By Philip Vidal
A celebrated New Yorker, Fran Lebowitz, says that the outdoors is the distance from your apartment to a taxi cab, but there is certainly a true “great outdoors,” and it’s the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. There you can see great wooden trolls created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo for his first large-scale outdoor installation entitled “Troll Hunt.” Start looking for the trolls June 22, but they shouldn’t be hard to find. They’re 15 to 20 feet tall.
Outdoor farmers markets did not exist when I was growing up in Chicago. Now they are all over the city. A few farmers markets started in May, but they really multiply in June. Just a couple that begin this month are the Wicker Park Farmers Market, every Sunday at 1425 N. Damen (June 3 – October 28), and the Glenwood Sunday Farmers Market, every Sunday on Glenwood between Morse and Lunt (June 3-October 28). I remember when you went to the Jewel to get lettuce, and iceberg lettuce was usually the only choice. How lucky we are to have such a wide array of produce available.
Continuing the outdoor theme, the Gene Siskel Film Center is showing the Chicago premiere of “Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf” (June 15-21). Garden designer Piet Oudolf planned the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, as well as Manhattan’s High Line and Battery Gardens.
Millennium Park is the site of several outdoor music events. The 35th annual Chicago Blues Festival is June 8-10 in Millennium Park. Opening night is the “65th Anniversary of Delmark Records Celebration,” the Chicago-based label founded by Bob Koester. Don’t forget to check out the terrific exhibit at the Chicago History Museum, “Amplified: Chicago Blues,” through August 10.
The 84th annual Grant Park Music Festival (June 13-August 18), the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, kicks off with “Haydn and Walton” featuring baritone Dashon Burton on June 13 (and repeated June 16). Tuesdays on the Terrace, free weekly outdoor live jazz performances on the Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago start June 5. Outdoor concerts at Colonel Robert R. McCormick’s estate Cantigny, in Wheaton, continue through September 3. The Winnetka Music Festival, June 15-16, featuring emerging musicians, is mostly outdoors. And of course, there’s Ravinia in Highland Park (through September 16). This month’s line-up includes Anita Baker on June 10, Jackson Browne on June 15, and “Roger Daltrey Plays Tommy” on June 23 and 25. Janis Ian performs on June 24. Her “Between the Lines” album was one of the first records I purchased back in 1975.
The 22nd annual SummerDance is an outdoor dance festival at the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, Thursdays through Sundays, that will give you a chance to kick up your heels or just watch the pros do it, June 28-August 25.
Among the many outdoor theater events, the Oak Park Festival Theatre’s production of the Kaufmann and Hart comedy, “You Can’t Take It With You” at Austin Gardens, June 14-July 22, looks like a great way to spend an evening.
Outdoor art festival season is upon us too. The 57th Street Art Fair, June 2-3, kicks off the season. Going strong for 70 years, it is the Midwest’s oldest juried art fair. The Old Town Art Fair is the following weekend, June 9-10.
What would summer in Chicago be without an outdoor food festival? Just one of many food-focused festivals around Chicago is the 20th annual Ribfest Chicago, June 8-10 at Lincoln, Irving Park and Damen, which features great live music in addition to great ribs.
It’s billed as an outdoor literary festival, but the Chicago Tribune 34th annual Printers Row Lit Fest will also include a food and dining stage featuring some of Chicago’s top chefs such as Rick Bayless, Sarah Gruenberg, Stephanie Izzard, Paul Kahan and Bill Kim. The fest will have hundreds of booksellers and authors including Joyce Carol Oates, Fredrick Backman, and artist Chris Ware, June 9-10.
Indoor music and dance events are starting to wind down. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago closes its 40th season at the Harris Theater, June 7-10, featuring the premiere of a full-length work “Decadence/Chicago.” As part of its “Made in Chicago” series, Giordano Dance Chicago wraps up its 55th season with a performance at the Auditorium Theatre, June 9. But the summer Rush Hour Concerts are just beginning at St. James Cathedral. They start June 5 and continue through August 28. A pre-concert conversation starts at 5:15 PM followed by a 30-minute concert at 5:45 PM.
