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National Veterans Art Museum (map)
4041 N. Milwaukee, second floor
*REGION UNDEFINED
phone 312-326-0270
info@nvam.org

1004 Portraits

Ongoing

Whenever the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa is in Chicago, the first place he stops is the northeast corner of Michigan and Monroe. When he arrives there this week, it will be to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Millennium Park and his famed Crown Fountain—and to attend the openings of a pair of exhibits of his head sculptures in the park and at Richard Gray Gallery. Over the phone from Germany, where two solo shows of his work are being held this summer, Plensa describes the urge to visit Crown Fountain as a sort of impulsive pilgrimage of reassurance. "I feel every time I have to go check to see if it's still there," he says. "to make sure that it wasn't just a dream." Plensa's lingering insecurity a decade after the debut of a piece of public art that has since been cemented, along with Anish Kapoor's adjacent Cloud Gate, as a neo Chicago icon stems from the fact that his vision easily could've gone unrealized. At the dawn of the planning for Millennium Park, years before hordes of children began cooling themselves in the spit of the twin 50-foot towers of glass brick and LEDs, it seemed the only person who completely believed in Jaume Plensa's concept for Crown Fountain was Jaume Plensa. Almost as soon as the artist submitted his first sketches, the work became a source of uncertainty for the project's stakeholders. Cloud Gate, as a neo Chicago icon stems from the fact that his vision easily could've gone unrealized. At the dawn of the planning for Millennium Park, years before hordes of children began cooling themselves in the spit of the twin 50-foot towers of glass brick and LEDs, it seemed the only person who completely believed in Jaume Plensa's concept for Crown Fountain was Jaume Plensa. Almost as soon as the artist submitted his first sketches, the work became a source of uncertainty for the project's stakeholders. Continue reading >>">Continue reading >>

Millennium Park (map)
Michigan and Randolph
Loop
phone 312-742-1169
1004 Portraits

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1979

2/28-3/21: Sat 7:30 PM

A sketch show from Pinque Pony about the year before the 1980s hit. $18

Under the Gun Theater (map)
956 W. Newport
Lakeview
phone 773-270-3440

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Accidentally Like a Martyr

Through 3/1: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM

Grant James Varjas's 2011 drama takes place in a shitty little gay bar a few nights before Christmas. The prickly regulars have aged out of the target demographic of hipper spots, meaning they’ve had time to learn something about loss, loneliness, and regret. Not that the mood is dour. As at many dives, the pendulum swings from fun to sad and back again several times in one evening. Varjas’s evident compassion for his flawed characters is beautifully complemented in Shade Murray’s staging by the sensitive and detailed performances of the cast, especially Layne Manzer as a desperate cokehead and Steve Haggard as a rare under-30 visitor. The rundown bar and its seedy atmosphere are captured with precision by Murray and set designer John Holt. —Zac Thompson $30-$35

A Red Orchid Theatre (map)
1531 N. Wells St.
Old Town
phone 312-943-8722

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The Addams Family

Through 4/5: Wed 7:30 PM, Thu-Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 3 PM; also Sun 2/15 and 2/22, 7 PM; Thu 3/5-4/2, 3 PM

There's nothing new about this "new musical comedy" based on characters from Charles Addams's iconic New Yorker cartoons. The plot is lifted right from Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's You Can’t Take It With You: daughter of eccentric family brings boyfriend’s straitlaced parents home for dinner; comedy ensues. Or it should, but doesn't, because the show's creators (Andrew Lippa did the music and lyrics, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice the book) seem to think it's enough to reprise all the familiar jokes and Addams family oddities. Worse yet, they spend the second act careening from one plot to another, giving each short shrift. Director L. Walter Stearns does what he can, helped by an adept cast of singer-comedians—Karl Hamilton is quite charming as Gomez, and Harter Clingman repeatedly steals the show as Uncle Fester. But it's hard to wow an audience with a production that grows tiresome a good long time before the final curtain. —Jack Helbig $25-$65

Mercury Theater (map)
3745 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-325-1700

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Alteregos: Artists from the Conservation Center

2/20-3/7

A group show that features the artistic work of the staff of Chicago's Conservation Center. Reception Fri 2/20, 6-9 PM.

Packer Schopf Gallery (map)
942 W. Lake St.
West Loop/Fulton Market
phone 312-226-8984

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Elbo Room (map)
2871 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-549-5549

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American Moments: The Legacy of Greek Immigration

Ongoing

The National Hellenic Museum celebrates its one-year anniversary with the opening of an exhibit chronicling the history of Greeks in America.

