By Philip Vidal
Back-to-school brings to mind the ritual of back-to-school shopping. My mother taking me and my two sisters on the #151 bus in the 1960’s down to the Marshall Field flagship store on State Street is an indelible memory. I would dutifully stay by my mother, but my sisters caught the shopping bug early. They too often went AWOL, on their own shopping sprees, only to be found later under a rack of particularly glamorous clothes. My sisters still love to shop. My grandmother also shopped at Marshall Field & Co. She would drive down in her Edsel, which she parked at the garage on the northeast corner of Wabash and Randolph, kitty-corner from Field’s. The Edsel is long gone, but the garage is still there, and walking past always brings back fond memories.
Like the end of summer break, outdoor summer events also come to a close. A few of those are:
- the Summer Film Series in Millennium Park’s screening of “Wayne’s World” (which is celebrating its 25th anniversary) September 5;
- Jazzn’ at the Shedd, Wednesdays through September 13;
- Chicago Summer Dance, Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park through September 14;
- Ravinia Festival through September 17;
- Tuesdays on the Terrace, free live jazz concerts on the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden, through September 26.
But as some things wind down, others gear up. September explodes with a new season of cultural events; private clubs that closed for the summer reopen; and NFL football kicks-of on September 7.
You will want comfortable walking shoes, in addition to the requisite black clothing, for all the arts events this month. The Fall Gallery Opening Weekend at various locations across the city is September 8-9. The opening reception of “The ANNUAL: An Exhibition of New Chicago Art” at Chicago Artists Coalition, 217 N Carpenter on September 8. The exhibition runs through September 28.
The Women’s Board of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Vernissage, the opening night benefit of EXPO Chicago, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, is Wednesday, September 13, at Navy Pier. EXPO Chicago runs through September 17.
Other art news: Congrats to the MCA which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall. At the Newberry Library, and coinciding with the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, a gallery exhibition entitled “Religious Change and Print, 1450-1700” opens September 14. The 16th annual Ravenswood ArtWalk is September 16-17 on Ravenswood between Irving Park Road and Leland. I am also looking forward to a walk of a different sort: lecturer Betty Seid’s gallery walk through “India Modern: The Paintings of M.F. Husain,” eight monumental triptychs by one of Indian’s most important contemporary artists, The Art Institute of Chicago, September 26 and October 19.
The Jean Goldman Book Prize will be presented at the fifth annual School of the Art Institute (SAIC) Literary Lions Luncheon at a private club in Streeterville on October 11. The prize is given to a SAIC faculty member. This year’s winner is Magdalena Moskalewicz. Martha Tedeschi, The Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums (former deputy director for art and research at the Art Institute), is the guest speaker. Proceeds support the SAIC Literary Lions Fund which awards research grants to SAIC faculty members. Call 312-499-4190 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets and information.
The Auditorium Theatre kicks off its 50th anniversary season on September 7 with “The Vietnam War – An Evening with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.” The filmmakers will talk about their new 18-hour PBS documentary series, “The Vietnam War,” which airs on WTTW11 beginning September 17. WTTW11 will air “Chicago’s Vietnam War Stories” on September 15.
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love by going to Mercury Theater Chicago’s acclaimed production of “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical,” which has been extended through September 24. Chicago’s Michael Butler produced the original Broadway production of “Hair.” You can also celebrate the Summer of Love by first dressing your hair with flowers and then heading to Northwestern’s Evanston campus to see “William Blake and the Age of Aquarius” at the Block Museum of Art. The exhibit explores the connection between the 18th century poet and artist William Blake and the poets, musicians and artists of the psychedelic ‘60s, September 23-March 11.
Two Northwestern grads, each named Kate, will be honored at the Sarah Siddons Society of Chicago’s Actor of the Year gala at the Hilton Orrington Hotel in Evanston on September 18. Kate Baldwin was a 2017 Tony nominee for “Hello Dolly!” Kate Shindle stars in the national tour of “Fun Home,” which won 5 Tony awards including best musical. Opening on September 19 is the U.S. premiere of the La Compagnie du Hanneton’s “The Toad Knew” by James Thiere (the grandson of Charlie Chaplin and great-grandson of playwright Eugene O’Neill) at Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s new space, The Yard, through September 23.
Last month, I attended a fascinating lecture at the Chicago Architecture Foundation entitled “Renovating the House of Tomorrow.” The House of Tomorrow was one of the model homes at the 1933-34 Century of Progress World’s Fair. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls, central air-conditioning, automatic dishwasher, and attached garage were ahead of its time. After the fair, the House of Tomorrow and four other model homes were moved to Beverly Shores, Indiana. You can tour all five homes in October at two events. Tickets go on sale at 8:00 am on September 11 for the October 14 National Park Service led tour. Details about the Indiana Landmarks tour of the homes on October 15, which also includes a lecture and lunch, aren’t yet available. Indiana Landmarks is working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which declared the House of Tomorrow a National Treasure, to raise the $2 million dollars needed to rehab the home.
Also last month I went to The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago’s rehearsal of one of the dance scenes from the French version of Gluck’s “Orphee et Eurydice,” the season opener at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. This is the Lyric’s first collaboration with The Joffrey. After seeing the work-in-progress under director and choreographer John Neumeier, I immediately purchased tickets to see final result, which runs September 23-October 15.
Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age are a few of the headliners at this year’s RiotFest in Douglas Park, but the bands in the lineup that caught my attention are ones from my younger days, New Order and Ministry, September 15-17. On September 19, Alison Moyet, half of the 1980s duo Yaz, performs at Park West, and Pat Benatar performs at Arcada in St. Charles.
The Chicago Blues legend Buddy Guy performs at Arcada in St. Charles, September 22. The Chicago Chamber Music Society opens its 2017-2018 season with the Eden-Stell Guitar Duo on September 27. Soprano Kathleen Battle makes her Auditorium debut on September 30 with “Underground Railroad – A Spiritual Journey”.
I can be indecisive, so fringe festivals that include comedy, dance, magic, music, theater, the visual arts, are a great way to sample a little bit of this and some of that. There are two this month. The Chicago Fringe Festival at various venues in Jefferson Park continues through September 10. The Elgin Fringe Festival at various venues in downtown Elgin runs September 13-17.
Art and music festivals aren’t the only offerings this month. There are also food, beer, bourbon and wine festivals. The 10th annual Bon Appetit Presents Chicago Gourmet is at Millennium Park and other locations around the city, September 19-24. Bon Appetit magazine named Chicago the Restaurant City of the Year.
Who needs to go to Munich for Oktoberfest when there are so many beer festivals in Chicago. The Independence Park Beer Festival is September 16. The inaugural Northsider Craft Beer Fest at the Sidney R. Marovitz Golf Course (the only place I have ever played golf, when it was the Waveland Golf Course) is September 23. Oktoberfest Chicago is September 29-October 1 at St. Alphonsus Church at Southport, Wellington & Lincoln. St. Alphonsus still has a Mass in German the first Sunday of the month.
If you prefer bourbon or wine to beer, there is the Chicago Bourbon & Barbecue Fest, Sept. 9-10, in Roscoe Village. The Windy City Wine Festival is September 8-9 at Buckingham Fountain. Vintage Illinois, the state’s largest wine festival, is at Matthiessen State Park near Utica, Illinois, September 16-17.
With summer coming to an end, can winter, and all that it offers, be very far behind? For some events, it is not too soon to make plans: If you not only want to see the holiday production of the Joffrey’s “The Nutcracker,” but your children in it, too, children’s auditions are this month, on September 10 and 14. The sign-up is open now.