The 8th annual North Shore Chamber Music Festival returns to the Village Presbyterian Church in Northfield, June 13, 15 and 16. It was such a hit last year, that the The Opera for All Student Showcase “Hello World” returns this year to the Studebaker Theater. Under the wing of Chicago Opera Theater, students from eleven Chicago Public (CPS) schools will perform a work they’ve written, June 13 at noon.
CPS students might be just starting their careers in the arts, but Paul Simon is wrapping up his long career with “Paul Simon Homeward Bound: The Farewell Tour,” on June 6 at the United Center. Cher has had many farewell tours. The next in a long list of Broadway-bound musicals testing the waters in Chicago is “The Cher Show” June 12-July 15, Oriental Theatre. Although it doesn’t actually star Cher, it does feature Bob Mackie’s costumes which were as much a part of Cher’s performances as the pop icon herself. Bob Mackie also designed the costumes for Carol Burnett. He designed the memorable “I saw it in a window…” gown for Carol Burnett’s “Gone with the Wind” skit. Carol Burnett returns to Chicago in “An Evening of Laughter and Reflection” June 12 and 13, The Chicago Theatre. Ms. Burnett also has a new Netflix series, “A Little Help With Carol Burnett.” Oak Park native, comedienne, Kathy Griffin, returns to her roots with her “Laugh Your Head Off World Tour” June 28, The Chicago Theatre.
Speaking of comediennes, comedy scholars Anne Libera and Grace Overbeke discuss the “Women of Jewish Comedy” and their impact on American humor “from Fanny Brice to Joan Rivers to Sarah Silverman” at the Spertus Institute on June 3. Brice was a star of the Ziegfeld Follies, which was before my time, but I certainly remember Barbra Streisand’s portrayal of Brice in “Funny Girl.” To this day, I still can’t watch “Swan Lake” without cracking up thinking of Brice’s version. Florenz Ziegfield Jr. who founded the follies was born and raised in Chicago.
The benefit and gala season slows down during summer, but not before actor Ethan Hawke is honored at the Gene Siskel Film Center gala on June 7 at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago. Hawke is receiving terrific reviews for his role in the new film “First Reformed.” The theme of the Alliance Française of Chicago Women’s Board’s biennial gala is “Versailles en Scene,” which will take place on the stage of the Civic Opera House, June 9. The 44th annual Forefront luncheon is June 26 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama; Maria Teresa Kumar, founding executive director of Voto Latino; and David Hiller, and president and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation will discuss civic activism.
Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei’s installation of Lego brick portraits of activists has already been seen at Alcatraz in San Francisco and at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. The Chicago installation “Ai Weiwei: Trace in Chicago” featuring 113 portraits of activists and digital kiosks to tell their stories continues through June 30 at Alphawood Exhibitions, 659 W. Wrightwood. Reservations are required.
“Home” seems to be a reoccurring theme this month. “A Home for Surrealism: Fantastic Painting in Midcentury Chicago,” an exhibition that is part of Art Design Chicago at the Arts Club of Chicago (June 7 – August 22), features works by Chicago artists including Gertrude Abercrombie. “Gertrude Abercrombie: Portrait of the Artist as a Landscape” continues through June 10 at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. The Chicago Artists Coalition has a new home at 2130 W. Fulton and will celebrate with its annual “Work in Progress” benefit there on June 7.
The term detached home has new meaning at the Elmhurst Art Museum. Mies Van der Rohe’s 1952 McCormick home which was moved, attached and incorporated into the museum in 1997 has been detached. To celebrate the separation and the museum’s restoration, the museum commissioned Barry Bergdoll, architecture and design curator of New York’s MOMA, to organize an exhibition “Mies’ McCormick House Revealed: New Views.” In conjunction the renovation is Inigo Manglano-Ovalle’s architectural installation “Untitled Film (Red),” June 10-August 26.
June marks the end of “Our Miss Brooks: A Centennial Celebration (OMB100).” Poet Gwendolyn Brooks was born June 7, 1917 and grew up on the South Side. At various locations featuring readings, performances, exhibits, most free and open to the public.
Dates, times, and availability are subject to change.