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Orchid Show Returns to Chicago Botanic Garden

Posted on March 4th, 2015 by

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Sure the weather outside doesn’t bring thoughts of flora, but Spring is right around the corner. Right? Anyways, you’ll definitely feel Spring when you head to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Orchid Show.

The Orchid Show will feature over 10,000 orchids in the warm Regenstein Center Greenhouses and Galleries of the Chicago Botanic Garden. Visitors will be welcomed by colorful arches of orchids along with orchids wrapped around trees, columns, and suspended from structures. This is one chance where you do not want to leave your camera at home.

This year the show will focus on vanilla, which many forget that besides being an ingredient actually comes from an orchid. The show will cover its history and process from plant to bottle. In addition, the garden will be providing live music on certain mornings, a marketplace to buy orchid and orchid-related material, and orchid-themed classes and competitions.

The Orchid Show will run through March 15 at the Chicago Botanic Garden located at 1000 Lake Cook Rd. Glencoe, IL. For tickets and more information visit chicagobotanic.org/orchid.

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3 Mussel Dishes Worth Bathing In

Posted on March 4th, 2015 by

Mussels are a great dish to have in cold weather because the delicious broth usually used to cook them keeps you warm but the actual mussels make it feel like light fare. Chicago’s restaurants really know how to prepare them and these are three that keep us coming back for more.

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Maude’s Liquor Bar in the West Loop may be hard to spot with its simple sign painted that says Maude’s, but it is absolutely worth the effort to find because everything hiding behind that sign and black wall is pure culinary gold especially their mussels. Being a French restaurant their mussels fall in their almost-French side of the menu and they are served in a white wine and pastis broth with celery root, fine herbs and a baguette. The mussels are steamed to perfections but when you find a piece of bacon that’s been swimming in the broth and take a bite it is like flavor bomb going off in your mouth.
Maude’s Liquor Bar
840 W. Randolph St.

 

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Fairly new to the Mercat a la Planxa menu is the most unassuming yet one of their most delicious dishes of all—zarzuela de mejillos. This PEI mussel dish is cooked in a sherry broth with tomato and fennel and served with ciabatta bread and provencal aioli. The mussels were cooked perfectly, but the star is the broth. The aioli should probably be used to spread on the ciabatta, but I completely ignored it and used the bread to sop up the remaining broth. So rich in flavor, I would be lying if I didn’t fantasize about bathing in a tub of it. Don’t be hesitant to ask for more bread for sopping. I sure wasn’t.
Mercat a la Planxa
638 S. Michigan Ave.

 

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Dryhop Brewers is known for their excellent beer selection, but as soon as you visit you’ll realize that their food is definitely not an afterthought. While they do have delicious burgers that go well with their beer, Dryhop goes above that with dishes like their green curry mussels served with coconut milk and cilantro. This is much spicier than the mussel dishes mentioned above but so good that the spice is a welcomed buddy on this journey of mussel majesty.
Dryhop Brewers
3155 N. Broadway St.

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Relive the ’80s with “For The Record Presents Dear John Hughes”

Posted on March 4th, 2015 by

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There is no decade like the 1980s, and whenever you want to relive them all you have to do is watch a John Hughes film, many of which take place in Chicagoland. Due to Broadway in Chicago, now you can relive the ’80s on stage.

For teenagers at the time the best thing about Hughes films is how well he captured their problems, but the second best thing is the music and “For The Record Presents Dear John Hughes” brings it all together. This cabaret-style production captures the coming-of-age themes throughout all of his films with actors encompassing iconic character types found in his films.

Those familiar with the films will be ecstatic to hear these interpretations of songs like “Don’t You Forget About Me,” “If You Leave,” “Pretty in Pink,” and “If You Were Here.” This new production doesn’t leave out those older classics that Hughes brought back in his films like “Danke Shoen” and “Twist and Shout,” made famous in the parade scene in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” that was shot in Chicago.

This production will remind you of a lesson found in all of Hughes’ films: “Live moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while you could miss it.”

“For The Record Presents Dear John Hughes” will run through March 15 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place located at 175 E. Chestnut. For tickets and more information visit broadwayinchicago.com/show/record-presents-dear-john-hughes.

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Snowstorm Fest Takes Over Navy Pier

Posted on March 3rd, 2015 by

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Chicago’s first ever winter electronic music and arts festival will take over The Grand Ballroom and Lakeview Terrace at Navy Pier on Saturday, March 7, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Snowstorm will feature Moby, one of the industry’s most preeminent and influential artists, as the event’s headliner. Moby has sold an impressive 20 million albums and has played over 3,000 concerts worldwide. His album Play is listed as one of Rolling Stone’s “Greatest Albums of All Time.” Alongside Moby, Snowstorm is also proud to present Trippy Turtle, The Hood Internet, ASTR, local Chicago artists, and more.

Chicago is known for its tough winters, and this unique one-day festival is a celebration of the Chicagoans resiliency. In partnership with Redmoon, attendees will be immersed in a unique winter wonderland filled with the artistic and experiential spectacles that the company is known for.  Snowstorm will be themed, requiring attendees to don their best all-white outfits to celebrate the cold season and the hottest beats.

