Stay inside and get outside through the MCA’s ‘The Great Outdoors’ performance piece this weekend

For the New Eastside News

(Published March 20, 2019)

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago will present “The Great Outdoors,” a performance by writer-director Annie Dorsen that takes place within an inflatable dome on the theater stage where the public can stretch out on mats for a journey through ‘inner space.’

A lone performer, Kaija Matiss, reads aloud comments culled from internet discussion boards 4chan and Reddit in the past 24 hours, giving voice to the thoughts of countless individuals tapping away at their keyboards in isolation. With a unique stellar star show designed by Dorsen in collaboration with Ryan Holsopples, “The Great Outdoors” connects ideas of infinity and the unknown to today’s networked, hyper-connected technologies, and reflects on the cosmic nature of the internet. The Great Outdoors takes place at the MCA from Thursday to Saturday, March 21-23, at 7:30 p.m., with an additional 2 pm show on Sunday, March 24.

“The Great Outdoors” is a performance that changes each time it takes place, using a stream of that day’s internet comments that are fed through an algorithm produced by Dorsen herself. The algorithm sorts messages by their density, and operates independently of human intervention, delivering a flood of personal and collective thoughts that the artist calls the ‘internet’s id’ – a projection of ourselves unrestrained by ego, and protected by anonymity.

The Great Outdoors” invites audiences to consider the internet as both ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ space, at once a digital reflection of personal life and a connection to the world beyond the body and its physical location. Dorsen describes the internet as “a new Romantic landscape where we can go exploring, as explorers did in the nineteenth century.” As audiences imagine the internet’s infinite possibilities, musician Sébastien Roux mixes a live score on stage, experimenting with electronic and ambient sounds inspired by the theory that the universe is always expanding.

“The Great Outdoors”takes place in the Edlis Neeson Theater at the MCA and seating is limited. Tickets are $30 and can be reserved at www.mcachicago.org or by calling the box office at 312-397-4010.


Hidden New Eastside spots you need to know

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Bockwinkel’s

While Mariano’s might dominate the market scene of New Eastside, the area is actually home to three grocery stores. The Bockwinkel’s at the corner of Stetson and South Water St. is a favorite of many residents and office workers. The grocery chain has another location in the lower level of 155 N. Harbor Drive. You don’t need to be a resident to shop at this location, it’s accessible to the public and ultra-convenient.  

Need to mail something?

Descend to into the Pedway and visit the post office in the lower level of the Aon Center or ship via UPS in Swissotel or FedEx in One Pru.

Get same day passports

Fancy packing up and flying overseas tomorrow? Don’t let an expired passport slow you down. In New Eastside, you can get expedited passport services at Sameday Passport and Visa located at 180 N. Stetson Ave.

Swim Schools

Learning to swim in New Eastside is easy with a swim schools operated out of some righrise pools. Local instructors, like olympic qualifier Kathy Kelly of Swim with Kathy Chicago, teaches students in the Radisson Blu Hotel pool. The British Swim School holds lessons at 175 N. Harbor Drive. Both offer small group and private classes. For more information, visit britishswimschool.com or swkchicago.com

Shortcuts

New Eastside is full of quick and simple shortcuts. To skip the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue while traveling to Grant Park, take the stairs, located along Randolph, down to Columbus heading south. Try walking south via Columbus to get to the northern edge of Grant Park and Monroe Street. If the wind tunnel of Randolph is too much walking to Michigan Avenue, try cutting through the Aon Center courtyard between Stetson and Columbus—the buildings block the breeze.

Joffrey Ballet stuns audiences with ‘Anna Karenina’

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

The Joffrey Ballet brought to life Leo Tolstoy’s tragic love story “Anna Karenina” on Feb. 12 in an all-star production.

The ballet will run through Feb. 24.

Choreographed by Yuri Possokhov and composed by Ilya Demutsky, the Chicago Philharmonic performed the score, while Lindsay Metzger accompanied on vocals throughout the production.

