Oakbrook Polo Riding Horse

About the Town in June



By Philip Vidal




This column features upcoming events in Chicago.  Over the past year, there have been a dearth of events to consider and screen.  But all of sudden I can’t keep up as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed and the city reopens.  Governor Pritzker is targeting June 11 for a full reopening of Illinois, and Mayor Lightfoot is targeting July 4 for Chicago.  Even Mother Nature is cooperating.  Lake Michigan’s water levels are lower than last summer, so beaches are reappearing in time for lakefront fun. 


A number of Chicago traditions were put on hold last year but resume this summer.  Others didn’t go away and are back again this year. 


The SOAR Farmer’s Market is back, every Tuesday from June through October. Photo by SOAR Chicago.


One of my favorite summer traditions is shopping at my local farmers market.  The Tuesday SOAR (Streeterville Organization of Active Residents) Farmers Market opens June 1 in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA).  The selection can be intimidating, but last year I bought exotic (at least to me) produce for the first time.  Also on June 1 the MCA’s Tuesdays on the Terrace live outdoor jazz concerts resume in the Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden. 


Now streaming on Apple TV, 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything.” Photo by Apple.


The historic Maxwell Street Market reopens June 6 (and thereafter on the first and third Sundays of the month).  I attended nearby St. Ignatius College Prep in the early 1970s, but I never ventured over to the original Maxwell Street Market to have one of the famed pork-chop sandwiches.   I do, however, recall dining in the early ’70s at R.J. Grunts shortly after it opened June 10, 1971, and Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, which opened in Lincolnwood that same year.  Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah’s iconic song “Lake Shore Drive” was released 1971.  That must have been an auspicious year for music because Apple TV has a new series entitled “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything.” 


The Lovin’ Spoonful’s 1966 hit “Summer in the City” must have inspired Northwestern University professor Bill Savage to name his seminar series “Summer in the City: Public Spaces and Chicago Identity” that runs June 24-July 29 at the Newberry Library.   It’s just one of the many seminars that are a part of the Newberry Library Summer 2021 Adult Education Seminars available online from June 15 into early August.  There are also seminars on music, philosophy, language, and theater, besides those about Chicago and its history.   


The Chicago History Museum hosts its 27th annual Making History Words virtually on June 2. Photo by Chicago History Museum.


Speaking of Chicago history, the Chicago History Museum’s 27th annual (virtual) Making History Awards on June 2 honors Kenneth Griffin, Julieanna Richardson, and Ryne Sandberg.  I understand that wholesome, Hall of Famer and Chicago Cubs legend Sandberg is now the spokesperson for Verilife, a Chicago-based cannabis company.   The times are a changing.  


Perhaps another sign of the changing times is the first ever drag brunch at Macy’s on State Street’s Edwardian Walnut Room on June 12 in celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month.   


The Arlington International Racecourse hosts their final season this year. Photo by Arlington Park.


The British monarchy is perhaps the epitome of tradition.   The special four-day holiday weekend to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee, at 70 years Great Britain’s longest reigning monarch, is June 2-5, 2022.   The Queen’s fondness for horse racing is legendary.  If you too have a fondness for the ponies, and you can’t make it to Royal Ascot this month, then head to Arlington International Racecourse.  Founded in 1927, this might be its last season.  Also founded in the 1920s, the Oak Brook Polo Club’s 99th season runs June 27-September 26.


The 44th annual Elgin Valley Fox Trot race takes place June 6. Photo by Elgin Valley Fox Trot.


If you prefer a foot race, then sign up for the 44th annual Elgin Valley Fox Trot race on June 6.  If you prefer car racing, then you might want to check out the virtual NASCAR iRacing event through Chicago’s Loop on June 2.  Plans are to have a real-life race in Chicago, perhaps in 2022.   If Monaco can host its Grand Prix along the Côte d’Azur, then why can’t Chicago have a NASCAR race along Lake Shore Drive?   I live on Lake Shore Drive and on some nights it already sounds like I am in the midst of a Grand Prix race.  Another digital event that will have you covering lots of territory across Chicago is Lucky Plush Productions’ “The Map of Now,” a multi-venue, interactive, interdisciplinary digital festival, June 25-26. 


While the iRacing event and “The Map of Now” are virtual, many events are now live and in-person.  As part of “Open Culture city-wide initiative, the City of Chicago will host pop-up performances in Millennium Park  starting this month, as well as a series of monthly concerts for fully vaccinated Chicagoans under the “Protect Chicago Music Series.” 