For more information about Snowstorm and to purchase tickets please visit www.snowstormfest.com.

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Freeze and Raise Over a Million Dollars at Chicago’s Polar Plunge

Posted on February 25th, 2015 by

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Look, when you’ve had the winter Chicago has had you get a little loopy and start doing crazy things. One of the craziest things Chicagoans do is the Polar Plunge.

The 15th annual Chicago Polar Plunge allows you to splash your way into the freezing waters of Lake Michigan to support Special Olympics Chicago. This organization assists almost 5,000 athletes and created this Polar Plunge as a fundraising initiative. Those who want to participate in the plunge must raise at least $175 to help reach the million dollar goal. Don’t worry you don’t have to go all the way in—knee deep participants are welcome. During last year’s Polar Plunge the temperature outside was minus 6 but it didn’t stop the 3,200 plungers from taking the challenge and breaking the million dollar goal.

Last year Jimmy Fallon took on the challenge, and this year actor Vince Vaughn will be joining in hopefully encouraging more people to participate in the crazy yet noble act. I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight that our vice president and editorial director Amber Holst will be joining Agency 360’s team and taking on the challenge.

It is never too late to support an amazing cause and make sure you drop by North Avenue Beach to watch a lot of people shiver at the same time.

The Chicago Polar Plunge takes place Sunday, March 1 starting at 10 a.m. at North Avenue Beach located at 1600 N. Lake Shore Dr. For more information on the event as well as how to participate or donate visit sochicago.org/polar-plunge.

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Crack Up with Catholicism at the Royal George Theatre’s Religious Comedies

Posted on February 25th, 2015 by

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It’s rare when a born-in-Chicago international hit is still making laughs, but it happens every weekend at the Royal George Theatre.

“Late Nite Catechism,” now in its 22nd year, is still packing them in, and it’s no surprise why. The character of Sister, created by Chicagoans Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan, is as funny and relevant today as she was when the show opened in 1993.

Sister has something to say about everything in this interactive comedy, so don’t think you’ll be safe from her wrath. “Late Nite Catechism” will bring you back to those CCD classes you might have taken as a youngster but add a hilarious spin to it, and those who aren’t Catholics will finally understand what their Catholic friends might have gone through.

The other comedy that’s tickling everybody’s funny bone at the Royal George is “Bible Bingo: A Comedy with God, Games, & Goofy Prizes.”

Bible Bingo is a comedy written by Vicki Quade about the Catholic culture of fundraising and bingo featuring the character Mrs. Mary Margaret O’Brien, a former nun who now heads a fictitious archdiocese fundraising department. It’s in its second year at the Royal George.

In this interactive comedy, the parish needs money and Mrs. O’Brien is ready to help. Bring the two together and you have a night of bible trivia, audience interaction, improvised moments, and the funniest quiz about the holy family you’ve ever seen.

“Bible Bingo: A Comedy with God, Games, & Goofy Prizes.” runs every Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and “Late Nite Catechism” runs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Both plays are at the Royal George Theatre located at 1641 N. Halsted St. Tickets are $30. Group discounts are available. For ticket info, call the box office at 312-988-9000. For more information visit nuns4fun.com.

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MCA Chicago Holds First Retrospective for Doris Salcedo

Posted on February 24th, 2015 by

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Doris Salcedo, Installation view, Doris Salcedo Studio, Bogotá, 2013. Photo: Oscar Monsalve Pino.

 

Chicago’s museums offer great opportunities to learn whether it be about a cultures, eras, animals, or, in the case of the latest exhibit from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, learn about one of the most important emotional processes—mourning.

“Doris Salcedo” is the first retrospective of the renowned Colombian sculptor covering her powerful 30-year career. Salcedo’s work is completely focused on the loss of life mostly through political violence. Before she works on a piece she does exhaustive fieldwork interviewing victims, absorbing their stories, and, with the help of her team, creating thoughtful, poetic pieces using materials that either inspired by or come directly from the conflict.

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Doris Salcedo, Plegaria Muda (detail), 2008-10. Installation view, Doris Salcedo, MCA Chicago Inhotim Collection, Brazil. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

 

The placement, morphing, deconstruction, and reconstruction of typically ordinary objects like furniture or shoes is done in such a way that the viewer may not know exactly the story behind the piece but can easily identify the raw emotions behind it. All but three of Salcedo’s work in this retrospective are about situations in Colombia, but what she does so well is make that pain and loss universal. The viewer is first greeted by “Plegaria Muda” where an entire room is filled with two handcrafted tables where one is placed on top of the other separated by soil and with blades of grass coming through the top table. One viewer assumed the piece the piece was about the Holocaust when in reality it is partly about gang violence in Los Angeles and also about the experience of grieving mothers at mass graves. However, the mistaken viewer is not necessarily wrong because he still felt that sense of loss and despair that Salcedo wants to impart. “Atrabiliarios” is about the female victims of violence and those who have disappeared in Colombia but can be identified with any country that has forced disappearances an example being Argentina. By using ordinary objects Salcedo’s work has little geographical markers that not only lends itself to being universal but also eliminates all divisions between humans to focus on mourning.