The ballet begins with a man being run over by a train. The set design dazzled with a mix of projected media and ornate physical sets, reflecting Tsarist Russia. Anna and Vronsky meet for the first time at the Moscow train station and their immediate attraction palpable. Kitty is introduced at her home, in shades of pink, as Levin and other gentleman vie for her attention, but she is only interested in Vronsky’s impending arrival. Later, the company dances around Kitty as she fights for Vronsky’s attention, with dancers’ multicolored skirts brightening the stage. Anna, in an intricate black bedazzled dress, scandalously dances with Vronsky, dashing Kitty’s hope of a proposal from him.

The stately Karenin, Anna’s husband, is accompanied by robust brass instruments, as he meets his wife at the train station in St. Petersberg. Anna is reunited with her son at home, but domestic tranquility will not last as Anna rushes to Vronsky and their passionate affair begins with a languid and fervent pas de deux.

Anna and Vronsky run away together, but their affair soon sours. Heartbroken, Anna returns to her son and Karenin, but he banishes her forever, in an intricate dance between the three of them. Anna is distraught and undone, performing a frenetic and haunting solo before ultimately taking her life on the train tracks. The production ends, however, on a different note, with Kitty and Levin, now married, frolicking happily together in the countryside, surrounded by blue skies and yellow fields.

The performance is two hours long and runs Thursday through Sunday. For tickets and other information, visit the Joffrey Ballet online at joffrey.org/anna.

Where to go in New Eastside for Restaurant Week 2019

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Restaurant week began Jan. 25 and continues through Feb. 7. Participating restaurants offer a prix fixe menu at set prices. Lunch or brunch is $24 and dinner is priced at $36 and $48. New Eastside locations participating in this year’s Restaurant Week are:

·      About Last Knife: Lunch, Dinner

·      American Craft Kitchen (inside Hyatt Regency): Lunch

·      Columbus Tap: Dinner

·      Free Rein: Lunch, Dinner

·      III Forks: Dinner

·      LH on 21: Dinner

·      Mezcalina: Lunch, Dinner

·      The Mid-America Club: Dinner

·      The Palm: Lunch, Dinner

·      Tavern at the Park: Dinner

For more information on Restaurant Week and the restaurants involved, visit choosechicago.com

Old is OK in Skyline Village Chicago

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

At 76, Phyllis Mitzen is — in her words — an old woman. Others might use words such as elderly or mature but Mitzen does not.

Old is OK, she says, and so is aging, provided people have the right resources and this is where Skyline Village Chicago comes in.

As president of Skyline Village Chicago, an organization for older adults, Mitzen spends a lot of time thinking about aging. According to Village to Village Network, the concept of a “Virtual Village” is simple—an organization for older adults that provides access to services, fosters community relationships and does “anything [its] members need to age safely and successfully in their own homes.”

The Village model began in Boston over 15 years ago and has been spreading since. These organizations not only connect to other villages, but also connect members to each other.

Skyline Village Chicago is open to residents of Streeterville, the Gold Coast, River North and New Eastside. Mitzen said other villages in the Chicago area focus on providing access to services and transportation, the neighborhoods that Skyline Village covers tend to be “resource-rich,” meaning they have resources for the elderly.

Because of this, the Village focuses on socialization, so neighbors can get to know each other, Mitzen said. Through Skyline Village’s newsletter, residents find out about local news, event dates and life updates from members.

Mitzen’s favorite village event is the Women’s Salon, which meets monthly to talk about “what it means to grow old in our society.” She said it’s not a therapy group, but a place to share information, talk about ageism and come to an “active understanding of our aging selves.”

The village also has an advocacy group, Mitzen said, which advocates for senior issues. For instance, the group is working with the park district to discuss installing equipment for all ages in the city’s playgrounds, Mitzen said.

She added that “owning old” is something that comes up often in the Women’s Salon and something she tries to do every day.

“There are frailties, and people do become disabled when they grow older, but it shouldn’t mean that their voices aren’t as strong,” she said. “I’m happy to be able to do what I’m doing at age 76, and if I can’t do it when I’m age 80, I’ll still be an old woman who deserves respect.”

