About the Town in October






Sometimes it takes a non-native to show us how lucky we are to live in Chicago.

Recently, friends and non-natives Drs. Laura Semba and Pat Tosetti invited me to join them for a Chicago Architecture Foundation tour of Graceland Cemetery. I grew up less than a mile from the cemetery but had never been there. It is the final resting place of a virtual who’s who of great Chicago families—the Armours, Fields, Palmers, and Pullmans—and architects—Daniel Burnham, John Wellborn Root, Louis Sullivan, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Howard Van Doren Shaw, and David Adler, to name a few.

The cemetery is beautiful, well maintained, and peaceful, except for the noise of the ‘L,’ jets overhead, and the roar of fans at nearby Wrigley Field. But I am sure that the Chicago Cub legend Ernie Banks, who is buried in Graceland, would not object.

I have also always wanted to visit Crab Tree Farm in Lake Bluff, the home of John Bryan, to see his magnificent collection (considered to be the finest in the United States) of American and English Arts and Crafts furniture and decorative objects. I finally got the chance on a trip organized by the Art Institute. Now I feel like I am on a roll and need to develop a Chicago bucket list.

October starts on a high note. I look forward to hearing Ian Wardropper, Director of the Frick Collection in New York, speak at the fourth annual School of the Art Institute’s Literary Lions Luncheon at a private club in the Gold Coast on October 5 (saicevents@saic.edu). The winner of this year’s Jean Goldman Book Prize, which is awarded at this luncheon, is Annie Bourneuf. The following evening I will have dinner at Oriole in the West Loop. Oriole opened earlier this year to accolades not usually bestowed on a new  restaurant (www.oriolechicago.com).

I had dinner for the first time at Oriole in June. I enjoyed dinner so much that I requested the next available reservation . . . in October. I  look forward to another great meal  at Oriole with friends Bojan and Carolina Tosic.

October is also a great month for glamazons and fashionistas. The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center’s 90th Annual Fashion Show is October 13 at Soldier Field’s United Club (www.thefashionshow.org). “Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier” charts the story of Main Rousseau Bocher, a lad from Chicago, who would become the go-to designer for fashion icons, such as the Duchess of Windsor. The show opens October 22 at the Chicago History Museum (www.chicagohistory.org or www.makingmainbocher.com). Another Chicago fashion designer will be celebrated in October: Maria Pinto. Pinto, who has dressed Michelle Obama, is celebrating 25 years of design with a retrospective of her work at the City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower.

Mid-October is filled with events that, though unrelated to fashion, are sure to be stylish. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra wraps up its 125th anniversary celebration on October 15 with their Symphony Ball and a program recreating their very first concert (www.cso.org).

Gloria Steinem, co-founder of Ms. Magazine, political activist and feminist pioneer, is the guest speaker at Personal PAC’s Annual Awards Luncheon at the Chicago Hilton International Ballroom.

The Chicago Architectural Foundation’s Annual Open House Chicago is October 15-16. This is your chance to take a peek at interiors of all sorts that are not usually open to the public, openhousechicago.org. If you would like more than just a peek inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in Hyde Park, every Friday in October between 5-8 pm you can tour most of the house, have a drink in the dining room, and listen to live jazz (www.flwright.org/afterhoursrobie).

Perhaps it is a coincidence, but October 21 is both Global Champagne Day and the Arts Club of Chicago’s black-tie 100th birthday celebration at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute, where I predict much champagne will be enjoyed. The Arts Club’s centennial celebration continues the next day between noon and five o’clock with an open house for members and the public.

Fluxus artist Wolf Vostell’s outdoor sculpture “Concrete Traffic,” a 1957 Cadillac encased in 13.9 tons of concrete, made its way on September 30 from the MCA, where it was originally commissioned in 1970, to the Arts Club and then to its final destination, the parking structure adjacent the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art. Professor Christine Mehring, chair of the Art History Department at the University of Chicago, spearheaded the extensive restoration and installation of the sculpture at its new site at the University. A series of lectures, films, and exhibitions continues over the next several months concerning this sculpture (www.arts.uchicago.edu/concrete-happenings).

The multi-talented sculptor, urban planner, and Chicago luminary Theaster Gates will be present at a reception celebrating his latest exhibition, “Theaster Gates: Heavy Sketches,” at Richard Gray Gallery on October 6 from 5-8 pm. The exhibition continues through November 20.

Chicago a cappella will perform “The Birds and the Bees: Songs of Nature and Naughtiness” on October 22, 23, 29, and 30 in Naperville, Chicago, Evanston, and Oak Park, respectively (www.chicagoacapella.org). Dr. Ruth Westheimer will narrate the performances on October 22 at Wentz Hall in Naperville, and on October 23 at the Logan Center for the Arts in Hyde Park. Her sexual advice program, “Sexually Speaking,” premiered on radio and television in the 1980s.

Sex advice columnist and Chicago native Dan Savage is just one of the speakers at the 27th annual Chicago Humanities Festival. Other speakers include magician Penn Gillette, Senator Barbara Boxer, composer Philip Glass, political strategist David Axelrod, and comic Trevor Noah. The main portion of the festival is October 29 to November 12.

The last three “rooms” of the downtown Chicago Riverwalk are to be opened in mid- to late-October. What was once dead space, now has promenades and outdoor cafes. I had a Proustian moment reading about this “new” campaign to clean up the river. My late father was a fishery biologist for the Illinois Department of Conservation (now the Department of Natural Resources) in the ‘50s through to the ‘90s. It was Mayor Richard J. Daley’s vision to clean up the river so that people could once again use it for fishing and recreation. I have heard of a possible swimming competition on the south branch of the Chicago River next year, so things must be improving. But Bubbly Creek in Bridgeport still bubbles, so there is more work to do.

October ends with Halloween. Facet’s Annual Family Boo Bash on October 23, from 2:30 to 5:30 pm, promises “films, games, face painting, tattooing, and so much more.” If the kids are intrigued by tattoos and want to know more, “Tattoo,” an exhibition about body ink and art opens at the Field Museum just a few days earlier, on October 21 (www.fieldmuseum.org).