“New Faces Singing Broadway 1979,” an outdoor concert at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie will be on June 12. Photo by Porchlight Music Theatre.


As part of their Out Back Summer Sessions concert series, Porchlight Music Theatre (American Musicals. Chicago Style.) presents “New Faces Sing Broadway 1979,” an outdoor concert at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie on June 12. The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) hosts ”IPO String Quartet: Price and Webern,” on June 23 as part of their “Socially Distanced Summer” in-person concert series at Olympia Fields Country Club.  The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) hosts their first live concerts with limited-capacity audiences since March of last year.  Performances for “Strum” are June 3-6 and the last live concert of the 2020-2021 season, “Overture” June 10-13.  CSO for Kids – Episode 6: “School’s Out” premieres for free on CSOtv June 3.


School is out.  Yay!  But was it ever really in session?  Summer camps, another summer tradition are back this year.   Indeed, the JCC Chicago Campchi in Lake Delton, Wisconsin, has been a summer tradition for one-hundred years. 


Help clean Chicago’s parks by volunteering for Pitch In for the Parks throughout the month of June. Photo by Chicago Parks Foundation.


Help ensure that our parks are in good shape for the Chicago Park District Summer Day Camps, which run June 28-August 6, by volunteering for Pitch In for the Parks, a city-wide volunteer park clean-up project sponsored by the Chicago Parks Foundation.


Another summer tradition and one of the U.S.’s oldest art fairs,  Old Town Art Fair is back this year from June 12-13.  If it’s too hot out to enjoy the art, duck into an air-conditioned museum.  The DuSable Museum of African American History which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, reopens on June 19, which is both the summer solstice and Juneteenth National Freedom Day commemorating the abolition of slavery on June 19, 1865.   


I’m a long-time fan of the nearby Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago.  The pendulum swung to a focus on modern and contemporary art but I am pleased to see that they’ve tapped into their talent pool of art historians and scholars.   Presented by the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry and curated by Nora Lambert, PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago, “Love, Lust, and Loss in Renaissance Europe,“ continues through June 13. 


Some of Frida Kahlo’s most famous works will be projected on theMART beginning July 5. Photo by Art on theMART.


At the College of DuPage, the McAninch Arts Center and Cleve Carney Museum of Art host “Frida Kahlo Timeless,” June 5 – September 6.   The works are on loan from Mexico City’s Dolores Olmedo Museum. As part of the Art on theMart series, images of some of Kahlo’s most famous works will be projected onto the south façade of theMart from July 5-September 16.  


Also part of the Art on theMart, portraits of President Obama and former First Lady  Michelle Obama will be projected onto theMart June 17-September 16 in conjunction with the “The Obama Portraits,” an exhibition of the official portraits of President Barack and former First Lady Michelle Obama by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, coming to the Art Institute of Chicago, June 18-August 15.


When I think of portraits, it makes me think of caricatures and cartoons.  Chicago has a rich history of cartoons, and local cartoonists like Chris Ware continue the tradition.  The book “It’s Life as I See It: Black Cartoonists in Chicago, 1940-1980” edited by Dan Nadel with a cover design by Kerry James Marshall is out June 1.  “Drawn to Combat – Bill Mauldin & the Art of War” continues at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library.  A cartoonist during WWII, Mauldin later focused on politics and was a political cartoonist at the Chicago Sun-Times from 1962-1991. The Chicago Cultural Center reopens on June 2 and then hosts the exhibition “Chicago: Where Comics Came to Life, 1880-1960” June 19-October 3.  That exhibition bookends nicely with the Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now,” which also runs June 19-October 3. 


The Museum of Contemporary Art mounts a retrospective of Chicago artist Nick Cave next year. “Nick Cave: Forothermore” runs May 14-October 2, 2022.  Honor Nick Cave and his partner, Bob Faust, also an artist, at the Chicago Artists Coalition’s annual Work in Progress benefit on June 9.  They were also featured in an article “How Chicago Artists Have Made the City Streets a Walking Gallery” in Departures March/April about Chicago’s vibrant art scene. Nick Cave is one of the jurors for The Loft Teen Arts Project, a youth art competition for artwork that will be shown in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s new The Loft education space. 


Now through August 15, Rome comes to the Oakbrook Center through “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition.Photo by SEE Attractions.