Streeterville activism might make Chicago a little quieter in 2019

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The New Year—and every year thereafter—should be a bit quieter for Chicago residents due to a noise ordinance that goes into effect Jan. 1.

In August 2018, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a noise ordinance allowing ambulance drivers to use their sirens only when necessary to warn pedestrians and drivers or in the case of medical emergencies. The law only applies to Illinois cities with populations greater than one million, so it applies in no other cities outside Chicago.

Before the new law went into effect, ambulances drivers were required to use sirens on the way to and from calls, regardless of traffic or pedestrians or whether it was a medical emergency. The law passed because of the efforts of Streeterville residents and Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), who sponsored the bill.

The representative said the law is a win for residents. “This bill is a critical measure addressing quality of life and safety for downtown residents, where excessive siren noise can cause erratic driving patterns and permanent hearing loss,” Mitchell said in an email. “The new law allows first responders the discretion to turn off their sirens on occasions when the patient or situation has stabilized.”

Residents, too, are excited. Debby Gershbein, president of the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, said the law is the result of SOAR activism. While she praised Northwestern as a world-class medical institution and for a time the only level-one trauma center in Chicago, she said the medical facility also led to a lot of noise. “The ambulance drivers were putting their sirens on even if it wasn’t an emergency and we decided we really had to do something about it,” she said. “We worked with the government and the fire department, and SOAR did surveys with other neighborhoods, and we found that the number one problem with noise for residents was sirens.”

Gershbein said the problem was near constant. “This is a quality of life issue where people were being interrupted 24 hours a day with the siren noise,” she said. “I think we’ve come to a good solution with the new law.”

Gershbein praised Mitchell as well as neighborhood aldermen Brian Hopkins and Brendan Reilly for their support. She said noise is more than a nuisance, and excessive noise can damage health.“There are physical impacts that occur when you’re exposed to loud sirens all the time. It wakes people up, and disturbed sleep is a really big health problem,” she said.

Gershbein said the SOAR group will continue to work for quality of life improvements, such as an ongoing greening effort, to improve the health of trees in the neighborhood. “In an urban environment it’s important to make sure we have as many trees as possible,” she said.

For more information, visit the group at soarchicago.org.

Joffrey Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ wows audiences, wins documentary award

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

 

Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker premiered Dec. 1 at the Auditorium Theater.

The production is an adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, but with a Chicago twist. The ballet takes place in Chicago during the building of the World’s Fair in 1892. The story follows the same plotline as the original Nutcracker, as the protagonist—who is named Marie—is led through a dreamland adventure.

The ballet maintains a dreamlike visage throughout. The production features eccentric dancers like The Great Impresario and the Rat Catcher, who both leave a lasting impression on the events of the play. The Great Impresario joins Marie’s family and the rest of the immigrant workers of the fair for a Christmas celebration, gifting Marie a Nutcracker. The juxtaposition between the simple family celebration in 1892 again an elaborate fantasy sequences amplifies the otherworldly grandeur.

The set design features a combination of real elements and projections, creating elaborate and believable scenery. The staging is especially breathtaking during a frozen scene with a company of dancers in ice blue costumes, as snow falls from above, both digitally and physically. Once The Great Impresario takes Marie and to rescue her kidnapped brother from The Rat King, they are transported to The Dream Fair. There, the Queen of the Fair and groups of dancers from around the world are introduced. The audience was particularly impressed by the complex pas de deux with Arabian Dancers. The Great Impresario’s elegant and precise dance with The Queen of the Fair also received great praise. Child dancers were also applauded as mini Nutcrackers and mini walnuts.

Award winning design

Cara Marie Gary with The Joffrey Ballet. Photo by Cheryl Mann

The design is so good, it is the subject of an award-winning documentary, Making a New American Nutcracker, produced by WTTW and The Joffrey Ballet.

The documentary was honored in November with a 2018 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award in the category of Best Documentary, Cultural.

Making a New American Nutcracker—which premiered in 2017 on WTTW11 and the companion website—was also offered to PBS stations nationwide for the upcoming holiday season.

