About the Town in November



By Philip Vidal




As I approach my 65th birthday this month, I’m reminded of the old saw that as one ages, time seems to compress:  I sense that yesterday was Labor Day, and now I need to plan Thanksgiving.   But this compression is not only in my head.  I was in a grocery store in mid-October, and Christmas carols were already playing over the loud speakers.   Then again, I’m still trying to see exhibitions and events that opened in October, while considering what November has to offer.


“I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli  exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum explores how Jewish immigrants, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe, imported and adapted traditions to create a uniquely American restaurant, now through April 14, 2024. Photo by Illinois Holocaust Museum.


The Illinois Holocaust Museum’s exhibition “I’ll Have What She’s Having”: the Jewish Deli” opened October 22 (and runs through April 14, 2024).  Growing up in Chicago’s East Lakeview neighborhood, I recall there were at least three delis nearby.  Ricky’s was on the southeast corner of Broadway and Belmont.  Local lore was that Ricky’s was named after Rich Melman, the founder and chairman of the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurant empire, but if that is true, why wasn’t it called Richy’s instead of Ricky’s?  The second and third delis were a bit farther north, on Broadway between Stratford and Cornelia.


While the delis in my old neighborhood, except for The Bagel Restaurant and Deli, are all gone, Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen, which I passed on my way to and from St. Ignatius College Prep, is a true Chicago classic and still going strong.


I learned from a talk in October given by Emerson Bowyer, the curator of the Art Institute of Chicago’s “Camille Claudel” exhibition (October 7-February 19, 2024), that the first place in the U.S. to publicly display Claudel’s sculpture was here in Chicago at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, 130 years ago, and that she corresponded with Bertha Palmer, President of the Lady Managers of the Columbian Exposition and queen of Chicago society.   Bowyer also mentioned that Claudel was overshadowed by her mentor Auguste Rodin for many years, but had a resurgence in the late 1980s sparked by the 1988 movie “Camille Claudel” starring Isabelle Adjani.


Buster Keaton’s “Sherlock Jr.” is accompanied by a live accompaniment of Stephen Prutsman’s original score for a special and intimate performance on November 15 at Guarneri Hall. Photo by Guarneri Hall, illustration by John Tibbets.


This reminds me of the power and longevity of movies.   On November 15, Guarneri Hall presents a multimedia program including a screening of Buster Keaton’s 1924 silent movie “Sherlock Jr.,” which is  accompanied by a live performance of Stephen Prutsman’s original score.  “Sherlock Jr.” is on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 funniest films.  The oldest and one of only two Oscar®-qualifying children’s film festivals in the world, the 40th Chicago International Children’s Film Festival presented by Facets runs November 3-19.  The 10th annual Shortcut 100TM International Film Festival opens online November 10 with an in-person closing night event at the Davis Theater on November 16.   On November 7 the Gene Siskel Film Center screens two movies that feature Chicago at night: “Something More Than Night” and “Night Patrol.”  The Chicago Tribune’s film critic Michael Phillips will talk with author Matt Singer about his new book “Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed the Movies Forever” on November 28 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.


Martin Scorsese’s latest movie “Killers of the Flower Moon” has received terrific reviews.  The movie tells the true story of how the members of the Osage Nation were murdered in Oklahoma in the 1920s.  The movie’s release at this time is appropriate:  November is Native American Heritage Month.  Chicago is home to the largest population of Native Americans in the Midwest and the second largest east of the Mississippi.


Visit the new exhibition at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, “From Glass to Garden: Tiffany Inspired Floral Designs,” showcasing newly commissioned floral design installations from four local floral designers inspired by the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios. Photo by Jacqueline Krejnik-Ryan.


Perhaps the perfect antidote for the dark days of the next few months is the exhibition “From Glass to Garden: Tiffany Inspired Floral Designs” running November 30-January 7, 2024, at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum.  The exhibition showcases the work of local floral designers inspired by the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios.   November 30 is the opening night of the exhibition and the date of the Driehaus Museum gala, entitled “The Gilded Gala: Past, Present Future,” which honors Sunny Fischer and celebrates the 15th anniversary of the museum.


The 16th annual 3Arts Awards celebrates ten artists who live and work in the six-county metropolitan Chicago area by providing them with $30,000 awards in dance, music, teaching arts, theater, and visual arts. Photo by 3Arts.


The Harris Theater for Music and Dance is the venue for the 16th annual 3Arts Awards Celebration on November 13, which includes live performances and benefits Chicago’s women artists, artists of color, and deaf and disabled artists. Congratulations to the Harris Theater for Music and Dance which opened twenty years ago on November 8, 2003, and it still going strong, with performances such as the Chicago premiere of Akram Khan’s “Jungle Book reimagined” (running November 9-11).


The Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents “Islander,” a worldstage event from Scotland, November 29-December 17. Photo by Chicago Shakespeare Theater.


As part of its WorldStage series, Chicago Shakespeare Theater brings the new musical “Islander” to Navy Pier, November 29-December 17.  A co-production from Scotland, “The Islander” won the title of best new musical at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  The Goodman Theatre hosts their free 19th annual New Stages Festival, November 30-December 10.  This is your chance to see new works before they become fully-staged works at the Goodman and other theaters.


Watch out for holiday events this month! From Christkindlmarket to the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, there will be fun events for the whole family to enjoy. Photo by The Magnificent Mile.


Many holiday events open in mid-November. The Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza is November 17-December 24.  The Christkindlmarket at Gallagher Way next to Wrigley Field runs November 17-December 31.   The opening of the Christkindlmarkets coincides with the 110th Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at Washington and Michigan in Millennium Park on November 17.   The 32nd edition of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and tree-lighting parade down North Michigan Avenue is November 18.


Tickets are now available for many of the holiday light shows popping up across the city. Featured image: Zoolights Presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ, photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.


Wildly popular holiday light shows also start this month:  the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape opens on November 10; the Lincoln Park Zoo’s ZooLights on November 17; Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum on November 18; and Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic on November 24.  But the light show I’m really looking forward to seeing is “Season of Light,” the digital art projections on the enormous façade of THE MART, formerly the Merchandise Mart.  The “Season of Light” features work by the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) alumnus Yorgo Alexapoulos, together with a projection created by current SAIC students (nightly from November 16 through December 30).


Although time seems to fly by at Christmas and memories fade, I still remember the excitement I felt when I was growing up and the Sears’ Christmas Wish Book catalog arrived in the mail. I expect that catalog will be mentioned in the November 10th episode  “Chicago Stories: Mail Order Giants,” in WTTW’s fascinating “Chicago Stories” series.


Let’s enjoy the moment, despite the early onset of Christmas-themed music.  Happy Diwali and Happy Thanksgiving!


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