A summer vacation is also a tradition for many.  Overseas travel might still be difficult, but a bit of Rome is now in the western suburbs.  “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” continues through August 15 at Oakbrook Center and features life-size photos of the famous frescoes.


A few summers ago, I was invited by friends on a canal trip in France.  I declined, and now wish I had taken the trip before travel became so limited.  It’s not quite the same thing as a canal trip through France, but I might consider one of the mule-pulled canal boat trips that are offered on Saturdays and Sundays on the Illinois and Michigan Canal through October 31. 


Dates, times, locations and availability are subject to change.  Please stay healthy and safe and keep up with the latest COVID-19 information and guidelines.

About the Town in May



By Philip Vidal




May is a marvelous month, when things warm up.  Flora and fauna thrive.  To wit:  beavers, bobcats, and coyotes are making a comeback in the Chicago area.  Coyotes’ mating and birthing season lasts until near the end of May, so keep a watchful eye on small family pets if they’re outside.  I have a friend who always accompanies her small dog when she lets him out in her backyard.  After a few coyote sightings in her neighborhood in the western suburbs, another friend’s cats are now skittish about venturing outside. 


The 28th annual Bear Tie Ball, “Bear Tie Ball:  Untied” will be virtual this year and held on May 1. Photo by Bear Necessities.


Coyotes and beavers might not be entirely welcome…but still, support animal care and conservation by signing-up for the Brookfield Zoo’s 40th annual Whirl, which this year will be the virtual Virtu-Whirl on May 1.   The 28th annual Bear Tie Ball, “Bear Tie Ball:  Untied” is also May 1 and virtual.  The ‘bear’ isn’t a reference to the furry ursine one, but to Barrett “Bear” Krupa, an eight-year-old who died from cancer and was the inspiration for the founding of the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, which both supports kids battling cancer and funds research to end pediatric cancer. 


It looks like the Anti-Cruelty Society’s annual “Bark in the Park” walk and fundraiser has now morphed into the monthlong “Bark from the Heart” fundraiser.  


Cruella de Vil of “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” is the poster girl for animal cruelty.  “Cruella,” starring Emma Stone, opens in theaters and on Disney+ on May 28.   When I was a kid rummaging through family photos in our basement, I found a pre-WWI photograph of my German great-grandfather surrounded by dozens of Dalmatians.  Since they’re not hunting dogs, I’ve always wondered why there were so many in the photo.  Unfortunately, the photo disappeared, or I would have included it with this article.   


Starting May 21 through September 6 is the Field Museum’s “Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall.” Photo by Hugo Van Lawick and Jane Goodall Institute.


For those interested in primates, a must-see is “Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall,” an exhibition at the Field Museum that runs May 21-September 6.  The exhibition includes a hologram of the famed primatologist. 


Second City reopens May 7 for in-person, live comedy shows. Photo by The Second City.


The Field Museum is just one of many venerable Chicago institutions that add so much to the cultural landscape of Chicago.   Just as the flora and fauna re-awaken, Chicago’s institutions are too:   Second City reopens on May 7 with live comedy shows.  “Vivian Maier: In Color” opens at the Chicago History Museum on May 8 and features 65 color photographs taken in and around Chicago during the 1950s through 1970s by this enigmatic photographer. Many of the photos have never been exhibited before.


Tiffany Studios captured the colors and luminosity of New Hampshire’s White Mountains in their Hartwell Memorial Window (1917).  The Art Institute of Chicago acquired the stained-glass window from a Rhode Island church and restored it.   “Landscape in Light: Tiffany Window at the Art Institute of Chicago” is on view beginning May 28.


Since 1939 the Hyde Park Art Center has been a focal point for contemporary art.  The Center’s new solo exhibition, “The Metamorphosis of Gabriel Villa, runs April 26-July 17.  Villa, a Chicago artist, draws upon his Mexican American heritage and Chicago’s South Side for inspiration. 


The Lyric Opera of Chicago hosts “Celebrating Sir Andrew Davis: From Mozart to Stravinsky,” a virtual concert honoring Sir Andrew Davis, May 16. Photo by Lyric Opera of Chicago.


The  WTTW/WFMT virtual gala honoring the 70th anniversary of WFMT, Chicago’s only classical radio station, is May 5.  Maestro Zubin Mehta is recipient of this year’s Duskin Award at the Music Institute of Chicago’s 90th anniversary gala on May 10.  The event will be virtual and in-person.  The Lyric Opera of Chicago hosts a virtual concert, “Celebrating Sir Andrew Davis: From Mozart to Stravinsky,” honoring its outgoing music director and principal conductor, Sir Andrew Davis, on May 16.