“It was an unforgettable and inspiring experience to work with the talented people at the Joffrey on this unique production, which preserved the magical quality of the original story while also shining a spotlight on the vital role that local immigrants played in the creation of the Fair,” said Andries.

The documentary will return to WTTW11 and WTTW Prime during the holiday season beginning Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. The documentary can also be viewed at any time through the PBS/WTTW video app or on wttw.com.

All alone on Turkey Day with so much to do

In Chicago there is plenty to do on Thanksgiving, even if you are alone. Between the parade, the games, the shopping and movies, there is a full day of activities waiting.

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

At one time, Thanksgiving was a day for families to come together over food and enjoy each other’s company. These days, that’s not necessarily true for everyone. The holiday can be fun for the solo celebrant because Thanksgiving Day is as much a public holiday as it is a private holiday.

 

If you are alone, Thanksgiving could be a great opportunity to spend time catching up on reading, binging TV shows, going for a nature walk or doing whatever else you might want to do by yourself. But, for those who want company, you don’t have to spend the holiday alone.  These days, plenty of restaurants, bars, movie theaters and retail stores take advantage of the holiday and open their doors, so you will really only be as alone as you want to be.

 

First, if you have friends you know will be free, pick up the phone and call them. Don’t be afraid to set up a day for you and all your friends who couldn’t—or didn’t want to— leave the city to see their families.

 

Or don’t. Feel free to pamper yourself with a solo self care day; it is, after all, a holiday.

 

If you’re the athletic sort, join the flock and do the Turkey Trot, Chicago’s annual five or eight kilometer race. To avoid late fees, register as soon as possible www.turkeytrotchicago.com.

 

If standing still is more your style, don’t miss the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. The parade winds its way along State Street from Congress to Randolph. If you plan to see it live, get there before 7 a.m. to find a good spot and expect to stay through 11 a.m. if you want to catch the whole thing.

 

Once the parade ends, you will have several options for turkey day fun.

 

If you’re a sports fan (well, a football fan to be precise) then you have one goal—catch the game. There’s no need to sit at home and watch television,  as plenty of bars will be available for the Bears versus Lions game at 11:30 p.m. ET. In the afternoon, stick around for the Cowboys versus Redskins, and if you want to make a whole day of it, don’t miss the Falcons versus Saints, kickoff scheduled for 7:20 p.m.

 

Not a sports fan? Entertain yourself by dining out. Plenty of restaurants will be open the day of Thanksgiving, so if you don’t feel like cooking for yourself, don’t sweat it. For a full listing of what is available, check out the website www.opentable.com.

 

By the time the afternoon rolls around, you might be feeling ready to relax. Good news! Hollywood typically releases some of its most anticipated offerings in late November, and this year is no exception.

 

Opening the week of Thanksgiving, get ready for Creed II, Ralph Breaks the Internet or Robin Hood, an action movie based on the famous legend of English folklore. Want something a little subtler than a big blockbuster? How about The Front Runner, Jason Reitman’s chronicle of Gary Hart’s doomed presidential campaign, or Peter Farrelly’s The Green Book, the highly anticipated period drama set in the Jim Crow-era South. Finally, if Thanksgiving kicks off your Christmas spirit, check out The Christmas Chronicles, the first Christmas film of the season, opening Thanksgiving Day.

 

And of course,there is always retail therapy. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for someone else, there are plenty of opportunities Thanksgiving Day. Want something traditional? Check out the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza, open Thanksgiving Day from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Grab a glass of Gühwein and browse handmade wonders from around the world. Want something a little more name-brand? Wander down the Mag Mile and enjoy early Black Friday sales on your favorite merchandise.

 

If service is more your speed, there are homeless shelters and food pantries all over the city that need volunteers. Go online, find a nearby venue and spend your turkey day doing good.

Navy Pier art warns of human-sized asteroid

By Jesse Wright |

Staff Writer

Published October 1, 2018

Of all the art celebrated in EXPO CHICAGO, the Navy Pier’s annual international arts event, perhaps none is as relevant and as chilling as Justin Brice Guariglia’s We Are the Asteroid II.