National Hellenic Museum (map)
801 W. Adams St.
Greektown
phone 312-655-1234

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The Ancient Americas

Ongoing

Artifacts from between the Arctic and the tip of South America highlighting 13,000 years of survivor skills utilized by the early Pueblo communities of the American southwest, the Incas of South America, and other cultures throughout the hemisphere.

Field Museum (map)
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Museum Campus
phone 312-922-9410

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Animal Tricks

1/30-2/28

Work by Colombian street artist Stinkfish and his crew, Animales Poder Cultura. Reception Fri 1/30, 6-10 PM.

Galerie F (map)
2381 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Logan Square
phone 773-819-9200

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Aragon Ballroom (map)
1106 W. Lawrence Ave.
Uptown
phone 773-561-9500 or 866-448-7849

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Apes of Wrath

Open run: Tue-Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM, Sun 7 PM

The six spritely, mercurial, wholly engaging performers behind Second City E.T.C.'s Apes of Wrath work overtime to make their show appear to be about something. But just what remains a mystery. And an unnecessary one at that. Press materials describe the two-hour sketch comedy review in vaguely dystopic terms. "In the world of high stakes, we become a more heightened version of ourselves," the PR asserts, "which can sometimes resemble more simian behavior than human." Despite the syntactical tangle, the point seems clear: this will be a series of skits about our baser selves, in which "the dark and light sides of our human devolution" will be showcased. Except for the most part, they're not. Unitard-clad performance artists improvise poetry about the World Cup and cigarettes for inmates at Louisiana State Prison. The Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies, on a collision course, seduce each other by singing about their impending billion-night stand. The attention-span-challenged BuzzFeed staff try to concoct daily lists with social significance, like "The 15 Vegetables That Don't Make Me Greenhouse Gassy." Continue reading >> $23

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Second City E.T.C. (map)
Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells St.
Old Town
phone 312-337-3992
Apes of Wrath

The Apple Family Plays: That Hopey Changey Thing and Sorry

Through 4/19: Wed-Thu 7:30 PM (except Wed 2/18 and Thu 4/2, 8:30 PM), Fri 8 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM; also Sun 3/15, 3/29, and 4/12, 6 PM; Tue 4/14, 7:30 PM

Richard Nelson's Apple Family plays center on four adult siblings and their elderly Uncle Benjamin. In That Hopey Changey Thing, the family gathers for dinner on Election Day 2010; Sorry takes place two years later, on the day Benjamin is to be checked into a retirement home. Both plays (there are two more in the series, though they’re not being performed here) feature long debates on politics and American mores, but the atmosphere owes less to Crossfire than the funny-sad humanism of Chekhov, whose Three Sisters is an obvious influence. In Louis Contey's perceptive staging, the script is matched in intelligence and feeling by an excellent cast that includes Janet Ulrich Brooks as the stalwart eldest sister and Mike Nussbaum as poor, muddled Benjamin. —Zac Thompson $35

TimeLine Theatre Company (map)
Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, Baird Hall Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-281-8463
The Apple Family Plays: <i>That Hopey Changey Thing</i> and <i>Sorry</i>

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The Art of Disappearing

Through 2/28: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 5 and 8:30 PM

Many fictional depictions of Alzheimer’s cases don’t do much more than catalog symptoms and dispense platitudes (looking at you, Still Alice). But playwright Stephanie Alison Walker manages to avoid those drama-killing pitfalls in her portrait of Charlotte, a strong-willed North Shore woman (played with an icy smile by Joan Kohn) who’s in the early stages of dementia. Walker never suggests that Charlotte is defined or ennobled by her illness; she has the same flaws before and after her diagnosis. Charlotte’s estrangement from her adult daughter, Melissa, the play’s other central character, is handled less effectively—for starters, Walker never tells us what the bone of contention is. Ann Filmer’s fluid staging, which alternately feels naturalistic and dreamlike, deftly mimics Charlotte’s mental state without getting overblown. —Zac Thompson $18

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The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery

Ongoing

Like many of us, Ted Geisel felt unfulfilled by his day job. Does it matter that, as Dr. Seuss, Geisel produced some of the world's most beloved picture books and introduced generations of children to the pleasures of reading? For the sake of his young audience, Dr. Seuss had to keep his drawings simple and his color palette limited. But before he'd gone to work as a commercial illustrator, Geisel had trained as a fine artist. So late at night, he painted. He experimented with color and style and more adult themes. He hung his "midnight paintings" in his house in La Jolla, California, but didn't want them released into the world while he was still alive. Continue reading >>

Water Tower Place (map)
835 North Michigan Avenue
Other North The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery

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