About the Town in September




 By Philip Vidal


We have experienced a generally hot summer in Chicago, but September is when Chicago really heats up…especially on the social and cultural fronts.

Galleristas and galleristos (the masculine form of “galleristas”?) from 145 galleries, representing 23 countries, will convene at EXPO CHICAGO, the fifth annual international exposition of contemporary and modern art, September 22–25, at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. The opening night preview, Vernissage, on Thursday, September 22, will benefit the Museum of Contemporary Art  (mcachicago.org/vernissage). Linda Meyer and Karen Uhlmann are the Vernissage co-chairs. I look forward to seeing my friend and North Shore native Aliza Hoffman of New York’s P.P.O.W. Gallery at the expo.

If you need a crash course in contemporary art before EXPO CHICAGO, watch Art in the Twenty-First Century, a PBS series hosted by actress Claire Danes on September 16 and 23.

“Food is Art!” is the theme for the ninth annual Chicago Gourmet festival sponsored by Bon Appétit magazine. They are collaborating with EXPO CHICAGO and the Art Institute. Chicago Gourmet is one of the nation’s largest culinary events and will take place in Millennium Park, September 23–25 (chicagogourmet.org).

It is in early October, but bears mention here: Certainly one of the highlights of this fall is the fourth annual School of the Art Institute’s Literary Lions Luncheon, featuring the Jean Goldman Book Prize on October 5 at a private club. Jean Goldman’s son Peter has invited me to a few of these luncheons. The guest speakers have all been outstanding, giving insightful and thought provoking presentations. This year’s speaker, Ian Wardropper, spent almost 20 years at the Art Institute, is now the director of The Frick Collection and will not disappoint (312-499-4190 or saicevents@saic.edu). 

The School of the Art Institute opens its Fashion Resource Center to public tours of their collection of more than 600 pieces of contemporary fashion this month. Contact gcarrara@saic.edu for more information.

The Arts Club of Chicago is celebrating its centennial this fall with a host of events. The club’s Centennial Exhibitions open on September 20. On September 30, the club will host a free and open-to-the-public performance to accompany Fluxus artist Wolf Vostell’s 1970 outdoor sculpture “Concrete Traffic,” a 1957 Cadillac encased in concrete, as it parades past the Arts Club on its way through the streets of Chicago. The club itself has moved through Chicago over the past 100 years — the Fine Arts Building, the Wrigley Building, 109 E. Ontario, and now 201 E. Ontario (artsclubchicago.org).

Just around the corner from the Arts Club is the Schatz Building at 610 N. Fairbanks. It once housed Chicago’s top 1930s nightclub Chez Paree. In 1939, the Schatz Building also had László Moholy-Nagy as a tenant. He is quoted over the entrance: “Designing is not a profession, but an attitude.” He came to Chicago in 1937 and shortly thereafter founded the School for Design, now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology. A retrospective of the Hungarian-born photographer, designer, painter and teacher, “Moholy-Nagy: Future Present,” runs from October 2 through January 3 at the Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu). AIC members can preview the exhibition on September 30 and October 1.

I have always wanted to have my photograph taken by Victor Skrebneski — perhaps in a black turtleneck like the one Bette Davis and Orson Welles wore for their iconic Skrebneski portraits. Victor Skrebneski will be one of the local artists that the City of Chicago will honor on September 14 in Millennium Park at the third annual Fifth Star Awards. The other Chicago artists and cultural institutions to be honored are Buddy Guy, Jackie Taylor, Carlos Tortolero and The Second City (fifthstarawards.org).

This summer I had a sneak peak at a few of the photographs that Lester and Betty Guttman donated to the Smart Museum of Art, so I very much look forward to attending the opening reception on September 28 of the actual exhibit, “There was a whole collection made: Photography from Lester and Betty Guttman” (smartmuseum.uchicago.edu).

If you would actually like to own a piece of art, rather than simply admire it, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers has several auctions this month: Asian Works of Art, September 26; American and European Art, September 29; Modern and Contemporary Art, September 30; and Fine Prints, also on September 30 (lesliehindman.com).

September 9 is one of those days when there is just too much going on. It is the first Friday of the month, so there are gallery openings. “Tetsuya Noda: A Restrospective/Diary of 50 Years” opens at Andrew Bae Gallery, 300 W. Superior (andrewbaegallery.com). The artist will be present at the opening. I am honored to host  the artist, his wife, daughter and new son-in-law at my apartment for a light dinner the night before the opening. Noda has had important museum retrospectives in the past several years, one of them at the British Museum, and it is a privilege to see his works on display in Chicago.

Stephen Daiter Gallery hosts an opening for Chicago photographer Dawoud Bey on September 9 (stephendaitergallery.com). The Stars of Lyric Opera perform at Millennium Park (lyricopera.org/stars). Aaron Posner’s Life Sucks opens at Lookingglass Theatre (lookingglasstheatre.org). The Windy City Wine Festival opens at Buckingham Fountain for a two-day run (windycitywinefestival.com). The Chicago Beach Polo Cup is at North Avenue Beach and will take place over three days, from September 9–11 (chicagobeachpolocup.com). No need to fix the divots at halftime.

I have made several attempts over the years to visit Crab Tree Farm in Lake Bluff to see John Bryan’s terrific collection of Arts and Crafts objects, but have always been thwarted, so I am glad that I will finally see the collection on September 15 with the Sustaining Fellows of the Art Institute.

The commemoration of the death of Shakespeare 400 years ago heats up this fall with several productions and several inventive takeoffs of his work.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater kicks off its 30th anniversary season with Tub of War: Civil Strife — Henry VI, Parts 1 + 2 and Richard III, September 15 through October 9, as adapted and directed by Barbara Gaines (chicagoshakes.com).

The Writers Theatre in Glencoe will mark its 25th season in their new Studio Gang-designed space at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe with a new adaption of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, directed and adapted by Michael Halberstam and Scott Parkinson, September 7 through October 16 (writerstheatre.org).

The Shanghai Jingju Theater Company makes its Chicago debut with The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan, an adaption of Shakespeare’s Hamlet done as a Chinese opera, September 28–29 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance (harristheaterchicago.org).

The Brady Bunch and Partridge Family are feuding Shakespearean families in the off-Broadway parody The Bardy Bunch at the Mercury Theater Chicago from September 15 through November 2 (mercurytheaterchicago.com) or (thebardybunch.com).

Of course, the hottest ticket this fall is for the musical Hamilton, which opens September 27. I purchased the first tickets available to me for four seats together…for a date in January. Further proof, as if any were needed, that when you are hot, you’re hot!