The eponymous asteroid refers to two things—first, the literal asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs and three-quarters of plants and animals on earth—and it refers to the current mass extinction event precipitated by mankind, the second and proverbial asteroid.

Guariglia lived for years in Asia and while there he spent time as an artist and photojournalist documenting environmental change there as developing countries lurched into the modern era complete with carbon pollution and environmental havoc. Over time, Guariglia said his work began to focus on environmental issues and his latest piece, which will remain near the Ferris wheel through the end of November, is a stark warning of what mankind has wrought.

Guariglia has set up a series of sandblasted highway LED signs that remind visitors “Don’t eco shop, eco vote,” and “Triassic weather ahead.”

“We need to think ecologically about what we’re doing. And that’s what the project is about,” Guariglia said.

But thinking ecologically, Guariglia adds, is more than recycling and buying a Prius. It means thinking about a world that will soon be radically different than it has been for millions of years. It means looking at the whole earth and what humans are doing to it. This isn’t an easy thing to do, and Guariglia said it’s not something most people are well equipped to do.

“There’s a 110,000 year old ice sheet in Greenland,” Guariglia said. “What the hell is 110,000 years? There is a very large ontological gap. There’s a disconnect between us and the natural world which is also all around us. And we’ve dislocated ourselves from around it. The goal of this project is for us to think ecologically.”

Guariglia might be the only artist in EXPO CHICAGO who uses the term athropocene, but it’s a common term among climate and earth scientists who use the word to describe the modern geologic epoch—a time period noted by human impact over the climate and the earth. This impact is the asteroid, Guariglia believes, and most people are ignoring it.
His highway warning signs are meant to be taken literally.

“We’re in the middle of the sixth extinction,” he said. “Whether you believe humans are doing it or not, that’s fine. The reality is, it’s happening. … it has to be discussed. It was left out of all the presidential debates and its something that’s convenient to ignore. Unless you live in North Carolina or Hong Kong or Puerto Rico, unless it’s coming down on you, it’s easy to think someone else has to deal with this.

“We’ll go and eco shop, but it’s almost the equivalent of jumping up and down in front of the television while our sports team is trying to score a goal on TV. It has the same effect. It’s a moot point.”

Guariglia’s art can be seen for free along the Navy Pier.

EXPO CHICAGO brings top international art to Navy Pier

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

September 4, 2018

Artists, critics, collectors and connoisseurs will converge on Chicago this month for the seventh annual EXPO CHICAGO at the Navy Pier.

The international Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art will run Sept. 27–30 and will showcase the work of artists from 63 cities in 27 countries.

The international work was chosen by world-renowned gallerists including Chicago’s own Kavi Gupta, Rhona Hoffman, John Corbett and Jim Dempsey. Eleven Chicago galleries will be included, along- side art from cities like Seoul, Cape Town, Paris, Athens and Singapore.

“With over 3,000 international artists represented, there will be a wide variety of artwork for sale at EXPO CHICAGO this year,” said Tony Karman, President and Director of the EXPO.

The annual EXPO CHICAGO will unveil hundreds of top art pieces for audiences at Navy Pier. Photo courtesy of EXPO CHICAGO

“Most importantly, the artwork is always provocative. Whether it is evocative of sheer beauty or challenging in its content, the artwork presented at this year’s fair will do what contemporary artwork has always done—capture the moment and reflect what is happening in the world today,” Karman said.“That is what I always look forward to.”

This year, the EXPO will feature four sections of exhibits.

The “Exposure” section will give new artists a chance to shine with exhibits that will feature presentations from galleries that have been around for eight or fewer
years.

The “Profile” exhibits will focus on more established galleries and will present solo booths, focusing on major projects artists. The “Editions and Books” exhibit will showcase limited editions and publications by established and emerging artists. The “Special Exhibitions” will focus on non-profits based locally, nationally and internationally, including 11 Chicago-based organizations, like the Hyde Park Art Center and the University of Chicago Department of Visual Arts.

Karman said the Profile section of solo artists projects will be a definite highlight this year, along with the curated programmatic sections In/SITU and EXPO Video.

The EXPO will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 27–30 and and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 30.

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