn’s Emancipation” for Juneteenth. Photo by WTTW.


The Juneteenth National Freedom Day commemorates the abolition of slavery on June 19, 1865.  One of the many events commemorating Juneteenth, WTTW airs “Live from the Harris Theater: Adrian Dunn’s Emancipation” on June 19.


It’s the summer travel season.  If you’re in New York City, the Tribeca Film Festival, June 7 to 18, has at least two Chicago connections:  The world premiere of the movie “Eric Larue,” adapted from Chicago playwright Brett Neveu’s 2002 play at A Red Orchid Theatre and directed by the theatre’s Michael Shannon; and a presentation, “Confessions of a Serial Movie Poster Collector,” given by Chicagoan Dwight Cleveland on June 10.  And if you’re in London, it’s the Chicago Cubs vs. the St. Louis Cardinals at the London Stadium, June 24 to 25.


Tops on my list of outdoor events is the weekly SOAR Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays, starting June 6 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Plaza.  If you have a bike, are uninhibited, and like the outdoors, the 20th annual World Naked Bike Ride Chicago, whose tagline is “celebrating freedom from oil and the beauty of people,” is June 24.


Dates, times, locations and availability are subject to change.