The Newberry Library honors Lonnie G. Bunch III, secretary of the Smithsonian, at the virtual 2021 Newberry Library Award celebration on May 24.  The Newberry Library is working on an exhibit to open in spring 2024 with artifacts from the legendary Mister Kelly’s, London House and The Happy Medium nightclubs, but in the meantime, on May 27, watch the documentary “Live at Mister Kelly’s” on WTTW.  David Marienthal, son and nephew of the brothers who owned and ran the clubs, produced the documentary and donated the artifacts to the Newberry Library. 


The Newberry Library was founded in 1887.   By comparison, Wrightwood 659, established in 2018, is a relatively new Chicago institution. I’ve enjoyed every show I’ve seen at this exhibition space.  “Yannis Tsarouchis: Dancing in Real Life” runs May 7-July 31.   This is the first U.S. exhibition showcasing the work of this important 20th century Greek painter. Admission is by advance ticket only.


CPS Lives hosts their first virtual fundraiser, What’s Next! A Benefit for CPS Lives,” May 5-12. Photo by CPS Lives.


The new non-profit CPS Lives pairs members of Chicago’s creative community with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to support the Chicago Public School system’s mission to provide a high-quality, well-rounded education for every child in Chicago.  CPS Lives hosts their first virtual fundraiser, “What’s Next! A Benefit for CPS Lives,” May 5-12.  The fundraiser, a live and silent auction, featuring works by CPS Lives artists ends, on May 12 with a live panel discussion, “Getting Ready to Bloom: The Future of Art and Education.” 


Another new Chicago institution is Chicago Gamespace  — a gallery and museum, of sorts, dedicated to video games.   Its current exhibition, “Nom Nom: 40 years of Pac-Man Design and History,” runs through May 30. 


A Chicago institution close to my heart and my stomach is Dinkel’s Bakery in Lakeview, which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary next year.   I’ll have to make a pilgrimage there in celebration of the feast of Saint Honoré, the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, on May 16.  


I grew up in East Lakeview, which figures prominently in Rebecca Makkai’s “The Great Believers,” one of the New York Times’ ten best books of 2018.  She talks about her book with Tracy Baim, co-publisher of the Chicago Reader and co-founder and former publisher of Windy City Times, during this month’s Chicago Reader Book Club’s author talk on May 26. 


Matthew Barbot’s “The Venetians” streams May 8 and is available on demand May 10-16. Photo by  Oak Park Festival Theatre.


Matthew Barbot’s “The Venetians” streams May 8 and is available on demand May 10-16.   This collaboration between the Kane Repertory Theatre and Oak Park Festival Theatre is a cross between Shakespeare’s “Othello” and “The Merchant of Venice.”  Oak Park Festival Theatre plans to start in-person performances on July 15 with Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”


Theater, music, dance, video, and puppetry are all a part of “Reimaging Utopia,” the 9th annual Pivots Art Festival presented live at several indoor and outdoor locations May 21-June 6. 


On May 21, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra presents the first of its three “Fridays on the Farm” summer concerts at The Venue at Goebbert’s.  The “Fridays on the Farm: Four Seasons” program (performed at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM) includes Astor Piazzolla’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” and Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings, op 48” with Karen Gomyo on violin.


Farmers markets return – Yeah!  Six French Markets continue in the suburbs (Geneva, Glen Ellyn, Lisle, Western Springs, Wheaton and Wilmette) through the fall.  I attended kindergarten at Nettelhorst Elementary School in Lakeview.  The Nettelhorst French Market in front of the school is on Saturdays through October 30.  I’m looking forward to the Chicago City Markets when they open for the season. 


The Randolph Street Market moves to its new location in Three Oaks, Michigan and is open for five weekends this year starting May 29-30. Photo by Randolph Street Market.


The Randolph Street Market has been a popular place to shop for antiques, vintage clothing and jewelry.  It moves from the West Loop to its new location in Three Oaks, Michigan, this year for five weekends beginning May 29-30. 


Just as the coyotes are calming down at the end of May, the very loud mating call of the male 17-year cicada hits a crescendo around Memorial Day. 


Dates, times, locations and availability are subject to change.  Please stay healthy and safe and keep up with the latest COVID-19 information and guidelines.