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Doris Salcedo, A Flor de Piel (detail), 2011-12. Rose petals and thread. Installation view, White Cube, London, 2012. Photo: Ben Westoby.

 

This sadness does not come without beauty, which is completely evident in the piece “A Flor de Piel.” You wont know from looking from afar but this large shroud is completely made of hand-stitched petals put through a chemical process to give it it’s leather-like quality. Salcedo created the piece initially as an offering to a Colombian nurse who was tortured to death.

This retrospective only covers a portion of Salcedo’s work as many of her most important work are the public arts projects that she does. Due to certain limitations those pieces can not be recreated, but they are covered in an informative documentary in one of the exhibits galleries that also covers Salcedo’s work process.

“Doris Salcedo” will be on view through May 24 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago located at 220 E. Chicago Ave. For information on the exhibit as well as complimentary programming at mcachicago.org/exhibition/doris-salcedo.

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‘Dunsinane’ Opens For Limited Engagement

Posted on February 23rd, 2015 by

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The Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) at Navy Pier welcomes the National Theatre of Scotland for a limited engagement performance of Dunsinane, a fascinating sequel to William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

This U.S. Premiere tour, running Feb. 28 through March 22, explores one man’s attempt to restore peace in a country consumed by war following the bloody conclusion of Shakespeare’s timeless drama. Dunsinane takes Scotland’s real history and dramatically reimagines the chapter after Macbeth’s death.

At the outset of Dunsinane, Macbeth is dead. Under cover of night, the English army has swept in, killed the tyrant and claimed Scotland’s seat of power. English commanding officer Siward finds his efforts to restore order futile as the situation spins out of control. Struggling to grasp the alien customs and politics of this harsh country, he finds himself drawn towards Macbeth’s powerful widow, Gruach. In keeping with true historical events, Lady Macbeth has outlived her husband and seeks to enforce her familial claim to the throne.

Dunsinane will be performed in CST’s Courtyard Theater Feb. 26–March 22. Tickets are on sale now for $58–$88 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40 percent discount on guaranteed parking in Navy Pier garages. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312-595-5600 or visit the Theater’s website at http://www.chicagoshakes.com

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Kick off the Year of the Ram at These Chinese New Year Events

Posted on February 18th, 2015 by

Don’t let the negative temperatures stop you from celebrating one of the world’s most vibrant holidays—Chinese New Year.

Plenty of businesses and neighborhoods will be celebrating the Year of the Ram—or goat, or sheep—this weekend with countless events. Here are a few to get you started.

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The best part of any holiday is the food, and the Chicago Chinese Cultural Center has you covered with delicious dumplings. Not only will guests enjoy a traditional Chinese dinner but they will learn how to make dumplings in a workshop covering the centuries-old technique.
Chinese New Year Dumpling Workshop and Dinner
Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, Inc.
Feb. 21 at 3 p.m.
2121B S. China Pl.

5D9E7C4E23C60B3438CCEFF41A990534Choose Chicago and the Chinese Fine Arts Society will have a kick-off celebration filled with lion dancers, music, drums, and martial arts that will surely get anyone in the spirit.
Chinese New Year Day Celebration
Feb. 19 12 – 1 p.m.
Preston Bradley Hall
Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St.

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Of course, no Chinese New Year celebration is complete without the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade. Visitors will enjoy colorful floats, marching bands, a 100-foot paper tiger, and more lion dance performances and then can explore one of Chicago’s most culturally-rich neighborhoods.
Chinese Lunar New Year Parade
Feb. 22 at 1 p.m.
Wentworth Ave. & 24th St.

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Beads, Beers & Bars!

Posted on February 18th, 2015 by

Mardi Gras Mask and Beads

Put on your masks, grab your beads, and head to Navy Pier this Saturday, Feb. 21, for the city’s largest Mardi Gras party!

The “World’s Largest Indoor Bar Crawl” will take place from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and hits seven bars along Pier including Harry Caray’s Tavern, Haagen Dazs, Riva Crab House, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Mystic Blue, Spirit of Chicago, and Crystal Gardens. Each spot is offering special deals including $3 Bud Light drafts, $4 Goose Island 312 drafts, and $5 Southern Comfort hurricanes.

Your ticket includes entry into the Mardi Gras Bar Crawl, two gift cards valid at participating bars for food or drink purchase, drink specials, entertainment including live music, mask face-painting, games, prizes, and more! Tickets start at $15 and are available for purchase here. Walk-up tickets will not be available.

All participants must be 21 years of age to participate (ID required at check-in) and event details and price are subject to change. All visitors to Navy Pier are expected to follow the Navy Pier Code of Conduct.  Check-in for the Mardi Gras Crawl at Crystal Gardens from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Coat check is available for $3 (cash only). Specials are available all day at bar crawl locations.

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