By Philip Vidal
Chinese New Year is February 16, a day by which all debts, personal and public, should be settled. The Chicago Chinese New Year/The Year of the Dog citywide celebration includes parades, special events and performances, from February 16-March 4.
The first major Chinese exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in fifteen years, “Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and Their Bronzes,” opens February 24 to members. Tao Wang, Pritzker Chair of Asian Art and Curator of Chinese Art and Executive Director of Initiatives in Asia, has assembled approximately 180 exquisite objects from public and private collections in the U.S., and museums in Beijing and Shanghai. I have said it before: A show like this will never be assembled again. So see it now. Through May 13.
I am anxious to see the ink paintings created for the Art Institute by artist Xu Longsen. His “Light of Heaven” installation can be seen throughout the Asian galleries at the Art Institute, February 1-June 24. Monumental in concept and scale, this is a “must see” exhibition.
Continuing our Asian theme is the orchid show at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, “Asia in Bloom.” This annual show is always a welcome relief from Chicago’s frigid, gray and dry February weather. February 10-March 25.
Games of the XXIII Winter Olympiad will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 9-25, but closer to home there’s ice skating at “Winterland at the Park” at thePark at Wrigley through February 25, and at the Chicago Park District outdoor ice rinks.
Dance also requires extraordinary athleticism…Joffrey Ballet’s “Modern Masters” features works by the Joffrey’s ballet master Nicholas Blanc, as well as Myles Thatcher, George Balanchine and Jerome Robins (it’s the 100th anniversary of his birth), at the Auditorium, February 7-18.
American Ballet Theatre (ABT) returns to Chicago’s Harris Theater, February 21-25. Highlights include “Celebrate the Harris: 2018 Gala” on opening night. The first African American female principal dancer with ABT, Misty Copeland, makes her Harris Theater debut, and “ABTKids,” a one-hour performance, introduces a new generation to dance. ABTKids is 2:00 pm on February 24.
He won’t be dancing in this role, but former ballet superstar and ABT artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov performs in the Chicago premiere of the one-man play “Brodsky/Baryshnikov,” based on the poems of Joseph Brodsky, at the Harris Theater, February 2-4. It will be performed in Russian with English subtitles.
To get you in the mood for St. Patrick’s Day, “Dublin Irish Dance Arts Center: Stepping Out” will be at the McAninch Art Center at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn on February 11, and the Irish dance group Riverdance will stage Riverdance, 20th anniversary world tour at the Rosemont Theatre, Feb 23 and 24. Chicagoan Michael Flatley was involved in the creation and choreography of the original “Riverdance.”
In January, Chicago Restaurant Week showcased Chicago’s vital restaurant scene. In February we have Chicago Theatre Week. Chicagoland theatres will offer reduced-priced tickets from February 8-18. In advance of Chicago Theatre Week, my good friend Doris Timmen invited me to see “Blind Date” at the Goodman Theatre. No, it’s not about an actual blind date, but about a meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Two of my favorite local actresses are in the show; Deanna Dunagan plays Nancy Reagan and Mary Beth Fisher plays Raisa Gorbachev, through February 25.
Gary Griffin directs the world premiere of Keith Huff’s “Six Corners,” “a Chicago crime story” at American Blues Theater at Stage 773, February 16-March 25. Chicago has many so-called six corners, where three streets intersect, so I’m not sure which six corners is featured in this play. When I was growing up, my parents would take me and my sisters to the Sears store at Six Corners – the intersection of Irving Park Road, Cicero Avenue and Milwaukee Avenue. That store is now the last Sears location in Chicago proper.
My father would also take me and my sisters to the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place. At some time before we’d leave, my father would threaten to send us to the Audy Home, aka the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, if we didn’t behave. One of the hazards of the show was the dreaded static shock. The dry air during the depths of Chicago’s winters, wool clothing and metal cars can be an electric combination. The 110th annual Chicago Auto Show is at McCormick Place, February 10-19. The black-tie First Look for Charity is February 9. The Chicago Motorcycle Show is February 9-11 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.
Another kind of electricity will also be in the air. Valentine’s Day is February 14 and concerts and performances abound to foster a romantic mood:
- Rembrandt Chamber Musicians perform “Trios from the Heart” at St. James Cathedral, Chicago, and Nichols Concert Hall, Evanston, February 9 and 11;
- Chicago a cappela performs “Love Stories” in Evanston, Hyde Park, Oak Park & Naperville, Feb 10, 11, 16 and 17;
- Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to “Phantom of the Opera,” “Love Never Dies,” is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, Feb 14-March 4;
- The Newberry Consort performs “Forbidden Love: The Passion of Heloise & Abelard” at the Newberry Library, The Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, and the Galvin Recital Hall at Northwestern University, February 16, 17, and 18.
All of these concerts may not be enough to bring everyone around. I recently surveyed the art collection in my high rise. When I got to Robert Indiana’s iconic “Love,” a woman in fuzzy slippers and a pink housecoat popped out of her apartment. After establishing my credentials as her neighbor, she asked if we could exchange the artwork on our respective floors. She no longer wanted to be confronted with “Love, Love, Love” whenever she left her apartment.
Love gone bad is perhaps the theme of the world-premiere of “Elizabeth Cree.” Chicago Opera Theater stages this opera billed as a “murder mystery thriller” about a woman on trial for the murder of her husband. February 10, 16 and 18 at the Studebaker Theater.
Love can also be a wet nose nudging you…. One of my favorite February events, and just in time to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Dog, is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, February 12 and 13.
I think I have worn out the grooves on my 1973 Led Zeppelin “Houses of the Holy” album. Former Led Zeppelin front-man Robert Plant returns with a sold-out show “Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters,” at the Riviera Theatre, February 20. The former members of Led Zeppelin are working on an illustrated book to commemorate their 50th anniversary.
If Handel is more your style, Handel Week Festival Concerts are at Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park, February 11, February 24 and March 4.
Lyric Opera’s “Choir! Choir! Choir!” sounds like a fun, family-friendly evening. You’re given lyrics, then organized by voice, learn a few harmonies and then it’s time to sing, sing, sing! February 23.
The 58th annual UChicago Folk Festival takes place at the University of Chicago’s Mandel Hall on February 9 and 10. The Chicago-based surrealist artist Gertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977) may well have taken inspiration from one of these festivals. Abercrombie was dubbed the “queen of the bohemian artists.” Her work is in the Art Institute, and the Elmhurst Art Museum is now featuring “Gertrude Abercrombie: Portrait of the Artist as a Landscape,” which closes on March 4. Abercrombie is also one of the artists featured in an exhibition at the Arts Club of Chicago, “A Home for Surrealism,” June 7-August 22.
Architects and designers are creative and talented by nature, but their work confines them in certain ways. An intriguing exhibit entitled “Outside the Practice: Artworks Created by Architects and Designers” shows how Chicago’s architects and designers express themselves through drawings, paintings, photography, sculpture and other media. Bridgeport Art Center’s Fourth Floor Gallery through March 2.
If you can’t attend Vienna’s world-famous Opera Ball on February 8, a bit of Vienna comes to Chicago when the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performs “Vienna to Hollywood,” a concert featuring works by Schubert and Korngold at the Harris Theater on February 28.
And if you can’t attend the Oscars in Hollywood on March 4, the “Hollywood on State” party at the Gene Siskel Film Center is a good substitute. And TV stars from “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Fire,” and “Chicago P.D.” will be in town that weekend at the Chicago Heroes Event at Navy Pier, March 3-4.
March opens with “Beautiful/Night,” the School of the Art Institute’s first alumni and faculty art auction to support student scholarships, at Mana Contemporary in Pilsen, March 2. The auction goes live on Paddle8’s website, paddle8.com, on February 15.
Dates, times and availability are subject to change.